Greg Greenway

Document Type



Signed into law in September 2008, California's Senate Bill 375 (SB 375) is the first statewide legislation in the nation to link transportation and land use planning to climate change. The law is lengthy and complex, but the central concept is simple: locate homes closer to jobs, services, and transit so that Californians drive less frequently, travel shorter distances, and reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This article examines the approach to public participation outlined in SB 375, and argues that a critical success factor is the design and execution of strategies by local governments to engage citizens in the implementation of the legislation. Because the law does not change local authority over land use decisions or mandate that any jurisdiction promote the regional agenda, public involvement at the local level will ultimately determine whether SB 375 changes prevailing land use patterns to address global warming, or simply turns up the heat on local communities and exacerbates conflicts over land use. The article concludes with an examination of a recent initiative in San Mateo County that offers a promising approach to engaging the public in land use decisions.