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Politics

New Study Gives Rosier Outlook On San Diego Transit Goals

A woman sits at an MTS bus stop at 30th St. and El Cajon Blvd. in North Park, June 15, 2016.
Katie Schoolov
A woman sits at an MTS bus stop at 30th St. and El Cajon Blvd. in North Park, June 15, 2016.

A new study commissioned by the San Diego Planning Department paints a rosier picture of the city's ability to meet ambitious transportation goals set out in the city's landmark Climate Action Plan.

The study is set for release in a memorandum on Tuesday, when the City Council is scheduled to vote on the North Park and Golden Hill community plan updates. A previous analysis of those two updates, which attempt to incentivize higher-density housing along public transit corridors, found they fell short of the city's transportation goals of drastically reducing dependence on cars.

RELATED: North Park Offers Early Test Of Climate Action Plan

Planning Director Jeff Murphy has said while the community plan updates alone may not be enough to reach the city's transportation goals, there are a number of other policies that could help. He said at a council committee meeting last week that the city was attempting to quantify those additional strategies to show how the transportation goals could be achieved.

Nicole Capretz, executive director of the nonprofit Climate Action Campaign, said Monday evening that she had not yet seen the study, but that she was concerned by the swiftness with which it was produced.

"This is last-minute information that we have not had the opportunity to peer review," she said. "And so we don't really have any opportunity or ability to feel good or bad" about the findings.

A spokesman for Councilman Todd Gloria, whose district includes North Park and Golden Hill, said the study's appearance on the same day as the council vote shouldn't cause people to question its legitimacy. Rather, city staffers had been working hard to complete the analysis in time for the vote.

"I don't think it's an attempt to obfuscate the process," said Adrian Granda. "It's a matter of getting a lot of stuff done."

The North Park and Golden Hill community plan updates have been in the works for years, but most of that work was done before the city council approved its Climate Action Plan last December. Council members and staffers have been reluctant to amend the community plan updates now because it would likely trigger a "recirculation" of their environmental impact reports — a process that can delay the plans' approval by months.

The Climate Action Plan requires San Diego to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2035. It aims to do so by switching to 100 percent renewable energy, reducing waste in landfills and getting 50 percent of all San Diegans living near a transit stop to commute to work via biking, walking or riding public transit.