What is Senate Bill 743?
Senate Bill (SB) 743 is a California law that changes how Local jurisdictions, like the County of San Diego, analyze transportation impacts in environmental reviews under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Below are answers to some frequently asked questions to help explain the new law.
How were transportation impacts analyzed before July 1, 2020?
- Impacts were analyzed by quantifying traffic congestion as measured by the level of service (LOS).
- LOS measured road congestion at intersections or stretches of road based on the flow of traffic from LOS A, “free flow,” of traffic to LOS F, “forced flow” or delayed traffic.
- This method of analysis focused on the number of automobile trips generated by a project and whether it contributed to road congestion.
- The more trips a project created, the higher the project’s impact on the nearby roads. If a project created an LOS of E or below, then it would have had significant transportation impacts.
How are transportation impacts analyzed now that SB 743 has gone into effect?
- Local jurisdictions now analyze impacts by quantifying how much and how far people drive using a measure called Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT).
- VMT uses the total number of miles generated by a project to determine if the traffic generated by a project will exceed an acceptable level.
- Jurisdictions, like the County, choose what level of VMT qualifies as a transportation impact, following specific State guidelines.
How will transportation impacts be reduced or mitigated?
- Before July 1, 2020, an LOS analysis would identify transportation impacts to road congestion or the amount of time that vehicles were delayed.
- LOS impacts were reduced by building new roads or travel lanes, widening of existing roads, installation of traffic control devices such as traffic signals, or adding turn lanes. Also, projects addressed cumulative impacts by paying Transportation Impact Fees.
- Since July 1, 2020, VMT analyses now determine the impacts of a new plan or project by comparing its estimated VMT to the average VMT in the surrounding area.
- VMT is mitigated by increasing opportunities for non-automobile travel such as increasing transit, providing for active transportation such as walking and biking, and participating in mitigation banks.
Will LOS still be used outside of CEQA?
SB 743 preserves local government authority to make planning decisions. Local jurisdictions can still use LOS and congestion for issues not related to CEQA review requirements. How and when LOS analysis is required will be decided by each jurisdiction.
Why did the State make the change?
Section 1. (b)(2) of the law states that the Legislature intended to "balance the needs of [traffic] congestion management with statewide goals related to:"
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from cars,
- Encouraging new home construction in areas where there are existing homes and roads, and
- Supporting the development of transportation networks for all modes of travel.
To learn more, click on the below icons:
- Governor’s Office of Planning and Research’s SB 743 Webpage
- Institute of Traffic Engineers (ITE), San Diego Chapter