A damning report the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released this week confirms what the Bay Area Council has been saying for years about the link between housing and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The report found that California is not on track to meet its aggressive GHG reduction goals and puts much blame on the state’s failure to produce new housing, particularly in areas near major job centers and close to mass transit. In the Bay Area, the housing crisis means more and more commuters are being forced to drive longer and longer distances in search of affordable homes. Those extra miles produce extra tailpipe emissions, which account for 40 percent of the state’s GHGs.
In a letter the Bay Area Council submitted to CARB in March, we warned about the state’s inability to produce infill housing and its effect on our GHG reduction goals. The Council called on CARB to examine all and any tools at its disposal to increase desperately needed infill housing. The letter stated, “If necessary, CARB can mandate that cities approve plan-compliant housing in jobs rich and transit-served communities and implement the vision of “by right” housing laid out in Governor Brown’s 2016 Budget May Revise.” The letter followed by two years a report by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute —Another Inconvenient Truth—that reached essentially the same conclusion as the new CARB report.
The CARB report comes as the Council readies its 2019 housing agenda, including continuing our advocacy on a range of reforms to expand accessory dwelling units (aka granny units), strengthen local accountability for meeting housing obligations, increase investment in affordable housing and updating local land use and zoning laws to encourage more housing near transit. The Council is also beginning to examine how parochial traffic regulations, infrastructure and ordinances contribute to increased auto emissions, a topic not addressed in the CARB report. To engage in the Council’s housing policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.