Is This The Week CEQA Is Reformed?

Sep 9th, 2013 | Posted by

For the last 12 months proposals to reform the California Environmental Quality Act have circulated in the state capitol in Sacramento. This week may be the week that a reform is finally approved by legislators – perhaps only to be vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. Streetsblog LA reviews the situation regarding CEQA reform:

Followers of the statehouse seem unsure whether the legislation will pass in the last days. Those that believe the effort is doomed point to Steinberg’s recent introduction of legislation that would exempt the construction of a basketball arena in Sacramento from CEQA as proof the Senator doesn’t believe SB 731 will pass. Others note that the Senator is still shopping amendments to 731, something a powerful senior senator wouldn’t do at this stage unless there was a clear endgame.

Further complicating issues, Governor Jerry Brown has hinted he may veto 731 even if it does pass. The governor that once proudly declared he “never met a CEQA exemption he didn’t like,” is worried that if 731 becomes law, stronger legislation won’t pass in future sessions.

Two major issues remain unresolved, and they both involve reforms that should unite environmentalists, urbanists, and transit advocates. The first is the effort to remove impact to traffic as a factor under CEQA. The notorious case of the San Francisco Bicycle Master Plan being held up for years by a CEQA lawsuit charging that adding bike lanes would create more traffic impact is perhaps the highest profile example of the egregious, anti-environment impacts of mandating that traffic impacts be considered under CEQA. That aspect of CEQA is routinely used to block projects that would reduce carbon emissions and protect open space.

Bruce Reznik of the Planning and Conservation League believes such a reform should be included in SB 731:

CEQA reform should eliminate auto delay as a significant impact under CEQA, Reznik argues. The reforms should include requiring compliance with the state’s Complete Streets law, improve transit, bicycle and pedestrian accessibility to jobs, education, housing and services, especially for low-income communities and insure that the impacts of projects and development don’t fall disproportionally on communities of lesser means.

I’ve had my disagreements with PCL in the past, but they are absolutely right on this one.

The other issue is whether CEQA will be reformed to make it easier to build infill development. PCL and other groups wrote to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg to argue against such changes:

“Unchecked, the displacement of residents and neighborhood-serving businesses that can no longer stay in a neighborhood because of escalating rents/property values brought on by new development, can have significant harmful environmental, social, and health equity consequences. We believe these impacts should be fully incorporated into the CEQA framework. “

Here I part ways (again) with PCL. Their comment is rooted in the flawed theory that infill development is what causes displacement and rising rents. As San Francisco proves, the opposite is the case. Rules that limit or block infill development cause rents to skyrocket, since potential renters are all fighting over a small, finite set of available units. By allowing new infill development, those renters who have more income are able to take the newly built apartments rather than displace someone from an existing unit. New development may not stop rising rents, not without other policies, but they can help increase the vacancy rate and slow the rate of increase, along with giving more protection to current tenants.

Greater infill development is also essential to reducing pressure for construction on open space or in exurbs. By building more housing stock in urban centers, where commutes are usually shorter and non-automobile transportation options are more easily available, carbon emissions are reduced as well.

The guiding principle of CEQA reform needs to be to make it easy for Californians to do the right thing for the environment AND the climate. Addressing the traffic impact issue and making infill development easier are both important aspects of that reform. Hopefully those will pass, in some form, this year.

  1. Wells
    Sep 9th, 2013 at 21:01
    #1

    Quotable Quote: “GET THAT TRAIN OUT of MY state, NOW!” Gov Scott Walker upon taking office. Talgo/America was formed in 1942, commissioned to engineer the world’s first “tilting” HSR coach and tender design. Year 2012, 70 years later, Talgo/America produces another original, a driver/cab that meets American Standards. Why in hell would Gov Walker NOT LIKE the MADE-IN-USA label one might ask oneself, perhaps? That’s what you call gall. Gov Walker NOT FOR USA-made products. Whatever.
    GOTALGO GOTALGO GOTALGO GOTALGO GOTALGO GOTALGO …G O…T A L G O…

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Is there an actual, published source for that quote besides the two quotations similar to what you have?

    It is interesting to note that the first Talgo equipment sets were built under contract in the USA in the 1940s by American Car & Foundry, and were exported to Spain.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Because he believes the state should not spend money on building and operating the trains running this USA-made equipment.

  2. joe
    Sep 9th, 2013 at 22:03
    #2

    PCL is high.

    Noe Valley flat I moved into when it sold in 1996 for 425k. It was then sold for 750k in 2001 and then for 1.2M in 2004.

    No infill happened to drive this price spike. No big CEQA development. Those old 189x homes just became popular, crime went down and rents sky-rocketed.

    Implied is that infill and gentrification lowers crime. That’s what drives up rents. Lowering Crime.

    In 1996 drug dealers operating in the open were threatening people who lived across from Delores Park to stay away or risk retaliation.

  3. VBobier
    Sep 9th, 2013 at 22:15
    #3

    So far SB 731 has been in this committee and that committee in the Assembly, it’s only gotten 1 Noe vote so far from the NAT. RES. committee, it’s now in its 3rd reading after being amended twice, once on its 2nd reading and once on its 3rd reading, do I think it could pass? Yes, do I know if it will pass? No. 731 has been passed by the Local Government and Appropriations committees with no opposition. I’ll continue to watch this bill, hopefully it will become law.

  4. Keith Saggers
    Sep 10th, 2013 at 10:59
    #4
  5. agb5
    Sep 10th, 2013 at 15:55
    #5

    Hurry, hurry, only one day left to get the additional 99,297 votes needed to petition the obama administration to Fund the Musk San Francisco to LA Hyperloop.

  6. Eric
    Sep 10th, 2013 at 16:31
    #6

    As a transportation engineer for the state, I can say its a really bad idea to remove traffic impacts as a component under CEQA. I review permits and what are called “IGR”s, (inter-governmental reviews) which allow the state to require developers to build improvements to the state and local road network to mitigate the impact of traffic generated by their projects, be they residential, commercial, or whatever, in nature. This allows us to protect the State Highways (in the case of state engineers) and local roads (from the city and county side of things) from being overloaded from new development. Absent a mechanism or legal requirement to do this, road networks would be overloaded and have to be improved at taxpayer expense. SB45 (1997) changed the ratio of funding from 75 State 25 Local to 75 Local and 25 State. So often the state relies on developers to improve the highways and access to the highways because the locals have most of the money now.

