California Sues Municipalities for Bad Urban Planning


USA Today reports on a new development in the fight against climate change:

California is pioneering what could be the next battleground against global warming: filing suit to hold cities and counties accountable for greenhouse gas emissions caused by poorly planned suburban sprawl.

The unprecedented action is being closely watched by states that have taken aggressive steps to combat climate change – including New York, Massachusetts and Washington. California Attorney General Jerry Brown has sued San Bernardino County, the USA’s largest in land area and one of the fastest growing, for failing to account for greenhouse gases when updating its 25-year blueprint for growth.

"It’s ground-breaking. California is just leading the way for other states and jurisdictions that will ultimately follow," says Richard Frank of the Center for Environmental Law and Policy at the University of California-Berkeley.

In New York, global warming is one of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s "top priorities," says spokesman Jeffrey Lerner. "He’s very focused on it. He feels like we need to do everything we can to address that issue right away."

If the suit is successful, California cities and counties could be forced to take steps to limit sprawl, promote compact development, require builders to design energy-efficient houses that offer solar power, and encourage less driving, more mass transit and use of alternative fuels.

Photo: Dale Hameister/Flickr

  • Claire

    I actually live in San Bernardino county (albeit pretty close to L.A. county), and the development here is amazing (read: obscene). There’s a huge new development one freeway exit east of us — zillions of houses, all built right atop one another; big-box stores; new shopping centers; the works. It’s a big boon to the tax base of the town (Upland), but it all looks and feels pretty soulless and ticky-tacky to me.

    Wild development continues as you travel further east, with Rancho Cucamonga adding an enormous new outdoor mall (Victoria Gardens), plus a whole constellation of lesser shopping centers, big-box stores, and other strip-mall-type commercial development. And lots and lots more condos, tract houses, and similar housing.

    The 210 is being extended out past San Bernardino, and I fully expect to see similar development springing up all along its path (it’s already starting). It’s all about the boom, with very little attention being paid to sustainability, community, or any other lefty buzzwords.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    If global warming is one of Cuomo’s top priorities, maybe he can sue the ESDC for all the parking in the Atlantic Yards plans?