A Blueprint for better air
Under federal law, we need to make our air cleaner than it is today while accomodating an estimated 50 percent growth in population over the next two decades.
That’s roughly a million new people – and their cars.
In a region where 70 percent or more of air pollution already comes from mobile sources, we could pay a terrible price if our patterns of development force us to rely on cars to get around.
Smart growth and the Regional Blueprint plan
There is a solution. Smart-growth policies and principles can help reduce driving and air pollution by weaving jobs, homes and services closer together for easier access by foot, bike or transit. Often, this involves “infilling” vacant or under-used land within already-developed areas.
Our region has shown extraordinary cooperation and commitment regarding smart growth in recent years. Nearly every city and county has endorsed the results of the award-winning Regional Blueprint smart-growth planning project, a voluntary land-use plan that prioritizes urban and suburban infill sites for much of our major population and housing growth.
More than 5,000 citizens and leaders helped craft the Blueprint plan, which won the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Award for Smart Growth Achievement and the California Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award. Caltrans now offers grants to other regions to prompt similar efforts.
Blueprint’s potential benefits to air quality here are impressive. Regional transportation planners say implementing Blueprint will reduce a major air quality indicator, per-household vehicle miles traveled, by as much as 26 percent below today’s levels – despite population growth.
Other benefits of Blueprint over the status quo:
- 45 percent less open space developed;
- Double the number of residents living in mixed-use communities near services;
- Double the number of residents living in “pedestrian-friendly” communities;
- 35 percent less infrastructure funding needed – millions of dollars.
Growing smarter helps our quality of life in other ways as well. Denser, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods are often more inviting, vibrant and attractive – especially to the younger, talented workers that make up the so-called "creative class.” And our children also stay healthier when they make a short, safe walk or bike ride to school or a friend’s house, rather than have to catch a ride from a parent.
Things you can do
Regional transportation planners are already using the Blueprint smart-growth map as the basis for our new 25-year, $30 billion dollar transportation funding plan. That’s a good start – but smart growth progress is often incremental, and making the Blueprint plan a reality will require plenty of dilligence.
Here’s how you can help:
- Support elected leaders who promote and uphold Blueprint principles;
- Get involved in planning efforts such as general or neighborhood plans;
- Keep an open mind. Support quality infill projects in your neighborhood.
How to help at home
How to help at work & business
How to get involved in the Partnership