California — Nov. 28, 2017 — Yesterday the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research released an update to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This update is the most comprehensive revision since the 1990s.

Among the most important changes is a requirement that state agencies stop using Level of Service (LOS) to measure environmental impacts and instead replace it with Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT). This change was called for by S.B. 743, a bill passed in the waning days of the 2013 legislative session.

For years, planners have been using car traffic delay—a measure known as “level of service” or LOS—as a proxy for all the environmental impacts of travel. What it meant was that car delay was counted as a negative impact, but delay to people in buses or trains, on bikes, and on foot was not accounted for—except where their presence might cause delay to cars.

. . . Jeffrey Tumlin, a principal at Nelson\Nygaard who has many years of experience planning in California, points out that the guidelines reduce uncertainty, ambiguity, and contradictions that have plagued CEQA processes for years. “This is hugely important,” he said. “It is a huge, positive step forward. It maintains a lot of flexibility for lead agencies, and just requires that we do our homework, particularly with cities and regions that have transit.”

Read the full article on California Streetsblog, by Melanie Curry

photo credit: Google Street View