Creating Sustainable Communities and Landscapes

Recommended practices and tools for local collaboration on climate-smart growth

Published: October 8, 2018

By the Strategic Growth Council

The State of California has a rich history of environmental leadership. With some of the most beautiful landscapes and fertile soils in the country, we have much to protect and conserve. As the State’s population grows towards fifty million people, infrastructure demands place intensified levels of stress on California’s agricultural and natural wealth. In order to address these challenges, California has led the charge nationally to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, because we recognize that this battle is not only about the environment – it is also about protecting the well-being of our families and communities. To ensure the prosperous future of our State, we must shift to a more conscientious approach to land use planning in California – one that balances the needs of conservation and development. In order to balance these priorities, the State has put new laws in place for new housing and infill development, community resilience, economic growth in urban and rural areas, and set an ambitious target for carbon neutrality by 2045 that relies upon efficient and orderly growth across California.

Developed through a collaboration among the Strategic Growth Council, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and the California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions (CALAFCO), this paper is intended to help support coordination among local entities to advance efficient growth and conservation of natural resources. The document highlights case studies in which LAFCos, cities, counties and special districts successfully partnered to reduce suburban sprawl and increase the conservation of natural and working lands, while also considering how to improve community resilience. It also aims to raise awareness of available tools and resources that can be used to create more environmentally and economically sustainable communities throughout California.

California, State of. “AnnouncementCreating Sustainable Communities and Landscapes: Recommended Practices and Tools for Local Collaboration on Climate-Smart Growth.” CA.gov, Strategic Growth Council, 8 Oct. 2018, www.sgc.ca.gov/news/2018/10-08.html.

Read the paper by clicking here.

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Evening Hours on Light Rail Gold Line Extended!

June 14, 2018

A win for the Sacramento region! 

While light rail trains on the Gold Line previously stopped running before 7:00 pm, they will now run until 11:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9:30 p.m. on Sunday!

How did this come to be?

Ten years ago, ECOS brought a lawsuit against Caltrans when it proposed adding lanes to Highway 50 to create High Occupancy Vehicle (“HOV”) lanes. Since these lanes are only restricted to High Occupancy Vehicles during certain hours, adding new lanes for this purpose is essentially just a widening of the freeway.

Freeway-widening induces urban sprawl, increases Vehicle Miles Traveled, increase greenhouse gas emissions and does not reduce traffic congestion after all.

That lawsuit was settled in 2008 when Caltrans agreed to pay $7.5 million to SacRT for improved light rail service between Folsom and Sacramento, along the Highway 50 corridor.

In 2017, Caltrans again proposed to create HOV lanes by adding more lanes to Highway 50 without adequately dealing with induced demand for sprawl development and additional miles traveled. Again, ECOS sued.

ECOS met with SacRT to determine what funding from settlement of this lawsuit would help public transit the most along this section of Highway 50, and it was determined that expanding light rail service past 7:00pm would be best, so Caltrans settled by agreeing to provide funding for that purpose.

At ECOS, reducing vehicle trips is an essential part of our work, and new service like this goes a long way toward helping us reach our goals. This project will open up car-free options to many people, as trips that were only possible in a vehicle are now possible via public transit. We are proud to be a part of this effort.

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Neighborhood Planned for Toxic Waste Site in Folsom

June 12, 2018

How do you think the Aerojet Area 40 Toxic waste site in Folsom should be cleaned up before it is developed into a park, open space and residential area?

A Public Meeting to Review and Comment on the Remedial Action Plan for the cleanup and development of the Aerojet Area 40 Toxic Waste site, which is South of Highway 50 will be held:

June 20 from 6-8 pm,
Folsom Community Center,
Western Conference Room,
52 Natoma Street, Folsom

South of highway 50 just east of Prairie City Road, lies Aerojet Rocketdyne’s “Area 40”, a hazardous waste site waiting be cleaned up. Folsom and local developers are planning a 48-acre park with housing nearby within the Folsom Planning Area at the location of Area 40. A 26-acre “open space” will be fenced off until extremely high soil vapor levels drop to lower levels.

The Department of Toxics Substances (DTSC) released the proposed cleanup plan in May, and a Public Meeting will be held June 20 in Folsom.

While Aerojet Rocketdyne leased this land their industrial activities included separating solvents from propellant-solvent mixtures and open burning of laboratory wastes, propellants, kerosene fuel, and flammable liquids.

Chemicals identified within Area 40 soils and soil vapor were: dioxins and furans, metals, perchlorate, semi- volatile organic compounds and volatile organic compounds. Chemicals identified in groundwater were perchlorate, trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and additional volatile organic compounds.

The proposed cleanup plans are to remove 31,100 tons of contaminated soil from two areas on the site. Note that soil vapors move from the soil into the air. Extremely high levels of volatile organic compounds are in the shallow groundwater. The cleanup plans include measures to require vapor mitigation systems to move chemical vapors from under potential new housing.

How thorough will the cleanup be for the proposed new Community West Park near Prairie City Road? For the open space area north of the park? For the single-family high-density homes just north of the site, and for the commercial and multi-family units to the south?

Levels of contamination: The Remedial Action Plan (RAP) for Area 40 says that the site poses unacceptable risk to human and ecological health, which is true. However, the RAP does not mention that the levels of TCE in shallow groundwater, soil gas and even outdoor air are among the highest observed in California. The site has up to 120,000 μg/L TCE in shallow groundwater, which is 24,000 times the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 5 μg/L TCE. The site has up to 268 million μg/m3 TCE in soil gas, which is 8 million times the EPA default screening level for protecting residents from TCE vapor intrusion into indoor air. The levels of TCE are so high on portions of the site, that levels of TCE in outdoor air 4 foot above the ground pose a risk for fetal heart defects. Levels of TCE are likely to be even higher for infants or small children breathing closer to the ground and individuals laying or picnicking on the ground.

The City of Folsom and the developers are focused on whether the park can go into the proposed area. The risk assessment for human health is based on limited park use.

During the cleanup additional contamination may be found, which could change the scope or nature of the cleanup.

June 20: Learn about this site – make your thoughts known at the meeting scheduled for 6pm at the Folsom Community Center, Western Conference Room, 52 Natoma Street, in Folsom.

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