The San Francisco Chronicle is running a joint op-ed today from the Council of Infill Builders and Greenbelt Alliance that supports Gov. Brown’s efforts on SB 743. As you may recall, the controversial implementation of this law will allow transit-friendly infill projects to escape the need for litigation-enabling traffic studies, while requiring sprawl projects to reduce their overall impact on regional traffic and driving miles.
The op-ed seems to be a response to a misguided outcry from state business leaders who claim to want more infill but see this reform as simply creating more “uncertainty” for infill projects. Their claims are basically meritless, and the real aim seems to be a larger campaign to unravel the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). After all, slowly fixing the seriously deficient parts of the law, like with this traffic analysis, undermines their case for wholesale change.
As the piece describes of the transportation impacts analysis:
This perverse result has to change, and the Brown administration is taking action. Following a 2013 state law, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research has developed an alternative way to address traffic effects. Project developers must now look at how a project will affect the overall driving miles as measured throughout the metropolitan region. So downtown-oriented projects, where most people can walk, take transit or bike (modes of transport that are good for the environment and relieve traffic regionwide), would not trigger lengthy CEQA review on this particular issue. Outlying projects, however, must account for the regional traffic they generate and mitigate where feasible. Mitigation could include anything from free transit passes for residents to adding more jobs and retail opportunities on-site so residents don’t have to drive long distances to access them.
I hope Governor Brown follows the advice here and stays the course. CEQA was long overdue for this modernization. Final comments to OPR are due on Friday.