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Fight underway to save Jacksonville from itself

If you care about Jacksonville ever having safe bike lanes and sidewalks, this message from the Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) highlights why time is of essence in saving what's left of the City of Jacksonville's 2030 Mobility Plan and Fee.

Published February 4, 2014 in Opinion      51 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

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In 2011, the Jacksonville City Council passed the 2030 Mobility Plan.  The plan was excellently researched and written.  It received an award from the American Planning Association (APA) of Florida.  The plan was designed in part to solve a huge problem.  Jacksonville had few bike facilities on existing roads and had patchwork sidewalks.  While new roads, by local regulations, are supposed to have 6' sidewalks and 4' bike lanes, EXISTING ROADS lacked bike lanes and sidewalks.  When new roads were built with sidewalks and bike lanes, they went to "nowhere".  They would connect to existing roads without any.  New bike lanes and sidewalks often became a "dead end".  This caused lots of problems:

*  The roads were DANGEROUS FOR CYCLISTS AND PEDESTRIANS. Pedestrians and cyclists would suddenly find themselves on a dangerous road without accommodation for them.

*  Jacksonville suffered from urban sprawl.  Developments sprung up far apart from one another, and existing roads between then were poor.  Because of urban sprawl, motorists drove long distances in their vehicles, contributing to greenhouse gases, and our residents lacked regular exercise, and could not commute by biking or walking.

THE MOBILITY PLAN WAS PASSED WITH GREAT FANFARE TO HELP SOLVE THIS PROBLEM.  The Mobility Plan called for the City to collect "mobility fees" from developers, and the fees would be used to bring existing roads up to standard - including bike and pedestrian facilities.  Connectivity of new roads to existing roads would be accomplished.  Roads would be SAFER. Because the roads would be safe and appealing, more developers would be incentivized to build projects.  Residents would want to live in these areas because of having "complete streets" - roads with safe travel for vehicles, bikes, pedestrians, and public transportation.

But since passage of the Mobility Plan, individual developers have tried to convince our City Council to repeal it, pass a moratorium on the collection of fees, etc.  What they have requested in simple terms - developers want to put more money in their pockets and don't care if Jacksonville roads are safe and connected to each other, so long as the roads within their development are satisfactory for motor vehicles.

NOW, A BILL HAS BEEN PROPOSED TO GRANT EXCEPTIONS TO CERTAIN HUGE DEVELOPERS, SO THE CITY WON'T BE ABLE TO COLLECT MOBILITY FEES FROM THEM.  This is Ordinance 2013-761.  THE ORDINANCE IS FAST TRACKED, meaning it is being considered by the City Council on a very expedited schedule.  I understand IT IS BEING URGED BY THE DAVIS (WINN-DIXIE) FAMILY, who intends to develop a large residential community on the southeast side of Jacksonville.  It appears the Davis family does not want to pay mobility fees which they would currently be required to pay for this project.  I must assume the Davis family only wants to spend money on roads within THEIR development, and does not want to pay mobility fees to bring surrounding, existing roads up to standard, so roads are connected safely.  The Ordinance is also being urged by the Sleimans, local developers, who I understand don't want to pay mobility fees relating to a project at Kernan and Atlantic Blvd.  

If their Ordinance passes, more money will go in the pockets of the Davis family and Sleiman family.  Existing roads will stay the same - no bike lanes, no sidewalks.  The funding source for these facilities is lost.  In my opinion, passage of the amendment will undo a great vision for Jacksonville - the 2030 Mobility Plan.



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51 Comments

sheclown

February 04, 2014, 07:06:34 AM
Go BPAC!

jcjohnpaint

February 04, 2014, 08:41:13 AM
Emails sent.  I should get out of work early today.  I believe I can make this one.

strider

February 04, 2014, 10:53:34 AM
E-mails were sent and a reply stated that it is going to be deferred at least two cycles? Can this be confirmed?

Also, I was sent a list of amendments.  Can we find out who in the Planning Department is writing the positive spin on this ordinance?

