Circulation Element Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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This is where you will find Frequently Asked Questions relating to the Draft Circulation Element. This page will be updated on a weekly basis. Please check back for updated Questions and Answers.



What is a Circulation Element?

A Circulation Element is a part of the City’s General Plan. It is a planning document that looks to roughly 20-year horizon and establishes the City’s vision for its own mobility. This vision is expressed by goals and policies, and is realized through and implementation plan. The Circulation Element also incorporates detailed planning documents for specific travel modes such as the Master Plan of Streets and Highways and Bicycle Master Plan.


Are changes in the Housing Element reflected in the Circulation Element?

The Circulation Element takes into account the existing and potential future locations of residential, commercial, and institutional land uses that are reflected in the Land Use Element and Housing Element. A traffic study will be prepared using the Newport Beach Traffic Analysis Model to analyze the potential traffic impacts of the locations of new housing identified in the Housing Element. As important, the Circulation Element retains flexibility so that the Master Plan of Streets and Highways and Bicycle Master Plan documents incorporated into the Circulation Element can respond to the actual location of new land uses as they are constructed.


How is the City protecting local streets?

City Council Policy L-26 has been in effect for 15 years and provides a process for managing the speed and volume of vehicles on residential streets. The City also adopts parking policies designed to limit the intrusion of commercial traffic onto local streets. The City is proposing new policies that would require Construction Management Plans to ensure maintenance of local roadways if used by construction equipment. Another new policy would seek ways to reduce the routing of traffic through local streets by wayfinding applications.


Does the City control all the streets in Newport Beach?

Sections of two of the highest volume arterials in Newport Beach (Newport Boulevard and Coast Highway) are owned, operated, and maintained by the State of California. Other streets are owned and maintained by Home Owners Associations or private commercial development. The Circulation Element incorporates the planning of these street owners, including ultimate right-of-way.


What is SB 743 and vehicle miles traveled?

Among the multiple provisions of Senate Bill 743 (Steinberg, 2013) was a mandate that the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research consider whether an alternative measurement of transportation impact should be considered for the purposes of project analysis under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Ultimately, the State revised the CEQA Guidelines replacing analysis of vehicle congestion and level of service with a new metric called vehicle miles traveled (VMT). VMT combines the quantity of vehicle trips generated by a project site and the distance those vehicles travel. The State has determined that this measurement of the total amount of vehicle travel necessary to access a project site better aligns with the environmental aims of CEQA, the State’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and the State’s climate change goals.


Does SB 743 require the City to stop analyzing congestion?

While CEQA documents considered by the City must analyze vehicle miles traveled, this measure does not address congestion that may occur as a result of the project. However, the Newport Beach Traffic Phasing Ordinance (TPO) requires that projects of sufficient size analyze their potential effects on local congestion and the phasing of identified circulation system improvements necessary to accommodate their traffic.


What is Complete Streets?

Assembly Bill 1358, titled the Complete Streets Act, was signed into law in 2008. This law requires that jurisdictions plan a circulation system that meets the needs of all users of streets including motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, children, persons with disabilities, seniors, movers of commercial goods, and users of public transportation. The City has long planned for multiple travel modes, but the State mandate has placed renewed emphasis on these efforts.


How does the City plan for new technology when we don’t know what changes will happen or when it will occur?

Reacting to changes after they occur can be very costly. Trends in transportation planning and vehicle production provide a lot of insight into the reasonably foreseeable future. Among these trends are connected vehicles. Gaining the benefit while avoiding some of the pitfalls of connected vehicles will require the City’s roadway infrastructure to connect with these vehicles. The City believes that it will be among the first in Orange County to experience wide-scale adoption of new transportation technology by its residents. Therefore, the City has identified that routine maintenance of roadway infrastructure should plan for improving the communications between existing traffic signal technology, and for a future that permits and encourages connected/autonomous vehicles.


Does the Circulation Element address climate change?

The topic of climate change is important to Newport Beach. Goals and policies specific to climate change and mobility have been added to the Circulation Element. Among these goals are increasing the number of electric vehicle charging stations both in City buildings and where appropriate in future new developments. State requirements related to climate change such as planning for complete streets and analysis of VMT are incorporated in the Circulation Element. The City seeks to do their part while encouraging residents and business partners to address climate change.


Does the Circulation Element provide for roads or other transportation to accommodate the new residential units contemplated by the Housing Element update?

We do not yet know the impact of the added housing to our roadway network. The traffic analysis that will be performed later will reveal any issues (if any) and potential improvements to the roadway network.


