December 30, 1992 - From the December, 1992 issue

Congestion Management Program: Four Analyses

In last month’s issue, The Planning Report presented a summary and analysis of LA County’s Congestion Management Program, which will provide new links between transportation planning and land-use planning. With the passage of the first CMP on November 18th, TPR this month offers further commentary on its strengths, weaknesses, and future prospects.

Our commentators are: Robert Paternoster, Director of Planning and Building for the City of Long Beach; Cindy Starrett and Cindy Simons of the law firm Latham and Watkins; Larry Kosmont of the real estate and entitlements consulting firm Kosmont and Associates; and Linda Waade, transportation advisor to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley.

 


Kosmont: The CMP is the door to the future of land use approvals.

Robert J. Paternoster, City of Long Beach:

The Congestion Management Program as enacted by the State Legislature in 1989 as Assembly Bill 471, places significant new responsibilities upon local government. For the first time, each local government will be responsible for identifying and mitigating the impacts of development upon the regional highway system. 

Intensive efforts by representatives of local government and by LACTC staff over the past two years have insured that the recently adopted Congestion Management Program for Los Angeles County will minimize the administrative burden on local government. But no matter how much the process is streamlined, traffic congestion impacts of new development still must be mitigated, and such mitigation will be costly.

Unless a significantly increased funding level for transportation improvements and programs is forthcoming, many jurisdictions will face the unhappy choice of either limiting their economic and residential growth, or losing their share of new State and Federal transportation funds as a penalty for violating the CMP. 

Each local jurisdiction must adopt a TDM ordinance by April 1993. Since the model ordinance included in the L.A. County CMP emphasizes elements of new building design, the City of Long Beach will adopt its TDM ordinance as an amendment to its Zoning Ordinance. 

Also by April 1993, land use analysis systems must be in place which will, for all projects subject to Environmental Impact Reports, estimate impacts of new development on the regional highway system and provide mitigation for those impacts. In Long Beach, we hope that a recently enacted Transportation Improvement Fee Program, which collects fees ranging from $1.10 to $4.50 per square foot from new construction, will provide full mitigation for all anticipated development. 

When congestion cannot be fully mitigated, local jurisdictions are permitted to prepare and implement deficiency plans which “measurably improve level of service” and “contribute to significant improvements in air quality.”

The L.A. County CMP wisely provides for a county-wide deficiency plan, thereby relieving each local government from the responsibility of preparing such a plan. Local governments must make certain that their interests are properly addressed in the plan. The extent to which the plan will satisfy local concerns is dependent upon how each of the following four questions is answered by the plan:

  • What is the size of the county-wide deficiency or congestion gap?
  • How will responsibility for addressing the deficiency be allocated to each local jurisdiction?
  • How will local government conformance in addressing the deficiency be monitored and enforced?
  • How will funds be allocated to local jurisdictions to support projects and programs which address the deficiency?

The Congestion Management Program clearly burdens local government with a whole new set of responsibilities. If the Program is to succeed, local government must also be allocated a commensurately larger share of the transportation funding pie.

Cindy Starrett and Cindy Simons, Latham and Watkins: 

LACTC has made a good beginning with the CMP in 1992, but some of its most challenging components remain to be developed or refined in 1993. 

1) Deficiency Plans. The CMP legislation provides for “deficiency plans” to be utilized when level of service (LOS) on a particular roadway deteriorates below the threshold established in the CMP. LACTC is currently completing a Countywide Congestion Study to project future deficiencies on the CMP network and recommend county-wide strategies to address congestion. 

In spite of the elimination of a county-wide mitigation fee, which had been proposed as the basis for the deficiency plan for the County, business interests are concerned that financially strapped local jurisdictions may yet impose the burden for mitigating future deficiencies disproportionately on new development. 

LACTC’s guidance for deficiency plans must ensure that new development does not bear the burden of mitigating the cumulative impacts of small projects and congestion caused by existing development. Moreover, the deficiency plan must ensure that projects receive adequate credit for design features and mitigation measures that enhance regional transportation service. 

2) Inter-jurisdictional Traffic Impacts. One hope for the CMP was that it would reduce disputes between neighboring cities over the traffic impacts of development. So far, however, local jurisdictions have received little guidance on the mitigation of inter­jurisdictional traffic impacts, either among local jurisdictions within Los Angeles County or across county borders. Within Los Angeles County, this concern could be addressed by LACTC through the deficiency plan component of the CMP. Guidance for mitigating cross-county impacts should be provided by SCAG, which is responsible for coordinating the CMPs of the counties within its region. 

