New California EPA Rules: Cities CAN Create Auto Gridlock for Hiking, Bikes, Horses and Government Transportation

By Stephen Frank

The proposed rules of the California Environmental Agency is too CREATE auto gridlock and to make it harder for you to drive your car. Read this section carefully. The bottom line is that instead of adding lanes for cars, they want to TAKE AWAY car lanes, to be replaced with lanes for bikes, walking and government buses. This will crowd the cars into one lane, force longer commute times in an effort to frustrate drivers out of their cars.

“Typical mitigation for automobile delay involves adding roadway capacity by increasing the size or width of intersections – a wholly automobile-focused solution which tended to disincentive increased adoption of alternate modes of transportation. SB 743, and as a result of OPR’s new proposal, seeks to eliminate this disincentive, with the legislative intent of “more appropriately balanc[ing] the needs of congestion management with statewide goals related to infill development, promotion of public health through active transportation, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”…

California Proposes Overhaul of Standards for Transportation-related Environmental Impact Analysis

Kristina Daniel Lawson, Partner, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

Earlier this month Governor Jerry Brown’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) released for public review and debate a draft of proposed amendments to the California Environmental Quality Act’s implementing guidelines (CEQA Guidelines). If ultimately approved, the guidelines will fundamentally change the way transportation-related environmental impacts are analyzed and mitigated throughout California.

While the proposed amendments are currently in draft form and therefore remain subject to change or even withdrawal, if the proposal advances, automobile delay will generally no longer be considered a significant impact on the environment for CEQA purposes. Once approved, the provisions will take effect immediately in California’s transit priority areas, and then statewide in 2016, unless adopted earlier by a local community.

Today CEQA’s transportation analyses focus on the delay experienced by an individual automobile driver at a study intersection or on a roadway segment. Traffic engineers quantify this delay through a metric known as “level of service” or LOS.

Targeting the LOS standard, last year Senate Bill 743 was approved and signed into law requiring OPR to prepare revisions to the CEQA Guidelines that establishes criteria for determining the significance of transportation impacts within transit priority areas. SB 743 followed on the heels of the implementation of SB 375 and AB 32, which together placed a heightened focus on the link between land use and transportation planning decisions and greenhouse gas emissions in California. In addition to the increased need for local governments to focus on greenhouse gas emissions reductions through land use and transportation planning, the California Complete Streets Act of 2008 had required local governments to plan for a balanced, multimodal transportation network that meets the needs of all users of streets, roads, and highways for safe and convenient travel

State legislators: To say that OPR’s proposal is an overhaul is an understatement – if adopted, the draft guideline will fundamentally change how California thinks about transportation and traffic. Because of the sweeping nature of the proposed changes to California’s standards for transportation-related environmental impact analysis, we can expect significant comments to be received by OPR. If you wish to weigh in, do so by October 10, 2014 to: CEQA.Guidelines@ceres.ca.gov…. (more)

Your state legislators are using your tax dollars against you. Find out who “They” are and who is financing this. Let them know how you feel about these plans and how unlikely you are to support them next time they run for office should they vote against your interest. Also note the lack of serious discussion about how these plans will improve public transit. Write your state legislators

California Legislation Watch: Weekly Update

Among the flurry of votes, the following bills passed out of both the Assembly and the Senate and are now waiting for the governor to sign—or veto:

  • Vehicle registration surcharge for bike paths and trailsSB 1183 from Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) would allow local jurisdictions–cities, park districts–to place initiatives on the ballot to fund bike paths and trails with a local vehicle registration surcharge. Because this fits Brown’s ideals about fiscal responsibility—that is, the surcharge cannot be imposed unless 2/3 of voters approve—let’s say this one is likely to be signed.
  • Bike racks on buses: AB 2707, from Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), would allow newer, longer buses to carry bike racks that fit three bikes. Right now buses are generally restricted to two-bike racks, except in a few places that argued for an exception. This would make the rules consistent statewide.
  • Traffic violation fines in school zones: S.B. 1151, from Senator Anthony Canella (R-Ceres). Despite unanimous passage in both houses and all the committees it passed through, advocates are worried that Brown may decline to sign this bill because it uses fines to generate revenue. In this case the revenue would have been used for active transportation projects.
    The bill originally called for fines to be doubled, to match fines in construction zones. However, the original language would have required new signage and legislators balked at burdening locals with those costs. Now, the bill merely adds a mandatory $35 increase to any other fines a scofflaw motorist would incur for unsafe driving in a school zone.

Meanwhile the following bills passed the Senate and returned to the Assembly for approval of Senate amendments:

  • Higher fines for hit-and-run convictions: A.B. 1532 from Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles).
  • Yellow Alert on hit-and-run perpetrators:A.B. 47, also from Gatto.
  • Vulnerable users defined:A.B. 2398, from Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael). This bill was amended in committee to lower the fine for violations against vulnerable users from $1000 to $300. This is still over three times the current fine which is either $70 or $95 pending the severity of the crash.
  • Active Transportation Program list approved: At its monthly meeting, the California Transportation Commission approved the list of projects its staff recommended to receive funding—a total of 145 projects out of 771 submitted applications. Can you say: woefully underfunded?

Cap-and-Trade Auctions on Track: On Monday, the California Air Resources Board held a successful quarterly cap-and-trade auction, selling out all the available pollution credits at a price slightly above the minimum set by the board. The list of bidders included plenty of fuel companies, who will be subject to the cap come January—unless legislative attempts to delay that, such as A.B. 69 from Assemblymember Henry Perea (D-Fresno), gain some traction in the next week. Perea’s bill is awaiting its turn to be heard on the Senate floor.

Closing hit-and-run loopholes: The L.A. City Attorney and the L.A. Times endorsed A.B. 2673 from Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), which would end the use of civil compromises to remove criminal charges for hit-and-run crimes .

Protected Bike Lane Bill Still Being Amended: A.B. 1193 from Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) is the bill that would add protected bike lanes, or “cycletracks,” to the four types of bike facilities defined in the California Street and Highways Code, and would require Caltrans to create engineering standards for them by January of 2016.

A secondary aspect of the bill, which allows local jurisdictions to choose a different safety criteria than that created by Caltrans, is meeting some resistance on both sides of the liability debate (cities don’t want liability, and consumer advocates want someone to take responsibility). The bill actually passed on the Senate floor on Wednesday, but it was pulled back to make amendments to address those concerns.

The California Bicycle Coalition, the bill’s sponsor, is pleased with the results of negotiations. “We have come to an agreement with both sides of the debate,” said Dave Snyder, CalBike’s director. “We’ve agreed to new language and that this bill will not affect liability.”

A.B. 1193 will be heard again in the Senate. It’s expected to pass, but the Assembly will have to approve the new amendments.

.. (more)

Not all of these are problematic, but people should know all the laws our representatives are working on a decide for themselves which to support and which to oppose.

Anyone who is considering donations to the reps may want to find out where they stand.

Note that not one of these bills has anything to do with public transit. These are the bills that are being tracked by the California Bicycle Coalition. They obviously don’t care about public transit.

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