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Transportation in Monterey County and SB 375
A Re-Cap of the Around the County Series

One of LandWatch’s goals is to inform our members and the general public about myriad land-use issues. LandWatch hopes you attended one or all of our Around the County meetings on SB 375 and transportation in Monterey County. For those who were unable to attend, the following is a re-cap of the meetings.

Senate Bill 375: Sustainable Communities Strategy builds on Assembly Bill 32, climate change legislation signed into California law in 2006. SB 375‘s core provision is a requirement for regions to develop a “Sustainable Communities Strategy” (SCS) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. The SCS is to be a realistic development pattern that meets a state target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while taking into account the region’s: housing needs; transportation demands; natural resource and farm lands. The state will allocate $6 billion a year to transportation projects that implement the SCS.

The first in our series of three programs was held in March at Montrio Bistro in Monterey. Debbie Hale, Executive Director of the Transportation Agency of Monterey County, gave an update on how TAMC is working towards meeting the goals of SB 375. Additionally, she described TAMC projects and funding for those projects. To read more, please go to www.tamcmonterey.org.

The second in our series was held in April at the Rio Grill in Carmel. Hunter Harvath, Assistant General Manager of Monterey Salinas Transit (MST) discussed how MST is working to relieve congestion in Monterey County. Hunter described MST’s new initiatives and opportunities such as: the new bus-rapid transit line which will serve the Peninsula; the visitor-serving Grapevine Express in Carmel Valley; the San Jose Express; MST’s goals of expanding service between Salinas and South County. To learn more, please visit www.mst.org.

The third in our series was a joint presentation by Randy Deshazo of the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG) and Debbie Hale and Kristen Hoschouer of TAMC. The meeting was held at Kula Ranch in Marina. AMBAG gave an overview of its regional growth and conservation strategy called Envisioning the Monterey Bay Area. This effort, otherwise known as the “Blueprint,” focuses on improved mobility, accessibility and coordinated transportation and local land use that houses the region’s future population. If the strategy is successful, the “Blueprint” will detail how the region will reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and greenhouse gas emissions through improved coordination between regional transportation and local land use planning. It will be the basis for meeting SB375 requirements. Ms. Hale then introduced the TAMC's light rail initiative planned between Castroville and Monterey. The $145 million light rail project, currently under environmental review, would run along the 13 mile long Monterey Branch Line, the majority of which TAMC purchased in 2003. Ms. Hale also explained the Agency's role in allocating transit funding and its coordination with MST to maximize bus service in a time of declining revenues. Finally, she shared the Agency's newly-released video simulation of the light rail service. TAMC believes that the rail service could help meet regional land use-transportation "blueprint" goals to improve air quality and reduce automobile trips by supporting transit-oriented housing at several locations along the rail corridor.

While LandWatch has not taken position on future transportation initiatives including the proposed light rail project, we strongly believe the public should remain informed about these transportation/land use initiatives. We hope you’ll join us for our next Around the County meeting!

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posted 07.09.10