Explanation of the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA and how it will affect Drivers

This article first appeared in the NMA Foundation’s Driving Freedoms Magazine Spring 2019 edition.

Beyond the rules update mentioned in the article, All Traffic is Local; additional CEQA rules will be coming online soon that could have an even more significant impact on street design. By July 2020, all California cities will be required to update their transportation impact analysis from “Level of Service” (LOS) to “Vehicle Miles Traveled” (VMT). Rather than treating traffic congestion faced by drivers as an environmental impact, this new metric instead would consider the act of driving itself as the environmental impact.

For decades, the transportation impacts of all projects subject to CEQA, which included housing developments, apartment complexes, sporting venues, and transportation infrastructure, were evaluated using the LOS. This has been the standard of measure for automobile traffic congestion at signalized intersections surrounding a project site. Any project determined to have a significant impact on LOS has been required to provide mitigation measures, which frequently included road widenings. The change of the standard to VMT will allow development projects to address impacts through alternative transportation measures such as car-sharing, transit, pedestrian/bicycle infrastructure and unbundled parking (separating the cost of renting a parking space from the cost of renting an apartment).

If you have interest in this motorist rights issue, please consider joining the NMA and other like-minded folks who have joined together to fight against these sorts of rule changes.

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