Finance Transit - a Property Levy SB142

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California Center for Sustainable Communities (CCSC)

........    there are two important ramifications,

  1. energy efficiency efforts are not being guided by good information and data, and the state may be investing in inappropriate efficiency or conservation programs and initiatives ;and

  2. demand forecasts could be underestimating the impact of future economic growth.

Technological progress may reduce the energy demand from heating  and ventilation , but the behavioral response of new commercial building tenants and the large-scale adoption of appliances more than offset these savings(heating), leading to increases in energy consumption (air-conditioning, lighting, computers) in more recently constructed , more "efficient" structures. 

The Energy Information Agency predicts that between 2005 and 2030 electricity consumption will increase by,

  • residential     39 percent,

  • industrial       17 percent

  • commercial   63 percent

Two key factors in future energy demand are increasing adoption of solar photovoltaic panels and electric vehicles.
Because these two technologies are still developing, behavior patterns and the resulting energy impacts are not well understood.

For further information or questions regarding these comments, please contact:
Stephanie Pincetl, PhD
Director, California Center for Sustainable Communities, UCLA

Zoe Elizabeth
Associate Director, California Center for Sustainable Communities, UCLA

Source: 2012: Kahn, Matthew; Kok, Nils; Quigley, John M.,
Commercial Building Electricity
Consumption: The Role of Structure Quality, Management, and Contract Incentives.
A White Paper.

  SB 142  Authorizes a governing board of a transit district, municipal operator, or other public agency operating transit, until January 1, 2021, to levy a special benefit assessment on real property to finance the acquisition, construction, development, operation, maintenance, or repair of eligible transit projects.

According to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, in opposition to the bill, "We believe there is an insufficient benefit nexus to support transit funding under a 'benefit assessment' theory. A 2008 California Supreme Court case Silicon Valley Taxpayers' Association v. Santa Clara County Open Space Authority (HJTA was co-counsel) notes that improvements that merely 'enhance the overall quality of life and desirability of the area' was not a sufficient nexus to qualify for a benefit assessments.

It is intriguing that one of the few transportation entities for which special benefit authority exists; the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority has never exercised it. This would seem to validate the questionable legality of this practice."

Supporters argue that this bill will provide an important tool for local transit-oriented development and will foster greater use of public transportation, a critical component of meeting the state's environmental goals.

Opposition arguments: Opposition argues that transit operators already have the means available to them (bonds, special taxes) that should be sufficient to construct capital infrastructure projects and that there is an insufficient benefit nexus to support transit funding under a "benefit assessment" theory.

SB628 multi-million dollar 30-year Bonds for Transit and TOD without the usually required taxpayer vote !

Propositions to create a SPECIAL TAX  (that used to need a 2/3 majority)  may pass with only a 55% majority

SB 1, would authorize a Special District, city or county to adopt a Sustainable Communities Investment Plan for the receipt of tax increment funds for development in Transit Priority Project Areas, small walkable communities, and clean energy manufacturing sites.  To form a Sustainable Communities Investment Authority to carry out the Community Redevelopment Law and include a statement of how the Plan will relieve blight including how it will implement the goals of the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) designed to achieve the Air Resources Board (ARB) targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction.

ARB Research Project Search Results

The Transportation Sector accounts for the largest share (37%) of California’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 27% from light duty vehicles.

 Since 2003, the most important energy-saving factor has been the increase in new-vehicle fuel economy. The new federal fuel economy standards will lead to at least 25% lower energy use and emissions in the future. However, these fuel economy standards are not sufficient to achieve the state’s 2050 GHG goals of reducing GHG emissions to 80% below 1990 levels. Even the more immediate 2020 passenger vehicle emission targets of 5 million megatons of GHG reductions cannot be achieved without better integrated land use development patterns in coordination with transportation networks.

As stated in the 2007 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR), further research on land use and the impacts of development is necessary to both explain and quantify potential energy savings from better community design and integrated land use and transportation practices. Analytical data, scenario-based tools, methods, case studies, and a statewide model are needed to assist Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and local governments in developing regional land use strategies to further reduce both Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and GHG emissions.

There is little research that accounts for the total energy used in community systems, broadly defined to include all processes and products across geographically defined California communities. Many state programs and policies to reduce GHG emissions are implemented as single programs in isolation. Interdisciplinary research is needed to monitor their effectiveness. There is a need to expand on available research data on this subject and to comprehensively investigate the relationships among location, type of development, and energy use. A more coordinated and integrated understanding of the total energy and GHG emissions associated with transportation is needed, including the embedded energy in the vehicles and infrastructure.

