Update re 2020 MTP/SCS for the Sacramento Region

NOTICE OF PREPARATION
Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the 2020 Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (MTP/SCS) for the Sacramento Region

To: Interested Agencies, Organizations, and Individuals

Project: Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the 2020 Metropolitan Transportation Plan/ Sustainable Communities Strategy (MTP/SCS) for the Sacramento Region

Lead Agency: Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG)

Comment Period: April 25, 2019 to May 25, 2019 (30 days)

OVERVIEW

You are invited by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) to comment on the scope and content of the environmental impact assessment that will be prepared for the update of the regional MTP/SCS. You may do so electronically, in person, or by mail – instructions are provided below.

The MTP/SCS is an integrated land use and transportation strategy for the six-county region consisting of Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, Yuba, and portions of Placer and El Dorado Counties (the Lake Tahoe basin in these counties is excluded from the SACOG region). The attached map depicts the Sacramento metropolitan planning area which is the area covered by the MTP/SCS. More information about the MTP/SCS and the update process is available at the following web site: https://www.sacog.org/2020-metropolitan-transportation-plansustainable-communities-strategy-update

BACKGROUND

An MTP, referred to in other regions as a regional transportation plan (RTP) or long-range transportation plan (LRTP), is the mechanism used in California to conduct long-range (at least 20-year) planning in the applicable regional area. The SACOG MTP/SCS has a 2040 planning horizon. SACOG must adopt an MTP and update it every four years, or more frequently, if the region is to receive federal or state transportation dollars for public transit, streets/roads, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements. This is the region’s second update of the MTP/SCS.

An SCS is a required element of the MTP under California’s Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act, also known as Senate Bill 375 (SB 375) (Statutes of 2008, Chapter 728). The SCS identifies policies and strategies to reduce per-capita passenger vehicle-generated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to target levels set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The SCS must address: the general location of land uses, residential densities, and building intensities within the region; areas within the region sufficient to house all the population of the region; areas within the region sufficient to house an 8-year projection of the regional housing need; a transportation network to serve the regional transportation needs; information regarding resource areas and farmland in the region; consideration of state housing goals; a forecasted development pattern for the region; and compliance with the federal Clean Air Act. If the SCS does not achieve the GHG emission targets set by CARB, an additional analysis called an Alternative Planning Strategy (APS) must be prepared to accompany the SCS, demonstrating how the targets could be achieved.

MORE INFORMATION

In accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines (Section 15082), the purpose of this Notice of Preparation (NOP) is to seek comments about the scope and content of the EIR that will be prepared analyzing this update of the MTP/SCS. If you represent an agency that may use the EIR for tiering purposes, SACOG is particularly interested in learning what information may be helpful for such tiering in connection with your project-specific environmental review.

In particular, SACOG seeks your views on the following questions:

  • Are there potential environmental issues that SACOG has not identified in the list of potential environmental effects listed below under the proposed EIR scope. If so, please identify these potential issues.
  • Are there any alternatives you believe SACOG should evaluate?
  • What types of mitigation measures do you think would help avoid or minimize potential environmental effects?

PROPOSED EIR SCOPE

Adoption and implementation of the MTP/SCS has the potential to result in environmental effects in all of the environmental impact areas identified in CEQA. For this reason, the EIR will be a “full scope” document that analyzes all of the required CEQA environmental issue areas. These include: aesthetics; agriculture and forestry resources; air quality (including toxic air contaminants); biological resources; cultural resources; energy and global climate change; geology (including paleontological and mineral resources), soils, and seismicity; hazards and hazardous materials; hydrology and water quality; land use and planning; noise and vibration; population and housing; public services and recreation; transportation and traffic; utilities and service systems. The EIR will also address alternatives, growth inducing impacts, cumulative effects, and other issues required by CEQA.

Due to time limits mandated by State law, your response must be received no later than May 25, 2019, using any of the following methods:

By Mail:
SACOG
1415 L Street, Suite 300
Sacramento, CA 95814

By Fax: (916) 321-9551

By E-Mail: eircomments [at] sacog [dot] org

If you have any questions or need help finding or understanding available materials, please let us know. The name and contact information for the SACOG project manager is provided below.A public scoping meeting to receive oral comments on the appropriate scope and content of the EIR will be held on May 9, 2019 from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm at the SACOG offices at 1415 L Street, Suite 300, Sacramento, CA 95814.

Project Manager: Renee DeVere-Oki

Title: EIR Project Manager

Telephone: (916) 340-6219

Email: rdevere-oki [at] sacog [dot] org

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New “Green Means Go” Program in Sacramento

Sent via email
From: Ralph Propper, Environmental Council of Sacramento
Sent: Apr 3, 2019 5:06 PM
To: James Corless, Sacramento Area Council of Governments
Cc: Christina Lokke, Sacramento Area Council of Governments
Subject: ECOS support letter to legislature for “Green Means Go”

Dear James,

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) wants to send a support letter to the Legislature requesting $400M funding for SACOG’s Infill Pilot, “Green Means Go”. We support the intent of your request, but we are concerned about lack of specificity regarding how SACOG would use these funds. We would like clarification included in any budget proposal to reflect the following recommendations; your clarification would enable us to send a support letter.

