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Car Culture

Bill Seeking to Reduce VMT Moves Through State Senate


Yesterday, the Times wrote an excellent editorial promoting AB 842, “Reducing Greenhouse Gases from Sprawl."  This legislation would require cities and counties to have a plan to reduce vehicle miles traveled by 10% before they could receive "Prop C" funds fro Department of Housing and Community Development which are now doled out based on a development's proximity to transit and other criteria.  AB 842 will prioritize helping development in communities that are
also working to reduce people's dependency on cars.  The state budgets
roughly $850 million in Prop C funds for development annually.

The legislation, authored by Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) was heard yesterday by the Senate Transportation Committee and passed by a 9-3-1 vote.  Proving that neither sprawl or car culture are strictly partisan issues, Republican Abel Maldando of San Jose joined 8 democrats in supporting the bill.

What makes this legislation so interesting is that it doesn’t aim to reduce “congestion” or “emissions” which are goals that can be fudged or distorted, especially in long range planning documents.  After all, the City of Los Angeles, Metro and SCAG all still seem to think that you can fight congestion by building more highways and adding surface street capacity.  By setting the bar at reducing vehicle miles traveled, Jones is basically requiring community goals of less car dependency and more investment in alternative transportation.

As for the argument that older cities, such as Los Angeles, will be disproportionately hurt by this legislation?  Well, the Times actually says it best.

Some critics worry that older urban areas such as Los Angeles might lose out because it would be harder here to reduce the average number of vehicle miles. Nonsense. Urban areas must continue their investment in transit-oriented development; it can only help to create more incentive for such investment. AB 842 would work for Los Angeles twice: by encouraging continued transit planning and by stemming the growth of automobile traffic into and out of the region from adjacent counties.

The bill must be heard and passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee before going to a full vote of the Senate.  The Assembly has already passed AB 842.

Photo: Jim Frazier/Flickr

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