Monday, November 1, 2010

A Creative Approach to Transportation Impact Fees

Jared Paben on the Belllingham Herald traffic/transportation blog has a recent post on a very interesting idea regarding transportation impact fees.

Transportation impact fees are collected by the majority of local governments, cities and counties, in Washington when new developments are permitted.  Traditionally this money goes towards the local governments roads funds and in the case of large exurban developments they often pay for new expanded road capacity.

According to Herald Blog post Bellingham is proposing a set of criteria that developers can use to reduce their overall impact fee costs.  Upon first glace I think this is a brilliant idea coming out from my hometown in the Northwestern corner of the State.

Here is the list of criteria proposed the reduce impact fees in Bellingham:

15%, for building in one of the follow urban village areas: Downtown, Fairhaven, Old Town, Waterfront District, Fountain District, Samish Way, Barkley Village.
Up to 10%, for being close to bus lines. Developments that front a once-every-15-minutes Go Line get a 10% discount, those within one-quarter mile of a GO Line get a 7% discount, those fronting a standard WTA route of at least once an hour get a 5% discount, and those that are one-quarter of a mile from a standard route get a 2% discount.
10%, for participating in a mandatory commute-trip reduction program. Under state law, only businesses with 100 or more employees are required to participate in these programs.
1%, for each employee or resident of the project who is provided two years worth of WTA bus passes.
2%, for each car share program membership fee that’s provided for an employee or resident. They also get a discount of 2% for providing a space for a car share vehicle to park. We don’t have car share programs here anymore, after Community Car Share, a nonprofit that was based in Bellingham, folded earlier this year.

 This approach will incentivize developers to build in urban walkable pedestrian oriented areas.  It will encourage them to put their developments through a robust transportation demand management program and in the end it will save them money, encouraging development in the right places and with sustainable approaches.

It will be interesting to watch how this program works out in Bellingham (once it is adopted) and may serve as a good model for the Legislature as they grapple with how to incentivize sustainable development in our urban areas of Washington State.

The full blog post is here
More info on the City of Bellingham's website here

1 comment:

  1. This is exactly the kind of tiered impact fee structure Cascade Bicycle Club proposed to Snohomish County during the 30.66b, the Traffic Mitigation and Concurrency Ordinance, work four years ago. Cascade's proposal had other offsets as well that included site-planning issues shown to improve non-motorized and transit mode-share, like zero lot-line development, no free parking

    Fingers crossed that it works.