Sustainable Communities

This page last updated July 5, 2018

Cars on a freewayThe Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008 (Sustainable Communities Act, SB 375, Chapter 728, Statutes of 2008) supports the State's climate action goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through coordinated transportation and land use planning with the goal of more sustainable communities.

Under the Sustainable Communities Act, CARB sets regional targets for GHG emissions reductions from passenger vehicle use. In 2010, CARB established these targets for 2020 and 2035 for each region covered by one of the State's metropolitan planning organizations (MPO). CARB will periodically review and update the targets, as needed.

Each of California's MPOs must prepare a "sustainable communities strategy" (SCS) as an integral part of its regional transportation plan (RTP).

The SCS contains land use, housing, and transportation strategies that, if implemented, would allow the region to meet its GHG emission reduction targets. Once adopted by the MPO, the RTP/SCS guides the transportation policies and investments for the region. CARB must review the adopted SCS to confirm and accept the MPO's determination that the SCS, if implemented, would meet the regional GHG targets. If the combination of measures in the SCS would not meet the regional targets, the MPO must prepare a separate "alternative planning strategy" (APS) to meet the targets. The APS is not a part of the RTP.

The Sustainable Communities Act also establishes incentives to encourage local governments and developers to implement the SCS or the APS. Developers can get relief from certain environmental review requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) if their new residential and mixed-use projects are consistent with a regionals SCS (or APS) that meets the targets (see Cal. Public Resources Code 21155, 21155.1, 21155.2, 21159.28.).

2018 Performance Reporting (SB 150)

SB 150 (Allen, Chapter 646, Statutes of 2017) requires CARB to prepare a report to the Legislature starting in 2018, and every four years thereafter, to discuss regional changes in GHG emissions related to SB 375 implementation. This report will use data-supported metrics to assess progress toward statewide climate goals including SB 375 strategies, as well as the effect of State policies and funding programs. It will also include a discussion of best practices and challenges to achieving greater reductions.

June 2018

April 2018

SCS Evaluation Guidelines

CARB's existing SCS review methodology was published in July 2011, which focuses on the technical aspects of the regional modeling and supporting analysis related to GHG quantification. The updated SCS Evaluation Guidelines are intended to provide the framework for a more transparent, and strategy-focused evaluation of the SCSs and their associated reductions in GHG emissions.

June 2018

SB 375 Regional Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Targets

Sustainable Communities Strategies Review

Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) 

2017 RTP/SCS

2013 RTP/SCS

  • Fact sheet on the Bay Area's Sustainable Communities Strategy (Aug. 2014)
  • CARB Executive Order accepting ABAG/MTC's determination that the Final SCS would meet the region's GHG emissions reduction targets (April 2014)
  • CARB staff's technical evaluation of the ABAG/MTC Final Sustainable Communities Strategy (April 2014)
  • Informational update on the Association of Bay Area Governments' and Metropolitan Transportation Commission's draft Sustainable Communities Strategy (June 2013)
  • Plan Bay Area, adopted July 2013
  • ABAG/MTC's technical methodology for quantifying GHG emissions (Nov. 2010)

Sacramento Area Council of Governments(SACOG)

2016 MTP/SCS

2012 MTP/SCS

Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG)

2016 RTP/SCS

2012 RTP/SCS

San Diego Association of Governments(SANDAG)

2015 RTP/SCS

2011 RTP/SCS

San Joaquin Valley (SJV)

  • CARB staff's update on SB 375 implementation in the Valley (July 2014)
  • CARB staff's update on SB 375 implementation in the Valley (May 2014)
  • CARB public meeting presentationreporting on SB 375 implementation status (Jan. 2014)
  • CARB staff's update on SB 375 implementation in the Valley (Jan. 2013)

Madera County Transportation Commission(MCTC)

Tulare County Association of Governments(TCAG)

Kings County Association of Governments(KCAG)

Kern Council of Governments (KernCOG)

Stanislaus Council of Governments(StanCOG)

San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG)

Fresno Council of Governments (FCOG)

Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG)

2017 RTP/SCS

2013 RTP/SCS

Butte County Association of Governments (BCAG)

2016 RTP/SCS

2012 MTP/SCS

Shasta Regional Transportation Agency (SRTA)

San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG)

Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG)

Tahoe Metropolitan Planning Organization (TMPO) and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA)

  • CARB staff's technical evaluation of the Tahoe Metropolitan Planning Organization's (TMPO)/Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's (TRPA) Final Sustainable Communities Strategy (Apr. 2013)
  • CARB Resolution accepting TMPO/TRPA's determination that the Final SCS would meet the region's GHG emissions reduction targets (Apr. 2013)
  • Mobility 2035, adopted Dec. 2012
  • TMPO/TRPA's technical methodology for quantifying GHG emissions (Oct. 2011)

Key SB 375-Related Documents

  • Off-Model Strategies Adopted by California MPOs In Sustainable Communities Strategies (May 2016)
  • CARB's technical methodology for reviewing greenhouse gas reductions for an SCS (July 2011)
  • Text of SB 375
  • Text of companion legislation to SB 375: SB 575
  • California Regional Transportation Plan Guidelines (2010)

Archived Sustainable Communities Target-Setting Activities

March 2018 Board Meeting

January-Febuary 2018 Public Workshops

December 2017 Board Meeting

October 2017 Staff Report

June 2017 Public Workshops

March 2017 Public Meetings

2014 Target Update Activities

  • Staff Report on SB 375 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Target Update Process for the October 24, 2014 Board meeting (Oct. 2014)
  • Comments submitted to CARB staff in response to September 2014 target update process workshops (Oct. 2014)
  • Target Update Process Workshop presentation slides (Sept. 2014)
  • Preliminary Draft Staff Report on SB 375 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Target Update Process (Aug. 2014)

Initial Target Setting Activities

CARB Research to Support Sustainable Communities Strategies Implementation

CARB supports regional and local implementation of SB 375 through research. CARB's research program includes investigation of the impacts of land use and transportation strategies on travel behavior, GHG emissions, air pollution exposure, equity, and health.

  • CARB research on policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles to support implementation of the Sustainable Communities Act.

    • Susan Handy, Ph.D., UC Davis, discussed the research on this set of policies at an October 7, 2014 CARB research seminar. Video of the seminar, the presentation slides, and other related materials are available here.

Related Information

If you would like more information on CARB activities related to Sustainable Communities: