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Land Use Strategies

Since its inception, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (District) has been active in promoting land use strategies that reduce the amount and distance people drive to accomplish their daily activities. Air districts with severe air pollution were required by the California Clean Air Act to develop "indirect source" control programs in their attainment plans. Indirect sources are defined as any building, facility, activity center, etc. that attracts motor vehicle trips. Land use strategies reduce trips by designing development to be more convenient for walking, bicycling, and transit, thereby allowing people to drive less.

The District’s Air Quality Attainment Plans include measures to promote air quality elements in county and city general plans as one of the primary indirect source programs. The general plan is the primary long range planning document used by cities and counties to direct development. Since air districts have no authority over land use decisions, it is up to cities and counties to ensure that their general plans help achieve air quality goals. Section 65302.1 of the California Government Code requires cities and counties in the San Joaquin Valley to amend appropriate elements of their general plans to include data, analysis, comprehensive goals, policies, and feasible implementation strategies to improve air quality in their next housing element revisions (the next revision for Fresno and Kern Counties is June 30, 2008, and the next revision for Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Merced, Kings, Tulare, and Madera Counties is June 20, 2009).

The Air Quality Guidelines for General Plans (AQGGP), adopted by the District in 1994 and amended in 2005, is a guidance document containing goals and policy examples that cities and counties may want to incorporate into their General Plans to satisfy Section 65302.1. When adopted in a general plan and implemented, the suggestions in the AQGGP can reduce vehicle trips and miles traveled and improve air quality. The specific suggestions in the AQGGP  are voluntary. The District strongly encourages cities and counties to use their land use and transportation planning authority to help achieve air quality goals by adopting the suggested policies and programs.

To obtain copies of the Air Quality Guidelines for General Plans (215 pages) contact the Planning Division at (559) 230-5800.  A pdf of the AQGGP is available here.

The District has prepared or contributed to several other documents that describe land use strategies:

  • Guide for Assessing and Mitigating Air Quality Impacts. This document is a guide for Lead Agencies for addressing air quality issues in environmental documents prepared for CEQA or NEPA. The mitigation measure section contains strategies for each stage of the development process. Contact the Planning Division at (559) 230-5800 to obtain copies.
  • Street Design Guidelines for Healthy Neighborhoods by Dan Burden. This document discusses how we can design streets and roads that promote more walking, and bicycling and still maintain good traffic flow. This document is available for $20 from the Local Government Commission’s Center for Livable Communities at (916) 448-1198 or www.lgc.org/clc
  • Transportation-Related Land Use Strategies to Minimize Motor Vehicle Emissions. This document was prepared for the California Air Resources Board by JHK & Associates. It provides a thorough literature review, case studies, and recommends land use strategies for all types of communities. Obtain copies from the California Air Resources Board Transportation Strategies Group at (916) 323-8475 or visit their website at www.arb.ca.gov

Livable Communities, Sustainable Development and Planning Links