    Jon Reply:

    road networks would be overloaded and have to be improved at taxpayer expense

    By ‘improved’, you mean ‘widened’. Why is this necessary? Allow congestion to occur and people will naturally seek out more efficient alternatives. Just make sure to allow for bus lanes and bike lanes when required so that those alternatives are viable.

    jimsf Reply:

    No. All that happens if you don’t make developers contribute to improvements to offset impacts, is that the developers get to skip off to the bank with more profit while dumping the problems on the taxpayers. You can’t just let the congestion build up because the residents won’t put up with it. They will insist the roads be improved because there is no existing alternative for most of them. Even if there is public transit available for getting to and from work, in most of california, a car is still a requirement for everything else. The vast majority of california is still rural and rural suburban and unless you live and work in the city of los angeles or the city of san francisco, you can not have any quality of life for a family without a vehicle.

    Jon Reply:

    We can and should make developers mitigate the congestion they create in other ways, such as have them pay towards the cost of bike and transit facilities. We should also use the planning and approval process to disincentivise or disallow projects that will create congestion by offering large amounts of free parking or which are located in areas only accessible by car. San Francisco already does both of these things. There is no reason why other cities can’t, even if they are less dense than SF.

    Saying “this is how things are so we have to keep doing it” is a cop-out. Nothing will every change unless you force it to. Each new project accessible by walking/transit/bike makes California less car dependent; each new project accessible only by car reinforces the status quo.

    Resident Reply:

    really cuz where do bikes go? On roads? Where do the grocery store deliveries go? On roads. Where do emergency vehicle go? On roads. Where do the deliveries for CVS, OSH, Mike Bikes, BR, lunch trucks for the union laborers, construction materials, tomatoes, garlic, shoes, eggs…. where do they go Jon? On roads? Where do pedestrians go? Where do bicyclists go Jon? What happens when you neglect and create gridlock on roads and freeways Jon? You shut down the fucking economy Jon.

    Jon Reply:

    Straw man. Where did I say we should shut down the roads? Obviously we should maintain them for deliveries, emergency vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, and a certain amount of general traffic. We just don’t need to waste money making them wider than they already are.

    If you’re really worried about gridlock shutting down the economy, implement congestion pricing. It’s more effective than widening roads and it actually pays for itself.

    Resident Reply:

    first you ASSumed that when Eric talks about improving roads commensurate with the growth caused by development that he automatically means widening. Does improving also perhaps include something like adding safer bike lanes? barriers? more traffic lights?

    second – ‘congestion pricing’. Brilliant, so when dense development adds more people, they do NOTHING to improve roads as you suggest, to address overpopulated roads you create additional costs for road users… so then your groceries and building materials and city services bear the burden, we get higher costs on everything in society, (ie: trash the economy) all because you’re a gigantic baby, can’t see past the end of your outstretched hand, and you want to funnel all transportation funding to your once a year train ride to disneyland.

    Resident Reply:

    I didn’t say you said you wanted to shut them down. I said you wanted neglect them, and create gridlock.

    Derek Reply:

    to address overpopulated roads you create additional costs for road users…

    And lower their taxes by an equal amount. So in the end you’ll have no congestion and lower taxes, all for the cost of the congestion pricing. That’s two benefits for the price of one! Who doesn’t like 2-for-1 deals?

    trash the economy

    Lowering taxes will improve the economy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Lowering taxes will improve the economy.

    That’s been working out real well hasn’t it?

    Jon Reply:

    Yeah, the economy of London has really been trashed since they introduced congestion pricing.

    I don’t want to see gridlock either, but I would deal with congestion through disincetiviaing driving (congestion fees, gas tax, parking fees) and incentivizing other modes (funding for transit, bike and ped facilities). I would also disincentivise developments that encourage driving (e.g. large developments in a remote location) and incentivise developments that don’t (e.g. smaller infill development in the central locations). If you split that big box Walmart into 10 smaller stores scattered around town, your congestion problem goes away, because the same amount of traffic is dispersed over a wider area.

    So funny to watch people kick and scream when you suggest the radical concept of not widening roads just because a developer demands that we do so.

    Eric Reply:

    Except that 10 smaller stores would cost probably 2-3 times as much to operate in total. There’s a very good reason its called “economy of scale”. There’s a lot of fixed costs that go with operating a store. Instead of say 2 security people per shift at 1 store I need 1 person per shift at 10 stores. Instead of 8 checkers I need 10. Instead of 2 trucks making one stop to deliver I need 3-4 trucks making multiple stops each. Big retailers aren’t going to make stores smaller when serving a big population.

    Derek Reply:

    It would employ more people and create much, much more tax revenue per acre. And if big retailers don’t want to make their stores smaller, then we’ll have fewer chain stores and more mom & pop shops. It’s a big win all around.

    Reedman Reply:

    Economist Milton Freidman was touring Communist China many years ago, and was shown a canal project, with thousands of people using shovels to move dirt by hand. He asked his guide why earthmoving machinery wasn’t being used. The guide asked a nearby government official, and the response was “The project is more about creating jobs than creating a canal. Freidman then asked:

    “Why not use spoons?”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Except that 10 smaller stores would cost probably 2-3 times as much to operate in total. There’s a very good reason its called “economy of scale”.

    Are you counting customers’ transportation costs to the store, and local subsidies Wal-Mart gets from towns?

    Eric Reply:

    Alon Levy – no, I’m not counting customer transportation costs to his store, because the man operating the stores DOESN”T CARE about that. He cares about his own balance sheet and not much else. I’m not sure where local subsidies for the stores came into the argument…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You have to care about customer transportation costs. As an extreme limiting case, ask yourself why people don’t just go to Sri Lanka to buy clothes for $8 that retail for hundreds of dollars in first-world countries. There’s no Wal-Mart in New York because of small business NIMBYism, but there are Targets (which are quite successful since unlike Wal-Mart Target modifies its store layout somewhat to serve urban customers) and Costcos, and despite their success most New Yorkers don’t set foot in them because the model of having people travel from far away to get groceries once a week doesn’t work as well as the model of having people walk 5 minutes to the supermarket whenever they’d like. Wal-Mart and the other discounters thrive in areas where the 5-minute walk option is not available.

