Connecting the Dots Between School Siting and Vehicle Miles Traveled: Research for California State Policy Implementation

Research Team: Jeffrey M. Vincent and Karen Trapenberg Frick

University: UC Berkeley

Problem Statement: A public school’s location has sizable impacts on transportation patterns and vehicle miles travelled (VMT). While California has made major policy strides to reduce VMT and greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation and support safe walking/biking (e.g., AB 32, SB 32, SB 375, AB 1358, AB 734, and SB 1), public school facility planning and siting are largely unconnected from these efforts. Despite the 2015 draft Governor’s Environmental Goals and Policy Report stating, “As the State prioritizes efficient, infill development, K-12 schools will be integrated into planning,” no reforms have yet been implemented. As California implements bold policies to reduce VMT—and at the same time the state and local school districts invest billions of dollars in public school facility infrastructure each year—it is imperative to align these efforts so state and local infrastructure dollars are working on shared purposes.

Project Description: This project aims to inform California state agencies on state policy reforms to link VMT and school siting outcomes as well as develop guidance and tools for local governments on joint planning.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $79,318

Project Partner(s): California Department of Education, Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, and Land Use Schools and Health Group of the Strategic Growth Council in All Policies Task Force