Yesterday, Governor Brown surprised everyone –including the Councilmembers—when he made an unscheduled but most welcomed appearance at the meeting of the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) to demonstrate his support for the Council’s efforts.
After he finished his telltale set of rapid-fire questions about the Council’s mission, membership and activities, the Governor offered “I’m very interested in what you’re doing and will do anything I can to support it.”
NRDC supports the Council’s good work to provide sustainable planning and urban greening grants to local governments, and strongly encourages the Council to begin in earnest to align all of the state’s infrastructure funding—particularly transportation dollars—with the Council’s goals (below). The Council is granted authority by SB 732 to identify and review funding programs of member state agencies, and recommend policies and investment strategies and priorities to the Governor, the Legislature, and to appropriate state agencies. We recognize this is an ambitious agenda, and with regions leading the way to create their sustainable communities strategies under SB 375, we believe now is a perfect time for the state to begin to review all of its investments through the lens of sustainable communities to make sure each dollar is spent wisely and helps to achieve state environmental goals.
Created in 2008, the SGC is a cabinet level committee tasked with coordinating the activities of member state agencies (Office of Planning and Research, Business Transportation and Housing, Health and Human Services, California Environmental Protection Agency and Resources Agency) to:
- improve air and water quality
- protect natural resources and agricultural lands
- promote affordable housing and public health
- improve transportation
- encourage greater infill and compact development, and
- revitalize community and urban centers.
The Council’s work is particularly noteworthy because it is really the only effort in a long time to coordinate state agencies and infrastructure spending.
With the Council in the capable hands of Chairman and Office of Planning and Research Director Ken Alex, and Chief Executive Officer Heather Fargo, we believe there is tremendous potential to put California on the path to a more sustainable prosperity. Now, with the support of Governor Brown, the Council is poised to become a model for inter-agency collaboration in dozens of other states. We look forward to the exciting work to come.