    The subsidies angle is that Wal-Mart’s economies of scale are efficient not just at lowering costs, but also at seeking rents from local governments.

    Eric Reply:

    They used to, through the Gas Tax, but that has not kept up with the cost of maintenance, let alone the added capacity needed as time moves on. As I said earlier, federal gas tax has been stagnant for 20 years now. How expensive was gas in 1993? what was minimum wage back then? How much was the dollar worth?
    That money builds pedestrian facilities for what its worth. Should the 1% of the population who uses sidewalks in rural areas be burdened with paying for them? through a walking tax?
    Developers pay to build new roads, and enhance capacity (lanes, signals, signs, ramps, etc) through the CEQA process. The public then maintains those public roads through the normal process. If the tax coffers had enough to build them up front, I’d say fine, but they don’t. Congress has been propping up the State Highway Fund with general fund money for the last several years, but illogically refuse to increase the gas tax. Why isn’t there a stink about that? They’re increasing the debt because they won’t increase taxes. Its hard to really call it an increase ($0.25/gal), when the increase proposed probably won’t return it to the value the 1993 tax rate had.
    Meanwhile, in general, the roads and bridges currently need more maintenance than ever.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …gridlock… it’s why the Upper East Side is being depopulated.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Bikes, local deliveries, and pedestrians don’t need six-lane 80 km/h arterials.

    Resident Reply:

    ‘local deliveries’. Yes, you mean like deliveries of concrete and lumber to the construction sight down the road, from the concrete factory and logging operation down the street? or the food deliveries to the grocery store from the meat packing plant, the dairy farm, the produce farms, the canning plant – all of which are right next to the concrete factory? which I guess is right across the street from the quarry, on Main Street? What ARE ‘local deliveries’ Alon? By the way – where do the bikes and the bike parts come from again?

    But guess what – the consideration of adverse traffic impacts on local roads will also be removed from the CEQA requirements – so the local roads that the bikes, pedestrians and ‘local deliveries’ DO need are also going to be trashed under this law as well. Even more so because local roads are likely more constrained, have less resources to draw upon than state funded six lane freeways.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    yes it’s why those pathetic people on the Upper East Side have to eat in soup kitchens… And travel out to Queens to buy clothes or to the Bronx to find a doctor….

    Eric Reply:

    Well, bikes don’t, but trucks do. Not all economic activity is local. They need interstates. They need Farm to Market roads. They need inter-regional Highways. They need interchange facilities with Ports, Railyards, Canals, and warehouses. And they need efficient movement between them. Letting the streets get congested, as ill-informed a suggestion as it is, increases the cost of moving anything, whether they be commuters or trucks. Trucks are a vital part of the economy, just as are trains and overseas shipping. You’re living in the idealized dreamworld where everybody walks to the corner store to get groceries on the way home from work, which they take the bus to every day and drops them off at the end of the block near their brownstone walk-up. And sure, that would be a nice place to live, but that describes less than .0001 percent of America, and would cost trillions of dollars to rebuild the American landscape to those standards.
    And don’t get me wrong. I’m pro-transit. I’m all for bike lanes, routes, and separated trails, Light rail, HOV facilities, what have you…They provide a great way of shifting demand to other modes or reducing the burden on overtaxed streets and highways. But that shift is never going to be 100% nor should it be. To NOT make improvements to roads (and yes, in some cases, this means widening, otherwise known as adding capacity) when called for by demand/congestion is inane. Traffic is always one of the biggest impacts to a developer, and if they got out of that requirement, they’d be laughing all the way to the bank. Laughing AT YOU. Roads, in a good state of repair, are essential for many things, including emergency response, evacuation, and yes getting to and from work.

    Derek Reply:

    They need interstates.

    Why not railroads? Interstates and railroads serve the same purpose.

    Letting the streets get congested…increases the cost of moving anything, whether they be commuters or trucks.

    Allowing roads to get congested increases the cost of transportation but lowers the burden on taxpayers to widen the road. Therefore, a little congestion is fiscally optimal on an unpriced road, at least until the cost of the congestion equals the cost of widening the road (when MR=MC).

    Eric Reply:

    “Why not railroads? Interstates and railroads serve the same purpose.”

    To some extent they do. Interstates don’t ship bulk items, like grain, oil, coal, chemicals, lumber, etc. Its not cost effective to do so. The problem with shipping by rail is time and distance. High priority items will often ship by road because the point to point is faster. The vast majority of shipments from companies like FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc, ship by truck because the loading and unloading operations are an extra step that takes time, and more often than not its not in proximity to the destination distribution point. With Distance, you’re looking at how far does it ship. From one state to the next, roads are faster. Cross country, you may find that rail can be faster even with load and unloading figured in. So, you need interstates for the times when rail can’t serve you cost effectively.

    “Allowing roads to get congested increases the cost of transportation but lowers the burden on taxpayers to widen the road.” again, not if the developers pay for it! which is the point of CEQA, to get the developers to pay for it. And we’re not talking about a little congestion. And we’re not JUST talking about projects that cause “a little congestion” this law must cover all situations. Now, small developments many not directly cause a large amount of congestion, and not need to solely bear the burden of widening a road – the road may not need widening for years! But, they can contribute money to a fund that will eventually pay for identified improvements – such a roundabout, traffic signals, transit stops, HOV lanes, Ramp metering, AUX lanes, etc, whatever the local jurisdiction has identified as being in their transportation improvement plan.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The vast majority of shipments from companies like FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc, ship by truck because the loading and unloading operations are an extra step that takes time

    Go to YouTube and search for “UPS train”. UPS, FedEx, the USPS, all ship stuff by train.

    Eric Reply:

    I know about the UPS train. As I said “The vast majority” I never said they didn’t ship by train. But they ship a lot more by Truck, and even when they do ship by rail they have to use trucks to get to and from the train, and more often than not, that involves interstates…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re describing a situation that happened after decades of Interstate construction. If you build free high-speed roads for truckers, they’ll switch to them, leaving railroads with only the lowest-value traffic. In environments where freight railroads can’t compete with seaborne shipping for low-value traffic and have to carry higher-value goods as well as compete for track access with passenger rail, they ship faster and run more punctually. In environments where neither seaborne shipping nor long-distance trucking is feasible – say, Russia – railroads manage to do both.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re living in the idealized dreamworld where everybody walks to the corner store to get groceries on the way home from work, which they take the bus to every day and drops them off at the end of the block near their brownstone walk-up. And sure, that would be a nice place to live, but that describes less than .0001 percent of America, and would cost trillions of dollars to rebuild the American landscape to those standards.

