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Executive Summary

First_Graph.jpgThe City of San Diego’s proposed Climate Action Plan[1] (CAP) commits the City to change the way people get to work. Not only is transportation important for economic development, lifestyle, and social equity, it is a crucial component to reducing the risks from climate change.

The purpose of the CAP is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in the City of San Diego and to protect our quality of life.

One of five key strategies in the CAP is to reduce GHGs from car trips by encouraging more commuters in San Diego to rely on transit, walking, and bicycling in the future. In order for the City of San Diego to meet its climate goals, the City Council and Mayor must:

(1)    Implement a variety of policies, infrastructure projects, and programs at the city level to make non-car transportation choices both safe and easy to use, and

(2)    Ensure that the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), implements a Regional Plan that provides sufficient resources for transit, walking, and bicycling to meet the City of San Diego’s climate goals.

Some of the mobility strategies outlined in the CAP must be implemented at the regional level by SANDAG—not by the City alone. However, San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan, SANDAG's long range transportation plan, projects transit, walking, and bicycling levels far smaller in the City of San Diego than what is called for by the CAP.

The City of San Diego’s climate goals call for 50 percent of commuters living near transit to bicycle, walk, or take transit to work. However, according to SANDAG’s own data, their plans will result in less than 15 percent for those same areas in the City of San Diego.[2]

[I]t is mathematically impossible for the City of San Diego to achieve its transit and active transportation goals with the transportation network SANDAG is currently planning. 

SANDAG’s own projections show that it is mathematically impossible for the City of San Diego to achieve its transit and active transportation goals with the transportation network SANDAG is currently planning. 

The City of San Diego must use the influence of its SANDAG Board members to ensure the region prioritizes sufficient funding to meet the transit and active transportation goals of the CAP.

Introduction

The City of San Diego’s proposed Climate Action Plan (CAP) offers a roadmap with specific policy recommendations to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) citywide.

The Climate Action Plan’s Relationship with the City’s General Plan 

Cover_Photo.jpgThe City of San Diego’s General Plan Conservation Element[3] sets forth broad policies intended to reduce GHG emissions. The CAP takes these policies one step further by outlining strategies and enforceable actions that will achieve GHG reduction targets by certain time frames.  Enforceable actions are necessary not only to reduce the GHG emissions of future development under the General Plan, but to also meet the City’s obligations under the California Environmental Quality Act to mitigate cumulatively considerable impacts of activities covered by the General Plan.[4]

Similar to a General Plan, the CAP provides broad goals for addressing GHG impacts. The CAP also provides specific strategies the City must implement to reduce GHG emissions. The CAP can be considered an “instruction manual” for the City to identify and implement GHG reduction measures over a period of time. Subsequent to adoption of the CAP, implementation of the strategies will occur through:

(1)        Adopted resolutions (voluntary actions or City programs),

(2)        Ordinances (mandatory actions that carry the force of law in the City of San Diego),

(3)        Community plan updates, and

(4)        Other similar regulatory updates to the City’s Zoning and Building Codes.

The Climate Action Plan and Transportation Choices 

The CAP identifies five core strategies to reduce GHGs, including:

(1)    Energy and Water Efficient Buildings,

(2)    Clean and Renewable Energy,

(3)    Bicycling, Walking, Transit, and Land Use,

(4)    Zero Waste, and

(5)    Climate Resiliency.

One of the five core strategies outlined in the CAP focuses on “Bicycling, Walking, Transit, and Land Use.” This strategy outlines a broad range of activities that aim to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and improve transportation choices as mechanisms to reduce GHGs. Relevant CAP implementation measures focus on promoting alternative modes of travel to the automobile, locating new development near transit to reduce car commuting, revising parking standards, and managing parking supply over large areas rather than building by building.

The CAPs goals are not to change commuting practices for all San Diegans, but instead are targeted toward commuters living in Transit Priority Areas. 

The CAP’s goals are not to change commuting practices for all San Diegans, but instead are targeted toward commuters living in Transit Priority Areas, locations in the City of San Diego within one-half mile of a rail station stop or a high-quality transit corridor.[5] These are areas where the City of San Diego believes it can have an impact on facilitating non-car commutes, by focusing funding and other policy tools to advance non-car transportation.

