Transportation Analysis Policy Development


The City is working on developing a new transportation policy to transition from using Level of Service (LOS) to Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) as the methodology to assess transportation impacts of development and infrastructure projects under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Only analyses under CEQA require the use of VMT as the metric for transportation analysis.

The draft Transportation Impact Analysis (TIA) Guidelines and amendment to General Plan is scheduled to be reviewed by the City Council at a Study Session meeting scheduled for Monday, July 20, 2020.

Future City Council agendas will be posted on the City’s Agenda & Minutes Public Meeting Portal and meeting information shared on this page.

Interested Parties List – Please send an email to the staff contact to be added to the Interested Parties List for this effort.


City Council Study Session
Date: July 20, 2020
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Remote*
Public Notice: Notice of Study Session

*This process may be changed in accordance with the most current County Health Officer’s orders - please see the Public Meeting Portal for complete details on how you can watch the meeting and provide public comment


Agendas are posted on the City’s website on the Friday preceding each meeting.


The City of San Mateo is developing a new transportation policy to meet State requirements set by Senate Bill (SB) 743. The bill shifts how a project’s transportation impacts are analyzed; from automobile delay typically measured by Level of Service or LOS , to Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), which measures the total amount and distance traveled by single-occupancy vehicle to a destination. VMT provides for a more broad multimodal transportation analysis from a regional perspective, whereas LOS typically focuses on automobile impacts within a more localized area.

This change from LOS to VMT analysis is expected to align transportation impact analysis and mitigation with statewide goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase use of active transportation.

As part of this policy development effort to comply with the requirements of SB 743, the City will:

  • Hold public informational study session meetings
  • Determine provisions for utilizing VMT for transportation analysis, including type of VMT metric, methodology for estimating VMT, thresholds for assessment, and mitigation measures for significant impacts
  • Develop a revised Transportation Impact Analysis (TIA) guidelines for implementation
  • Develop the technical expertise and tools needed to put this change in effect


For decades, the transportation impacts of all projects subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) - including commercial, housing, office, and recreational developments, as well as transportation infrastructure - have been evaluated using "Level of Service” (LOS), which is a measure of automobile delay at intersections local to a project site.  Projects determined to have a significant impact on LOS are required to mitigate these impacts, most commonly in the form of expanded intersections, widened roadways, or signalization modifications to increase vehicular throughput.

SB 743 was signed into law in 2013, and sets the intent and goals for transportation analysis to more directly tie impacts of development projects to the overarching state goals of greenhouse gas emissions reduction and increase in multimodal transportation options. SB 743 removes automobile delay as the primary metric for determining transportation impacts during CEQA review, and requires use of VMT to assess impacts to the multimodal transportation network.  Under this change, rather than treating traffic congestion faced by drivers as an environmental impact, transportation analysis would instead consider total amount and distance driven, including portions of trips outside of the City’s boundary.

The following legislation and policies provide additional detail on SB 743 and the requirements therein, and the City’s current efforts in alignment with the State’s policy.

  • Technical Advisory - By the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research
  • CEQA - 2018 Adoption of updated CEQA Guidelines implementing SB743
  • General Plan – The City’s General Plan includes common goals intended to reduce driving and GHG emissions.
  • Climate Action Plan (CAP) – The transition from LOS to VMT aligns with the goals and strategies to reduce GHG emissions contained in the draft CAP.

REVISED:  July 10, 2020

LOCATION:  City-wide

APN:  City-wide

City of San Mateo

Sue-Ellen Atkinson
Principal Transportation Planner
(650) 522-7288

Julia Klein
Principal Planner
(650) 522-7216

City Hall
330 West 20th Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94403