This is where you will find Frequently Asked Questions relating to the Draft Circulation Element. This page will be updated on a weekly basis. Please check back for updated Questions and Answers.



What is a Circulation Element?

A Circulation Element is a part of the City’s General Plan. It is a planning document that looks to roughly 20-year horizon and establishes the City’s vision for its own mobility. This vision is expressed by goals and policies, and is realized through and implementation plan. The Circulation Element also incorporates detailed planning documents for specific travel modes such as the Master Plan of Streets and Highways and Bicycle Master Plan.


Are changes in the Housing Element reflected in the Circulation Element?

The Circulation Element takes into account the existing and potential future locations of residential, commercial, and institutional land uses that are reflected in the Land Use Element and Housing Element. A traffic study will be prepared using the Newport Beach Traffic Analysis Model to analyze the potential traffic impacts of the locations of new housing identified in the Housing Element. As important, the Circulation Element retains flexibility so that the Master Plan of Streets and Highways and Bicycle Master Plan documents incorporated into the Circulation Element can respond to the actual location of new land uses as they are constructed.


How is the City protecting local streets?

City Council Policy L-26 has been in effect for 15 years and provides a process for managing the speed and volume of vehicles on residential streets. The City also adopts parking policies designed to limit the intrusion of commercial traffic onto local streets. The City is proposing new policies that would require Construction Management Plans to ensure maintenance of local roadways if used by construction equipment. Another new policy would seek ways to reduce the routing of traffic through local streets by wayfinding applications.


Does the City control all the streets in Newport Beach?

Sections of two of the highest volume arterials in Newport Beach (Newport Boulevard and Coast Highway) are owned, operated, and maintained by the State of California. Other streets are owned and maintained by Home Owners Associations or private commercial development. The Circulation Element incorporates the planning of these street owners, including ultimate right-of-way.


What is SB 743 and vehicle miles traveled?

Among the multiple provisions of Senate Bill 743 (Steinberg, 2013) was a mandate that the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research consider whether an alternative measurement of transportation impact should be considered for the purposes of project analysis under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Ultimately, the State revised the CEQA Guidelines replacing analysis of vehicle congestion and level of service with a new metric called vehicle miles traveled (VMT). VMT combines the quantity of vehicle trips generated by a project site and the distance those vehicles travel. The State has determined that this measurement of the total amount of vehicle travel necessary to access a project site better aligns with the environmental aims of CEQA, the State’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and the State’s climate change goals.


Does SB 743 require the City to stop analyzing congestion?

While CEQA documents considered by the City must analyze vehicle miles traveled, this measure does not address congestion that may occur as a result of the project. However, the Newport Beach Traffic Phasing Ordinance (TPO) requires that projects of sufficient size analyze their potential effects on local congestion and the phasing of identified circulation system improvements necessary to accommodate their traffic.


What is Complete Streets?

Assembly Bill 1358, titled the Complete Streets Act, was signed into law in 2008. This law requires that jurisdictions plan a circulation system that meets the needs of all users of streets including motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, children, persons with disabilities, seniors, movers of commercial goods, and users of public transportation. The City has long planned for multiple travel modes, but the State mandate has placed renewed emphasis on these efforts.


How does the City plan for new technology when we don’t know what changes will happen or when it will occur?

Reacting to changes after they occur can be very costly. Trends in transportation planning and vehicle production provide a lot of insight into the reasonably foreseeable future. Among these trends are connected vehicles. Gaining the benefit while avoiding some of the pitfalls of connected vehicles will require the City’s roadway infrastructure to connect with these vehicles. The City believes that it will be among the first in Orange County to experience wide-scale adoption of new transportation technology by its residents. Therefore, the City has identified that routine maintenance of roadway infrastructure should plan for improving the communications between existing traffic signal technology, and for a future that permits and encourages connected/autonomous vehicles.


Does the Circulation Element address climate change?

The topic of climate change is important to Newport Beach. Goals and policies specific to climate change and mobility have been added to the Circulation Element. Among these goals are increasing the number of electric vehicle charging stations both in City buildings and where appropriate in future new developments. State requirements related to climate change such as planning for complete streets and analysis of VMT are incorporated in the Circulation Element. The City seeks to do their part while encouraging residents and business partners to address climate change.


Does the Circulation Element provide for roads or other transportation to accommodate the new residential units contemplated by the Housing Element update?

We do not yet know the impact of the added housing to our roadway network. The traffic analysis that will be performed later will reveal any issues (if any) and potential improvements to the roadway network.


Page last updated: 21 April 2021, 16:06