    That actually describes the inner half of New York very well, as well as substantial portions of San Francisco, Washington, Boston, etc. Somehow, 8% of Americans manage without cars, and a few percent more manage with owning a car but rarely using it. 10% is very different from 0.0001%.

    Traffic is always one of the biggest impacts to a developer

    No! Traffic is one of several impacts to a driver. A developer sells houses or apartments. A driver causes those impacts; local government should be going after the drivers, and if developers are at fault then let them lose profits by selling less valuable housing.

    On top of that, traffic is far from the biggest impacts of driving. Car accidents and air pollution kill people. Climate change turns people into refugees. Widening adds car capacity, but makes those problems far worse.

    Eric Reply:

    Developers don’t just build houses or apartments. They build businesses. And in the case of residential developments, access is required. Even if by some magic the project residents all walk everywhere, they need roads for deliveries, mail, emergency response, friends who come over, and to deliver the material and workers to build the houses in the first place. Statistically speaking, according to ITE, the average single family residence generates about 10 trips a day. They may not all be car trips, and some trips are combined (getting groceries on the way back from work, for instance), but about 10 trips is an average.
    You can provide for all these other modes of transportation, but you still need roads. So people are going to drive their cars because there ARE roads. This creates traffic. When the volume of traffic exceeds the capacity of the roads, you get congestion. This creates delays, which increases all road users cost (in time, fuel, maintenance, etc). It isn’t anybody’s fault, its just a fact of life.
    I’m glad you brought up accidents (actually collisions, because “accident” implies intent). When congestion gets worse, driver behavior gets more aggressive, and collisions may occur more frequently. Part of the CEQA review involves design review, ensuring that roads are built to good (State, in my case) standards, that access points aren’t provided in such a way as to minimize the probability of collisions/conflict points.
    Air pollution is another matter entirely. Electric cars, hybrid cars can minimize those impacts, but I’ve seen articles in things like scientific american I think, stating that there isn’t enough lithium on the planet to make every car needed electric. But there are other types that could be made. But in any case, for the general Internal Combustion Engine – idling, congested traffic creates more pollution than smoothly flowing traffic. So when you’re advocating for letting the roads get congested, you’re advocating FOR pollution.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Even if by some magic the project residents all walk everywhere, they need roads for deliveries, mail, emergency response, friends who come over, and to deliver the material and workers to build the houses in the first place.

    But people still use roads to vastly different extents. If the developer pays, then the driver who drives alone to work in the peak direction at 8:30 in the morning pays the same as the person who owns a car but only drives for occasional off-off-peak vacation trips. On average, there’s no difference between charging everyone equally through the developer and charging the drivers. The money is raised in either way. It’s just fairer to require people to pay in proportion to how much road capacity they’re consuming rather than in proportion to how much road capacity the average resident of the average development type they use in the US consumes. But drivers are an entitled bunch and always have been even in times and places where they’re a small minority; they think that congestion pricing is communism and Thatcherism combined. In India they claim bus lanes are discrimination against them on the grounds that the “peons” (direct quote) don’t need to get to work in time as much as the CEO does. Developers in contrast are a convenient target for both hidden subsidies and hidden taxes and if they just pass on costs to residents it’s opaque.

    When congestion gets worse, driver behavior gets more aggressive, and collisions may occur more frequently…

    But in any case, for the general Internal Combustion Engine – idling, congested traffic creates more pollution than smoothly flowing traffic.

    No. Traffic creates accidents. Traffic creates pollution. What you’re describing is all second-order effects. If you widen a road, people will drive more. More vehicle-km means more accidents and more fuel consumed. Central cities, with their hellish traffic jams and famously aggressive drivers, still have fewer accident deaths per capita than their suburbs (compare e.g. New York with its suburbs) because people drive less. When the Interstates were built, US traffic fatalities spiked because of the growth in driving, and traffic fatalities have fallen in recent decades because growth in driving slowed down, while the trend of fatalities per vehicle-km has been constant since data began to be kept in the 1920s. To the extent pedestrian fatalities drop, it’s because pedestrians have been harassed away from roads by decades of social learning that it’s de facto legal to run them over and they should be afraid; wider roads only reinforce this harassment.

    The amount of extra fuel consumed due to traffic congestion according to TTI data is also small – 20 gallons per driver per year, vs. actual fuel consumption of about 600. Recalling cases like the Embarcadero Freeway teardown, in which half the traffic just disappeared, shows that adding road capacity always and invariably adds impact and should be penalized rather than required.

    Congestion inconveniences people. Air pollution and traffic collisions kill. If a road is so necessary that drivers are willing to pay an appropriate pollution tax and drive cars with proper insurance (up to the value of human life, in the millions, rather than up to $50,000 as some US states allow), then by all means, widen it. Just don’t require people who aren’t currently driving on those roads to cough up money for it on fraudulent “widening roads reduces pollution” grounds.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    To the extent pedestrian fatalities drop, it’s because pedestrians have been harassed away from roads by decades of social learning that it’s de facto legal to run them over and they should be afraid; wider roads only reinforce this harassment.

    Wider roads tend to happen where you have to drive everywhere, including to your mailbox at the end of the driveway. If there are no pedestrians, it’s difficult to hit them.
    …I can’t find the study. Something ridiculous, like 25% of all pedestrian-hit-by-vehicle deaths, occur in New York City. Welllll… that’s because there are pedestrians in New York City.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, but it’s not just that road widening causes pedestrians to retreat for physical reasons. It takes a long process of social learning for children to stop playing in the street, even if it’s the same Manhattan street it was in 1920, and to cross the road more cautiously.