3) Duplicative Analysis. Project sponsors should not be required to undergo added expense and delay in preparing traffic studies to satisfy the demands of the CMP in addition to those required for a local jurisdiction’s CEQA process. LACTC must, through its Technical Advisory Committee, evaluate the implementation of traffic analysis requirements and propose modifications in the event that the CMP creates duplicative or conflicting demands. 

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Larry J. Kosmont, Kosmont & Associates, Inc.:

The CMP is the door to the future of land use approvals. Cities now must implement local planning guidelines which are supportive of regional transit and air quality priorities, and must in their project approvals incorporate mitigation programs that help to resolve regional congestion, mobility, and air quality issues. 

The CMP represents the first regional policy document that will actually result in local land use ordinances which include design requirements, density incentives for projects near transit stations, and traffic evaluations that look beyond the impacts to the locality. 

The CMP, most importantly, represents a pragmatic day-to-day policy link between SCAG’s Regional Mobility Plan and AQMD’s Air Quality Management Plan. This link may not be official because SCAG’s Regional Mobility Plan and AQMD’s commuter regulations (Regulation 15) have not necessarily been developed jointly. But their direction over regulations affecting land development and the ultimate residential and commercial users of parcels is clear. 

The message to corporate users, landowners, developers, investors, lenders, and building managers is that projects in the future will need to achieve design, product mix, parking and location standards which are sensitive to transit and air quality, in addition to meeting local expectations and neighborhood demands. 

This new equation of air quality, transportation, and land use is here to stay. Just this month, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released a report summarizing key issues pertaining to air quality and transportation. The following are some of the FHWA’s points that affect future land use policies and issues.

  • Transportation Demand Management must be a major focus because TDM policies contain air quality and congestion benefits. Not surprisingly, the first CMP requires that each city adopt a TDM ordinance.
  • Current traffic control measures concentrate solely on peak hour trips. Different trip types (e.g., retail or special event venues) will need to be reduced, shortened or eliminated.
  • The early a.m. automobile “cold start” issue is very important. For L.A., major improvements in air quality will be accelerated if there is a dramatic reduction in vehicular miles traveled and the number of cars “started” during the a.m. peak hours.
  • Parking policies and toll road strategies will be an issue. Currently, Federal and State policies are not entirely supportive of these programs.
  • Land use and growth management can be effective in reducing strips, vehicular miles traveled, increased transit ridership, and elimination of single occupant vehicle trips. 

In support of these observations by the FHWA, L.A. County’s first CMP zeroes in on requiring TDM ordinances which support transit friendly building amenities and introduces a new land use analysis program which evaluates the impact of project trips on the regional system. 

In a nutshell, it is a new entitlement world out there and the arbiters of major land use and occupancy decisions will undoubtedly include the AQMD, LACTC and the SCAG. 

Linda Waade, Transportation Advisor to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley

During the past two years in developing the CMP, local, regional and state agencies, as well as the private sector and environmental interests have all worked together to develop county-wide transportation solutions. 

During this time, the City of Los Angeles played a critical role — working closely with LACTC staff — in an effort to ensure that CMP requirements are developed in coordination with existing local transportation and land use planning programs and objectives.

The Mayor’s staff, City Council staff and many departments worked together to develop a unified perspective that would best represent the City’s interests. We were successful in preventing the adoption of a countywide trip fee which would have further discouraged economic recovery and growth during this recession. 

The City continues to work with the LACTC on several remaining issues, including: 1) the preparation of a county-wide deficiency plan; 2) ensuring that local governments act in a coordinated manner to meet both CMP and Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) requirements without conflicts and duplication; and 3) protecting commerce and tourism by accommodating the unique issues which affect regional public facilities, such as the airport and harbor. 

During this first year, a planning framework for the CMP has been established. The City of Los Angeles will continue to work with the LACTC and other regional and state agencies to help identify the best mix of transportation solutions including highway, transit and demand management projects and to look at land uses strategies that reduce trips. 

Continued cooperation and coordination between all agencies and jurisdictions is critical to a successful and smooth implementation of the CMP.

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