Traffic & Parking No Longer Considerations for High Density Development

High density housing infill projects near transit can now ignore, and not have to mitigate, impacts to traffic and parking. This impacts Larkspur.HighdensityTrump

Yes, you read that right. While we face the proposition of 920 high density housing units being built around Larkspur, possibly the biggest 101 bottleneck in the county and where we have major parking issues already with the ferry – the California State Senate has in it’s wisdom deemed in Senate Bill 743 the following:

65088.4(b) “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, [traffic] level of service standards described in Section 65089 shall not apply to the streets and highways within an infill opportunity zone.”
This senate bill was rushed through in September. It has been passed and enacted!

Larkspur already has major traffic issues – 3 of its intersections are at “Level of Service” F already in the morning commute. Planners already anticipate the new development will make the situation worse. They’re meant to be at level of service D. It’s as if your child came home from school with “F”s on their report card, and you said “well that doesn’t matter any more”!

Larkspur is an “infill opportunity zone”. And in fact thanks to SMART just about anywhere within 1/2 mile of the rail line (or a regular bus or future trolley line) which means most of suburban Marin – probably where you live – now falls under SB 743.

So if residents say “what about the traffic and the parking?”  our cries of concern can now officially be dismissed.

Save the Stadium and the Builders

Senate Bill 743 was hastily passed by state senate house leader Darrell Steinberg. Steinberg receives major campaign contributions from the building and transportation industry.

Steinberg part justified SB 743 by saying that the building industry is in recession, so rules preventing development should be removed to boost the economy.

The other justification was something called “multimodal transit”. The bill claims:

promoting the development of a multimodal transportation system, and providing clean, efficient access to destinations.”

I’ve covered before many times that transit emits far more greenhouse gases per passenger mile than cars, and the gap is only widening. Also highways provide access to 20x as many people as transit, and despite substantial investments since the 1980s per capita transit ridership has dropped in the Bay Area.

The data is stark and conclusive. But far be it from politicians and builders to let facts get in the way. They are going to flog this dead horse, and use it to justify and railroad their projects through.

What Does this Mean for Us?

This means that we can expect more and more high density projects to be built across Marin. We’re not like other locations in the South and East Bay with a network of freeways – we have just one major route – highway 101.

What this inevitably means is that development will continue, and at a much faster rate thanks to Plan Bay Area’s entirely remarkable population growth estimates, until 101 gets far, far worse until you’re finally forced onto the SMART train, or you move out of the county.

More Information

For an excellent overview of Senate Bill 743 and it’s implications please read this article by Garrett Colli in the California Land use Blog:

Last-Minute CEQA Bill Brings Significant Changes for Major Infrastructure Projects and Projects within Transit Priority Areas

Here’s the wording of the bill itself:
Senate Bill 743