Southern California Association of Governments Stalling on CEQA Reform

By James Brasuell : planetizen : excerpt
One of the largest, most influential regional governments in the state has asked for exemptions from changes to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) that will measure Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) instead of Level of Service (LOS).

“[The Southern California Association of Government] sent a last-minute letter attempting to delay progressive updates to California’s outdated environmental standards,” according to an article by Melanie Curry, who explains in more detail.

In the letter [PDF], Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG)—the regional transportation planning organization for much of southern California—requested exemptions for highway expansion projects and freight corridors from proposed state rules that could show their true environmental impact in a way that old rules do not.

In effect, SCAG is asking the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, which is developing the reformed CEQA requirements, to “limit the new VMT measure to projects that are close to transit, and also to ‘grandfather in’ highway expansion and freight corridor projects that have already been approved in planning documents.” According to an environmentalist source cited in the article, it looks like SCAG is asking for exemptions on projects that won’t perform will under the new environmental review process in the state. According to a SCAG source, the letter was meant to “request that OPR focus first on transit priority areas and allow a longer opt-in period for other areas.”… (more)

San Francisco is not alone in its request for exemption from the Governor’s new bill. Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) wants exemptions related to LOS and VMT.

With temperatures rising you can’t expect people to give up there air-conditioned cars to ride buses, bikes and walk. No one in their right mind wants to put themselves in that position. The best solution for the environment is to build solar sufficient housing and that is 4 to 5 stories maximum. Then you will need a state law that protects those solar units from shade by nearby buildings. Sort of the opposite of stack and pack units being pushed now.

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