    Eric Reply:

    Regarding Congestion pricing, I don’t really have an opinion on it, except to say that in parts of London where I’ve heard its used are already heavily developed and there is practically no room for expansion of the roads and there isn’t really new development going on either (though I may be wrong on that). They are managing the demand for autos as a mode of transportation. They are not managing the demand for trips. Congestion pricing doesn’t change how many people want to go to work, or see the tourist stuff, it just shifts their mode to something else, or cancels the trip entirely – the demand was unmet in that case.
    “Traffic creates accidents.”
    Incorrect. Mechanical problems can cause collisions. Ill-managed conflict points can lead to collisions. Inattentive drivers, aggressive drivers, poor lines of sight, unexpected incidents (kid chasing a ball), DRUNK drivers, sleepy drivers, can all cause collisions…traffic is just traffic. You want to compare City vs. Suburb accident rates, that fine, but not everybody lives in a city, and that’s not going to change. You’re not going to make the suburbs like a city either. My point was that the same number of cars on a congested street will have more emissions than those on a well-flowing streets. One of the reasons I’m a roundabout advocate is because of the fuel efficiency and safety gains.
    Congestion (delay) does more than inconvenience people. It reduces economic activity. The more time spent in traffic is less time for other things. It is unproductive time. One of the economic powerhouses of this country is the highway system, Interstate and otherwise.
    Still waiting on your parking lot size study :)
    Look, the whole point is who pays for roads. Do you want to toll a driver when he leave his house? When he gets onto the freeway? when he pulls into the parking lot at the grocery store? how many times a day should he be stopped for tolls? Its gets silly.
    Residential developers pay for road improvements up front, the cost of which is passed down to the first homeowners for the privilege of living there. Business developments pay for improvements so that customers from a wide as possible area can patronize their business or workers can come to work. That in turn is passed onto customers through the sale of their products either at the site or elsewhere, or employees by charging them for parking spaces. Its the best way of doing business, because in the end, the impacts have been analyzed and accounted for, and engineering judgement, design, and construction have been done on the roads.
    I don’t want to live in a country where every time I turn the corner on a new road I get another toll.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I don’t want to live in a country where every time I turn the corner on a new road I get another toll.

    Then you are all for either taxing the fuel to pay for the roads or a mileage tax? Much simpler to implement and easy to collect.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Incorrect. Mechanical problems can cause collisions. Ill-managed conflict points can lead to collisions. Inattentive drivers, aggressive drivers, poor lines of sight, unexpected incidents (kid chasing a ball), DRUNK drivers, sleepy drivers, can all cause collisions…traffic is just traffic. You want to compare City vs. Suburb accident rates, that fine, but not everybody lives in a city, and that’s not going to change. You’re not going to make the suburbs like a city either. My point was that the same number of cars on a congested street will have more emissions than those on a well-flowing streets. One of the reasons I’m a roundabout advocate is because of the fuel efficiency and safety gains.

    But there are no safety gains from anything. Accident rates are determined by psychology – that’s why the trend in per-vkm accident rate is so consistent across decades. Roundabouts are great. So are grade separations. They make the road safer for cars, but do not change anything systemwide – they permit drivers to drive faster and less cautiously. Ask yourself why the great era of grade-separated freeway construction in the US, the late 1950s and early 1960s, did not herald a trend-bending reduction in per-vkm accident death rate, but contrariwise if anything had slightly worse than average performance.

    What can and should be done is demotorization of the suburbs. It doesn’t mean making them like a city, although permitting developers to build housing like it’s a city without slapping them with huge impact fees, parking requirements that assume every day is Thanksgiving, or community NIMBY rent-seeking would be nice. It means making them more like small French towns, where universal car ownership somehow coexists with 2/3 the distance driven per car as in the US. And it means no more road widening, anywhere, ever. Widening roads means more driving. Building more roads means there will be more cars and they’ll drive longer distances.

    Its the best way of doing business, because in the end, the impacts have been analyzed and accounted for, and engineering judgement, design, and construction have been done on the roads.

    No, it’s the worst way, because the impacts are based on trip and parking generation tables that assume everyone is average plus multiple standard deviations, and everyone is compelled to offer free parking. (The reference here is a writeup by Donald Shoup about the difference between accuracy and precision.) Fuck that. Tokyo works perfectly fine with the opposite rule: no parking minimums, and you can’t own a car without having off-street parking for it, so that people who want a car either get a house with a garage or rent a spot at a public garage (and because of this regulation there’s a market for public garages).

    when he pulls into the parking lot at the grocery store?

    Look, if the grocery store owner wants to offer free parking, then great. If not, then that’s also great – perhaps there’s a paid parking lot, perhaps the grocery store owner figures that he’s in Harlem and car ownership is so low there’s no need for parking. The problem is that people everywhere in the US, including for the most part in Harlem, are required to include free parking as part of the package. It’s stupid to quibble about how the suburbs will never be a city when the regulations in question cover about 85% of the population of New York.

    how many times a day should he be stopped for tolls?

    Zero, there’s high-speed tolling. Toll all the freeways for a start, and the choke points coming into city centers and congested edge cities. Local suburban trips are stupid to toll – the roads aren’t congested enough. Put a VMT charge or something if you insist on a perfect user fee model of roads. Or, better yet, put an appropriate gas tax (start from $4 per gallon and keep going up) and fund everything out of the general fund. Either way, require full life value insurance for every car – anything that’s insured only up to $50,000, or for that matter $1,000,000, should be banned from the transportation network on the grounds of reckless disregard for human life. The purpose is to end pollution and end car-ped collisions, not figure out creative ways to build more of both.

    I don’t want to live in a country where every time I turn the corner on a new road I get another toll.

    And I don’t want to live in a place where the air is hard to breathe. Or where I’m afraid to cross the street during the daytime. Or where the buses are jammed because the transit planners and zoning people in their infinite wisdom upzone only the most remote part of the city in order to maximize transit passenger-km. Or where it’s unsafe for children to walk to school. Difference is, paying tolls doesn’t kill you, but air pollution and car accident just might kill me.

    Derek Reply:

    So when you’re advocating for letting the roads get congested, you’re advocating FOR pollution.

    More pollution per lane-mile, yes. But if you create more facilities for congestion, ultimately you’ll have more cars stuck in traffic than before, and that means more pollution than if you didn’t widen the road.

    There are ways to mitigate this such as tolling and eliminating minimum parking requirements. But then you wouldn’t need to widen the road at all.

    So, widening the road isn’t a solution for traffic congestion or air pollution. In the long term, all it really does is increase transportation capacity–which can be good, but that’s a different result.

    joe Reply:

    I can reduce pollution by allowing the banking system to collapse and destroying the economy. I can think of other ways that don’t involve economic collapse.

