Smart Growth

Communities designed around driving are responsible for traffic pollution and congestion, contribute to climate change, and limit opportunities for healthy, active lifestyles.  As California’s population expands, we must design our communities to reduce driving and encourage greater use of public transit, walking and cycling to avert a public health crisis.

As part of California’s landmark climate change and smart growth bill, SB 375 (Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act), California communities can benefit greatly by embracing and actively pursuing strong policies to reduce driving and protect public health. In addition, pollution fees being collected under California's AB 32 Cap and Trade program are now being invested to support more sustainable communities and healthier transportation options throughout California.


San Joaquin Valley: Public Health at the Crossroads

Past planning decisions in the San Joaquin Valley that have expanded growth away from walkable downtowns and community cores have contributed to higher than average rates of air pollution, asthma, and a wide variety of chronic illnesses and health disparities. Public health is at a critical crossroads: will the future be more of the same unhealthy growth, or will decisions help to revitalize existing communities with healthier transportation choices?

This series of briefing papers offers information on the current air quality and public health burdens facing San Joaquin Valley residents; county-specific estimates of traffic pollution-related public health impacts, and costs that could be avoided through healthier growth; and county-specific recommendations for healthier planning strategies.

Southern California and the Inland Empire: Growing Healthy in Southern California

“Growing Healthy in Southern California” quantifies the clean air and societal benefits that Southern Californians will experience through smart growth strategies that reduce the need to drive. This analysis by the American Lung Association in California shows that the region could avoid $16 billion in cumulative health and societal costs and thousands of asthma attacks and respiratory symptoms between now and 2035 through a 20 percent reduction in vehicle miles traveled. For more information, view the analysis and supporting materials below.


Southern California Voter Survey Shows Local Voters Prefer Investing in Transit over Roads

recent survey of voters in the six-county region served by the Southern California Association of Governments finds that voters are overwhelmingly supportive of smart growth approaches and want policies and plans to emphasize investments in transit, bicycle, and pedestrian infrastructure over building new roads. This survey, sponsored by the American Lung Association in California, Move LA, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, found that four of five voters support investing in public transportation, and prioritized expanding public transportation over expanding roads and highways by a two-to-one margin.