Supervisors in Kings, Tulare, and Merced counties voted to align themselves with Fresno County on Tuesday.
The boards in Fresno’s neighboring counties agreed to back a two-year delay on implementing a controversial law — SB 743 — scheduled to take effect next month.
Fresno County did the same on May 26.
SB 743 Changes
On July 1, projects will no longer be assessed a fee by how much traffic congestion is created.
Instead, VMT is applied to new developments. For instance, if a person drives to multiple places a day — work, store, soccer practice, etc. — all of those miles are counted up. Then the VMT fee is calculated for the development. The goal, according to the law’s supporters, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Some cities — Pasadena, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland, for example — already are using VMT.
If you drive a lot, your number will escalate the price of a new house — or even rent for a newly built apartment. That’s because developers will have to mitigate the miles traveled, such as by funding vanpools or purchasing mass transit passes.
An official with the Building Industry Association of Fresno-Madera Counties has estimated that the VMT fees for a 20-unit project in Clovis would be $460,000 over 30 years — or $23,000 a unit. And, while the developer bears the costs upfront, it is passed on to homebuyers and renters.
Critics of the law say that it discriminates against minorities and lower-income families, and will put homeownership out of reach for many Californians.
The Kings County Board of Supervisors spent just a few minutes discussing the impacts of VMT before voting on their resolution.
“We’re a farming community and, and, you know, as is often the case, our community doesn’t fit the demographics that the state is intending to,” said supervisor Craig Pederson. “It goes directly against affordable housing and it will increase the cost of housing statewide.”
Kings County’s resolution states, “Rural communities, including Kings County, will be disproportionately affected by the implementation of the VMT standards created pursuant to SB 743, because many residents of these communities must drive longer distances to find employment in urban centers.”
Tulare County’s supervisors adopted their resolution with no discussion, opting to let the document speak for itself.
Parts of the resolution to support a two-year delay of VMT stated:
- Rural communities already lag behind other areas of California in terms of economic development.
- Many residents of rural areas must drive longer distances for employment.
- These issues are disproportionately affected by Vehicle Miles Traveled standards created by SB 743, as are the creation of jobs, housing, and infrastructure development.
Merced County’s supervisors approved a resolution seeking a two-year delay unanimously and without comment.
Parts of their resolution stated:
- There are concerns that VMT may result in the increased costs of construction of new housing developments and apartment buildings, which then could be passed on to Central Valley residents.
- In support of Fresno County and other Central Valley counties that may be adversely affected by the implementation of VMT, we are requesting the board consider a resolution requesting the implementation of the VMT as recommended by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research be delayed for two years until after the economic effects of COVID-19 have diminished.
Merced County Board of Supervisors VMT Delay (PDF)