Jumpinjack

February 04, 2014, 11:03:34 AM
At the TEU meeting yesterday, the Planning Director and staff presented a 5 page review of the proposed amendment. It was briefly explained by Mr. Smith. The council members had not had any time to review it and the developer lawyers had not seen it either. Neither had any of us opposing the bill.

There were some critical remarks from a few council members about who would decide what was a transportation improvement, etc. The committee decided that it would need time to review and the Planning Department would take into account the comments made by the council members. Mr. Burney agreed it would take two rounds(cycles) to get it reworked and present it to the developers for their take on it.

However, LUZ will still be having public comments today - regardless. Comments early in meeting. 

BoldBoyOfTheSouth

February 04, 2014, 12:41:02 PM
JACKSONVILLE NEEDS TO TAKE BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN SAFETY AS A SERIOUS ISSUE.

How is it so difficult for our bubba city council to understand that competitive cities in American are cities that are becoming safer and more bicycle and pedestrian friendly?

coredumped

February 04, 2014, 12:56:58 PM
Does anyone know if there's a list of pedestrian/bike accidents in duval? I'd love to map all of them. I think seeing them all mapped out would be pretty shocking.

I think there was another death last week.

Wheel Sucker

February 04, 2014, 01:22:03 PM
Being a competitive cyclist I love bike lanes but being in the civil engineering business I know that concurrency, fair share or mobility fees can kill a project. My opinion is the City will misappropriate this money anyway. Jax's homegrown mega-companies WILL have their way. I've worked for most of them, they don't hear the word "NO" and they don't lose. I'll spend my energy on my bike thank you (on St. Johns County roads)

I'm new to Metro Jax....when does the hate begin ?

stephendare

February 04, 2014, 01:40:13 PM
Being a competitive cyclist I love bike lanes but being in the civil engineering business I know that concurrency, fair share or mobility fees can kill a project. My opinion is the City will misappropriate this money anyway. Jax's homegrown mega-companies WILL have their way. I've worked for most of them, they don't hear the word "NO" and they don't lose. I'll spend my energy on my bike thank you (on St. Johns County roads)

I'm new to Metro Jax....when does the hate begin ?

Its not a hater site. Its a serious discussion site.  Its sometimes easy to blur the two without rules of civility.

And if concurrency, fair share, or mobility fees can kill a project, then hopefully they have done their job.

A project which needs to externalize its own cost to the point that it cant afford to contribute to the infrastructure necessary to support it is unsustainably expensive for the taxpayers who are forced to foot the bill.

Much of St. John's County is just Regency of forty years ago.  Cheaply built, unthought out and totally dependent on the fickle fortunes of people willing to spend themselves into debt to provide the brief illusion of success.

It wont age well, and at some point, the party is over.

Some of us remember when the apartment complex of Century 21 was considered a luxury lifestyle community.

What a laugh.

thelakelander

February 04, 2014, 02:31:44 PM
A project which needs to externalize its own cost to the point that it cant afford to contribute to the infrastructure necessary to support it is unsustainably expensive for the taxpayers who are forced to foot the bill.
+1000. If covering the cost of your project's negative impact on the adjacent public infrastructure network is too much to bare, you never had a viable project to begin with. Instead, you've created a proforma where you're counting on public subsidies to make your numbers work.

mvp

February 04, 2014, 03:42:24 PM
@coredumped:

Look here on page 6 for a map of bike/bed crashes by severity:

http://www.northfloridatpo.com/images/uploads/docs/Appendix_C_CrashSeverityMaps.pdf

JeffreyS

February 04, 2014, 03:52:47 PM
Don't give away the farm city council. Just like 7-Eleven was going to build anyway so will the Davis Family.  You are just giving Jax away if you bend on this.

Roger904

February 04, 2014, 04:01:15 PM
Much of St. John's County is just Regency of forty years ago.  Cheaply built, unthought out and totally dependent on the fickle fortunes of people willing to spend themselves into debt to provide the brief illusion of success.

It wont age well, and at some point, the party is over.

Some of us remember when the apartment complex of Century 21 was considered a luxury lifestyle community.