    The balance is to permit economic growth and reducing pollution per capita, per dollar of economic activity.

    Joey Reply:

    Not widening roads doesn’t typically cause economic collapse, especially if the money is instead spent on less polluting forms of transportation.

    joe Reply:

    Economic collapse means no need to widen the roads.

    Problem solved.

    Derek Reply:

    The cost of widening a road is nonzero. The cost of not widening a congested road is also nonzero, but not always more than the cost of widening it. Therefore, a certain amount of traffic congestion is fiscally optimal.

    Joey Reply:

    joe: do you even have a thesis here?

    joe Reply:

    Yes.

    The balance is to permit economic growth and reducing pollution per capita, per dollar of economic activity.

    Many ways to restrict pollution and cars and congestion that also harm the economy. Optimizing for one variable is EASY. Economic downturns produce less pollution than expansion.

    Put it this way – you want a job when you graduate? we need economic growth just to create jobs for each year’s additions to the labour force.

    So congestion relief and pollution mitigation have to be tied to economic growth if they’re to be meaningful – interesting – relevant.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The balance is to permit economic growth and reducing pollution per capita, per dollar of economic activity.

    It’s a question of tax and spending distribution, not absolute tax level. Gas tax money isn’t burned. (It should be sent over to Bangladesh et al, which need this economic growth more than the first world, but that’s another story.) It goes to the government, which can then spend it on programs that help the economy, or reduce other taxes.

    As a practical matter, the US brings the rear of the first world in fuel taxes; US gas taxes would be illegal in the EU, which has a minimum gas tax.

    joe Reply:

    Gas tax money isn’t burned. (It should be sent over to Bangladesh et al,

    Yes. Exactly, so you can feel better about yourself.

    People’s Republic of Bangladesh is a government. I’m not interested in sending money to that government.

    And punching people in the face with carbon emissions isn’t rectified with a cash payment even if we could somehow give the them money.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    And punching people in the face with carbon emissions isn’t rectified with a cash payment even if we could somehow give the them money.

    Why not? That’s how it works in modern tort law. Party A commits a tort against party B, party B sues, party A pays damages. Externality taxes are a way to generalize that when party A and party B are both huge, often overlapping sets of people, with no single person causing enough damage to be worth suing. It’s just that for practical purposes, externality taxes go into the general fund rather than specifically to pay damages, e.g. cigarette taxes do not go into a lung cancer fund that can disburse money for research, smoke addiction quitting, and treatment. However, given very large international damages from climate change, country-to-country payments become an economically feasible option. Of course it’s not politically feasible since there’s no rule of law on the international level, just the rule of strongmen like “America” or “Russia” or “China,” but if you try generalizing domestic notions of rule of law, it makes economic sense.

    joe Reply:

    “Why not?” try punching someone in the face. It’s a criminal act.

    No. You can not quantify and monetize everything.

    And again, Bangladesh is a nation, not a person. Nation X pays Nation Y. It’s deals with political abstractions.

    No I am not paying a tax to a second nation since that is a transaction, not a moral act to help a person in need. If there’s a moral obligation, this doesn’t address it.

    And you can arrange your sock draw anyway you want but there is no reason we have to arrange taxes from activity X to pay for Y. It is a gimmick.

    Derek Reply:

    You can not quantify and monetize everything.

    You only say that because we haven’t tried.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    “Why not?” try punching someone in the face. It’s a criminal act.

    It’s also a tort. Most people don’t sue because most people aren’t worth suing. But personal injury lawsuits are common when rich people or companies kill people, injure people, etc.

    No I am not paying a tax to a second nation since that is a transaction, not a moral act to help a person in need.

    Income taxes are also a transaction. So is enforcing US patents in third-world countries. So is paying damages if your factory’s safety system is so shoddy workers lose fingers.

    Eric Reply:

    Alon Levy:
    “But there are no safety gains from anything. Accident rates are determined by psychology – that’s why the trend in per-vkm accident rate is so consistent across decades.”
    Psychology may play a part in collision rates (with driver behavior), and I don’t know about “decades”, but according to
    http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx
    Fatal accident rates in 2011 are about 60% of where they were in 1994.
    Freeways of the 50s and 60s didn’t have to content with the volume of traffic that today’s roads do, and they did not have the standards of design we do now…roads today are designed with much safer features than in the 50s and 60s. We have all kinds of safety gains compared with roads in those decades. Better striping. Larger traffic signal faces. Wider shoulders. Better safety railing design. Better lighting standards. Wider medians. Better crosswalk markings. Hybrid Beacons and Rapid Flashing Beacons for pedestrians. ADA facilities and features. The list, literally, goes on.
    “It means making them more like small French towns, where universal car ownership somehow coexists with 2/3 the distance driven per car as in the US. And it means no more road widening, anywhere, ever.”
    Want to live in France, go live in France…absolutes like “no road widening ever” is frankly an unrealistic goal. You can encourage other modes, you can discourage driving, but populations will grows, homes will be built, and some roads will eventually need widening. These are the facts your honor, and they are undisputed.
    “Tokyo works perfectly fine with the opposite rule: no parking minimums, and you can’t own a car without having off-street parking for it, so that people who want a car either get a house with a garage or rent a spot at a public garage (and because of this regulation there’s a market for public garages).”
    Tokyo is probably the most densely populated urban area on the planet; that’s why they can get away with that. Real estate in Tokyo is insane compared to the “average” town in California. Remember this is about CEQA, not Tokyo, or Harlem.
    “Zero, there’s high-speed tolling.”
    Sure. There’s also several different providers, and they’re not all compatible. How many should the driver be required to have an account with?
    $4.00 a gallon fuel tax? Well, that’s one way to shut down the American economy. At the moment I’d go with about a 25 cent increase in the federal fuel tax; that’s been stuck at its current level since 1993. It needs raising desperately. ASCE had been advocating a 1 cent a month increase phased in over two years, but the Tea Party (American Taliban) republicans have been nixing any improvement in the fuel tax for years.
    “The purpose is to end pollution and end car-ped collisions, not figure out creative ways to build more of both.”
    I could do that by banning pedestrians and requiring electric cars everywhere. But I don’t that is a realistic goal either. What you want to do is to drastically impact the economy in a negative way.
    And for what its worth, the FARS data for 2011 show that there are about 1/4 as many ped fatalities as there are vehicle occupant fatalities.

