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City of San José CEQA Transition to Vehicle Miles Traveled Metric
People walking at Santana Row

 Intended Outcomes for the City of San José:

  • Promote environmental sustainability
  • Support transit, bicycle and pedestrian mobility
  • Simplify the environmental review process
  • Facilitate the implementation of the City's General Plan

In 2013, the State of California passed Senate Bill 743 (SB 743), which mandates that jurisdictions can no longer use automobile delay – commonly measured by “level of service” – when doing transportation analysis under CEQA. Rather, the State has issued guidelines suggesting using a more holistic metric that can better support smart growth – called “vehicle miles traveled.” The City of San José is in the process of implementing this change.

San José is a unique place, playing a vital economic and cultural role within North America. San José is fortunate to be the largest city in Santa Clara County and Northern California.

The Envision San José 2040 General Plan advanced longstanding policies of growth management and environmental sustainability. It established a framework to enhance job growth and create great places throughout San José oriented for people, not just automobiles. Like many large U.S. cities, San José is in transition from its suburban development past to a future that includes opportunities for a more robust public life. The General Plan also envisions development in places that are next to amenities (e.g. restaurants, grocery stores, parks, entertainment, etc.) and transit and away from well-established neighborhoods where cars are a necessity.

Traditionally, the City of San José has measured vehicle delay at intersections to determine a new development’s transportation impact on the environment. When intersections were impacted, the solution often involved expanding intersections. Today, San José’s roadway network is largely built out and there is no room to expand roads. We need new measurements and tools to enhance mobility and help realize the General Plan’s vision of a vibrant and livable city.

The State has recognized the limitations of measuring and mitigating only vehicle delay at intersections and in 2013 passed SB 743, which requires jurisdictions to stop using a Level of Service (LOS) measurement for CEQA transportation analysis. The State’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) has issued guidelines for jurisdictions to consider using Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) instead.

The City of San José plans to implement this change in fall of 2017 as part of a larger effort to realign how we measure transportation impacts with the kinds of transportation investments we encourage.

We welcome your feedback and input on this change. Please fill out our comment form, email us at , or join us at a community meeting.