Sac CAAP: more carbon-intense transportation and land use

The City of Sacramento (and the county, and the region, and the state) have created a very carbon-intensive transportation system, focusing on moving motor vehicles (more and faster) over all other uses of the public right-of-way. It has also created a carbon-intensive land use pattern, by allowing and encouraging sprawling development that places everything further away, and makes motor vehicle travel the only reasonable option for many people to get from one place to another. Sprawl not only makes transportation less efficient, but uses more water and more electricity, reduces agricultural lands, and isolates people. Freeways and the arterial street network that supports them are far more expensive than other roadways, so most of our transportation budget goes to those two types. There is little left over for streets, and little left over for maintenance. But you know all that.

If the city is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), it would focus most of the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan on these issues. Transportation and land use, and housing in particular, cannot be separated from each other. They should not be separated in the plan. If we change our transportation system without changing land use and housing, we fail. If we change land use and housing without changing the transportation system, we fail. They must both be changed, healed from the harms of past city action or neglect, together. What the draft plan proposes to do is make minor changes to housing and minor changes to transportation, but sets low goals for both. And it uses enough vague language that it is not even clear that those low goals will be achieved. Most importantly, it does not commit the city to spending any money to fix problems and do better. What it is basically doing is kicking the can down the road, in case future versions of the city government happen to be more committed to change and innovation.

I encourage you to take a look at the plan (yes, it is long and hard to read), and then contact your city council member to express your concerns. I’ll likely be gone by 2045, so won’t see the outcome, but for many of you and your children, the meek action and underfunding that the plan proposes will make your world unlivable. Time for leadership is now!

Author: Dan Allison

Dan Allison is a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in the Sacramento area. Dan dances and backpacks, as much as possible.

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