Local elected officials, planners, consultants, policy-makers, and developers often lack guidance on how to translate state policies and regional plans into development criteria for individual cities and projects. Land use planning, natural resource management, economic development, and physical infrastructure planning are typically fragmented between different public agencies at the city, county, regional, and state levels. Existing planning tools are often ill-suited to support land-use decision makers in local governments to engage in an integrated sustainable energy systems approach.

Research is needed to help California communities become more sustainable. The research sponsored by this agreement will produce insights, syntheses, and tools that directly support the "technology transfer and outreach" of the sustainable energy systems approach to local government planners and decision-makers. The research findings will be made available to practitioners and local governments through a variety of technology transfer activities.

Senate Bill (SB) 375 targets reduction of GHG emissions from the transportation sector by reducing VMT. SB 375 seeks to reduce VMT by curbing auto-oriented development patterns and instead focusing on alternative transportation modes such as transit bicycling and walking. Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is a key strategy being used to encourage these alternative modes. TOD coordinates transit, biking, and walking facilities with housing and mixed use development to make these modes attractive alternatives to driving. TOD practices can reduce VMT by 5-30% compared to typical sprawl development practices.

Changes in automobile and truck transportation can reduce VMTs and contribute to a reduction in GHG emissions. Land use planning could have a major impact on VMT. The purpose of this agreement is to fund a multi-campus California Center for Sustainable Communities (CCSC) that will synthesize, coordinate, and communicate sustainable energy systems research and development to benefit California. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Institute of the Environment will lead the CCSC and will be the point of contact for all of the research performed within the CCSC.

The CCSC will:

  1. (1) provide data, tools, methods, models, and case studies that will assist communities in implementing alternative forms of transportation such as public transit, bicycling, and walking;
  2. (2) reduce the use of automobiles and trucks, GHG, VMT; and
  3. (3) increase the overall energy sustainability of cities by better land use planning and community systems design.

Goals of the Agreement

bullet Develop a UC-wide center led by UCLA to conduct and coordinate a set of research activities recommended by the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Transportation program’s research roadmap, Creating Sustainable Energy Systems in California’s Communities, CEC#500-2012-002, based on Urban Metabolism. Urban Metabolism is a framework that accounts for the environmental, economic, and social flows into and out of a region to assess sustainability.
bullet The CCSC will be organized in a hub and spoke model with UCLA as the central hub and the Center Director ensuring consistency, cohesion and synthesis in communication between researchers and external stakeholders. The campus partners will function as co-equal spokes conducting independent, but related research.
bullet The agreement ($1.9 million) will be awarded to the UC Regents on behalf of UCLA. The UCLA Contract Administrator and/or Accounting/Invoicing Department will be responsible for distributing the funds among the campus partners (UC Berkeley and UC Davis) on a quarterly basis. The UCLA Center Program Manager will work with the UCLA Contract Administrator and/or Accounting/Invoicing Department on coordinating the invoices/progress reports, and will send them to the Energy Commission’s Contract Manager to review and approve.

bullet Create an information hub for sustainable communities research and best practices occurring across the State. The information hub will serve as a resource for legislators, MPOs, local governments, academics, and others seeking information on the latest findings in the field.

bullet Provide timely, valuable, and unbiased information for policymakers, industry professionals, consumers, and relevant stakeholders on impacts of land use on California’s energy challenges.

bullet Support local governments and regional MPOs in the creation of resource-efficient communities that encourage alternative forms of transportation (such as public transit, bicycling, and walking), reduce the use of automobiles and trucks, and increase the overall energy sustainability of cities by better land use planning and systems design.

bullet Provide tools and methods to help MPOs meet the requirements of SB 375.

bullet Develop a rating system for pedestrian environments.

bullet Provide a guidebook for California city attorneys on best practices for resource- efficient street design.
bullet Create tools that make research accessible across three related areas:
  • (1) the demand for electric vehicles;
  • (2) the usage patterns of electric vehicles; and
  • (3)the charging infrastructure necessary to serve electric vehicles.

bullet •Support implementation of the State of California’s energy efficiency and GHG laws and regulatory standards, and identify means by which community design can make specific contributions to their implementation.

bullet •Communicate research findings to local governments, regional agencies, developers, and other key actors in the planning and development process.

Objectives of the Agreement

  1. Reduced energy use through improved community design and integrated land use and transportation practices.
  2. Reduced vehicle miles traveled and GHG emissions through more sustainable land use and transportation planning.
  3. Reduced legal and policy barriers to resource-efficient communities and streets.
  4. Increased prevalence of pedestrian friendly street environments through use of a rating system for pedestrian environments and thermal comfort modeling.
  5. Faster adoption of lower emission electric vehicles by providing tools that will help municipalities provide public infrastructure.