Senate Bill (SB) 743, signed into law on September 27, 2013, establishes a process to change the way that transportation impacts are analyzed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This law, which is incorporated into Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations, Section 15064.3, intends to eliminate vehicular congestion, traditionally expressed as Level of Service (LOS), as the operative metric for identifying transportation impacts. In its place, SB 743 identifies Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) as the key impact criterion under CEQA. With a VMT analysis, projects located in close proximity to transit would have no or a less than significant CEQA traffic impact. To comply with SB 743 requirements, local agencies are expected to adopt a VMT policy by July 1, 2020.
Chino Hills has limited transit, which is expected to decline further as Omnitrans plans to convert traditional bus operations to on demand services. Regional plans do not include new transit lines in or near Chino Hills. Because of the limited transit options, Chino Hills staff has been working to develop VMT thresholds appropriate for the City’s unique circumstances. Staff has retained a consultant and is in the midst of developing a VMT policy but will need additional time beyond the July 1, 2020 date to develop and adopt achievable VMT thresholds.
On May 27, 2020, the Building Industry Association of Southern California, Baldy View Chapter (BIA) contacted the Mayor and City Council to request support in asking California Governor Newsom a one-year extension for VMT implementation. The reason BIA advocates for the extension is the burden of the coronavirus pandemic on local government time and resources. The one-year extension would provide ample time for staff to develop an appropriate VMT policy for Chino Hills.