California Department of Transportation

SB 743 Implementation

About Senate Bill (SB) 743

SB 743 was signed in 2013, with the intent to “more appropriately balance 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.”  When implemented, “traffic congestion shall not be considered a significant impact on the environment” within California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) transportation analysis.

SB 743 requires the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to identify new metrics for identifying and mitigating transportation impacts within CEQA.  For land use projects, OPR identified Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) per capita, VMT per employee, and net VMT as new metrics for transportation analysis.  For transportation projects, lead agencies for roadway capacity projects have discretion, consistent with CEQA and planning requirements, to choose which metric to use to evaluate transportation impacts.

OPR released a revised Technical Advisory in April, 2018. It is anticipated that California Natural Resources Agency will adopt regulatory changes to CEQA in 2018, after two public review periods for the CEQA Guidelines amendments.  Beginning on July 1, 2020, the CEQA Guidelines update that implements SB 743 shall apply statewide.

SB 743 affects important parts of Caltrans work:

  • review of local land use projects’ potential impact to the State Highway System
  • transportation analysis including induced vehicle travel analysis for State Highway System projects.

Caltrans is evolving our transportation analysis to be more multimodal—part of implementing our Strategic Management Plan 2015-2020.  

This webpage has information about Caltrans SB 743-related work, and helpful resources for SB 743 implementation work around the state.

 

Modeling

CSTDM Data—Caltrans’ California Statewide Travel Demand Modal is available for use when calculating residential and office projects’ VMT.  A dedicated website is available to more easily access CSTDM data.

 

Research Efforts

Caltrans Division of Research and Innovation (DRISI) supports SB 743-related research efforts.  

  • Transportation Research Board. “In 2015, Caltrans sponsored a review of applicable induced vehicle travel research that could inform transportation analysis guidance in response to new laws in California such as Senate Bill 743, which prohibits the use of vehicle level of service and similar measures as the sole basis for determining significant transportation impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act.” (Source: Transportation Research Board).  Marc Birnbaum, Caltrans Traffic Operations, co-authored the Transportation Research Board peer-reviewed paper: http://trrjournalonline.trb.org/doi/10.3141/2653-02

 

Caltrans Local Development-Intergovernmental Review (LD-IGR)

LD-IGR Interim Guidance —Revised in November, 2016 this high level desk reference for District staff refocuses Caltrans LD-IGR program attention on local development project’s VMT, appropriate transportation demand measures (TDM), and determining how best to address multimodal operational issues. Revisions to the desk reference are shown in red and primarily reflect:

  • We'll use and reference OPR's future approved technical advisory when it is released.
  • Clearer references to consistency with MTP/SCSs.
  • Clearer ties to the California Transportation Plan 2040.

 

Early Adopters

In July, 2016 Caltrans Planning Horizons hosted a discussion by City of San Francisco and City of Pasadena about their early adoption of VMT thresholds.  Cities and counties around California may be interested in hearing about the impetus for and experience of creating the VMT thresholds.

Learn about local jurisdictions in California that have switched to a VMT metric in CEQA transportation analysis.


Additional Resources

Implementing SB 743: An Analysis of Vehicle Miles Traveled Banking and Exchange Frameworks.  This research paper from University of California Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment focuses on two innovative models that could be used to implement programmatic VMT mitigation strategies for land use or transportation projects. VMT mitigation “banks” and “exchanges” are compared, and examples provided of ways to mitigate VMT under CEQA or the mitigation fee act.  These models are conceptually similar to existing mitigation frameworks such as regional impact fee programs or habitat conservation banks.

Evaluation of Sketch-Level Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) Quantification Tools.  National Center for Sustainable Transportation “researchers compare and evaluate VMT estimation tools across a sample of land use projects. They compare the results from different tools for each project, consider the applicability of methods in particular contexts and for different types of projects, and assess data needs, relative ease of use, and other practical considerations.”  The research is not done within a CEQA context, but it is interesting to review the use of the VMT estimation tools.

 

 

For more information on Caltrans SB 743 implementation efforts contact:


Alyssa Begley
Caltrans SB 743 Program Implementation Manager
Email:  alyssa.begley@dot.ca.gov
Desk: (916) 651-6882
Cellular:  (916) 261-3389