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Southern California prepares for population increase

Plan unveiled for Riverside, other counties

Preparing for a region that will grow by 6.3 million people by the year 2030, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) unveiled "The Compass Vision," an unprecedented strategy to accommodate that growth while alleviating traffic congestion, improving air quality and sustaining a livable region.

With attractions like the lush Murrieta golf course, southern Riverside communities like Lake Elsinore, Murrieta and Temecula are experiencing a growth spurt.

Local elected officials and business leaders from throughout Southern California joined SCAG officials in announcing The Compass Vision, its long-term blueprint for Riverside, Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. The plan, called "The 2% Strategy: Shared Values; Shared Future," was presented late June at three news conferences in Orange County, the Inland Empire and in Los Angeles.

It offers a growth vision for the next 30 years on jobs, housing and mixed-use development in centers and major transportation corridors. Estimates indicate there will be an additional 6.3 million people in the region by 2030, for a total population of nearly 23 million people. If current trends continue, traffic congestion will more than double in 2030.

"This strategy is the growth vision of the people of Southern California," said Ron Roberts, city of Temecula Council member and President of the SCAG Regional Council. "It is the result of 13 public workshops and contact with thousands of residents. It's a vision of shared values for the next 30 years and how we will address transportation, jobs and housing."

The plan is the culmination of a landmark project called "Southern California Compass," a collaborative regional planning effort launched in 2002 by SCAG. The Compass Growth Vision document is intended to convey a common understanding and image of how the region should develop over the next decades. It is not a comprehensive plan or zoning map.

"The choices we make today will affect the results of tomorrow," said Toni Young, mayor of the city of Port Hueneme and second vice president of the SCAG Regional Council. "We need to begin planning for our future today. This 2 percent strategy is not a detailed zoning map. It's our compass that will direct us in the right course."

"It is our hope that Compass will serve as a critical guide to city and county decision-makers, providing them with a regional framework for how to make local land use and transportation decisions more effectively and efficiently," said Bev Perry, Brea City Councilwoman, immediate past president of SCAG and chair of the SCAG Growth Visioning Subcommittee.

"This is an important beginning," said Susan Longville, San Bernardino City Council member, and member of the SCAG Regional Council. "Our next critical step will be to develop the tools and policies to implement this strategy."

The plan outlines four principles for implementation:

1. Improve mobility for all residents

? Encourage transportation investments and land-use decisions that are mutually supportive.

? Locate new housing near existing jobs and new jobs near existing housing.

? Encourage transit-oriented development.

? Promote a variety of travel choices.

2. Foster livability in all communities

? Promote infill development and redevelopment to revitalize existing communities.

? Promote developments that provide a mix of uses.

? Promote "people-scaled," walkable communities.

? Support preservation of stable, single-family neighborhoods.

3. Enable prosperity for all people

? Provide a variety of housing types to meet the needs of all income levels in each community.

? Support educational opportunities that promote balanced growth.

? Ensure environmental justice regardless of race, ethnicity or income class.

? Support local and state fiscal policies that encourage balanced growth.

? Encourage civic engagement.

4. Promote sustainability for future generations

? Preserve rural, agricultural, recreational and environmentally sensitive areas.

? Focus development in urban centers and existing cities.

? Develop strategies to accommodate growth that use resources efficiently, eliminate pollution and significantly reduce waste.

? Utilize "green" development techniques.

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