Why is the City changing its method for analyzing transportation impacts?

In 2013, the State of California passed SB 743 (Steinberg), which changes the way transportation impacts must be analyzed under CEQA. Historically, cities in California have used LOS to measure transportation impacts. However, the State established VMT as the appropriate methodology for measuring transportation impacts and updated the CEQA Guidelines in 2018 to reflect this transition from LOS to VMT. The State also established July 1, 2020 as the date for cities to begin implementing the new law.6. Why did the State pass legislation to adopt this change?

SB 743 (Steinberg) states that "New methodologies under the California Environmental Quality Act are needed for evaluating transportation impacts that are better able to promote the State's goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and traffic-related air pollution, promoting the development of a multimodal transportation system, and providing clean, efficient access to destinations." The State has shifted away from using LOS because measuring congestion can have the unintended consequence of encouraging urban sprawl. Under LOS, new development is incentivized to locate in more remote areas to avoid increasing traffic congestion on busy streets and triggering significant transportation impacts under CEQA. This often results in greater vehicle use and traffic congestion overall because people must travel longer distances to reach destinations. The State has selected VMT as the new methodology because it can help achieve the ultimate goals of CEQA, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and minimizing environmental impacts. VMT encourages developing in already developed areas and the mixing of uses, which reduce the need for vehicle travel. VMT also encourages the use of active transportation and transit, which have smaller environmental footprints than vehicle travel and promote healthier lifestyles. Furthermore, VMT is already used in CEQA documents to calculate LOS impacts, air quality, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Show All Answers

1. What is CEQA?
2. How does CEQA require public agencies to measure transportation impacts?
3. What is Level of Service (LOS)?
4. What is Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT)?
5. Why is the City changing its method for analyzing transportation impacts?
6. What does this mean for the City of Milpitas's ongoing current and long-range planning efforts?
7. What is the timeline for these changes?
8. Does my ability to engage in land use and transportation decisions change?
9. How will this change impact the City's ability to ask developers for transportation investments?
10. How will the CEQA process change?
11. Will the shift to VMT make it easier or harder to develop in my neighborhood?
12. How will the shift to VMT impact new development projects?
13. How will this change impact housing and housing affordability?
14. How does this change impact the environment?
15. What are the impacts o business?
16. How are transportation impacts minimized or mitigated now compared to before?
17. How will this change impact parking?