Greenhouse gases focus of project approval change
Nevada City is changing the way it analyzes traffic impacts for the projects it approves.
On Wednesday the City Council adopted changes mandated by Senate Bill 743, moving away from using a level of service impact methodology to a vehicle miles traveled metric.
The shift is meant to focus on a regional approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions rather than local traffic delays, and is expected to streamline project approval.
“We are such a small town with not a lot of runways, people,” Mayor Erin Minett said of the importance of the analysis. “Even a small project can have a huge impact.”
If a project meets criteria for being considered a low vehicle miles traveled generating project, it would not be required to have a quantitative traffic analysis studied as part of the project’s environmental review process.
City staff indicated the change is expected to bring more efficiency to the project approval process.
In Nevada City, a project would meet that criteria if it generates fewer than 630 vehicle miles traveled per day, is a local-serving retail or other employment project less than 50,000 square feet, or if the vehicle miles it generates is 14.3% below baseline conditions.
According to City Planner Amy Wolfson, most projects in the city would be screened out of analysis by this process.
She said the traffic analysis could still be applied outside the California Environmental Quality Act process if the city creates its own objective review standards to apply.
“If that’s something we want to continue to analyze and adopt local standards for, we we can still do that, it’s just that for environmental review purposes we would just be looking at the vehicle miles traveled,” Wolfson said at the meeting.
The council directed staff to begin the process of creating local standards for evaluating traffic using level of service impacts.
Nevada County and Grass Valley have already adopted similar changes.
“This is a good move, it makes sense for our community and nothing will skim by,” Vice Mayor Duane Strawser said. “We can decide what we want to study, what we want to fix.”
To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.
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