Councilman Clark Wants Mobility Fee Moratorium

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.

Published February 8, 2013 in Opinion -

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 project’s 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.

"There’s 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.

A tunnel visioned approach to subsidized job creation in a single industry in city with an economy as diverse as Jacksonville is destined to failure.  For proof, look no further than Council's attempt to manipulate the market with last year's mobility fee moratorium. Statistical data resulting from that experiment proved that it was an epic failure.

Area building permits over the last year indicated that there was no rational nexus between the mobility fee moratorium and market realities.  While Duval, Clay, and Nassau Counties had suspended their fees, St. Johns County, continued to pull ahead, despite maintaining a concurrency fee system for new development to help financially support its negatives on existing public infrastructure.  Further leading to the growing gulf in quality-of-life between it and Duval, St. Johns has used the income generated to help invest in it's public education system.

At the statewide level, economic indicators also suggested that there was no remote correlation between last year's failed mobility fee moratorium, as the graph below visually displays.  If a one year experiment was a failure, why on earth would we want to play around with a three year attempt when the market is actually improving?

Councilman Clark's Ordinance 2013-94

What it means for Jacksonville

A new home on an infill site, such as this residence in Durkeeville, would not pay a mobility fee.  The mobility fee isn't against new development.  It is intended to guide new development to be fiscally responsible to the surrounding community.

Jacksonville is currently known as one of the most deadly cities in the country for pedestrians and bicyclist.  It is also a city with a struggling downtown and several older neighborhoods that have been negatively impacted by our subsidization of low quality growth over the last fifty years.  However, we are a community that possesses a ton of potential.  The mobility plan and fee were created to drive and stimulate the type of growth that results in a higher quality of life for our residents, while also generating the income necessary to invest in ourselves in a fiscally responsible manner.  

A mobility fee moratorium as a strategy for stimulating quality economic development and job creation is just as effective as attempting to nail jello to a wall.  In fact, it's a policy that can easily be considered as counterproductive to data and conversation flowing out of the recent JAX 2025 surveys and community visioning efforts.  If we're going to ask taxpayers to subsidize something, that conversation should be centered on issues such as better transit, public schools, libraries, neighborhoods, and port infrastructure.  It should not be about subsidizing market rate development at the expense of the taxpayers who's homes and businesses may already be underwater.

How You Can Get Involved

5000 Town, an example of market rate development already under construction without the need of a mobility fee moratorium.

The failure of Councilman Clark's pending legislation will place Jacksonville in a position to create additional jobs by investing in itself while also making the streets and mobility options, reliable and safe for all.  In addition, avoiding this subsidy will eliminate the hidden long term tax burden this moratorium will place on the backs of average everyday residents just trying to survive.

With this in mind, the City of Jacksonville's future needs its concerned resident's will power more than ever.  Councilman Clark's moratorium bill will be introduced to City Council on Tuesday, February 12, 2012.  Attendance at the February 12th meeting will be important to speak for the sunset of the moratorium and letters of support from residents and organizations showing how the mobility plan will help them are also important.  

Spreading information of the negative impacts of this bill to neighborhoods and contacting council representatives to encourage the defeat of this pending legislation is encouraged.  Such grassroots efforts can be a powerful tool for the average resident who simply desires to live in a community with a higher quality-of-life.

•             Mayor Alvin Brown's Office  630-1776

•             District 1 Clay Yarborough  630-1389

•             District 2  William Bishop  630-1392

•             District 3 Richard Clark  630-1386

•             District 10 Don Redman  630-1394

•             District 5  Lori N. Boyer  630-1382
•             District 6  Matt Schellenberg  630-1388

•             District 7 Dr. Johnny Gaffney  630-1384

•             District 8 E. Denise Lee  630-1385

•             District 9 Warren Jones  630-1395

•             District 10 Reggie Brown  630-1684

•             District 11 Ray Holt  630-1383    

•             District 12 Doyle Carter  630-1380

•             District 13 Bill Guilliford  630-1397

•             District 14 Jim Love  630-1390

•             At Large 1 Kimberly Daniels  630-1393

•             At Large 2 John R. Crescimbeni  630-1381

•             At Large 3 Stephen Joost  630-1396

•             At Large 4 Greg Anderson  630-1398

•             At Large 5 Robin Lumb  630-1387

Editorial by Ennis Davis. Contact Ennis at

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Metro Jacksonville