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Open Access Publications from the University of California

SB 743 Implementation: Challenges and Opportunities


California’s Senate Bill (SB) 743, enacted in 2013, marks a historic shift in how the traffic impacts of development projects are to be evaluated and mitigated statewide. To help achieve state climate policy and sustainability goals, SB 743 eliminates traffic delay as an environmental impact under the California Environmental Quality Act. State implementing guidelines for SB 743 instead require an assessment of vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The adoption of the guidelines sparked debate and raised far-reaching questions about development planning. Our research consisted of four parts. First, we considered how the state guidelines might be applied by analyzing travel patterns across and within California cities in relation to the guidelines. We also interviewed fortythree professional transportation consultants and regional and local planners to provide insights on SB 743 implementation. In addition, we carried out extensive case studies of San Francisco and Pasadena, where policies had already been adopted to align with SB 743. Finally, to help assess the technical challenges involved in SB 743 implementation, we tested two VMT estimation tools in common use and considered the practical challenges facing tool users. We find that SB 743 implementation is likely to present some transitional challenges for city planners, but the long-term prospects for improving transportation planning as a result of the law are promising.

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