Draft CEQA Standards Aim to Relax Parking Rules

1_22_09_ceqa_parking.jpg
CEQA Standards Require Projects to Provide Adequate Car Parking.  However, that May Change.

Recently, Governor Schwarzenegger has come under fire for calling on President Obama to relax environmental rules to help stimulate the economy.   However, new proposed environmental standards may finally be changing the way the government looks at transportation and development. 

Anytime a development requires a permit from the state government, it must meet certain standards under the California Environmental Quality Act.  Critics have charged that the CEQA standards, because of the state’s seeming belief that the number of cars on the road has little to do with pollution standards.  However, the new proposed rules seem to start going back on that theory by eliminating state parking requirements and motorized Level of Service requirements. Could the state finally be pulling back from its car culture planning paradigm?

After the jump, you can see the proposed changes.  If you want to let the state know how much you like the proposed regulations, you can send comments to CEQA.GHG@opr.ca.gov,  but make sure you do it by the close of business on Monday, July 26.  For a full list of all the changes, click here.

XVI. TRANSPORTATION/TRAFFIC — Would the project: 

a) Cause
an increase in traffic which is substantial in relation to the existing
traffic load and capacity of the street system (i.e., r
Result in a substantial increase in eitherthe number of vehicle trips, the volume to capacity ratio on the roads, or congestion at intersections) roadway vehicle volume or vehicle miles traveled?

b)
Exceed, either individually or cumulatively, a level of service
standard established by the county congestion management agency for
designated roads or highways? 

cb) Result in
a change in air traffic patterns, including either an increase in
traffic levels or a change in location that results in substantial
safety risks? 

dc) Substantially increase
hazards due to a design feature (e.g., sharp curves or dangerous
intersections) or incompatible uses (e.g., farm equipment)? 

ed) Result in inadequate emergency access? 

f) Result in inadequate parking capacity? 

ef) Conflict with adopted policies, plans, or programs supporting alternative transportation (e.g., bus turnouts, bicycle racks)?

Photo: Timothy Felsrow/Flickr

  • Wow, that would be a big change, but it looks like they still want the number of cars drawn to a project to be taken into account. Is VMT really the best way to measure that?

    And roadway vehicle volume – isn’t that just Level of Service?

    If a project will increase VMT, and will increase the roadway vehicle volume – then what should be the mitigations to that? From what I’ve seen, high induced VMT is only “mitigated” with wider roads, more turn lanes, hundreds of thousands spent on traffic signals, etc.

    That is preventing “traffic” by making it easier for traffic to collect!

    Well, this is one step in the right direction I suppose.

  • “Wow, that would be a big change, but it looks like they still want the number of cars drawn to a project to be taken into account. Is VMT really the best way to measure that?”
    VMT is probably the better measure of traffic impacts compared with LOS.

    “And roadway vehicle volume – isn’t that just Level of Service?”
    No. LOS is a measure of delay. It also provides more wiggle room for mitigations that provide for bikes and peds instead of just insuring that motorist delay is not significantly impacted.

    Damien, This is big. I hope you post more on this in the future.

    -Chris

  • Seems like it could be a step in the right direction. . . but if they do this they’d need to put back some of the funding they took away from public transit agencies. A development that draws people without providing parking isn’t going to have much success without good public transit. I expect that this will lead to more developers building along Wilshre or existing major transit thoroughfares. Gentrification along the expo line, perhaps?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Replacing LOS: Experts Debate How CA Should Measure Transpo Impacts

|
California planning experts continue to debate how to most effectively measure transportation impacts in a way that will foster smarter growth, after the state abandoned the car-centric metric known as Level of Service (LOS). The acronym-laden process of measuring transportation under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) may be complex and wonky, but it’s certainly important. In […]

Excitement, Confusion Over Proposed Changes to CEQA

|
With today’s deadline looming for comments on new rules governing the way the state analyzes transportation planning impacts, many transportation planners and engineers remain confused about what the new rules might mean while others join advocates in hoping that new rules will create better projects. SB 743, signed into law last year, removes traffic Level of […]

CEQA Reform Update: Is This the End for LOS?

|
Finally, some sanity may be coming to California’s most important environmental protection law, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Under current law, all projects, be they rail lines, bike plans, or new buildings would have to prove that it would not impact local driving times or it would have to complete a costly mitigation plan. […]