The battle between the California Infill Builders Federation and the Council of Infill Builders may be ending. I’ve written about the unfortunate spat before, where the nominally pro-infill Federation was pushing a bill to first roll-back, then delay, important reforms to the California Environmental Quality Act and its analysis of transportation impacts for infill. The California Planning & Development Report has a great paywalled piece on the fight that I summarized.
But now the Federation seems to be taking a much more sensible approach. In amendments posted Monday, the group deleted language that would delay the implementation of the regulations. Instead, the bill would give the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research authority to give all residential and mixed-use projects in “transit priority areas” (within 1/2 mile of major transit) an outright pass on transportation analysis. Outlying sprawl projects would still have to undergo a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) analysis.
This change would give much more certainty to infill project developers, who would otherwise have to determine if they should apply VMT or not (most wouldn’t have to do any transportation analysis anyway under the proposed guidelines, but it’s always nice to have certainty). And the “pass” wouldn’t apply to bad projects near transit, such as parking garages and big box stores. Those uses might still need to do a VMT analysis. Meanwhile, the preservation of VMT in outlying areas is critical to transforming how we treat sprawl in California.
Overall, it’s a welcome change. Let’s hope the “Infill Wars” are over and we can get back to the business of sensible CEQA reforms.