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Creating a Better Arlington

Starting with Arlington, over the next few weeks we'll take a look at how the mobility plan and fee impacts specific neighborhoods across the city. Despite being one of Jacksonville's most densely developed neighborhoods, Arlington's roadway network continues to prove deadly for its citizens. City leaders struggle to provide answers to improve the community's safety and livability. Today, Metro Jacksonville illustrates how allowing the mobility fee moratorium to sunset could create a better Arlington.

Published August 29, 2012 in Urban Issues      19 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


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In January, a pedestrian was killed attempting to cross the Arlington Expressway near the intersection with Townsend Boulevard. With no option available to cross the highway other than walking two miles out of the way  with several missing sidewalk segments exposed to Florida's extreme climate, many Arlington residents are placed in life-or-death situations on a daily basis. At the time, Councilman Bill Bishop admitted that a pedestrian overpass over the deadly and outdated highway is needed but there is no funding to construct such a structure.

Just this month, another Arlington bicyclist has died after being hit by a vehicle at the intersection of Merrill Road and Searchwood Drive.  Needless to say, this accident could have possibly been avoided if the intersection and many others on Merrill Drive actually had painted crosswalks to at least suggest that there are cyclists and pedestrians in the area.

With Jacksonville's city budget continuing to remain just as underwater as most resident's mortgages, discussion at city hall focuses more on what public services to cut than how can we best invest in improving our community and stimulating economic development within our most distressed neighborhoods.  Luckily, there is a way for us to immediately move forward with the improvement of communities like Arlington without taking additional funds from the taxpayer.  The answer is for Jacksonville's city council to let the self imposed mobility fee moratorium sunset this year, allowing the 2030 Mobility Plan to be fully implemented.


What is the Mobility Plan & Fee

The Mobility Plan & Fee is a replacement for the City of Jacksonville's former transportation concurrency system.  It is a plan that provides a framework to integrate land development with mobility (pedestrians, bicycles, transit and roads) by providing the private sector with financial motivation to embrace smart growth principles, like gridded streets, in their project’s design and site selection.

Second, it lays out a mobility fee for new construction throughout the city.  The purpose of that fee is to generate funding needed to enhance public infrastructure negatively impacted by additional vehicle trips from new construction. Developments further from the city core that put more wear and tear on the city's streets and infrastructure will result in higher project mobility fees.



The Mobility Fee serves as a financial incentive to the private sector to stimulate redevelopment of underutilized sites throughout the city like Arlington's Town & Country Shopping center.


What can it do for Greater Arlington

In recent years, the City of Jacksonville Planning and Development Department (COJ-PDD) and Arlington/Beaches community created a vision plan for the neighborhood that was also adopted by City Council.

That community driven vision plan's guiding principles included:

Guiding Principle 1:

Community Character: Identify, Preserve, Protect, Promote and Enchance the Assets and Character of Greater Arlington/Beaches Communities

Guiding Principle 2:

Land Use, Growth & Development: Protect and Promote Community Through Land Use, Revitalization, and Development Patterns

Guiding Principle 3:

Transportation: Improve Mobility While Advancing Neighborhood Character

Guiding Principle 4:

Economic Growth: Provide Economic Growth which Advances Neighborhood Character

Guiding Principle 5:

Open Space and Recreation: Enhance Conservation Areas, Parks and Recreational Opportunities


A $3 million overpass dedicated to pedestrians and bicyclist, along with the construction of a complementing sidewalk network along the Arlington Expressway service roads, would be funded 100% by the mobility fee.

The Arlington/Beaches vision plan was born of a community effort, however to achieve that vision, it has to be incrementally implemented.  Unfortunately, the City of Jacksonville's budget continues to bleed red and we spend more time finding ways to cut services than investing in established communities like Arlington. While we ponder closing libraries and reducing maintenance of public parks and right-of-way, Arlington's residents continue to die on its dangerous roadways and the neighborhood's economic struggles continue to grow.

What the Mobility Plan & Fee can do for Greater Arlington is generate the funding for that needed pedestrian overpass over the Arlington Expressway and improve the bicycle and pedestrian network throughout the community.  Just as important, the mobility fee's credit adjustment component provides a financial incentive for private sector market rate reinvestment in the Greater Arlington area. Quite frankly, for Greater Arlington, the 2030 Mobility Plan & Fee is the only fiscally sustainable option available to the City of Jacksonville to incrementally implement the community's guiding principles over the next two decades.  However, as long as the city's self imposed moratorium remains in place, all that awaits Arlington's future is prolonged economic stagnation.



University Boulevard would be one of Arlington's major thoroughfares to be vastly enhanced through the implementation of the 2030 Mobility Plan & Fee.



