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Planning a Sustainable Future

San Ramon is figuring out how new legislation about greenhouse gas emissions and land use will affect the city in the long run.

New laws governing air quality and land use are shaping San Ramon's future.

Recent legislation requires cities to cut greenhouse gas emissions in part by building homes closer to jobs. So San Ramon has to come up with a plan for how to do that.

The city hired a consultant to figure out what those new laws mean for San Ramon. David Early, of DC&E Planning, on Wednesday briefed the Planning Commission on preliminary regional plans to meet those state-set air quality, public transit and housing goals.

Assembly Bill 32 requires that California cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Each city has to do its part and come up with a strategy to meet that goal on a local level.

For San Ramon that means paving the way for mixed-use development like what's proposed for the and the .

And Senate Bill 375 overlaps with AB 32, by turning land use into one way to curb pollution by encouraging cities to build dense, transit-friendly communities.

The Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission say they will put together a regional plan by 2013. The plan will tie in local strategies from cities in nine Bay Area counties.

Planning Commissioners challenged some of the growth estimates by ABAG.

For example, the association projects the nine-county population count will grow by 900,000 over the next 25 years. City officials, however, say that number is way too high, especially considering the weak economy, a slow-down in new construction and previous estimates that were much lower.

Early agreed with the Planning Commission's reservations about ABAG's growth projections, but told them not to worry too much because they're early estimates and may change.

"Many of these numbers don't stand up to close scrutiny and they're going to be revisited," he said.

The city should keep voicing their concerns to ABAG, Early said. Everything's preliminary at this point.

Early encouraged city officials to keep an eye on ABAG and regional transit authorities to make sure their plans have San Ramon's best interest in mind.

Early said that ultimately, the smart growth model these agencies are trying to come up with will preserve the quality of life in San Ramon's older neighborhoods by concentrating new growth in clusters around Interstate 680.

"Neighborhood quality, open space preservation and environmentally sound transit will create your vision for the future," Early concluded.

Click on the PDF attached to this article to view a copy of Early's presentation.

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