California is starting to make a huge change. The state is finally acknowledging that what’s bad for the environment (and for communities) is the amount of driving we do, not the amount of traffic.
Take Action! Help make this historic change happen:?
– Attend the workshop November 3 in Sacramento to speak up in support of a better measure of environmental impact in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
– Email your comments on new draft guidelines (to CEQA.Guidelines AT ceres.ca.gov) by Nov 21.
Measuring Environmental Impacts
Until now, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) used Level of Service (LOS) to evaluate new development projects. LOS measures how much a project will slow down cars. Last year, the state passed SB 743, removing LOS. Now, the state’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) has released draft guidelines recommending a new way to measure transportation impacts: Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT).
Using VMT means that if a project causes more driving, that’s considered a negative impact on the environment. That makes a lot more sense. With VMT as the new metric, projects like bike lanes, public transit, and new homes near transit will all be easier to build.
Join ClimatePlan and partners to tell the state:
1) VMT is the best metric to replace LOS. The more miles driven, the more greenhouse gas emissions we create, the more climate change we cause. VMT is the best metric to measure a project’s transportation impacts on the environment.
2) These guidelines should promote real reductions in VMT. Currently, the draft proposes defining a “significant impact” as VMT that is higher than the regional average. We don’t want to continue with the existing average! That won’t reduce VMT nearly enough to meet the state’s sustainability goals. We need a better threshold that’s science-based, well-researched, and proven to meet the state’s sustainability goals.
3) OPR needs to make the language very clear. OPR can ensure projects do not face additional litigation and help incentivize the right types of projects by giving more clarity and guidance. It needs to be clear what kinds of projects “generally may be considered to have less than significant transportation impacts”.
ClimatePlan is currently working with our partners to submit comments. Please submit yours! OPR will read and incorporate comments and come out with a new draft early next year.
For more information, check out the following:
There are many misconceptions swirling about these guidelines. For information that corrects some of the myths out there, read on:
– Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Preliminary Discussion Draft of Guidelines Implementing Senate Bill 743 (by Office of Planning and Research)
– Setting the record straight on the Governor’s CEQA reform proposal (by Amanda Eaken, Deputy Director of Sustainable Communities at Natural Resources Defense Council)
– Misleading Attacks on California’s New Transportation Analysis Under CEQA (by Ethan Elkind, Associate Director of the Climate Change and Business Program at UC Berkeley)