How Well Do New K-12 Public School Sites in California Incorporate Mitigation Measures Known to Reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled?

Research Team: Jeffrey M. Vincent (lead), Sydney Maves, and Amy Thomson

UC Campus(es): UC Berkeley

Problem Statement: To support its policy goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in recent years, California has enacted land use and transportation policies aimed at reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT). One of these new policies, Senate Bill (SB) 743 (Steinberg, 2013), requires lead agencies to measure development impacts on VMT and identify feasible mitigation measures within the project that eliminate or substantially reduce VMT impact. Recommended mitigation measures have been developed by the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) and focus on numerous built environment attributes that are known to minimize VMT, including disincentivizing private automobile reliance and promoting more “active” transportation modes (i.e., walking, bicycling, public transit, etc.). Where schools are located influences family travel patterns in the short run and spatial community development for decades. California’s public school districts must adhere to this policy change and measure VMT impacts associated with proposed new school sites.

Project Description: To establish an understanding of the state of new school siting in California prior to SB 743 implementation, this exploratory study analyzes recent years’ new school siting outcomes in relation to numerous newly identified VMT mitigation measures. To this end, the research team developed a geo-spatial inventory of all land in the state under the ownership of California’s K-12 school districts, selecting K-12 schools which had been constructed over the last decade (2008-2018) to use in the analysis. The research team then analyzed the spatial relationship between the 301 new school sites and four VMT mitigation measures (Proximity to High Quality Transit Area (HQTA), Proximity to Roads with Bicycle Facilities,Walkability Scores, and Proximity to Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations), parsing the results by school-and locale-type.

Status: Completed

Budget: $79,318

Policy Brief(s):