Transit Priority and Sustainable Communities Projects Consistent with the SCS
A Transit Priority Project (TPP) is a new type of project created by SB 375. Public Resources Code section 21155 sets forth the requirements for a project to qualify as a TPP. As with Residential or Mixed-Use Residential Projects, a TPP must be consistent with the general use designations, density, building intensity, and applicable policies specified for the project area in either a SCS or APS for which CARB has accepted an MPO’s determination that the SCS or APS would, if implemented, achieve the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets (Pub. Res.
Code, § 21155, subd. (a).). In addition, a TPP must meet the following requirements: (1) the project must contain at least 50 percent residential use based on total building square footage; (2) the project must have a minimum net density of 20 dwelling units per acre; and (3) the project must be located within one-half mile of a major transit stop or high quality transit corridor included in the regional transportation plan (Pub. Res. Code, § 21155, subd. (b).).
Once an agency has determined that a project is a TPP, the project may be reviewed through a Sustainable Communities Environmental Assessment (SCEA). (Pub. Res. Code, § 21155.2, subd. (b).) The standard of review for the SCEA is the “substantial evidence” standard, which is deferential to the agency. Thus, once an SCEA is deemed appropriate, the burden of proof for a legal challenge to the agency’s analysis is presumed to be adequate and the burden of proof is on a petitioner/plaintiff to demonstrate otherwise.
If a TPP must be reviewed by an EIR, the TPP EIR is not required to discuss growth-inducing impacts, any project specific or cumulative impacts from cars and light-duty truck trips on global climate change, or on the regional transportation network. In addition, the EIR is not required to reference, describe, or discuss a reduced residential density alternative to address the effects of car and light-duty truck trips generated by the project as part of its alternatives analysis.
A TPP that meets additional requirements may qualify as a sustainable communities project, a category of project that is eligible for CEQA exemption.