Potential Economic Consequences of Local Nonconformity to Regional Land Use and Transportation Plans Using a Spatial Economic Model


To achieve the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets that are required by California’s global warming legislation (AB32), the state of California has determined that recent growth trends in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) must be curtailed. In recognition of this, Senate Bill 375 (SB375) requires regional governments to develop land use and transportation plans or Sustainable Community Strategies (SCSs) that will achieve regional GHG targets largely though reduced VMT. Although the bill requires such a plan, it does not require local governments to adopt general plans that conform to this plan. In California, it is local, not regional, governments that have authority over land development decisions. Instead, SB375 relies on democratic participatory processes and relatively modest financial and regulatory incentives for SCS implementation. As a result, it is quite possible that some local governments within a region may decide not to conform to their SCS. In this study, a spatial economic model (PECAS) is applied in the Sacramento region (California, U.S.) to understand what the economic and equity consequences might be to jurisdictions that do and do not implement SCS land use plans in a region. An understanding of these consequences provides insight into jurisdictions’ motivations for compliance and thus, strategies for more effective implementation of SB375.



Dr. Caroline Rodier is associate director of the Urban Land Use and Transportation Center (ULTRANS) at the University of California, Davis. Her major areas of research include transportation and environmental planning and policy analysis. She has extensive experience applying land use and transportation demand models to evaluate the travel, economic, equity and air quality effects of a wide range of transportation and land use policies, including intelligent transportation systems technologies, high-occupancy-vehicle lanes, transit improvements, road pricing, and land use control measures. Most recently, she has applied the Sacramento PECAS model with the SACSIM model to evaluate the equity, consumer surplus, and producer surplus of the Blueprint Plan for the Sacramento region. Dr. Rodier has also provided extensive research support to the California Air Resources Board in their development of the scoping plan for Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, including an international review of the modeling evidence on the effectiveness of transit, land use, and auto pricing strategies.


Margot Spiller works as a junior specialist at the Urban Land Use and Transportation Center. She received her B.S. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and M.S. in transportation engineering and M.C.P in city planning from University of California, Berkeley. She ultimately plans to work as a transportation engineer and planner. Her research interests include the land use and transportation connection and emissions reductions from the transportation sector. This is her first co-authored report.


Dr. John Abraham has been involved in computer simulations of transportation systems since 1989, when he developed commercial software for pipeline simulations. In 1992 he began to study urban systems, emphasizing models of the interaction between land use and transportation. Dr. Abraham’s 1994 master’s thesis explored the locational choices of multi-worker households in an urban setting by extending the state-of-the-art in behavioral modeling techniques. His 2000 Ph.D. thesis investigated calibration and validation processes for urban models.


Dr. John Douglas Hunt is a professor in Transportation Engineering and Planning in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Calgary. Dr. Hunt received his B.S. at the University of Alberta in 1981 and his Ph.D. at Cambridge in 1988. Dr. Hunt’s research interests include mathematical modeling of transportation-related aspects of human behavior, with primary areas of focus in the interaction between transportation and land use; stated response techniques for obtaining data for estimation of model parameters; and automobile parking behavior and parking policy. His recent and on-going activities include: developing a land use and transport model of Edmonton using the MEPLAN framework; participating in a study to compare land use and transport models of Sacramento based on alternative modeling frameworks; advising two British Rail subsidiaries, Union Railways and European Passenger Services, on the forecasting of the demand for international rail services using the Channel Tunnel; conducting a study using stated response techniques to measure and quantify Calgarians’ attitudes to elements of urban form, including mobility, density, taxes and the environment; developing a model of mode and parking location choice in Calgary using the EMME/2 framework; investigating methods of representing the joint choice of workplace location, home location and travel mode to work using data collected in Calgary. Dr. Hunt was the recipient of the departmental teaching excellence award in 2002.


June 2011


Consumer surplus
Land use modeling
Transit-oriented development
Travel modeling