Transportation Impact Fee, $134 million for traffic improvements

Update: 2/27 City Council voted unanimously to approve the TIF ordinance. Great job!
Important action: Tuesday February 26 –

 

On Tuesday February 26, Santa Monica City Council will be considering an Ordinance to establish a Transportation Impact Fee (TIF) that if approved will go into effect this May.

The Transportation Impact Fee on new development will require projects to pay their fair share of transportation network improvements necessary to relieve traffic congestion and support walking, biking and transit use.  The fee would partially fund the $134 million in costs associated with improvements to the walking, bicycle, transit and vehicle system needed to address congestion and transportation safety in Santa Monica. The fee is recommended in the LUCE and was requested by the Council years ago.  It will fund $34 million in bike improvements, $25 million in pedestrian improvements and additional transit, vehicle and transportation demand management projects. It is important to get community support for the TIF as we suspect an organized vocal opposition.

I hope you will join us, and many of the Neighborhood Councils and Organizations in writing to Council to support approving the ordinance. I have included our letter of support.
Send your letters to Council@smgov.net

We encourage folks to attend and speak at the Council meeting Tuesday evening. It is agenda item 7-E and expected to come up for comment around 7:30pm.

City Hall Council Chambers 2nd Floor
Council Meeting Agenda: http://www.smgov.net/departments/council/agendas/2013/20130226/a20130226.htm
Staff Report – Item 7-E:    Introduction and first reading of an ordinance to establish a Transportation Impact Fee to facilitate developer contributions to transportation network improvements and the achievement of no net new trips in the afternoon peak hour.
http://www.smgov.net/departments/council/agendas/2013/20130226/s2013022607-E.pdf 

TIF

Re: Transportation Impact Fee Agenda Item 7-E
Hearing Date: February 26th, 2013

We support the Transportation Impact Fee on new development that will require projects to pay their fair share of transportation network improvements necessary to relieve traffic congestion and support walking, biking and transit use.

The required nexus study and ordinance before the Council, along with an economic study requested by the business community substantially address concerns about the impact of the fee on development feasibility. We believe the TIF is careful to respect existing land uses, and ONLY charges when a land use is intensified, and gives credit for existing on-site uses when they are demolished.  When businesses change over (retail to restaurant and vice versa – NO TIF WILL BE CHARGED). The study shows that the fee has an insubstantial impact on developer profit.

If we want to create a safe and sustainable city where we are not continually dominated by traffic congestion we must prioritize our environment and its people and support alternate transportation modes in Santa Monica. Neighborhood serving retail will generate demand for walking, biking trips and should pay a fair share of the network and safety improvements. This was studied extensively In response to concerns raised by the Chamber.

As we all know City Hall is tightening budgets and money is getting more scarce. With new transit oriented development, we must invest in transportation diversity to achieve No Net New PM Peak Period Vehicle trips as envisioned in the LUCE. Because the LUCE created a shift to multi-family on the boulevards, exempting multi-family will make it impossible to collect the funds necessary achieve No Net New peak vehicle trips. New development is creating new vehicle trips and should be responsible for safety and traffic mitigating network improvements. It is indeed the developers and their tenants (commercial and residential) that will benefit form these improvements that ultimately make Santa Monica a safer more livable city for everyone. New multi-family projects will depend extensively on pedestrian, bike and transit improvements funded by the TIF. The current market trends show a very strong climate for multi-family housing development, exemptions are not needed to encourage housing production. It is appropriate that the TIF as proposed exempts very low and low income housing units (including required affordable housing units in market rate projects)

The transportation Impact fee is urgently needed – we need increased walking, biking and transit to minimize any new vehicle trips and create a more comfortable city for everyone. Just imagine a city where streets and sidewalks are comfortable and inviting, even for the most vulnerable street users such as seniors and children, and streets that have facilities where bikes can travel safely and in harmony with motorized traffic without the current intolerably high levels of congestion. The fee is especially needed given the arrival of Expo which will increase the number of residents and visitors walking and biking. Our community has made it clear we want a more sustainable city where we can all move safely – whether we choose to walk, bike, take transit or drive to meet our daily needs. We must envision the future where we provide safe and appropriate facilities for all Santa Monicans. New development can contribute a meaningful share of needed improvements. Studies prepared show that the proposed transportation fee has no substantial impact on developer profit. It’s time to adopt this fee to make sure that new development contributes to our future safety and mobility.

Santa Monica remains very desirable to developers and is one of the few jurisdictions in the area without any transportation impact fee for new development – West LA and Culver City are larger, less condensed and less geographically constrained than Santa Monica and don’t have the same challenges. Comparing TIFs in those cities cannot be considered relevant. Even WLA is actively working on updating their fees and anticipate increases and reduced exemptions. The Council requested TIFs to be established over 5 years ago, it’s long overdue. Cities all around us have Transportation Impact Fees and it’s time Santa Monica did too.

 

 

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