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Smart Growth in Rural California, a Working Paper

California has embarked upon a new era of land use planning that looks to the smart growth principles of compact and transit oriented development to achieve economic and environmental sustainability while furthering public health and social equity. With the passage of the Sustainable Communities Strategy and Climate Protection Act in 2009 (SB 375) and local public finance proposals, such as SB 1 (Steinberg) that would create sustainable communities investment authorities, local governments are being encouraged and incentivized to plan and invest within this framework of smart growth.  Yet, many of these policies and efforts neglect and exclude some of California’s most disadvantaged areas: rural, and in particular, unincorporated “legacy” communities.

To facilitate a conversation on how to plan for the future of California in its entirety, we review how investing in legacy communities is consistent with smart growth principles, and propose a smart growth framework that can guide sustainable, equitable investment in rural communities.

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