SB 743, signed into law in 2013, required the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to establish a new metric for identifying and mitigating transportation impacts for projects that are subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). OPR identified Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) as the new metric. The County adopted VMT thresholds in June 2020 following OPR’s guidance which uses average VMT per person/employee as a baseline for determining needed reductions. Average VMT within the County is fairly low and as such many development projects, even those within urban infill areas, cannot meet adopted thresholds for reduced VMT.
The goal of this Caltrans funded grant is to establish a VMT mitigation program for Santa Cruz County so that projects can reduce impacts from VMT to a less-than-significant level by paying into a program. This project will provide the County and local cities with a regionally coordinated mechanism to mitigate development projects that cannot mitigate on-site, and simultaneously provide additional funding for active transportation and transit projects that help reduce VMT overall via a banking or exchange program.