The Final Days of 'Level of Service' in California's Environmental Review Process

A long-awaited draft update of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) has finally been released, and Level of Service will finally be a thing of the past in the next two to four years.

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December 7, 2017, 1:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Little Tokyo

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The California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research recently released a large revision of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), including a highly anticipated change from Level of Service (LOS) to Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) as the measure of environmental impact. The change was mandated by SB 743, approved in 2013 and covered extensively by Planetizen.

Melanie Curry reports on the big CEQA update as the overhaul will switch gears:

Now that the guidelines [pdf]—including a separate Technical Advisory on the SB 743 changes [pdf]—have been released, the Natural Resources Agency will conduct a formal “rulemaking” process, with more public feedback and discussion, which might bring further changes to the proposed guidelines. 

Curry also notes that the guidelines took a painfully long time to deliver, but the "proposed timeline for final implementation is two years from now, in January 2020, according to the Caltrans website."

As for how the rules will take effect in local jurisdictions, Curry explains: "The rules will go into effect as soon as they are adopted, but cities will have two years after that to figure out the switch to the VMT measure." Pasadena, San Francisco, and Oakland [pdf] have already switched to VMT in environmental reviews. 

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