Local authority over land use planning and development is a defining feature of U.S. government. Cities and towns craft the general plans that provide longer term roadmaps for growth, and they adopt the zoning ordinances and other laws that guide where and how development may occur within their jurisdictional boundaries. Across a region, however, the partitioning of land use and development decisionmaking authority among the region’s cities and counties creates an institutional collective action problem. One government taking land use and development actions in its own self-interest can hinder outcomes that are regionally efficient or beneficial or that result in environmental harms and spillover problems across a metropolitan region. An unprecedented effort to improve regional coordination and land use governance has been underway in California since 2008, under the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (SB375). The law encourages regional land use planning that would help to reduce automobile dependent patterns of land use and sprawl. Yet, implementation of such plans and, hence, the GHG reductions they promise depends largely on local governments. This presentation explores the responses of California cities and counties to this experiment as a way of contribute new insights about what makes local governments more or less likely to collaborate with regionally oriented policies.
Dr. Gian-Claudia Sciara
Gian-Claudia Sciara is Assistant Professor of Community and Regional Planning. She researches and writes about transportation and land use decisionmaking in intergovernmental contexts, and regional institutions are a longstanding focus of her work. Her current work studies implementation of California’s Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008 (SB 375), which asks regional planning organizations to integrate land use and transportation in order to reduce auto reliance and greenhouse gas emissions. Dr. Sciara’s publications have appeared in journals such as the Journal of the American Planning Association, Research in Transportation Economics, and the Journal of Land Use and Transportation. Her scholarship has examined the potential for environmental mitigation to enhance regional land conservation; transportation funding; and the impacts of Congressional earmarks on transportation planning. Dr. Sciara earned a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley, a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA, and a B.A. from Columbia University. She is an AICP certified city planner who served in the private, public and non-profit sectors prior to pursuing graduate studies. Before joining The University of Texas at Austin, she held a research appointment at the University of California-Davis Institute of Transportation Studies from 2010-2016.