The New Book of California Tomorrow

New Book of California TomorrowThe New Book of California Tomorrow: Reflections and Projections from the Golden State. Los Altos, Ca.: William Kaufmann, 1985.


The environmental organization California Tomorrow, 1962-1983, was a green group with a difference. While raising the first alarm against heedless growth and suburban sprawl, California Tomorrow sought solutions in a great government reform. Under its model California Tomorrow Plan, the state would set the broad outlines of land use, while unified regional governments would take over many tasks now done by cities, counties, and specialized multi-county agencies. In this book I gathered some of the most influential and thought-provoking writings by the group and by the eloquent thinkers who contributed to its journal, Cry California.


It is almost hard to call to mind, after all these years of alarm and debate about the degradation of the California land, the clamor that followed the publication in 1962 of a little book called California, Going, Going . . . .

That pamphlet (it has been compared to Thomas Paine’s Common Sense) was the first real outcry about what was happening to the landscape, water, air and civilization of a state that was absorbing a huge population growth and making little attempt to absorb it gracefully. The issues it raised have been so familiar to us ever since that we forget where they were first articulated. But it is here, if we trace it back, that we find one of the opening guns in the statewide freeway revolt. It is here that we find the first serious complaint about the quality of the vast new suburban rings then forming around the old center cities. It is here that we find the first alarm about the loss of agricultural land to diffuse development, and the first systematic critique of the California Water Plan.

California, Going, Going . . . was the platform and first product an organization that, for two decades, would serve as a sort of think-tank and agenda-setter for the planning and conservation movements in California: California Tomorrow.

. . . .

From the beginning to the end, California Tomorrow was out there scouting the way. It was, quite deliberately, “ahead of its time.” But the times may catch up to many of its ideas. As attitudes shift and policies change in the next few decades, I think Californians will recognize more than once, in that future-become-present, some of the old California Tomorrow cairns and blazes.


Hart’s collection is a comprehensive history of planning in California, with both the problems analyzed and the solutions proposed. Hart deftly chooses the most enlightening of the literature, organizes it, comments on it, and leaves us with some hope for the future. –Pacific Sun

Gone, but not forgotten. That seems an appropriate cliché for California Tomorrow, a conservation minded group of planners that faded out of the scene in the spring of 1983. The articles provide an excellent documentation of a restive period of planning for California. –Keep Tahoe Blue

I always knew we were involved in something kind of nifty back then, but I didn’t realize until reading John Hart’s introduction just how grand and important it was. I think he has done a wonderful job on the editing and in placing it all in context. –T. H. Watkins, author and California Tomorrow contributor

A considerable collection of articles, all of which appeared in the publications of California Tomorrow and are concerned with the “Golden State’s” future. The whole is done in highly articulate, vigorous and constructive style and will be of the utmost value to those undertaking American Studies or Political or Economic Geography. –The Book Exchange

Next post:

Previous post: