May 28, 2004

‘Smart Growth’ in California?

"California's official demographers projected last week that the state's population, now 36 million, could reach nearly 55 million by mid-century," write the Sacramento Bee's Dan Walters. That's a staggeringly large number of people in a state that's already being choked by pollution, massive traffic jams and other manifestations of poorly managed growth. Yet the impact of growth is typically ignored until there's a crisis.

"To its credit, however, the still-young administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is taking the impacts of population growth seriously," Walters says. "Schwarzenegger has created an interagency task force to work on what one of its leaders, Business, Transportation and Housing Secretary Sunne McPeak, terms "a thoughtful initiative to fight what we call dumb growth."

The task force is reportedly looking at offering local communities incentives to cluster housing "near jobs and mass transit to dampen traffic congestion. [Sounds like the Massachusetts Senate plan for smart growth zoning districts (see blog entry).] The state, for instance, might make its grants for transportation, water plants, sewage facilities and even schools contingent on meeting state goals."

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