SIRI: Sustainable and Inclusive Regions Initiative

The purpose of this initiative is to bring together UC Berkeley planning, engineering, and design faculty members' research and ideas on transit, housing, and jobs to develop policies for regions that are sustainable and inclusive.

Members of the initiative are all taking part in a California-centered conversation on regional planning spurred by SB375, the 2008 Sustainable Communities Strategy, but each member works on a different angle. Holistic approaches are needed to connect planning efforts with issues of employment, community development, affordable housing, and mobility, all of which must equitably include all the residents of a region.

With a supportive institutional and regulatory environment increasingly in place, many cities around the world and, indeed, around California, are developing corridor-based transportation policies and, for the first time in many instances, initiating comprehensive planning processes, as illustrated by HUD-EPA-FTA Partnership for Sustainable Communities and its national Sustainable Communities Initiative. In the U.S., cap-and-trade initiatives and carbon-reduction mandates are growing, while New Urbanist movements such as Complete Streets and form-based zoning are posed to transform today’s cities.  

Around the world, metropolitan areas are seeing rapid growth in high-capacity transit such as BRT systems. Nonprofit organizations such as Smart Growth America and TransForm are also ensuring that sustainability is institutionalized into planning processes.

At the same time, new market trends and lifestyle shifts are also bolstering this approach, including robust real-estate demand for walkable communities and transit-oriented districts, growth in central-city populations, and reduced auto-dependence among Millennials.

It is intended that the work of the members of the Sustainable and Inclusive Regions Initiative will lead to the tools that are needed to create plans that promote sustainability and equity at the regional level as these policies take shape.

SIRI Principles
: What makes a sustainable and inclusive region?

  • Resourceful use of land, natural environments, infrastructure facilities, and services, which can be achieved through urban planning and design, regulations, efficient pricing, marketing of best-case practices, and other initiatives;
  • Activities, goods, and services that are accessible to all, at an affordable price; and
  • A shared vision of desirable urban futures and systems of governance that allows effective, inclusive, and lasting collaborations and partnerships.

The work of the SIRI members falls into three broad clusters:

    Regional governance--in order to develop more inclusive regions, research and policy needs to account for the changing institutional and political landscape of regional governance.

    Policy impacts and investment--research is needed on the types of policies and financial investments that will ensure that all citizens share in the opportunities created by federal and state investment in sustainable, inclusive regions.

    Transit policies for access and sustainability--research is needed to identify and reduce the barriers to affordable and accessible sustainable transportation system planning at the local and regional level.

Cluster members: Cervero, Chatman, Deakin, Frick, Waddell, Walker