    Derek:
    “So, widening the road isn’t a solution for traffic congestion or air pollution.”
    Widening does increase capacity. Congestion occurs because the road does not have enough capacity. Widening relieves congestion. There may be a pent up demand for trips that sent unmet before, and to the capacity may fill up again (in the extreme case), but that also says to me that re-routed trips are now taking a shorter trip, and VMT goes down. Congestion on those other roads is lowered as well.

    Alon Levy:
    “Gas tax money isn’t burned. (It should be sent over to Bangladesh et al, which need this economic growth more than the first world, but that’s another story.) It goes to the government, which can then spend it on programs that help the economy, or reduce other taxes.”
    Federally speaking, Gas tax money is typically spent on road construction and maintenance, a small portion goes to transit and a small portion goes to reduction of the federal debt. None of it goes to Bangledash, thank god. It bad enough that california doesn’t get back all the gas tax money sent to the feds (a donor state) but there’s no need to spend gas tax money on other countries.
    “As a practical matter, the US brings the rear of the first world in fuel taxes; US gas taxes would be illegal in the EU, which has a minimum gas tax.”
    This is the first thing you’ve said that makes sense, the gas tax is too low. That’s one reason that (when this discussion started) that traffic impacts need to be a part of CEQA; government doesn’t have enough money to spend on road construction dollars everywhere; that’s one reason why we need CEQA to require developers to mitigate the impacts of traffic created by their projects.

    Derek Reply:

    Widening relieves congestion. There may be a pent up demand for trips that sent unmet before, and to the capacity may fill up again (in the extreme case)…

    The fiscally optimal number of lanes on an unpriced road is not the number where there’s never any congestion, but the number where the cost of that congestion equals the cost of adding lanes (MR=MC). In other words, if adding lanes costs more overall than not adding them, then it’s a waste of money to add them.

    Because the fiscally optimal number of lanes results in congestion on an unpriced road, congestion on an unpriced road is not an “extreme case.”

    Of course, civil engineers don’t believe this, because they tend to prioritize traffic volume over cost. This is why engineers must not be given the final say when spending someone else’s money. (I can say this because I’m also an engineer, just another kind).

    Eric Reply:

    Derek: that’s a valid point of view if you believe roads are a business. They are not. Roads aren’t there to make a profit. They’re there to serve the public. Not every trip is there to make money. Roads are there for emergency access, for kids to go to school, and for people to visit their grandmothers.
    Costs would be hard to quantify anyway. You can account for the costs of congestion somewhat – vehicle costs in maintenance and fuel – but its near impossible to determine the economic activity cost.
    The point is this isn’t an academic argument. Alon Levy and you are bringing up idealized situations, about what would better serve the public with tax structures and environmental concerns, and none of those are going to happen in the real world in the state of California.
    This is about CEQA, and whether or not traffic should be an impact, environmentally speaking. Heck, Alon’s arguments make that case for me, he believes traffic will be the death of everybody.
    CEQA isn’t there to force a mode choice on someone, it is to protect the environment.

    Derek Reply:

    Eric, why can’t or why shouldn’t people pay for the roads in proportion to the benefit each person receives from them? Does the same answer apply to hired drivers and private jets and high-speed rail? (It should.)

    Eric Reply:

    Bike and transit facilities. That’s great. How many people do you know who go shopping at Wal-Mart, Lowes, Home Depot, Sears, Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics, RC Willeys, Target, etc, by bicycle? Most things you go shopping for are by the carload. Every try to take your new 50″ plasma on a transit bus? Transit can address commuting, and it can address SOME shopping trips where you’re getting small portable items, but that doesn’t cover the typical family’s grocery shopping.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People survived quite contently before there were cars. Millions of them, right here in the USA, do it today.
    People who live in places where many people are carless have solutions to all of those problems. There are these things called cabs. And Zipcar and it’s competiors. But then in places where many people are carless, the businesses, hoping to attract the carless, offer delivery services. The cashier pauses after asking “is there anything else I can help you with?” to ask “will you be taking this or would you like it delivered” and after getting an answer, presses the key to calculate a total. Even out here in the woods, many many businesses, deliver. Not to my part of the woods since we are a bit too rural but in town, they deliver.

    Eric Reply:

    Before there were cars? as in, the late 1800s? Well, frankly, I’d rather, when someone has a heart attack, not depend on a horse and buggy to deliver them to the hospital. I’d rather the fire brigade not have a hand-operated pump to put out the warehouse fire on the other side of town.
    These arguments are pointless. We live in a modern world where transportation has become essential. We don’t all live in agrarian communities on a family farm. Certainly we could make better decisions about how we move. I live 4 miles from work and most of the time I drive. Why? I honestly have looked at taking the bus to work. It would require 2 transfers and take an hour and 5 minutes each way. Could I bike every day? Sure. I’m fortunate enough to have an employer who encourages that and has shower facilities for us. But many weeknights I’m hanging with my friends after work, who are 40 miles away. Or, I want to go shopping on the way home and my bike can’t carry all that stuff. Or go see a movie which is 5 miles the other way.
    The point is, you can’t depend on those things for everything. For many things you need a car. And for those we need roads.

    Derek Reply:

    You don’t need a shower at work to commute by bike. All you need is an empty bathroom stall, some unscented baby wipes or a wet rag with a little soap, and some deodorant and a change of clothes.

    Eric Reply:

    That’s true for some jobs, but showers are nice, for the professional environment. If I was a regular bicycle commuter in my job, and didn’t have showers at work, I wouldn’t bicycle any day in which I had to have meetings with the public, or public officials, and I’d think twice about it if I had to meet with co-workers at work! That’s just my opinion. I’ll let others decide what level of personal hygiene is appropriate to their workplace.

    Eric Reply:

    That’s an economic model that just won’t fly outside extremely dense areas, which is, geographically speaking, 97% of the state. That plan can work in an urban city, where subsidized transit cost are spread out over a large population base. But lets say, that a small town, like Williams, CA, population about 6000 maybe, is the location a big retail company wants to build a store. The local population is desperate for jobs, but Williams is at the intersection of an inter-regional highway and an Interstate Highway, providing tons of pay-by traffic every day. You’d have them go to work and shop there by non-existent bus and bicycle, and charge for parking? Who is going to pay for a parking space there every time they shop, when existing retailers in the area get by from their existing free parking, or on street parking? You’re dreaming if think that would fly.

