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Talking Headways: A Streetsblog Podcast

The Talking Headways podcast is a weekly podcast about transportation and urban design.

Dec 12, 2014

Whether you’re building an office tower or a new transit line in California, you’re going to run up against the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The law determines how much environmental analysis you need to do for new projects. But sadly, it’s better at supporting auto oriented development than it is at determining environmental impacts. 

That’s because instead of looking at a project’s impact on the environment, it looks mostly at its impact on traffic. And the measures CEQA uses to determine traffic impact focus on individual intersections, instead of the region as a whole. As a result, they end up penalizing urban infill development and transit projects while promoting sprawl and road expansion. 

Here’s the good news: This traffic measure, known as Level of Service (LOS), is set to be overhauled in California. Last year, Governor Brown signed into law SB743. Mostly what that bill does is allow the Sacramento Kings to build a new stadium. But the other thing it does is allow for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to come up with a new measure to replace LOS. We’ve discussed this on Streetsblog before, and this week’s Talking Headways is a special podcast episode all about how LOS works against sustainable development patterns and what is being done to change it. 

Jeff produced this podcast for the NRDC Urban Solutions Program. Guests include Jeff Tumlin of Nelson\Nygaard, Amanda Eaken of NRDC, and Chris Ganson of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. Hope you enjoy it.

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