Mobility Plan Projects in Arlington

Quote
Arlington Automobile/Truck and Transit Mode - Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Projects

1. University Boulevard North - Arlington Expressway to Merrill Road - $0.26 million


Arlington Bicycle Mode Projects

2. Arlington Road - King Arthur Road to Long Star Road - $12,773.72 (Bike Lanes, Pavement Markings & Signage)

3. Arlington Road West - King Arthur Road to Cesery Road - $173,448.92 (Bike Lanes, Pavement Markings & Signage)

4. Long Star Road - Mill Creek Road to I-295 East Beltway - $174,856.16

5. University Boulevard North - Gable Lane to University Boulevard East - $563,909.04 (Bike Lanes, Pavement Markings & Signage)

6. University Boulevard East - Cesery Road to Atlantic Boulevard - $168,850.92 (Bike Lanes, Pavement Markings & Signage)


Arlington Pedestrian Mode Project Summary

7. Arlington Expressway - North Service Drive from Southside Boulevard to Cesery Boulevard - $4,175,790.75 (includes $3 million pedestrian bridge over Arlington Expressway)

8. Cesery Boulevard - Arlington River Bridge - $20,310.70

10. Mill Creek Road - Regency Square Boulevard to Lone Star Road - $106,415.15

Source: City of Jacksonville 2030 Multimodal Transportation Study


How to make it Happen

To move forward, the mobility fee moratorium must be allowed to sunset this fall as opposed to being extended indefinitely into the future.  The easiest way to build support for sunsetting the moratorium is to let your local council representative know that you are a resident who cares for the future of your neighborhood and that you are in favor of allowing the moratorium to end.

District 1: Clay Yarborough

  Phone: (904) 630-1389
  Email: Clay@coj.net
  Assistant: BeLinda Peeples

District 2: William Bishop

  Phone: (904) 630-1392
  Email: WBishop@coj.net
  Assistant: Suzanne Warren

District 3: Richard Clark

  Phone: (904) 630-1386
  Email: RClark@coj.net
  Assistant: Sonia Johnson

District 4: Don Redman
 
 Phone: (904) 630-1394
  Email: Redman@coj.net
  Assistant: Scott A. Wilson

District 5: Lori N. Boyer

  Phone: (904) 630-1382
  Email: LBoyer@coj.net
  Assistant: James Nealis

District 6: Matt Schellenberg

  Phone: (904) 630-1388
  Email: MattS@coj.net  
  Assistant: Audrey Braman

District 7: Dr. Johnny Gaffney
 
  Phone: (904) 630-1384
  Email: Gaffney@coj.net
  Assistant: Bridgette Rodriguez

District 8: E. Denise Lee

  Phone: (904) 630-1385
  Email: EDLee@coj.net
  Assistant: Dan Macdonald

District 9: Warren A. Jones

  Phone: (904) 630-1395
  Email: WAJones@coj.net
  Assistant: Rupel Wells

District 10: Reginald L. Brown

  Phone: (904) 630-1684
  Email: RBrown@coj.net
  Assistant: Mercedes Parker

District 11: Ray Holt

  Phone: (904) 630-1383
  Email: Holt@coj.net
  Assistant: Connie Holt

District 12: Doyle Carter

  Phone: (904) 630-1380
  Email: doylec@coj.net
  Assistant: Rebekah Hagan

District 13: Bill Gulliford

  Phone: (904) 630-1397
  Email: Gulliford@coj.net  
  Assistant: Stan Johnson

District 14: Jim Love

  Phone: (904) 630-1390
  Email: JimLove@coj.net
  Assistant: Kevin Kuzel


Group 1: Kimberly Daniels

  Phone: (904) 630-1393
  Email: KimDaniels@coj.net
  Assistant: Ricky Anderson

Group 2: John R. Crescimbeni

  Phone: (904) 630-1381
  Email: JRC@coj.net
  Assistant:

Group 3: Stephen C. Joost

  Phone: (904) 630-1396
  Email: Joost@coj.net
  Assistant: Celeste Hicks

Group 4: Greg Anderson

  Phone: (904) 630-1398
  Email: GAnderson@coj.net
  Assistant: Leeann Summerford

Group 5: Robin Lumb

  Phone: (904) 630-1387
  Email: RLumb@coj.net
  Assistant: Donna Barrow



For more information on the 2030 Mobility Plan and Mobility Fee, CLICK HERE


Article by Ennis Davis







19 Comments

Bill Hoff

August 29, 2012, 07:03:35 AM
The Mobility Plan provides improvements for virtually all of Jax, so it positively impacts every district.

It took years to create, with community, developer, and COJ input, but only a couple months to neuter.

Frankly, voluntarily removing an approved funding source for infrastructure/QOL/public safety improvements in this budget climate is mind boggling.

gedo3

August 29, 2012, 07:32:18 AM
You know why this is my very favorite blog?  Instead of complaining and whining, we get to see real life possible solutions!  The thought and research involved are wonderful and much appreciated in this day of online gloom and doom!  Thank you!!!!

