City proposing new housing development fee to expand transit

By J.K. Dineen and Mi : sfgate – excerpt

Mayor Ed Lee’s administration is looking to tap into the city’s housing boom to help bankroll $1.2 billion in transit improvements over the next 30 years.

A proposed transportation sustainability fee announced Tuesday would apply to new market rate condominium and apartment projects and would add $14 million to the $24 million a year already collected from other types of developments.

The money would be spent on expanding the Muni fleet with new buses and railcars, improving reliability on the busiest routes, retrofitting existing trains, investing in the electrification of Caltrain, and making streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The proposed fee, introduced at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting by Scott Wiener, was crafted by the mayor’s office, the city Planning Department, the Municipal Transportation Agency and County Transportation Authority after years of study.

“As our city grows, we must ensure that our transportation network grows along with it,” the mayor said in a statement from Rome, where he is at a meeting with the pope on climate change. “That is essential to meet the needs of our residents and workforce.”…

The new transit fee is needed to strengthen public transit and get commuters out of their cars at a time San Francisco, which has added 100,000 jobs since 2010, is growing by 10,000 residents a year.

The proposed fee underscores what has become a hot-button issue around the city: complaints that the proliferation of high-end residential towers in neighborhoods such as Dogpatch, SoMa and Rincon Hill has not been accompanied by adequate improvements in open space and transit, not to mention sufficient levels of affordable housing.

While the idea of a transit impact fee is not new in San Francisco — the city’s current Transit Impact Development Fee applies to commercial developments and PDR (production, design and repair) facilities and produces that $24 million a year in revenue — the big difference is that the new fee adds builders of market rate apartments and condos. Making market rate housing developers part of the fee structure increases the amount collected 40 percent, from $720 million to $1.2 billion over 30 years… (more)

Anyone who is watching what goes on at City Hall would have to ask a few questions about the intent of collecting the fees. When will the fees be collected, and will they be turned into in lieu fees as the current ones are? How will this effect the price of housing? When ABAG and MTC can’t agree on a transportation scheme, (or how to figure out the best way to describe their goals), who will determine what the money is spent on?

Adding open space of transit in Dogpatch, SoMa and Rincon Hill is a joke. There is no room left to put any.

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