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League Continues to Have Concerns with CEQA Guidelines Update Required by 2013’s SB 743

March 1, 2016
The League on Feb. 26 submitted comments to Gov. Jerry Brown's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) on the Revised Proposal on Updates to the CEQA Guidelines on Evaluating Transportation Impacts in CEQA.
 
Although these have gone through several drafts, the League continues to have serious concerns with the proposed CEQA Guidelines Update.

The public comment period closed on Feb. 29. However, OPR has the ability to issue an additional revised document following public comment. The League would like OPR to consider stakeholder comments and issue a new revised proposal for additional public input.
 
Background
 
OPR began to update the CEQA Guidelines following Governor Brown’s signature on SB 743 (Steinberg, 2013), which created a process to change the way that transportation impacts are analyzed under CEQA. Specifically, SB 743 required OPR to amend the CEQA Guidelines to provide an alternative to LOS for evaluating transportation impacts. Particularly within areas served by transit, those alternative criteria must “promote the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the development of multimodal transportation networks, and a diversity of land uses.” (New Public Resources Code Section 21099(b)(1).)
 
Measurements of transportation impacts may include “vehicle miles traveled, vehicle miles traveled per capita, automobile trip generation rates, or automobile trips generated.” (Ibid.) Once the CEQA Guidelines are amended to include those alternative criteria, auto delay will no longer be considered a significant impact under CEQA. (Id. at subd. (b)(2).) Transportation impacts related to air quality, noise and safety must still be analyzed under CEQA where appropriate. (Id. at subd. (b)(3).) SB 743 also amended congestion management law to allow cities and counties to opt out of LOS standards within certain infill areas. (See Amended Government Code Sections 65088.1 and 65088.4.)


 
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