OCEANSIDE — As Oceanside begins updates to its General Plan, the city will incorporate Senate Bill 743 regulations in the document, which measure traffic impacts differently.
SB743, which was passed in passed 2013, will go into effect in 2017. It requires California cities and counties to measure traffic vehicle miles traveled (VMT) instead of the currently used level of service (LOS) for CEQA requirements, which set standards for environmental impacts.
“The motivation behind the bill is to take a better account of greenhouse gas and transit use,” Jeff Hunt, Oceanside city planner, said.
VMT measurement encourages city infill development, building along transit corridors, public transportation use, accommodations for pedestrians and bicycle travel, traffic calming measures and mixed-used development.
Just what Oceanside is doing within its downtown area.
“It provides for better options for economic revitalization and transit use, rather than focus on automobiles,” Hunt said.
LOS measurement focuses on vehicle travel and addresses traffic congestion.
It supports rural “sprawl” development.
Oceanside also has a lot of potential for rural development in its Morro Hills region.
Agritourism efforts are currently being looked into for the South Morro Hills farming area, and an agritourism vision plan is being developed.
To support continued rural development cities are encouraged by the state Office of Planning and Research to establish an in-lieu fee for areas where mass transit is impractical.
Hunt said Oceanside would consider this.
“It doesn’t make sense to require transit stops in a rural area that does not have enough commuters,” Hunt said.
Information on SB743 and the city’s plans to include VMT measures in its General Plan update were shared with the Planning Commission on Monday.
Commissioners said it is a good thing that city staff is keeping on top of state changes.
Oceanside will continue to monitor state regulations, which it upholds. Cities that have CEQA thresholds independent of the state’s will have until 2019 to make updates.
Oceanside will also use both VMT and LOS measurements to study proposed traffic calming plans for Coast Highway.