Improving national economic conditions have resulted in Home Depot recently issuing a press release that the company will be hiring 80,000 more workers. In addition, Jacksonville is one of the nation's leaders in market rate multifamily construction, infill continues in Riverside and more development pops up around St. Johns Town Center and River City Marketplace every day. However, these market rate economic positives aren't enough for some. Despite community opposition, Councilman Richard Clark has filed a bill in favor of the City of Jacksonville implementing a three year tax increase in the form of a mobility fee moratorium. Here is a brief look at the details of Clark's proposed subsidy to development at the expense of the average taxpayer and how it could negatively impact our city's future.
What Is The Mobility Plan and Fee
When it comes to city planning, Jacksonville is sometimes known more for its missteps than what it does right. The 2030 Mobility Plan could change all that. This innovative plan provides a framework to integrate rail, pedestrian, bicycle and road transportation planning with land use strategies that combat unsustainable sprawl. Something we are all too familiar with. Many in Jacksonville have come to the conclusion that investing only in roadway construction to transport people about the city will not work forever. Other forms of mobility, or moving around the city, must be considered to create a city that will not collapse under the weight of ever expanding borders and strains on municipal resources.
First, it provides a framework to integrate land development, with mobility (pedestrians, bicycles, transit and roads) and gives developers incentives to embrace smart growth principles, like gridded streets, in their projects design.
Second, it lays out a mobility fee that all developers must pay when starting new projects in the city. Developments further from the city core that put more wear and tear on the streets and infrastructure will result in higher project mobility fees. However, development that embraces financially sustainable features such as infill and adaptive reuse projects results in the virtual elimination of the fee that Councilman Clark opposes.
For more information on the Mobility Plan & Fee, Click Here.
Jacksonville is a national leader in bicycle and pedestrian deaths. The image above captures a recently installed handicapped accessible bus stop on Philips Highway. However, to utilize, the disabled must maneuver around trucks driving over 45 miles per hour. The mobility fee would fund sidewalks and multi-use trails on heavily traveled corridors like Philips Highway and Southside Boulevard. Councilman Clark's moratorium would maintain Jacksonville's public right-of-way's status as bonafide pedestrian death traps.
Mobility Plan and Fee Goals
The Mobility Plan is intended to resolve multiple problems in Jacksonville. These include the need for safer streets, healthier neighborhoods, a fair "concurrency" system, and integrating transportation and land use development for fiscally sustainable growth patterns. The mobility fee serves as the funding source to implement these concepts. With Jacksonville's revenue sources shrinking every year, the mobility fee provides the city with a fair path to invest in itself, stimulating job creation, quality of life enhancements, and economic growth in the process.
Councilman Clark's Reasoning for Taxpayers to Subsidize Bad Development
During recent interviews with the Jax Daily Record and The Resident, Councilman Clark expressed his reasoning for filing a bill to implement a three year moratorium on the policy that would move Jacksonville forward into the 21st century and spur billions in quality economic and fiscally sustainable growth along the way.
"Theres one single, biggest reason that I'm sponsoring this bill: Getting people slinging hammers and pouring concrete again. For me, its literally about putting people back to work," Clark told The Resident's Steve DiMattia.
Unfortunately, for anyone who truly desires a better Jacksonville, Clark's position is based on pure fantasy and speculation. That pure fantasy and speculation is also based off an assumption that all development by any means necessary is positive to the local economy. However, "Putting people back to work" is a little more complex than slinging hammers and pouring concrete.