Infill Siting Criteria

We recommend that sites be surrounded by at least 75% existing urban uses, and the remainder be previous urban uses. This is consistent with SB 375’s infill definition, and our region has sufficient potential to meet these criteria.

VMT Performance Criteria

We recommend using OPR’s SB 743 Technical Advisory of -15% of regional average VMT for land use projects, and no net per capita VMT increase for transportation projects/infrastructure upgrades, as the guiding performance criteria for these projects. These should be the primary goals of the infill pilot, and OPR’s recommendation should be the standard for such incentive projects to meet the identified need in CARB’s GHG Scoping Plan for improved land use to meet climate goals. Accounting for project VMT in the pilot would also serve as a model for SB 743 implementation in our region, and begin to build an inventory of VMT-reducing projects for future VMT mitigation.

Inclusionary Requirement

We recommend a requirement that 10% of housing in an applicable project should be affordable to “low income”residents, an additional 5% should be affordable to “very low income”, and no in-lieu fee option should be available in low-VMT and Transit Oriented Development areas. This is consistent with requirements in SB 35 and other recent legislation.

Anti-Displacement Protection

Displacement of low-income residents is the greatest risk from the infill investment we need to meet our climate goals, so these investments must be coupled with protections against their displacement. Therefore, we recommend no demolition of existing affordable housing, rental housing, or any housing that was subsidized for affordable or rental housing in the last 10 years, consistent with language in recent legislation, e.g., SB 35, SB 50. Although an MPO cannot require anti-displacement mechanisms (e.g., rent control, just-cause eviction, no-net loss, right of first return), a jurisdiction’s no-demolition policy should be considered in scoring criteria for project selection. Prioritizing existing underutilized commercial zoning (e.g., parking lots) in project selection offers densification potential and avoids the direct displacement of housing.

In conclusion, we believe that VMT-reducing projects should be a priority if funding is provided. Thank you for considering these recommendations, and we look forward to working with you to identify appropriate criteria for projects applicable to this proposal.

Ralph Propper, ECOS President

cc: Christina Lokke

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Sacramento Region Highway CapCity Projects

On October 3, 2018, the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) sent the following letter to the California Department of Transportation regarding the Sacramento Region Highway CapCity Projects.

Dear Director Benipal:

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) is concerned that planned freeway expansions in the Sacramento region will induce major increases in vehicle volumes, contravening the spirit and intent of state legislation such as SB 375. We are most concerned about the CapCity (SR 51) expansion (including possible widening of the American River bridge), and also concerned about the planned I-5 HOV lanes between Sacramento and Elk Grove, and the proposed widening of I-80 between Sacramento and Davis.

We appreciate the CapCity project team’s continued engagement with ECOS and its willingness to discuss the project’s progression. However, ECOS would like to expand this conversation into a broader discussion about regional transportation challenges and priorities. We are willing to work with Caltrans staff to coordinate discussions with other regional agencies and stakeholders with the aim of considering potential alternatives to address these challenges.

Following are some reasons why this conversation is timely: CARB’s greenhouse gas scoping plan shows that we must reduce VMT by 15% to meet 2050 goals for GHG emissions. Guidelines for SB 743 specify that the principal criterion in evaluating transportation projects is now VMT reduction, as opposed to congestion relief. Based on these Guidelines, Caltrans will need to consider induced travel demand from future expansion projects, such as caused by land use impacts. The Sacramento Transportation Authority is planning a tax measure for the 2020 ballot. SACOG is developing its draft preferred scenario the 2020 MTP/SCS. Finally, the fate of SB 1 hinges on the outcome of Proposition 6 in November.

The proposed CapCity expansion is emblematic of multiple other prospective projects in the region, and raises questions about historic approaches to longstanding problems as well as approaches to future challenges the region faces. We acknowledge that the challenges involved are significant, and that a rethinking of potential solutions also has great hurdles. We believe that the convergence of challenges and opportunities we face warrants an exploration of additional tools to increase travel-mode options, support infill housing and economic needs, and reduce VMT with increased transit operations and emerging strategies such as congestion pricing and shared mobility.

We would all benefit from a broadly based conversation regarding alternative solutions for regional mobility before major public funds are committed to significant increases in highway capacity. We hope that you will consider cooperating in such a discussion with ECOS, and we are sharing this letter with other organizations and government bodies that we hope to include in this conversation as well. We look forward to discussing possible meeting times and locations.

Sincerely,

Ralph Propper
ECOS President

Click here to read the full letter in PDF.

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