The CAP commits to expanded multi-modal transportation choices like walking, bicycling, and transit use through the following strategies:

  • Transit: Implement the City’s General Plan Mobility Element and the City of Villages Strategy to increase use of transit and achieve mass transit mode-share of 12 percent by 2020 and 25 percent by 2035.
  • Walking: Implement the City’s Pedestrian Master Plan to increase commuter-walking opportunities in Transit Priority Areas and achieve walking commuter mode-share of 3 percent by 2020 and 7 percent by 2035.
  • Bicycling: Implement the City’s Bicycle Master Plan to increase commuter bicycling opportunities in Transit Priority Areas and achieve bicycle commuter mode-share of 6 percent by 2020 and 18 percent by 2035.
By 2035, when the CAP's multi-modal transportation targets are to be met, 50 percent of San Diego residents living in Transit Priority Areas will commute using transit, walking, and bicycling.

Climate Action Plan mode-share goals for commuting

2020

2035

Transit

12 %

25 %

Walking

3 %

7 %

Biking

6 %

18 %

The Climate Action Plan Supports Existing and Future City Policies

Bike_and_Bus.jpgThe CAP’s strategies leverage existing City policies and efforts. For example, the CAP supports the following policies and mobility concepts:

  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure: Achieving the CAP goals will require funding pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure already identified in the City’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans.
  • Complete Streets: The CAP calls for incorporating pedestrian and bicycle facilities in street planning, instead of focusing primarily on cars. This is required by state law as of 2008.[6]
  • Infill Development: The CAP contemplates new infill development opportunities as community plans are updated. California has made similar efforts to encourage infill with SB 375 and SB 743.
  • Transit-Oriented Development: The CAP strategies support implementation of transit-oriented development to promote effective land use that will reduce average commute distance.
  • Parking Reform: The CAP supports development of a “Parking Plan” to include measures such as “unbundled parking” for nonresidential and residential sectors in urban areas.

The City of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan and SANDAG

The CAP was drafted to be consistent with SANDAG’s Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). As a Metropolitan Planning Organization, SANDAG is required by the State of California to prepare an SCS as part of its Regional Transportation Plan, in order to meet certain GHG reduction targets.

The goals of the CAP and SCS are similar—to reduce GHG emissions.  The SCS is responsible for demonstrating how regional GHG reduction targets will be met through reductions in VMT from cars and light trucks.

However, SANDAG cannot implement either its SCS or Regional Transportation Plan in a vacuum. SANDAG’s SCS must be consistent with the land use and transportation planning of its constituent governments.

The Climate Action Plan and SANDAG’s Transportation Planning

For the CAP to be successful, the City of San Diego must take a two-pronged approach:

(1)      Implement actions and measures over which it has direct control (e.g., implement the City of San Diego’s Pedestrian Master Plan and Bicycle Master Plan), and

(2)       Ensure that SANDAG implements a Regional Plan that provides sufficient resources for transit, walking, and bicycling to meet the City of San Diego’s climate goals.

Some of the mobility strategies outlined in the CAP are to be implemented at the regional level by SANDAG—not by the City. Many of the strategies are also dependent on the City and SANDAG cooperating, communicating, and leveraging resources to effectively implement projects that meet both of their climate reduction requirements. The City of San Diego can and should ensure that SANDAG prioritizes and dedicates sufficient resources to transit and active transportation by using its voting power at the SANDAG Board when updating San Diego’s Regional Transportation Plan.

SANDAG’s Plans are Insufficient

SANDAG’s current transportation planning is a barrier to the City of San Diego achieving the mode-share goals of the CAP.  SANDAG is currently updating its 2011 Regional Transportation Plan with a 2015 Regional Plan, titled “San Diego Forward.” The Regional Plan outlines a variety of transportation projects for the region, and the cost and phasing of their construction.

While the CAP calls for transit, bicycling, and walking to represent 50 percent of commuting trips in 2035 for Transit Priority Areas in the City of San Diego, SANDAG’s transportation plan projects much smaller improvements for transit, bicycling, and walking mode-share.

2nd_graph.jpgBased on the Draft 2015 Regional Plan, SANDAG prepared a transportation model that analyzed projected mode-shares for walking, bicycling, and transit ridership on a region-wide basis. Through a public records request, Circulate San Diego received more specific projections on mode-share for walking, bicycling, and transit ridership expected by SANDAG to occur within the City of San Diego’s Transit Priority Areas. That data shows SANDAG’s transportation plans are expected to produce improvements to mode-share that are far smaller than the goals of the CAP.

