Affordable Housing May be Limited by New State Environmental Rules

A new rule designed to promote urban development and curb both car usage and greenhouse gas emissions may end up making cities less affordable and more congested, critics say.

The rule would modify how traffic is evaluated during a critical phase for planning for building developments, shifting the focus from traffic congestion to the increase in miles traveled. New building projects would be viewed as adversely affecting the environment if they increase vehicle miles traveled by more than a regional average without offsets.

The Brown administration — which was tasked with creating the new rule by the Legislature — believes this shift will encourage the development of urban housing, bringing people into the cities and giving them more transportation options beyond the car.

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