California speeding toward fight over driving limits in age of climate change and electric cars

By Joshua Emerson Smith : sandiegouniontribune – excerpt

Top air-quality regulators at the state Capitol may be on a collision course with local power players when it comes to how frequently Californians should drive their cars in the state’s internationally lauded fight against climate change.

Many regional lawmakers and other officials have started pushing back on the notion that commuters need to limit their daily driving — which overwhelmingly consists of people cruising to work alone in their cars and trucks…

As the California Air Resources Board tightens its standards for greenhouse-gas emissions from regional transportation sectors, many local authorities have started arguing that adoption of electric vehicles will make it unnecessary to reign in so-called vehicle miles traveled, or VMT.

“I think it’s a very bad metric to hang our hat on,” said San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who also serves on the region’s premier transportation and planning agency, the San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG…

“We know that more needs to be done to make transportation more reliable and to reduce vehicle miles traveled across the state,” Mary Nichols, long-time chair of the air board, told members of the California Transportation Commission at a first-ever joint meeting in June…

“If everyone … had a zero-emission vehicle, give me the breakdown of how that would not help us meet our greenhouse-gas goals?” Commissioner Paul Van Konynenburg said at the gathering, seemingly somewhat perplexed…

While the air board is tasked with cleaning up pollution from vehicles, the commission is responsible for doling out nearly all of the transportation dollars in the state that aren’t locally controlled

The state celebrated last week when it announced that it had already satisfied its 2020 target years ahead of schedule, thanks largely to low-carbon fuel standards, renewable-energy requirements on electric utilities and a wet winter nearly two years ago that generated lots of low-carbon hydropower.

The news seemed to bolster the idea that efforts to fight climate change may not require people to radically shift their driving habits…

“You do transit or roads. You can’t do both,” she added. “It’s going to be a fight for the soul of our transportation future.”… (more)

Lots of arguments here for voters to have their say in the matter. The Gas Tax Repeal will give us a better picture of how the state wants to go. As we have recently learned there are states doing a better job of generating clean cheap energy. That does not seem to be the goal in California. The goal here is to tax and spend. The more the better. We need to look at the best way to produce clean cheap energy not how to incentivize behavior. As we found out with cap and trade, incentivizing is expensive and does not always work.

 

 

SF Planning Commission Officially Prioritizes Humans over Cars

by : sfstreetsblog – excerpt

Late last week, the San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously adopted a resolution to replace “Level of Service” (LOS) with “Vehicle Miles Traveled” (VMT). That’s bureaucratese for measuring a project’s overall effect on moving people, instead of just counting automobiles. As explained in a previous post, environmental law has long forced transportation planners to grade projects by how they impact traffic flow. “This will streamline California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review for projects that are designed to encourage public transit, promote pedestrian safety and help reduce the need for traveling long distances by car,” said John Rahaim, Director of San Francisco Planning, in an official release. “We are pleased to be the first city in California to adopt these new guidelines.”

LOS often jammed up projects such as bike and transit lanes, which–arguably–reduce the number of cars that flow through a given area by taking lane space, but increase the number of people who can get from A to B. In short, the new rules, in the process of being adopted at the state level, make it so something as benign as a bike lane doesn’t trigger an expensive and time consuming environmental review… (more)

 

San Francisco Bay Area will consider plan to tax drivers for every mile

McClatchy Tribune News Service – excerpt

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Imagine being taxed a dollar for driving to the store. Commute to work? That’ll be a few bucks more.

Is it crazy or the way of the future? The San Francisco Bay Area (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) is considering a long-range plan to become the first place in the nation to tax drivers for every mile they travel, with an average bill of up to $1,300 per year.

The proposal is a long way from becoming reality. But under the scenario, drivers would likely have to install GPS-like trackers on their cars to tally travel in the nine-county Bay Area, from freeways to neighborhood streets, with only low-income people exempted.

Transportation planners know they would have a tough time selling such a radical plan but argue the goal of the so-called VMT (vehicle miles traveled) tax is to reduce traffic and pollution while raising revenue needed to fill potholes and bolster public transit service…

“I don’t want to say it’s pie in the sky. A VMT charge is really an option for the future to be looked at and considered,” said Randy Rentschler, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the agency leading the effort…

County supervisors and city council members around the Bay Area, on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Association of Bay Area governments, are set Thursday to authorize a study of the proposal (who is paying for this study?), though they haven’t yet weighed in on the actual merits of a VMT tax. If approved, officials would likely need the OK from voters and the state Legislature…

The court of public opinion, however, has often swiftly killed ideas to charge drivers more. In 2010, San Francisco supervisors quickly scrapped an idea to charge drivers a $6 fee to enter the city from the south after outrage over the plan spread like wildfire. Ideas to raise the gas tax by even miniscule amounts have failed time and again…

(more)

Who is paying for the study and who is being paid to conduct it? Now we now why we need a 2/3’s majority to raise state taxes.