The San Francisco Transportation Demand Management (TDM) programme applies throughout San Francisco and leverages the amount of proposed parking at a project’s site to provide TDM measures, such as on-site amenities that encourage the site’s residents, employees, and/or visitors to choose more sustainable modes of travel.

On-site amenities include, but are not limited to extra bike parking, carshare spaces and memberships, delivery supportive amenities, on-site childcare, subsidised transit passes, and lowered parking supply. The choices that result from having access to the amenities are better for the environment, reduce project-related congestion, reduce risks to pedestrians and cyclists and improve the overall efficiency of San Francisco’s transportation network. Each TDM measure is controlled by the property owner and is rooted in the best available research and data on their effectiveness at reducing vehicle miles travelled (VMT), and thus transportation-related emissions. 

What is the policy? How does it work?

The programme is structured in two ways: 1) the programme’s legal framework, applicability, exemptions, and timing requirements are codified in the City’s Planning Code, and 2) the implementation requirements and specific TDM measures included in the TDM programme standards

The TDM programme Standards are located outside of the Code so that they can be amended at any time with the approval from the Planning Commission. The TDM programme Standards are based on the California Senate Bill 743 (2013) which set out to modernise the environmental planning process that calculates the effects of transportation. In 2016, the San Francisco Planning Commission adopted a Level of Service (LOS) methodology with a vehicle-miles travelled threshold. It allowed San Francisco to immediately implement changes to how it analyses environmental impacts of vehicles miles travelled (VMT) rather than wait for state adoption. 

In 2017, the same Commission adopted the TDM programme, which now applies to all new developments. Compared to the traditional Level of Service methodology, which only measures how many cars can be pushed through an intersection at a given time, the new TDM programme Standards instead measure whether a project contributes to state, regional and local goals such as reducing GHG emissions.

The programme applies to all new development that fits the following criteria: 

  • new construction resulting in 10 or more Dwelling Units, or bedrooms for Group Housing; 
  • new construction resulting in 10,000 square feet of occupied floor area or more; or
  • any Change of Use resulting in 25,000 square feet of occupied floor area or more. 

Based on the entire 2018 Q4 Development Pipeline, 17% of all projects, regardless of size, are subject to the TDM programme, accounting for 97% of all upcoming dwelling units.

What are the project’s emissions reduction goals and benefits?

The San Francisco Transportation Demand Management programme is designed to reduce:

  • congestion, 
  • greenhouse gas emissions 
  • air pollution related to vehicle miles travelled (VMT) generated by new developments. 

Policies that reduce VMT in San Francisco will also reduce fine particulates, and ozone precursors (reactive organic gases and nitrogen oxides) which will improve air quality and public health.

A co-benefit to the full implementation of the propgramme is a change in behaviour that is linked to more sustainable travel decisions and action being made. 

Next steps

The programme was adopted on March 19, 2017 and its implementation mirrors the pace of development in San Francisco. Since its adoption, 163 TDM Plans have been filed, 157 are actively under review, and 38 are already recorded on the deeds of the project properties (25%). As of mid- 2019, 7% of the TDM Plans under review were under construction and one was completed.

  • Environmental
  • Health
Key Impact
The San Francisco Transportation Demand Management programme is designed to reduce: • congestion, • greenhouse gas emissions • air pollution related to vehicle miles travelled (VMT) generated by new developments.
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