Oakland’s environmental review guidelines contradicted the city’s expressed goals of creating vibrant urban spaces, encouraging healthy lifestyles, and reducing emissions. Today, it is a model for the rest of the state, both on how to adjust development review to better align with goals and how to comply with forthcoming state guidance mandating that cities move away from focusing exclusively on intersection congestion in environmental review.
Oakland’s previous environmental review process was centered on level of service (LOS), a metric that narrowly focuses on traffic congestion at intersections, giving the one or two people in a car the same weight as the 40 or 50 people in a bus and ignoring conditions for cyclists and pedestrians. Attempting to mitigate issues with LOS caused Oakland to inadvertently make it hard to build the sustainable infill development the city had prioritized through its planning documents.
Nelson\Nygaard helped Oakland better align its development-review process to its goals. Working with people from neighborhoods, city departments, and regional agencies, we helped revise the city’s approach to analyzing how new developments and infrastructure investments affect the transportation system. We also ensured that the city was one of the first in California to comply with forthcoming statewide regulations on transportation-impact analysis (driven by SB 743) while facilitating development and transportation projects that make Oakland a better place to live and get around.