What a laugh.

I don't always agree with you stephendare but your characterization of St John's is spot on.  Well said.  And yes I remember when Century 21 was the place to be.

Dog Walker

February 04, 2014, 04:07:02 PM
A project which needs to externalize its own cost to the point that it cant afford to contribute to the infrastructure necessary to support it is unsustainably expensive for the taxpayers who are forced to foot the bill.
+1000. If covering the cost of your project's negative impact on the adjacent public infrastructure network is too much to bare, you never had a viable project to begin with. Instead, you've created a proforma where you're counting on public subsidies to make your numbers work.

Straight to the heart of the matter!

sheclown

February 04, 2014, 05:07:58 PM
At LUZ. Developers to the left.  Mere mortals on the right. Evenly matched numbers. Ordinance will be deferred but public hearing is open. Moved to the end of the agenda

Bridges

February 04, 2014, 06:10:19 PM
I got hung up at work.  Wish I could have been there.  Whats happening/happened?

sheclown

February 04, 2014, 06:12:16 PM
Up now. Hold on

sheclown

February 04, 2014, 06:19:45 PM
I think the developers have dreamed up something so complicated that no one could possibly follow it

Staff is giving their report. We need to post a copy of that. Lots of talk of credits and credit selling 

sheclown

February 04, 2014, 06:22:39 PM
Bill bishop blasting planning staff report. "They don't know what they are talking about "

sheclown

February 04, 2014, 06:27:38 PM
Bishop explains th original intent of the mobility fee. 

He is saying the project list is outdated. 

He says purpose of new ordinance is to provide flexibility



sheclown

February 04, 2014, 06:29:20 PM
He seems to have a lot of faith in developers   Although he says it still has to pass muster with the planning dept. (of course the same people he just blasted as the beginning of his discourse )

sheclown

February 04, 2014, 06:31:32 PM
Bishop believes that the developers will do wonderful things for Jacksonville

sheclown

February 04, 2014, 06:32:26 PM
"Let's think outside the box" says bishop

sheclown

February 04, 2014, 06:32:58 PM
The other council members have now lost the will to live

sheclown

February 04, 2014, 06:34:49 PM
"A lot of hype out there ". Says bishop

sheclown

February 04, 2014, 06:37:13 PM
Redman speaks for bikes

Schellenberg wonders how people can understand the bill if the planning department doesn't understand it either

Bishop now says developers will fall to lowest common denominator.

sheclown

February 04, 2014, 06:44:38 PM
I read the urban core cpac letter of opposition

Sierra Club is speaking in opposition

sheclown

February 04, 2014, 06:48:09 PM
Bishop smacks down Linda Benner.  Not a smart move on his part. She is a smart cookie

sheclown

February 04, 2014, 06:53:46 PM
The speaker stated to bishop that the mobility fee was outside the box thinking. It was award winning for thinking outside the box

sheclown

February 04, 2014, 07:01:28 PM
Lawyer for BPAC boldly criticizes bishop and his plan.

Lumb stumbles trying to trip up the lawyer 

Redman helps the lawyer out

jcjohnpaint

February 04, 2014, 07:30:31 PM
Just left.  Bishop should know 'Thinking outside the box' is working well for downtown right now:)

JeffreyS

February 04, 2014, 07:57:20 PM
I wonder who got to Bishop and with what. Whatever it is I hope he enjoys it.

thelakelander

February 04, 2014, 08:36:33 PM
He is saying the project list is outdated. 

He says purpose of new ordinance is to provide flexibility

From a technical standpoint, was it explained how an entire 2030 project list is out of date in 2014?

I wonder if they are being presented as out of date because someone has lobbied for their own personal project, which just happens to not be on the list?

Bishop believes that the developers will do wonderful things for Jacksonville

"Let's think outside the box" says bishop



We must live in two different Jacksonvilles. We've been spreading our legs wide eagle to the development community for 50 years now and the entire urban core has literally died as a result. No many of our first ring suburbs are falling apart as well.













