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Attorney General Brown Forges Greenhouse Gas Reduction Agreement With City of Stockton

Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Contact: (415) 703-5837

STOCKTON – California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced a landmark agreement with the City of Stockton requiring the City to identify and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging downtown growth, constructing thousands of new residential units within its current city limits, developing a rapid transit bus system and requiring all new buildings to be energy efficient.

In the next 2 years, Stockton will develop a Climate Action Plan to inventory current greenhouse gas emissions. The City is also required to estimate its 1990 level of greenhouse gas emissions and project the increase in its emissions in 2020. As part of the plan, the City must reduce its current level of greenhouse gas emissions using set target dates for reduction.

“We cannot reach our statewide greenhouse gas reduction targets without the cooperation of our largest and fastest growing cities,” said Attorney General Brown. “Stockton has shown leadership on this issue, enabling us to work together to meet our targets for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This agreement is a critical part of California’s effort to address climate change.”

Under a California law passed in 2006, the state is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In 2005, the Governor issued an Executive Order requiring an additional reduction of emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Currently, California generates approximately 500 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent, a number significantly above 1990 levels. To achieve the 2020 target, California must reduce current emissions by at least 10%.

The City of Stockton has agreed to reduce sprawl and plans to construct nearly 18,000 new home units within the current city limits, including 4,400 units to be built in downtown Stockton. To encourage infill growth, the City will consider measures such as less restrictive building height requirements and reduced permit fees to spur the development of downtown commercial and residential units. The City will initiate a subsidy program to spark infill growth.

In addition, the City will adopt several green building ordinances to ensure that new residential housing and commercial buildings are energy-efficient, conserve water and are built with green materials.

Any new development in the city will have to be transit-friendly. New commercial and residential development will be located near mass-transit stops and be accessible to vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic and established neighborhoods.

Though new development will continue at city outskirts, the City agreed to phase it in gradually to ensure that it can provide adequate resources to these new areas, such as fire and police protection. Before approving new development projects, the City will demonstrate that the new development will not undermine downtown Stockton and will complement existing commercial and residential zones.

"We appreciate the collaboration with the Attorney General's Office; this is a win-win situation in which we can address environmentally sensitive issues,” said Stockton Mayor Edward J. Chavez. “Certainly, the Attorney General and his staff have been tremendous in getting this agreement put together; it will be a model that can be replicated in other communities.'

This agreement comes after the City of Stockton issued a Draft Environmental Impact Report for its General Plan that outlined how the City would manage its growth through 2035. The report, issued in December 2007, estimated that by 2035, Stockton’s population would reach 580,000, an increase of almost 50%. In January 2008, the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit to block Stockton’s General Plan, claiming that it failed to address the amount of greenhouse gases the plan would emit into an already heavily polluted San Joaquin Valley.

"We are grateful that the Attorney General came to Stockton and became involved in the city's growth plan. The settlement represents a huge step forward for good planning that should slow down sprawl at the fringe of the city and reduce the increase in greenhouse gases due to new growth,” said Dale Stocking, Member of the Mother Lode Chapter Executive Committee. “The city's commitment to adopt comprehensive green building standards and provide developer funding for a transit system should reduce vehicle trips and make Stockton a leader in the Central Valley and the state.'

The Attorney General’s Office entered into negotiations with Stockton earlier this year, citing concerns about the General Plan and the need to evaluate greenhouse gas reduction impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act. To date, the Attorney General has questioned the proposed draft environmental impact reports of several general plans, including San Bernardino County, Solano County, Tulare County, the City of San Diego, as well as regional transportation plans, refineries, cement plants, dairy expansions, and other large projects.

On their own, many communities throughout California have already begun to initiate measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including Fresno, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sonoma County, Santa Monica, Berkeley, Marin County, Palo Alto, Chula Vista and Modesto.

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