Got climate and housing bills? Our top priorities for state policy in 2015

Joshua Stark Headshot

The 2015 legislative session is off and running, and so are we!  With just over a month until our fourth annual Transportation Choices Summit on April 27, we’re honing in on our top legislative priorities in anticipation of another exciting convergence of people who want to win more affordable, sustainable solutions to California’s transportation crisis.

Climate is the keyword in Sacramento this year. As the first round of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) investments start to flow to California’s communities, legislators are beginning to identify the state’s next steps in curbing climate pollution.  We believe that sustainable and fair transportation is the key to tackling climate change and keeping California a great place to live for people of all income levels.  After all, more than a third of the state’s climate pollution comes from transportation alone.

Our top three bills – SB 32, SB 350, and AB 1335 – would move the state forward on climate, mobility, and fairness.  You can learn more about these bills below, and help us pass them by joining us in Sacramento next month.

Raising the Bar: SB 32 and California’s Climate Commitment

California is a world leader in climate change policy, in no small part because of Senator Fran Pavley   As an Assemblymember, Senator Pavley authored two key climate change laws, AB 1493 and AB 32.  AB 32 in particular has become a cornerstone of California’s commitment to curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, as California’s leadership seeks to take the next steps on climate change, Senator Pavley has put forward a new bill, SB 32, that would strengthen AB 32.

SB 32 is simple and powerful: it calls for an 80% reduction in 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  It further allows for interim goals to be set for 2030 (only fifteen years away!) and 2040. SB 32 also directs the California Air Resources Board to ensure that in reaching our goals, we advance job growth and California’s economy, prioritize public health benefits for disadvantaged communities, spur innovation, and collaborate with regional and international efforts.

TransForm is proud to support SB 32.

50-50-50: SB 350 and Golden State Standards

New Senate President pro tem Kevin De Léon has wasted no time advancing California’s leadership in addressing climate change.  The Senator completely understands the importance of setting high, yet achievable goals for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.  His bill, SB 350, would set a target of 50% in three categories: energy production, building energy efficiency, and transportation.

Energy production: 50% renewable energy by 2030

High price is no longer an excuse to avoid renewable energy.  It now costs about the same to create electricity with clean, renewable sources like wind, solar, and sustainable hydropower as it does using harmful fossil fuels like coal or oil. Current regulations have set a goal for energy companies to buy at least 33% of their electricity from renewable sources (and many have already reached that goal).  SB 350 sets a goal of 50% renewable electricity by the year 2030.

Energy efficiency: 50% increase in energy efficiency by 2030

Energy efficiency standards have helped save households hundreds of dollars every year, all while reducing pollution.  SB 350 sets a goal of a 50% increase in energy efficiency for buildings throughout the state.

Reducing petroleum use: 50% reduction of petroleum use by 2030

As the California Air Resources Board points out, nearly half of our state’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation (as well as 80% of smog-forming pollution and 95% of diesel particulate matter).  SB 350 sets an ambitious goal of reducing our petroleum use 50% by 2030.

Improving vehicle fuel efficiency only gets us about halfway to that goal.  Simply put, if we are going to curb our greenhouse gas emissions, we must address our transportation infrastructure.

Over the years, TransForm has worked hard to improve transportation choices for all Californians.  We and our allies have identified a number of ways we can improve our transportation infrastructure, such as investing in affordable transit-oriented development, improving and expanding transit for low-income communities and households, and investing in bicycle and pedestrian projects and programs.

TransForm will continue to watch SB 350, and work to ensure that it includes the kinds of great and innovative transportation policies we will need to reach these ambitious goals.

Housing for the future: AB 1335 and affordable housing investments

California is a beautiful and wonderful place to live – which means that home and apartment prices often push families into dire financial straits, or force them to move to places with far worse access to transit.  As we documented in this report last year, affordable housing near transit is not only an effective climate protection strategy,  it’s paramount to helping low-income Californians connect to jobs, schools, health care, and parks.

It is critically important to the state’s future that we find a permanent funding source for affordable housing, and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins is tackling this issue head-on with AB 1335.

AB 1335, the Building Homes and Jobs Act, would create an ongoing, predictable source of funding for the State Housing Trust Fund.  This bill would generate an estimated $500 million per year for affordable homes by enacting a $75 document recording fee on real estate transactions, excluding home sales. 

This amount would not cover all the costs associated with affordable housing construction (typically, developers must pull together from about a dozen funding sources), but it would go a long way.  And having a permanent source for funds would help establish a much-needed level of market stability.  Click here to view Housing California’s AB 1335 fact sheet.

TransForm fully supports AB 1335.

A “Year of Action” focused, but flexible

While these three bills are the big ones we’re working on, we’re following several other proposals that have the potential to impact California’s future.  Read the full list of bills we’re watching here, and check back for updates.  The legislative session is young, and bills can change dramatically between now and the end of the summer.

What won’t change is our commitment to pushing for better transportation choices and more sustainable, fair solutions to California’s community planning challenges.  The next step is bringing together hundreds of advocates in Sacramento next month to strategize and energize around these goals.  Will you join us?

Come to the Transportation Choices Summit to help achieve a California where everyone has safe, convenient, and affordable ways to get around – no matter who they are, where you live, or where you’re going.  Learn more and register here.

FeedBlog Signup

About This Blog

TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.