As mentioned previously in this forum, the city has largely decided to adopt a “street impact fee”, which would exact a fee on new development and use the funds for automobile infrastructure “improvements” (not maintenance).
Note that the funds are intended for automobile infrastructure and only indirectly may result in transit, bike, or pedestrian infrastructure. Thus the name “street impact fee” is misleading; a more accurate term might be “automobile impact fee”.
The current proposal divides the city into 17 service areas and assigns each area a maximum aggregate impact fee based on projected growth and capacity needs. For any individual development project in a service area, the city would largely base the fee for that development on either square footage (commercial projects) or the number of units (residential projects).
Some aspects of the “formula” will have effects contrary to the FAN vision. For example:
- Replacing a single family home with a duplex will incur a fee, but tearing down the same single family home and replacing it with a single family home twice the size will not.
- A downtown high-rise apartment complex with 300 residential units and zero parking would incur the same fee as one with 300 parking spaces.
- The funds go only to automobile infrastructure expansion and can benefit other modes only incidentally.
- The formula has some of the service areas on the periphery of the city paying less than some of the interior zones.
- The formulas use ITE trip count estimates, which a growing consensus of planners believe are inaccurate and do not take into consideration factors (nearby transit, bike lanes, mixed use) that can cause people to take fewer automobile trips.
Since the impact fee is supposed to be for automobile impacts, it should be based on factors that more accurately reflect the actual impacts on automobile infrastructure. The number of parking spaces (or the square footage of parking) is a proxy for the extent to which visitors and occupants of a development will impact nearby streets with automobiles and potentially require automobile infrastructure upgrades.
Accordingly, I propose that FAN vote on a resolution that enumerates the above-listed flaws in the existing proposal and calls for the following changes:
- The “street impact fee” should be renamed “automobile impact fee”.
- Base automobile impact fees for an individual project on the amount of parking provided in the project.
- Eliminate minimum parking requirements citywide (a position FAN has previously adopted).
- The maximum impact fee for a service area should be based on automobile-oriented growth projections and capacity needs.
- Consider incorporating the number of added curb cuts in the fee calculations for individual projects.
The FAN vision calls for “a diverse, abundant, and affordable choice of housing options” in our neighborhoods. Impact fees based on the number of residential units discourage housing abundance and diversity. Moreover, automobile orientation works against FAN’s vision for greater transit accessibility.