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Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) & Environmental Review

New Approach to Assessing Traffic Impacts

The State of California has changed the rules about how traffic impacts are analyzed. In the past, project related traffic impacts were assessed based on how new traffic would increase wait times at local intersections.

Now, we are required to look at traffic differently. Instead of analyzing how traffic changes road congestion, the traffic analysis is instead assessed based on how the project changes trip lengths, measured in vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The new approach is defined by each community and relies upon input from the public, specialists, and decision makers.

Pursuant to Senate Bill 743 the City of Petaluma has transitioned to a VMT metric to assess environmental impacts. Historically, the City of Petaluma has used level of service (LOS) methodology to assess traffic operations and analyze environmental impacts for projects in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In 2013, Senate Bill 743 established new legislation mandating a change to the CEQA Guidelines (Section 15064.3), which replaces the LOS metric with a VMT metric. The shift from LOS to VMT focuses on regional traffic patterns and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, rather than vehicle delays on local roadway networks.

On June 21, 2021, the Petaluma City Council approved the VMT Guidelines, identifying methods and modeling protocol, establishing VMT as the metric to evaluate transportation impacts, thresholds of significance, and procedures to follow when conducting transportation analyses for CEQA review.

Citywide VMT Reduction Program

Following direction received from the Planning Commission and City Council, the VMT TAC is reconvening for a series of meetings to identify strategies and actions to incorporate within a Citywide VMT Reduction Program. The VMT TAC is tentatively scheduled to meet the first Tuesday of the month from August through October.

VMT TAC Public Meetings

  • August 3, 2021 - https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84305905458
  • September 7, 2021 – TBD
  • October 5, 2021 – TBD

Project Documents

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