Senate Bill (SB) 743, approved in 2013 and incorporated into the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines in 2018, better aligned CEQA with the State’s climate and air quality goals, including California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target of 40 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 2050, respectively. Further, SB 743 intends 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.
BCAG, as the region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), is designated by the state to prepare the area's Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) as an additional element of the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). The SCS is the forecasted development pattern for the region, which, when integrated with the transportation network, and other transportation measures and policies, meets passenger vehicle greenhouse gas reduction targets for Butte County.
Local jurisdictions in Butte County, as project lead agencies under CEQA and as required in SB 743, now must select VMT analysis methodologies, establish VMT thresholds for transportation impacts, and determine what mitigation strategies are most feasible.
Based on the need of local jurisdictions and other potential lead agencies in Butte County, BCAG will work with the project consultant, Fehr & Peers, to prepare data, planning methods, and applicable travel demand management (TDM) strategies for the transition to vehicle miles traveled (VMT) as the preferred transportation analysis metric required under SB 743. Information will be gathered from BCAG’s 2020 RTP/SCS and utilized in developing the project data to ensure consistency among the region.
The stakeholder group, identified by BCAG and F&P, will include the current BCAG Planning Director’s Group, local Public Work’s department leads, local City/Town/County Attorney’s and Caltrans staff. At this time, we anticipate one initial kick-off meeting followed by two additional meetings to review products prior to a final presentation to the BCAG Board of Director’s in June 2021.