Has it been explained how this propose qualifies as "thinking outside of the box?" Because what's been proposed can be called many things, but innovative and thinking out of the box would not qualify as accurate characteristics.

tufsu1

February 04, 2014, 09:30:52 PM
well the list is out of date in that the 2030 Mobility Plan nor the 2035 North Florida TPO LRTP included major development on the Davis ranch....of course that's because the family hadn't shown much of an interest in developing it before.

spuwho

February 04, 2014, 09:43:22 PM
If the only demerit to the plan is "lack of flexibility" especially after only a few years have transpired, then it isn't the plan, it is someones perception of it.

Short sighted politicos stealing from the strategic to feed the tactical. That may work for re-election, but it doesn't work well for your community.

COJ needs to just get over themselves, set up a UPL and spend their collective energies restoring what we already have instead of trying to reinvent utopia 30 miles away.  Start appealing to developers who have urban and TOD development experience.

What is wrong with this place? Why doesn't anyone want to stick with a plan?

brainstormer

February 04, 2014, 10:20:06 PM
The fact that we even have to go to the developers to get their approval exemplifies the root of the problem.  This city is about as poorly designed as they come.  We came up with a brilliant, award winning plan to try and fix it, and the city council sold their souls to developers before the ink had dried.  If our Mayor wasn't such a passive failure, he would be out standing up for the citizens and putting a stop to this nonsense.  I'm so over this city and how backwards it is.  It's one short-sighted decision after another; a true lack of leadership throughout.

Bridges

February 05, 2014, 07:21:14 AM
He is saying the project list is outdated. 

This statement proves one of our fears about the new revisions.  If you open Pandora's box with this ordinance, suddenly you'll be reviewing every single piece of development.  And now those new developments alternate plans will suddenly show how "outdated" the mobility plan list is. 


Quote
"Let's think outside the box" says bishop

Wow!

thelakelander

February 05, 2014, 07:42:16 AM
How do you define "thinking outside of the box"?  How do you break that down from a technical standpoint?

Would building a full blown expressway with public money through someone's property (with an overpass for a future interchange) be an example of "thinking outside of the box"?







So, this $170 million investment isn't enough?

Jumpinjack

February 05, 2014, 08:57:51 AM
What an insult, a slap in the face to the city planners who researched and the CPACs and residents who came to meetings and said what they wanted to see to fix their roads and their neighborhoods. In essence - your wants, your priorities are outdated, not innovative, not flexible.

BoldBoyOfTheSouth

February 05, 2014, 10:53:18 AM

Schellenberg wonders how people can understand the bill if the planning department doesn't understand it either

Bishop now says developers will fall to lowest common denominator.

Pretty much sums it up.  :o >:( :-\

strider

February 05, 2014, 06:31:13 PM
Is it standard and normal for a powerful lobbyist to write new legislation?  And when he does, does he do it for free?  Did us taxpayers pay him?  Do we know who did?

It does say legislation prepared by Paul Harden.  Why would anyone ever think that an ordinance having anything to do with the group that is most often Mr harden's clients does anything but help the developers in way that will ultimately hurt us?

Just once, I would like to remain proud of Jacksonville for longer than one day....

tufsu1

February 05, 2014, 09:42:40 PM
Is it standard and normal for a powerful lobbyist to write new legislation?  And when he does, does he do it for free? 

very much so....and no

Lobbyists and advocates are usually the ones to write legislation....and then they get a legislator (in this case councilman) to sponsor the bill

stephendare

February 06, 2014, 12:33:30 AM
Is it standard and normal for a powerful lobbyist to write new legislation?  And when he does, does he do it for free? 

very much so....and no

Lobbyists and advocates are usually the ones to write legislation....and then they get a legislator (in this case councilman) to sponsor the bill

This has only been the norm during the past decade, though, and its more correct to say that the sponsoring group writes the proposed legislation about 60% of the time, after which it goes through an amendment process and legislative changes.

It is not ideal for lobbyists to be writing bills, no matter how common it might be in TUFSU's profession.

tufsu1

February 06, 2014, 07:28:14 AM
It is not ideal for lobbyists to be writing bills, no matter how common it might be in TUFSU's profession.

