When you live in Los Angeles like we do, you quickly learn that the reason public transportation isn't a viable option for much of the population is because the region was developed with a sprawling, suburban mentality.

California's state lawmakers have passed a bill that would attempt to reward local governments that develop urban planning methods that prevent urban sprawl, improve public transportation and -- as a result -- reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.

"The bill's proponents and transportation experts say it is the first measure in the nation to link government transportation funding with urban planning and CO2-reduction goals," The Wall Street Journal reported today. . . . Transportation experts say they expect the bill to become a model for state and national policy makers."

Under the new bill, regional planning authorities will have to develop realistic plans to meet emission-reduction targets in order to receive transportation funding and lighter regulations for builders. Compact projects built close to public-transportation options are rewarded with fewer regulatory hurdles.

It's not yet clear whether Gov. Schwarzenegger will sign the bill.