California bill to promote mixed-use walkable places

Planners under California Gov. Gray Davis have introduced a bill — SB1521 — designed to promote mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods, infill development, and transit connections. The bill would showcase best planning practices — i.e., “smart growth” concepts — and modestly reward municipalities that adopt them in part or in whole, according to the state Office of Planning and Research (OPR), which is pushing the proposal. If a municipality adopted the recommended practices, it would get extra points when applying for state infrastructure grants. However, the extra points (representing a 1 to 10 percent rating bonus) would not be enough, generally, to be a decisive factor in getting the grants, according to Terry Roberts of OPR. Even though the bill is not a mandate, it is being portrayed as such, according to an Associated Press report, and faces stiff opposition from real estate and building interests, as well as some municipalities.