Nobody said it was ideal...or even preferred

Also was not aware that I am a registered lobbyist....or that urban planners generally are.

strider

February 06, 2014, 07:56:01 AM
So then WE can write new legislation that increases the cost of the mobility fees and redirects that extra money to eventually fund street car?  Of course, getting someone to sponsor that bill would be the trick, would it  not?  And why would a council person sponsor a bill written by a lobbyist that is being paid by the very people the bill will benefit? (Because why else would you pay to have it written unless you benefited in some profitable way?) I can list only one or two plausible reasons, none of which have anything to do with what is best for the public at large.

Just for once, I would like to see plain basic common sense applied to situations like this.  In this case we have a bill that basically guts the award winning mobility plan and was written by a lobbyist paid for the people who simply want to control the fees for their own profit.  Common sense says that this bill is not in the best interests of the public, it says it is not going to further the goals of the 2030 plan nor improve the future of Jacksonville in any way and that the only reason anyone will pay a lobbyist to write a bill like this is that they will profit by the results of the bill a lot more than it costs them. Anyone thinking this bill deserves any debate or real consideration is not using common sense, they are going with greed and ego. 

Like I said, wouldn't it be nice to be proud of Jacksonville once in a while?

mbwright

February 06, 2014, 08:00:09 AM
Paul Harden almost always gets what his client wants.  Never something that helps the city.

sheclown

February 06, 2014, 08:23:14 AM
Paul Harden almost always gets what his client wants.  Never something that helps the city.

Well, then lets save the city a bunch of time and money on its political elections and staff salaries and just go to the developers in the first place. 

That would also save us average every-day citizens the energy scraped together, after a long day's work, to sit in city council chambers night after night on the same topic.

sheclown

February 06, 2014, 08:26:16 AM
Paul Harden almost always gets what his client wants.  Never something that helps the city.


Could we at least ask that when he writes the city's legislation he does so in a manner in which the staff can understand?  Its embarrassing otherwise.

stephendare

February 06, 2014, 09:07:20 AM
It is not ideal for lobbyists to be writing bills, no matter how common it might be in TUFSU's profession.

Nobody said it was ideal...or even preferred

Also was not aware that I am a registered lobbyist....or that urban planners generally are.

It is far more common in planning and in urban planning for the developers lobbyists to write the legislation that surrounds the profession, as the majority of it involves new zoning, legislative appropriations, and exceptions being sought by the developers.

Youve made it clear many times that you are a planner in the transportation field, why would anyone assume you were a lobbyist?

stephendare

February 06, 2014, 09:09:04 AM
So then WE can write new legislation that increases the cost of the mobility fees and redirects that extra money to eventually fund street car?  Of course, getting someone to sponsor that bill would be the trick, would it  not?
 
Like I said, wouldn't it be nice to be proud of Jacksonville once in a while?

yes.  that is how the game is played and that is how the process works.

strider

February 07, 2014, 08:50:19 AM
Here's an interesting thought.  If a councilman works with the office of General Council to write a bill, all of the correspondence leading up to that bill is public record.  If a councilmen or other city employee, even just a member of a citizen committee, uses their personal e-mail for something related, all of their personal e-mail becomes public record.

I think we can also see that ordinances are supposed to be written for the good of the public otherwise, why have them to begin with?  So it follows that anyone who writes an ordinance is doing it for the public good (in theory anyway) and therefore they are defacto employees of the general public.  That should mean that all of the correspondence relating to this ordinance written for the public by Mr Harden regardless of the format or whether it was to a council person or his clients should be public record.  I would think names and some personal information would have to be redacted, but the meat of the correspondence should be available to the public.  It would make very interesting reading I'm sure.

AviationMetalSmith

February 07, 2014, 02:36:46 PM
What Jacksonville needs is a Kevlar armored bicycle-tank, in full camouflage .

Seriously, pass the blame to the Federal Government, it's the US Route 17 "Roosevelt Blvd" that needs the Bike Lanes and Sidewalks.

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