2030 Mobility Plan: A Driver for Better Development?

April 12, 2010 24 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville takes a look at the proposed 2030 Mobility Plan's ability to make a positive change through encouraging multimodal friendly land use planning.

Incentivizing Better Development

Under the old traffic concurrency system, the development community had no incentive to incorporate site design that also has the ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, vehicle miles traveled by supporting multimodal transportation options.  Under the proposed mobility plan, projects like this will be able to reduce their "fair share" costs by incorporating the following features:

Mobility Adjustments

At the heart of the mobility fee system is the implementation of the 2030 Multimodal Transportation Study's mobility or trip adjustments, which are based on the URBEMIS model. URBEMIS stands for "Urban Emissions Model" and was originally developed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as a tool to assist local public agencies with estimating and reducing air quality impacts from land use projects and limiting the proliferation of sprawl.

Mobility adjustments are trip reduction "units" that can be achieved through the execution of traffic reduction measures.  Implementation of these measures is intended to reduce the total number of calculated trips generated by a proposed development, and therefore, an "adjustment" is applied to the project or development to reduce the mobility fee.

In most cases, mobility infrastructure would need to be created anew in the outlying areas.  Thus fewer mobility adjustments would be applicable for development in these areas, and transportation improvement would be more costly.  However, because considerable infrastructure already exists in the urbanized areas of the city, it is anticipated that the mobility adjustments will be more financially significant in these areas, thereby incentivizing investment in urban neighborhoods.  Through this use of trip reduction adjustments, the City has the ability to counter-balance the proliferation of urban sprawl by encouraging infill development opportunities along multimodal transportation corridors.

Mobility adjustments will be assessed based on the physical and functional characteristics of a development project and its surrounding context, such as:

- Net Residential Density.  Residential density provides one of the strongest correlations with automobile use of any variable.

- Mix of uses.  The "diversity" or mix of uses and the presence of local-serving retail in an area has an impact on travel behavior.

- Transit service.  Sites located along high frequency mass transit lines, including Rapid Transit System (RTS) lines, provide an opportunity for transit to be a viable alternative to everyday automobile uses.

- Pedestrian and bicycle-friendliness. Functioning sidewalk and bicycle facilities with interconnected street grids (high intersection density) promote opportunities for pedestrian travel.

- Affordable and senior housing. Evidence shows that lower-income households and the elderly, an increasing demographic, own fewer vehicles and drive less.

-Parking supply. If drivers park in neighboring lots or on-street in surrounding areas, it is possible to reduce the parking supply below the level of actual demand.
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Under the old traffic concurrency system, there was no incentive for the development community to create projects that have the ability to create a more sustainable Jacksonville.  Projects sprawling across Jacksonville typically include large surface parking lots that separate buildings from streets, along with limited sidewalk and bicycle access.

Example 1: Parkway Shops/River City Marketplace

The Northside's River City Marketplace, proposed Parkway Shops and Shands Jacksonville Northside Campus could have been laid out to create a walkable mixed-use "town center" for the surrounding area.  However, since there was no incentive, the adjacent projects have been designed in a manner that only proliferates the problem of urban sprawl.

Under the proposed 2030 Mobility Plan, developments such as these will be able to reduce their "infrastructure costs" through the use of more thoughtful design throughout the city.  

Example 2: SODO Orlando

South of Downtown Orlando (SODO) is a new infill mixed use development at S Orange Avenue & Grant Street. Current tenants include SuperTarget, TJ Maxx and 24-Hour Fitness.  The addition of Sodo expands the revitalization of Downtown Orlando southward transforming an industrial block into a thriving, urban activity center. Sodo is an example of an infill project that seamlessly integrates marquee retailers, alongside luxury residential, office space, and restaurants.

For more information: http://www.sodo-orlando.com/about-sodo/

Located at the rear of the property, Super Target anchors the SODO retail center.

SODO features office and residential space above street level retail.

A bus stop has been located adjacent to SODO's shops as opposed to being separated by acres of surface parking.

SODO's outparcels are located along Orange Avenue, giving this development an urban street edge which encourages long term walkability.

Example 3: Baldwin Park Publix - Orlando, FL

This mixed use project features a Publix supermarket as the central anchor.  However, the Publix and required surface parking are located in the middle of the site.  As opposed to facing the parking lot, the adjoining retail faces the street with an urban street edge.  Apartments line the rear of the retail center making all of the development's street edges walkable.

The Publix entrance and parking lot located at the center of the site.

The rear of the Publix store has been lined with retail uses and a public plaza along the development's main street.

The rear of the shopping center features multifamily residential uses.  

SODO and the Baldwin Park Publix illustrate how a change in design can be a positive impact even when located in the center of suburbia.  One of the benefits of the 2030 Mobility Plan is that it gives the development community incentives to design and construct new projects in a similar fashion as opposed to the typical asphalt dominated strip centers that currently line our streets.  What is Jacksonville waiting for?