February 22, 2022

Submitted via email to: gpersicone@cityofmarina.org

RE: Marina Planning Commission February 24, 2021, Agenda Item No. 6a draft VMT policy

Dear Mr. Periscone,

Landwatch has preliminarily reviewed the proposed VMT-based thresholds of significance for transportation impacts. LandWatch generally supports using the 15% reduction threshold, consistent with the OPR guidance.

However, we recommend that the Planning Commission direct staff to address the following items before submitting the thresholds to the Council for approval. These clarifications will make the thresholds consistent with CEQA and easier to administer. They will also eliminate potential confusion.

  • The thresholds of significance are consistently identified as presumptions. They should be clearly identified as rebuttable presumptions. The thresholds document should state with reference to any and all of its identified thresholds:
    • A VMT analysis is required if a fair argument is made that the presumption should not apply to a particular project.
  • Each of the mitigation measures in Appendix B, which are based on the CAPCOA guidance, lists the “Max VMT reduction” for that measure in percentage terms. The thresholds document should state:
    • There is no assumption that any project implementing these measures would in fact attain that maximum percentage reduction. The actual VMT reduction for a project should be based on project-specific analysis using the analytic tools and methods identified in the CAPCOA guidance.   
  • Many of the mitigation measures in Appendix B are overlapping and not additive. The thresholds document should state:
    • There should be no assumption that the percentage VMT reductions from multiple mitigation measures are additive.  The actual VMT reduction should be based on project-specific analysis using the analytic tools and methods identified in the CAPCOA guidance, including CAPCOA’s caps on attainable maximum VMT reductions where multiple mitigation measures are adopted.
  • The screening criteria allows for exemptions for small projects that are inconsistent with the Sustainability Community Strategy and Development in Low-VMT Areas/Map-Based Screening. The Guidelines should specify what counts as a “small project” and what constitutes inconsistency with the SCS since that is a very vague plan.
  • The legends on the VMT maps in Exhibits D1 and D2 are unclear.
    • In Exhibit D1 it is not clear if the term “County Threshold” is supposed to reference the County average or to reference some percentage reduction below that average that represents a threshold of significance, e.g., a 15% reduction from the County average. If the reference is to the County average, the legend should say so. If the reference is to a “threshold” that is less than the County average, the legend should identify the relation of that threshold to the County average, e.g., 15% below. Furthermore, it is unclear why the legends in D1 distinguish the orange areas that are “1% to 15% Above County Threshold” from the red areas that are “15% or More Above County Threshold.” If an area is above the “County Threshold,” whether “Threshold” means “average” or even “15% below average,” it is treated the same regardless whether it is 1% above or 15% above. What matters here is whether an area is below the “Threshold,” which should be identified as 15% below the County Average.
    • Exhibit D2 suffers from exactly the same lack of clarity, except that the references are to the “City Threshold.” Does “City Threshold” mean City average or 15% below that average? In addition, it should not matter whether an area is 1% above the “City Threshold” or 15% above it since the relevant question is simply whether the area is 15% below the City average.

We look forward to seeing these clarifications in the thresholds document to be submitted to the Council for approval. Thank you for your consideration.

Best regards,