Dog Walker

August 29, 2012, 10:29:50 AM
If the developers don't pay for new infrastructure improvements needed for their developments guess who will have to do it?

You and me, the taxpayers. It might be cheaper just to pay them NOT to build anything.

The Mobility Plan is just plain brilliant.  We must let it work!

Jumpinjack

August 29, 2012, 10:32:26 AM
Thank you for explaining so well what we need in Arlington. Our community is sorely in need of redesigned roads and commercial districts. But why is it fair that developers don't pay anything at all anymore, not fair share, not mobility fee, nada for their road impacts? Council members you voted for this moratorium and left us with the bill.

mbwright

August 29, 2012, 10:40:28 AM
You mean, you haven't noticed a HUGE increase in construction since the mobilty plan was shelved?  How about the elimination of DCA review, or the removal of DEP and EPA regulations?  Scott said this was necessary, since this was hindering development, and burden.  I think redevelopment of the Town & Country would be great.  I loved living in Alrington several years ago.  Nice to be close to most things.

Ocklawaha

August 29, 2012, 12:07:29 PM

"Hello Arlington? Meet downtown... for WAY less then another Skyway bridge."

Adam W

August 29, 2012, 01:15:41 PM
^We just got one of those here and the estimated cost was somewhere in the range of $80 -$100 million. Probably paid too much, but how does that compare to a Skyway bridge.

(Serious question, I don't doubt that you're correct - I'm just curious).

fieldafm

August 29, 2012, 02:04:26 PM
There are lots of reasons why the moratorium should be allowed to sunset in October.  Job creation is one of them.  In Tampa alone, over $1 Billion in new development (which doesnt even scratch the surface of the 'development' spurred by the moratorium in the past year, which is in the ten million-ish range) occured from similar infrastructure programs sa those spelled out (and funded by) over the next 5 years in the Mobility Plan. 

Community building is another.  The Mobility Plan quite simply creates stronger neighborhoods.  It took 2 years of public input to determine what type of community we want to be and as such the will of the community is reflected in the Mobility Plan.

But in this day and age of having to choose b/w shutting down libraries, reducing availability of fire stations, cutting police and the failure to do even the most basic things like cutting the grass... this quote really sums it up in my book:

Quote
Council members you voted for this moratorium and left us with the bill.

The burden of these future (and necessary) capital expenditures shifts away from the developers who agreed to pay for them (which was a far more fair system to the development community than the haphazard and regressive nature of the previous concurrency fee) and on to the backs of the general taxpayer. 

The Jax Biz Journal just ran a story last week citing that the citizens of Jacksonville lived in the 9th most financially distressed community in the nation.  Is it fair to place the financial burden on the shoulders of those that are already at the breaking point?  Or would it be more fair for this fee to be payed again by those that agreed to it in the first place?  The general taxpayer didn't hold a referendum and vote to have more of a financial burden placed upon them. 

Realize that the Mobility Fee is not a make or break proposition for development.  If that were the case, you wouldnt have half a dozen multi-family apartment complexes currently being built around the Town Center area that are not subject to the Mobility Fee in the first place.  These projects  are in a seperate transportation management area and as such pay a pre-determined trip fee based on the number of vehicle trips that results from the building of that particular project.  This construction has happened (like all projects do) b/c of unmet demand and the availability of cheap money from the banks (construction loans are currently under 4%, which is incredibly cheap). 

You need a minimum of 30% equity into new construction loans now.  The Mobility Fee (which is MUCH lower than the old concurrency system) represents around 2-3% of a development's cost.  If you are searching your couch cushions for change and selling lemonade on your front lawn to make up for that last 2-3% of your project's cost... you quite simply don't have a financially viable project to begin with.

If the Mobility Fee scares off development in Jacksonville, then why is St Johns County (which has an impact fee, which is more expensive than the Mobility Fee) outpacing Duval County in housing permits this year?  Is it b/c their schools are better, thus more people want to live there?

If the moratorium spurred hundreds of millions in new development, I would change my mind.  But it hasn't.  The experiment failed.  It's time to pick up the pieces and move on.  It's time for City Council to stand beside those they serve and continue the good work of making Jacksonville a better place. 

Tacachale

August 29, 2012, 04:22:12 PM
Where are we on the Mobility Fee? Have any of the Council weighed in? Have they been contacted?

Jumpinjack

August 29, 2012, 04:46:07 PM
We've heard that the council members are hearing from a few developers that it's either jobs or mobility fee.  Sounds like a gimmick (aka gimme) to me.

Tacachale

August 29, 2012, 04:55:13 PM
And are they hearing anything from the other side to dispute that?

thelakelander

August 29, 2012, 05:00:53 PM
Instead of using shallow threats like "it's either jobs or mobility fee", it's time to present some data showing how the moratorium increased job growth in Jax at a growth percentage higher than the rest of Florida's communities......oh, it didn't!

