Another argument for ditching the Level of Service-based traffic study under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA): a judge yesterday halted a proposed infill apartment tower complex in Hollywood because the proponents failed to adequately study the potential backup the project could cause on the Hollywood Freeway:
The judge cited concerns by Caltrans, which wanted a study of the 101 Freeway on-ramps and off-ramps near the project to address concerns about long lines of cars as a result of the development. The judge said the city’s traffic study did not comply with what Caltrans wanted, “and the city was not free to ignore it.”
The judge also cited Caltrans’ concerns about safety, including long queues of cars on the off-ramps between Vermont and Highland avenues, where vehicles could back up into intersections.
So we can’t get 35- and 39-story apartment buildings right next to a heavy rail subway station because it might inconvenience car drivers on the freeway nearby. I can’t think of a better poster child for why the state should continue its effort to ditch this kind of traffic study in favor of one that deals with the overall impact on driving miles.
Oddly, the pro-infill California Infill Builders Federation is pushing AB 779 to keep this status quo. But under the state’s proposed guidelines per SB 743 (Steinberg, 2013), this kind of analysis wouldn’t even be undertaken in the first place, and we’d have hundreds of housing units in the pipeline above major rail transit.
Somehow I don’t think the developer Millenium will be rushing to join the Infill Builders Federation board anytime soon. But then again, with this group, you never know.