Governor Signs Complete Streets Legislation

A Complete Streets Plan from New York

To almost no fan fare, last week Governor Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 1358, Assemblyman Leto’s Complete Streets Legislation, into law.  According to a press release from the Complete Streets Coalition, this legislation requires:

and counties to include complete streets policies as part of their
general plans so that roadways are designed to safely accommodate all
users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, transit riders, children,
older people, and disabled people, as well as motorists.

While the new law is a major victory for Livable Streets Advocates, especially the California Bike Coalition who listed the passage of this legislation as their top priority in recent years, advocates’ work is far from over.  Jim Brown, the Communications Director for the CBC, commented in a recent Streetsblog post about complete streets:

Caltrans has an internal policy called Deputy Directive 64 that
calls for consideration of the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians for
state highway projects, including design, construction and maintenance.
That policy is being updated and strengthened to more clearly align
with Complete Streets principles and could be unveiled in the next few

In both cases everything depends on implementation. For AB 1358 the
Governor’s Office of Planning & Research will develop general plan
update guidelines that will (ideally) carry out the policy expressed in
the bill. And DD-64 is just a statement of policy — next will come
development of specific implementation guidelines. The work is just

Image: Streetsblog

  • jessica

    Woot Woot!!! That’s great news.

  • Live the Dream! Here’s to calm streets with a “boulevard-like feel” !

  • I’ve obviously got to read the text of this law again, but I fail to see how this will change the way a government agency takes into account non-car transportation in the public right of way.

    For many worthwhile pedestrian and bicycle projects to succeed, car movement must often be sacrificed. That means that the measures of a roadway (Level Of Service, Average Daily Trips, Vehicle Miles Traveled) will show that a pedestrian and bicycle project have made a street worse!

    A state mandate for “complete streets” is meaningless without any specific standards from the state that define “complete streets”. It encourages a hodgepodge of local laws that have to do with roadway planning, and it requires local entities to spend money crafting and then passing into law that hodgepodge.

    A more effective law would amend the code which directs local governments to create a General Plan’s Mobility section. The State should outline specific scenarios that will allow the existing car-only roadway measures to be ignored or bypassed, in favor of other types of roadway measurement.

    All of this “complete streets” hokum will fall on traffic engineers desks, and all they know how to do is follow guidelines and trade practice in service of private automobile throughput. With no specific criteria for degrading automobile throughput, how will this law be effective?

  • This law is a dodge. The people who worked to get it passed have no solution, only a vague idea of “accommodation”. This bill orders a government agency to do the work that the bill’s supporters should have done before proposing the darn thing in the first place!

    The legislative counsel’s digest (on the first page) indicates that the standards for “complete” streets will have to be crafted by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. This agency will have to craft guidelines that can be acted upon by the legislature (between January 2009 to 2014), because this law has no teeth.

    We’re left with the legally vague “in a manner that is suitable” language for accommodation. Unless we’ve got some insane lobbyist “in” with this department, why demand that they develop statewide standards?

    Come to the legislature with the standards that will do what you want!

    Who is doing the strategic policy planning for bicyclists in California? A group of hopeful middle schoolers?

    “Hey Assemblyman, dogs. We think you should pass a bill to protect dogs”.

    “Hmm, okay kids, I passed a bill which will require the Office of Large Stacks of Documents to develop an essay section for you city’s dog catcher job position. They’ll get back to us with their proposed essay section in 5 years, which may or may not be approved by the legislature at that time.”

    “Yay dogs!”

  • It does seem odd that the CBC has had this listed this as their “top legislative priority” for years, despite the lack of teeth. There have to be planning and transportation regulations that have been written for other jurisdictions (Scandanavia? Germany?) that spell out the kinds of considerations and usability metrics we want. Can’t we just cut-and-paste, and make whatever concessions are necessary in the text in negotiations, instead of starting from scratch?

  • I’d be curious to hear an informed assessment of how Complete Streets will affect the distribution of money from Measure R. I’m still torn on whether to vote for or against. Is Streetsblog going to make some kind of endorsement?

  • I wasn’t planning on making any sort of endorsement for or against Measure R or Prop 1a. We do have some opinion pieces coming up in the next couple of days for both Prop 1a and Measure R. After I get back from Mexico, I’ll probably write about my personal views, but that would be for Street Heat not Streetsblog. Honestly? Measure R is a tough one for me to. On one hand, how can I vote against funding for some of these transit projects? On the other hand, how can I vote for projects such as the 710 Tunnel Project? Tough one.

  • Eric Fredericks

    Hi Damien,

    You may want to update your post. Caltrans has officially adopted the updated Deputy Directive 64. The updated directive now includes more “teeth,” if you will, and specifically includes provisions for Complete Streets.

    While we are aware that is just a policy, part of the directive requires us to develop an implementation plan, which we’ve already been working on for several months in anticipation of the adopted policy. That is the area where our policies will actually become part of plans and programs.

    The updated policy is located here: Let me know if you have problems accessing it.

    Eric Fredericks

  • If “Bicycle Level Of Service” or “Pedestrian Level Of Service” is mentioned, I’m going to mail some of my boogers to the CBC.

  • I think the language in the above link from Eric looks pretty good. When I’m back in town next week, I’ll do a story on it that spells it out. I was going to just cut and paste it, but it comes out all weird and I don’t have the time right now to format it correctly.

    And no, when it talks about LOS it talks about it for everyone without separating the modes. If LA would adopt that, we’d be on our way…