ARB reviewed San Joaquin’s SCS — And you’ll never guess what they found!

The Air Resources Board recently reviewed San Joaquin Council’s Regional Transportation Plan, and will discuss the plan at the Air Resources Board hearing tomorrow, May 21.

Teaser: Page 62 will surprise you!

The review’s most important conclusion was that San Joaquin will meet the greenhouse-gas reduction targets under SB 375.

Here are a few highlights:

If the plan is implemented, new development would be nearly twice as compact as development under “business as usual”:

Fig20_ARB_SJV-300x180.png

A greater portion of homes would be multifamily homes, which are more often more affordable and provide more flexibility for young people and seniors ready to downsize:

Fig22_ARB_SJV-300x202.png 

It would significantly increase the number of jobs and homes near transit:

Fig23_ARB_SJV-300x181.png

Tens of thousands of acres of farmland would be preserved, protecting the county’s agricultural economy and heritageFig24_ARB_SJV-300x196.png

Investment in transit, road maintenance, and safe routes for walking and biking would increase significantly – made possible by dedicating less funding for road expansion:Fig27_ARB_SJV-300x188.png 

Through these strategies and more, ARB found, the region would meet its targets.

Checking the math on VMT

The most interesting point for those following SB 375 modeling discussions was how much interregional travel is impacting the estimates. We’ve long heard that this is a crucial piece of the model, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley where it makes up such a high fraction of the travel. How many trips are really made by people driving across the county, or at least out of or into it? ARB reviewed this closely, using different interregional travel assumptions to test the impact on the results.

Originally, San Joaquin COG had estimated a drop in VMT (per-capita vehicle-miles traveled) of 27% between 2005 and 2035. That drop would be the highest in the state, causing many observers to scratch their heads doubtfully.

A new estimate

Under ARB’s approach, the reduction in per-person miles driven is closer to 16%.

That’s a very significant shift, from 27% to 16%. It shows how essential it is to get interregional travel estimates right.

But here’s the thing: A 16% reduction in miles driven is still impressive. It compares favorably with other regions.

Looking ahead

As the Air Resources Board looks ahead to updating its targets for the entire San Joaquin Valley, the forecast for San Joaquin County show that the region can do much more than meet its current targets.

San Joaquin’s Sustainable Communities Strategy is a great step forward. Efforts to implement the plan are already under way with the creation of the 2014 RTP Working Group, which will also look at how the next plan can improve in several crucial ways – increased public health measurements and strategies, and expanded public participation, particularly from environmental justice communities. This work is already paying off, with several new projects breaking ground to build affordable homes and revitalize the region’s communities.

Thanks to all who’ve weighed in on this — we’ll continue to track it closely.

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