By Andrew Cohen
Berkeley Law’s Richard Frank is optimistic that California policymakers will embrace a new report which outlines how to boost climate-friendly real estate development in the state. A joint effort by the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE), UCLA School of Law, and California Attorney General’s Office, the report aims to help government and business leaders make such development more accessible and affordable.
“We’re confident that the recommendations will find traction in Sacramento and among California’s local and regional governments,” says Frank, CLEE’s executive director. “We think it also can guide other jurisdictions around the nation.”
Climate-friendly development seeks to lower greenhouse gas emissions by creating walkable communities near transit, jobs, and services—a counter to offset recent development that has increased traffic, pollution, and the distance between where people live and work.
Entitled “Removing the Roadblocks: How to Make Sustainable Development Happen Now”, the report has been strongly endorsed by California Attorney General Jerry Brown, a longtime advocate for sustainable land-use practices and climate-friendly development. State Senator Fran Pavley and Assembly member Jared Huffman have also hailed its findings.
The research grew from a March workshop on how to foster sustainable development in California, the first of four Bank of America Charitable Foundation-funded workshops designed to address key climate change issues with policy recommendations. Ethan Elkind, the Bank of America Climate Change Research Fellow at Berkeley Law and UCLA Law, was the report’s primary author.
“We enlisted some of the best and most innovative representatives of the residential building and planning communities to help us shape these recommendations,” Elkind says. “Because industry leaders were instrumental in their formulation, we believe their peers in the residential housing sector will respond favorably.”
The report provides suggestions for clearing the main hurdles to creating climate-friendly neighborhoods: aging utilities and scarce transit lines, the cost of building multi-level structures, regulatory barriers from planning and zoning laws, and tax incentives that favor suburban sprawl.
“One of CLEE’s top research priorities is the issue of how California’s business sectors can effectively cope with and respond to the many challenges presented by climate change,” says Frank. “Encouraging more transit- and climate-friendly residential communities is critically important.”