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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Considerations for Mitigating VehicleMiles Traveled under SB 743

  • Author(s): Elkind, Ethan;
  • Lamm, Ted
  • et al.

Pursuant to Senate Bill 743 (Steinberg, 2013), which reformed the process for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of transportation impacts to align with greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research identified vehicle miles traveled (VMT) as the key metric to measure transportation impacts of new developments under CEQA.

As a result, project developers will now have to reduce VMT to mitigate significant transportation impacts. While methods for reducing VMT impacts are well understood, implementing VMT reduction measures thatare directly linked or near to individual developments may be difficult in some situations. As a result, broader and more flexible approaches to VMT mitigation may be necessary, such as VMT mitigation “banks” or “exchanges.” In a mitigation bank, developers would commit funds instead of undertaking specific on-site mitigation projects, and then a local or regional authority could aggregate funds and deploy them to top-priority projects throughout the jurisdiction. Similarly, in amitigation exchange, developers would be permitted to select from a list of pre-approved mitigation projects throughout the jurisdiction (or propose their own), without needing to mitigate their transportation impacts on-site.

To understand how VMT banks or exchanges could be implemented in California, researchers from UC Berkeley assessed the structural and legal considerations of VMT banks and exchanges to determine which approach and scope would be most appropriate for each implementing jurisdiction (i.e., city, county, region, state). Key research findings are presented in this brief.

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