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Orange County Sustainable Communities Strategy Approved

As part of Aleshire & Wynder's representation of the Orange County Council of Governments (OCCOG), with partner Fred Galante serving as General Counsel, we assisted in the preparation of a local plan responding to the state's effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The plan, representing a countywide strategy, is known as the Orange County Sustainable Communities Strategy (OC SCS).  It was approved by both the OCCOG and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) boards of directors in June, 2011.

The OC SCS is one of the first in California to be completed and was developed with the involvement of more than 40 public agencies and broad stakeholder and community input.

"We are confident that the OC SCS will ultimately help Southern California meet state-set emission targets while not passing down new mandates on local jurisdictions," said Peter Herzog, chairman of the OCCOG and mayor of Lake Forest.

The OC SCS is reflective of countywide transportation, land use and sustainability strategies that will help the region meet state-mandated emission reduction targets that were passed by the Legislature in 2008. That law, SB 375, calls for closer coordination of transportation and land-use planning.

"The strategy contains $40 billion in planned transportation improvements through 2035," said OCTA Chair Patricia Bates and the County's Fifth District Supervisor. "The strategy is a multi-faceted approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that builds upon our efforts to support natural land restoration and protection, while at the same time providing necessary transportation improvements."

Orange County's plan will be sent to the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) to be incorporated into a regional strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. SCAG is responsible for developing an overall strategy for the region including Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, and Imperial counties.

Greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for the SCAG region were set by the California Air Resources Board last year. The targets are an 8 percent reduction by 2020 and a 13 percent reduction by 2035. SCAG is responsible for developing measurements and methodologies for the submitted strategies.

SCAG's Regional Council is expected to release a draft Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy in November 2011. The final SCAG Regional Transportation Plan that will include the regional SCS is expected in April 2012.