Last week I noted the curious case of a pro-infill group pushing an anti-infill bill. AB 779 seeks to delay or roll back reform to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which greatly benefits infill by removing the requirement for a traffic study for most infill projects.
As we discussed in an op-ed published in the San Francisco Chronicle (“’Driving Miles’ is Best Measure of New Development,” November 19, 2014), the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) unduly penalizes urban-oriented infill projects over outlying, auto-centric projects when it comes to evaluating impacts on traffic — an analysis that too often provides project opponents with leverage to defeat projects or scale back their environmentally friendly elements. As a result, we strongly supported SB 743 (Steinberg, 2013) and its requirement that “level of service” traffic studies be replaced with a metric like vehicle miles traveled.
The members of the Council of Infill Builders are committed to building a better California through well-planned, beautiful, and convenient infill projects. We were gratified that the state recognized the undue burdens placed on infill through CEQA’s transportation analysis process and sought to instead reward them through a much more sensible VMT metric. Any effort to delay or rollback this badly needed reform will only serve to benefit the status quo, with its inherent bias in favor of business-as-usual development patterns that have greatly harmed California’s environment, economy and quality of life. California should move forward to encourage infill options for its residents. AB 779 will serve only to halt that progress.
The Assembly Natural Resources Committee will have a hearing on the bill at 1:30pm. I’ll stay tuned in case fireworks fly.
UPDATE: The Committee passed it 7-0, so I’ll continue to track this story.