In the table below, the stark contrast is evident between necessary changes in transit and active transportation to reach the City’s GHG goals, versus what SANDAG expects to be the outcome from its transportation plans for the same Transit Priority Areas.

The City of San Diego’s climate goals call for 50 percent of commuters living near transit in 2035 to bicycle, walk, or take transit to work. However, SANDAG’s plans will result in less than 15 percent.  Even as soon as 2020, the Climate Action Plan requires the City to meet 12 percent transit ridership, while SANDAG is projected to result in only 6.8 percent.

SANDAG is planning for a transportation network that will result in extremely small increases for transit, walking, and bicycling by 2035. Yet for the CAP to be successful, those travel modes must increase by about 500 percent from their current state.  SANDAG’s own projections show that it is mathematically impossible for the City of San Diego to achieve its mode-share goals with the transportation network SANDAG is planning. 

Mode-shares for commute trips in City of San Diego Transit Priority Areas[7]

 

2012

2020

2035

 

SANDAG

Data

SANDAG Projection

Climate Action Plan Goals

SANDAG Projection

Climate Action Plan Goals

Transit

5.1%

6.8%

12.0%

8.6%

25.0%

Walk

4.2%

4.3%

3.0%[8]

4.1%

7.0%

Bicycle

1.9%

2.0%

6.0%

2.1%

18.0%

The City of San Diego must lead at SANDAG

In order for the City of San Diego to achieve its mode-share goals from the CAP, SANDAG must build a transportation network to facilitate more transit, walking, and bicycling.

SANDAG’s transportation plans can be improved, and can help the City of San Diego to achieve its CAP goals by advancing transit, walking, and bicycling projects into earlier periods.

SANDAG’s complicated voting system awards the City of San Diego 40 out of 100 weighted votes, and two individual representatives–traditionally the Mayor and a councilmember–to sit on SANDAG’s Board of Directors. Only the County of San Diego has as many individual votes, but no jurisdiction–including the County–has as much of a weighted vote as the City of San Diego.

The City of San Diego is the most influential force at SANDAG,
and has the power to shift priorities for the region. 

While that voting power alone is not enough to dictate SANDAG’s actions, the City of San Diego has the largest say of any jurisdiction in the region for what transportation plans SANDAG adopts.  The City of San Diego is the most influential force at SANDAG, and has the power to shift priorities for the region.

Recently, Circulate San Diego and TransForm released a report titled “TransNet Today,” which identifies a variety of options for how SANDAG can advance funding for transit, bicycling, and walking, with SANDAG’s current authority and available funding.[9] The City of San Diego should work with SANDAG Board members and staff to ensure that SANDAG adopts and implements a transportation plan that can help the City of San Diego achieve its climate goals.

The City of San Diego will have multiple opportunities to influence SANDAG to adopt a more successful transportation plan. SANDAG updates its regional transportation plans every four years, meaning another update is due in 2019. SANDAG is currently contemplating a regional revenue measure to fund transportation, habitat, and infrastructure. The City of San Diego can ensure that sufficient funds are included in such a measure to achieve the mode-share goals of the Climate Action Plan. 

Conclusion

Smart_Corner.jpg

The climate goals for the City of San Diego in its Climate Action Plan are ambitious, but achievable. City leaders must take action today to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and secure our City’s future.

Not only must the City of San Diego adopt a variety of policies at the City level and invest the necessary resources into infrastructure improvements, but the City’s current representatives to SANDAG, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Council Member Todd Gloria, must ensure that the region dedicates sufficient funding for transit, bicycling, and walking. Future SANDAG representatives from the City of San Diego must also stay vigilant, to ensure that the Climate Action Plan goals are met.

While the City of San Diego can and should implement policies to improve transportation using its own authorities, SANDAG must also play a part. SANDAG must meet the City of San Diego half way.

For the CAP to succeed, the City of San Diego must show leadership at SANDAG, and ensure that our region’s transportation efforts are up to the task of addressing climate change in San Diego.