    Derek Reply:

    A demand curve proves that you could charge for parking and still fill up the parking lot, if you don’t build the parking lot too big.

    Eric Reply:

    If you have an online reference, I’ll gladly look at it.

    Derek Reply:

    Here is a description of the demand curve, but to understand it fully, I recommend enrolling in Econ 101 at your local community college.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Derek, the difference between you and a Christian fundamentalist is that the fundamentalist can quote more parts of scripture.

    Eric Reply:

    Really Derek? I’m a Licensed Civil Engineer, you want to get snarky about community college? I was hoping you were talking about specific parking studies, not basic economic theory that doesn’t take into account the holy grail of transportation theory…local politics.

    Eric Reply:

    should have said transportation infrastructure, not transportation theory.

  7. D. P. Lubic
    Sep 10th, 2013 at 17:46
    #7

    More on the follow up to the Trains article on Conrail’s proposed electrification over the Alleghenies:

    http://testplant.blogspot.com/2013/09/electrification-clearance-for-double.html

    Linked from that site is this YouTube clip, featuring dual mode locomotives doing the changeover from diesel to electric power.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdDPNtApEKk#t=53

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    An interesting perspective on the Hyperloop, even if he does get the proposed speed wrong:

    http://nineshift.typepad.com/weblog/2013/09/are-trains-or-hyperloop-faster-.html

    Eric Reply:

    Hyperloop is a fantasy anyway. The number of holes or incomplete parameters in their design show the quoted price is way off what it would need to be, or that the quoted price gives you a far less capable system than HSR, as shown in various earlier links and argued on this blog.

  8. synonymouse
    Sep 10th, 2013 at 18:46
    #8

    Here’s a boffo question for those who know about these things and a lot more than me:

    Has anyone ever “daylighted” a slip gallery wherein a long tunnel passes thru an active fault? Where the fault is away from the mountain crest and the tunnel not so deep. You would achieve ventilation as well.

    You could cover it and mask it with solar panels to be “green”. Miners are pretty good at digging deep sloped holes.

    Another crazy engineering fantasy of mine.

    Eric Reply:

    Lots of tunnels have been daylighted, and not just rail tunnels. It would take a lot of research to see if any of them were done at fault crossings though, but I’d guess that would be a small number, if any, tunnels don’t WANT to be built through faults, and if they are its probably because there is no other choice…so if they were shallow enough for daylighting to be possible they might not have been tunnels in the first place.

    James M in Irvine, CA Reply:

    Didn’t Southern Pacific have to daylight a tunnel after the 1952 earthquake? Was that on a fault, or just unfortunate geology in the area?

    Jim M

    synonymouse Reply:

    Basically what I am brainstorming, for laughs, is a base tunnel for Tejon that would be extremely fast and would feature by far the best gradients for this difficult mountain crossing.

    The “daylights” would be for the San Andreas and Garlock faults and would be predicated on the tunnels not being too deep at those intersections. The “wells’

  9. David M
    Sep 11th, 2013 at 11:17
    #9

    OT: Transbay gets a gondola

    http://blog.sfgate.com/johnking/2013/09/11/transbay-gondolas-and-redwoods-and-concrete-oh-my/

    “The transit center’s subterranean train level is being designed in such a way that in the unlikely event that we get a second transbay rail tube, Amtrak’s Capital Corridor line will be able to pull up in S.F.”

    I thought I read on hear that the way was blocked?

  10. synonymouse
    Sep 11th, 2013 at 19:37
    #10

    Sorry, I just discovered a keystroke, immediately forgotten, that posted me immediately. Weird.

    To resume, the 2 “wells” would be sizeable enough to accommodate very large slippage and provide ventilation and access as well. The argument in dealing with pristine enviro objections(say phony protests from the Ranch)is that the fault is going to rip apart anyway. Don’t concern yourself about what’s above too much.

    I am proposing a dissident offensive to counter, what, 20-30 ridiculous miles of tunnel PB will want to deploy on the DogLeg. Place those tunnels end to end and you have more than a base tunnel and similar cost to construct. But much faster and cheaper to maintain and operate.

    Of course I am all too happy to hear another and better strategy to challenge PB on those stupid, wasted tunnels that squashed value engineering.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I suppose the Keebler elves are going to dig it and stabilize the walls with Pecan Sandies and Town House crackers.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I suspect PB is very good at excavating holes in the ground. Like a very small terraced open pit mine, only you don’t fill it in. It is going to move in time anyway. Plant a bunch of trees.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    tree don’t grow well in rock.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Well, you could plant houses on the terraces amid a winding road down and call it San Andreas Mountain Village. How much of Berkeley rests right on top of the Hayward Fault?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and pave the roads with Graham Deluxe I suppose.

    Eric Reply:

    Haven’t looked at it in detail, but the geology might be different enough that it matters, on the two alignments.Tunnel A might be X per mile and tunnel B might be some number less per mile, so even if its longer it might be cheaper. I don’t know, just spitballing.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The longer tunnels probably would run a theoretically greater risk of the unknown as perhaps harder to probe beforehand. If your tbm hits some really soft stuff and sinks that would definitely run up the costs. On the other hand there might be some economies of scale with one big job as opposed to lots of smaller ones.

    The purpose of the base tunnel idea is to rouse the public to look at the cost-benefit ratios of the various alternatives. You have to get their attention with a little hyberbole.

  11. StevieB
    Sep 13th, 2013 at 11:14
    #11

    SB-743 ,authored by Sacramento Democrat Darrell Steinberg, primarily to build new arena for Sacramento Kings includes provisions for Modernization of Transportation Analysis for Transit-Oriented Infill Projects. The bill was passed and is being sent to Governor Brown.

    Section 5 alters what is significant for environmental review in a “Transit priority area” which is an area within one-half mile of a major transit stop that is existing or planned. No longer intrinsically significant are automobile delay, adequacy of parking for a project, or aesthetic and parking impacts of a residential, mixed-use residential, or employment center project on an infill site.

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