And are they hearing anything from the other side to dispute that?

Yes, however, we (the community) will need all the help we can get.  Unfortunately, the average Joe Blow doesn't carry the same weight alone, when compared to the influence of some who want you to put more money in their pockets.

Captain Zissou

August 29, 2012, 05:10:07 PM
Instead of using shallow threats like "it's either jobs or mobility fee", it's time to present some data showing how the moratorium increased job growth in Jax at a growth percentage higher than the rest of Florida's communities......oh, it didn't!

And are they hearing anything from the other side to dispute that?

Yes, however, we (the community) will need all the help we can get.  Unfortunately, the average Joe Blow doesn't carry the same weight alone, when compared to the influence of some who want you to put more money in their pockets.

I'm down for the cause.  Let me know any way that I can help.  I'll send out some letters to councilmen for starters.  Are there any that I should target?

fieldafm

August 29, 2012, 05:15:58 PM
Quote
We've heard that the council members are hearing from a few developers that it's either jobs or mobility fee.

Yep.  Basically certain developers are saying that if we collect the fee again, it's going to cost jobs.

It's not like the moratorium spurred a plethora of jobs.  The amount of permits pulled barely moved the needle from the previous fiscal year.  It just made certain projects that were already getting built with tenants lined up, cheaper to build. 

Make no mistake.  Developers that had deals coming online that knew they were going to benefit with lower costs were responsible for this moratorium.  None of their projects were financially unfeasible with the fee in place.  In fact, they agreed to this fee over a year ago during a lengthy and fair two year long process. 

But, hey if you could save $1 million bucks... why not tickle the ear of a giddy council member you gave money to get elected who is glad to return the favor!  The taxpayers really benefit from that type of relationship, right? 

In my area, a fire station that has been around since my father was a child has been forced to reduce their service b/c we have no money.  I'm all for reducing wasteful spending.  I harldy believe a fire station in an area that has been built out since the 40's and is one of the most densely populated areas in the city is considered 'wasteful spending'.  I'm so glad then that my area lost out on $400k this year under the moratorium that my property taxes will have to make up somehow.  That $400k mostly went to the construction of a gas station.  I hardly believe that gas station created the kind of high wage job growth that will ignite our city's future.

Maybe next year, we can finally close down Fire Station 14 for good, do away with that pesky Murray Hill Library and let Memorial Park get invaded with chest high grass b/c we can no longer afford to mow the best park in our city.  That's the kind of city I want to live in!   

We the taxpayers didn't get to vote on whether or not we wanted to have this additional burden passed on to us.  10 developers did.  That's democracy. 

Tacachale

August 29, 2012, 08:33:59 PM
Okay, what's being done about it? The pro-moratorium crowd are clearly already on the ball.

dougskiles

August 29, 2012, 08:58:56 PM
Okay, what's being done about it? The pro-moratorium crowd are clearly already on the ball.

Recently, Mike Field and Ennis Davis were on First Coast Connect.  Before that, several of us provided information and interviews for an article series in the Resident Community News (second article went to print today).

Others have been meeting to take the message to a larger audience.

However, we need more people to get serious about this issue.  Ultimately, what will have the most success is for the City Council members to hear from as many concerned citizens as possible.  And the most effective way to communicate that is by attending public committee meetings and general council meetings.

CityLife

August 29, 2012, 09:32:42 PM
Excellent article in the Resident that Doug referenced.

http://residentnews.net/2012/08/07/mobility-fees-moratorium-ordinance-review-fall/

Of interest is this article from earlier in the month that says St. Johns County has issued more single family home permits than all of Duval, Clay, and Flagler combined. There have also been a substantial amount of commercial projects and are many more in the works. Oh and St. Johns County has impact fees...

http://staugustine.com/news/local-news/2012-08-06/county-building-permit-numbers-skyrocket#.UD7AUaMhQzI

Can you guys give me some info on the Mobility Plan fee structure? I'd be interested to compare it to the St. Johns County Fees.



tufsu1

August 29, 2012, 10:36:07 PM
Of interest is this article from earlier in the month that says St. Johns County has issued more single family home permits than all of Duval, Clay, and Flagler combined. There have also been a substantial amount of commercial projects and are many more in the works. Oh and St. Johns County has impact fees...

and oh btw...unlike St. Johns, Duval, Clay, and Nassau have moratoriums on transportation concurrency fees

BackinJax05

August 30, 2012, 02:20:46 AM
If this works, Arlington could once again become the grand suburb she once was ;D - instead of The Ghetto, East she has become :'(

The concepts for Town N Country & the pedestrian bridge are amazing. If only there was a way to link the pedestrian bridge to Tree Hill.

If only.
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