Acknowledgements

colin_parent.jpgColin Parent
Lead Author – Policy Counsel, Circulate San Diego

Colin Parent is Policy Counsel at Circulate San Diego. He is responsible for advocating for affordable transit, safe walkable neighborhoods, and effective land use policy.

Colin served on the Jerry Brown for Governor 2010 campaign, and was appointed by Governor Brown as the Director of External Affairs for the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Prior to working for Governor Brown, Colin practiced law for three years as a commercial litigator at DLA Piper US LLP. During 2013 and 2014, Colin served as the Director of Policy at the San Diego Housing Commission.

 

Nicole.jpg

Nicole Capretz
Co-Author – Executive Director, Climate Action Campaign

Nicole is an environmental attorney with over 15 years of experience working as a legal and policy advisor for local government and the nonprofit sector in San Diego. Nicole Capretz was one of the primary authors of the City of San Diego’s draft Climate Action Plan, and served as the Chair of the City’s Economic and Environmental Sustainability Task Force for three years while she was the Associate Director for Green Energy/Green Jobs at Environmental Health Coalition.  As Climate Action Campaign's Executive Director, Nicole's duties include overall strategic and operational responsibility for the organization's staff, programs, expansion, and execution of its mission.

 

 

 Special Thanks

Thanks to Circulate San Diego staff members Kathleen Ferrier and Maya Rosas for substantive edits, Terra King and Brian Gaze for design work, and to Circulate San Diego Executive Director Jim Stone. Special thanks to Dennis Larson with Nexus Planning for technical advice. 

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Endnotes

"[1] City of San Diego, Draft Climate Action Plan (July 2015), http://www.sandiego.gov/planning/genplan/cap/pdf/draft_cap_july_2015.pdf.

"[2] These numbers represent Peak HOME-WORK mode shares (Commute Trips) in City of San Diego Transit Priority Areas. The figures for 2012 baseline mode shares and SANDAG mode share projections were developed by SANDAG as a part of the transportation modeling for their Draft 2015 Regional Plan. Those figures were provided to Circulate San Diego through a public records request. The SANDAG data is attached as Appendix 1 and hosted online with this report on the Circulate San Diego website at http://circulatesd.nationbuilder.com/new_climate_for_transportation. Figures for the Climate Action Plan mode share goals are available from City of San Diego, Draft Climate Action Plan (July 2015), http://www.sandiego.gov/planning/genplan/cap/pdf/draft_cap_july_2015.pdf.

"[3] City of San Diego, City of San Diego General Plan Conservation Element (2012), http://www.sandiego.gov/planning/genplan/pdf/2012/ce120100.pdf.

"[4] For further details, refer to the General Plan Environmental Impact Report’s Mitigation and Monitoring Reporting Program pages 49-51, available at http://www.sandiego.gov/planning/genplan/pdf/peir/mmrp.pdf.

"[5] City of San Diego, Appendices to Draft Climate Action Plan (July 2015), http://www.sandiego.gov/planning/genplan/cap/pdf/all_appendices_july_21_2015.pdf.

"[6] AB 1358 (2008), the “California Complete Streets Act.”

"[7] Figures for 2012 baseline mode shares and SANDAG mode share projections were developed by SANDAG as a part of the transportation modeling for their Draft 2015 Regional Plan. Those figures were provided to Circulate San Diego through a public records request. The SANDAG data is attached as Appendix 1 and hosted online with this report on the Circulate San Diego website at http://circulatesd.nationbuilder.com/new_climate_for_transportation. Figures for the Climate Action Plan mode share goals are available from City of San Diego, Draft Climate Action Plan (July 2015), http://www.sandiego.gov/planning/genplan/cap/pdf/draft_cap_july_2015.pdf.

"[8] The mode-share projections for walking in the CAP for 2025 are less than the 2012 mode-share estimates from SANDAG. This is a result of the CAP being based in part on the mode-share figures in the SANDAG 2011 Regional Transportation Plan, which estimated base-line walking rates at lower percentages than SANDAG’s current mode-share estimates for walking. See SANDAG, 2011 Regional Transportation Plan Technical Appendix 3 (2011), http://www.sandag.org/uploads/2050RTP/F2050RTPTA3.pdf.

"[9] Circulate San Diego and TransForm, TransNet Today (July 15, 2015), http://circulatesd.nationbuilder.com/transnettoday

 

  • published this page 2015-09-23 06:21:54 -0700

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