A New Metric in Town: A Survey of Local Planners on California’s Switch from LOS to VMT

This paper presents results from a 2018 survey of local planners (n = 77) about an impending transition in California’s environmental review law, which will require planners to evaluate land development projects for their effects on vehicle miles traveled (VMT) rather than automobile level-of-service (LOS). The authors find that most planners view VMT as an appropriate metric to measure environmental impacts from transportation, both generally and in their own jurisdictions. Outside of environmental review, some jurisdictions will likely continue to use LOS to assess development impact fees. But LOS may not be as ingrained in local planning practice as generally assumed.