The city’s proposed Transportation Sustainability Fee — which would be assessed on new development to speed up construction of walking, biking, and transit infrastructure — moved forward today with approval from the SF Planning Commission. The commission approved a maximum rate slightly higher than the city had initially proposed but far lower than what some livable streets advocates wanted.
In addition, square footage devoted to car parking won’t factor into the fee developers are expected to pay. No matter how much parking is included in a project, it won’t raise the fee. This runs in direct opposition to the purpose of the TSF, say advocates, which is supposed to be a key tool in the city’s efforts to generate revenue for safer streets and more effective transit.
Under the approved TSF rates, which must still be approved by the Board of Supervisors, developers would pay for 33 percent, at most, of the estimated costs associated with street infrastructure to accommodate people traveling to and from their projects, as determined by the Planning Department’s “Nexus Study” [PDF]. The default rate would remain the 25 percent initially proposed by the Planning Department.
In a joint letter, Livable City, the SF Bicycle Coalition, and Walk SF said developers should pay 100 percent of “the true cost that development has on our transportation system, as outlined in the SFMTA’s own transportation sustainability study”:
For far too long, the City has not asked developers to pay their fair share, resulting in unreliable service, and [an] inadequate system for all users and ultimately a huge economic burden for San Francisco residents and community members. The need to increase the TSF is particularly critical given that other development impact fees are being lowered as part of this legislation.
The default 25 percent rate is “nowhere near sufficient,” Supervisor John Avalos told the Planning Commission.