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|Planning Commission Supports More Developers Fees
By Jason Islas
March 19, 2012 -- Developers would face some of the highest transportation mitigation fees in the region if Santa Monica adopts a staff proposal approved by the Planning Commission last week.
The new fee, approved unanimously by the commission Wednesday, would raise $60 million to help develop the city's transportation infrastructure over the next 20 years.
“If you don't do anything, new development will bring in more new trips,” said Commissioner Richard McKinnon. “At the moment, we don't have enough infrastructure" to help reduce trips, he said
The proposed amendment to the municipal code would divide Santa Monica
into two zones.
In the rest of Santa Monica – Zone 2 – the expected payments are even higher. Retail developers could pay $30,100 per 1,000 square feet. Developers could pay $3,300 per unit in a multifamily dwelling and $7,800 for a single-family home.
By comparison, in West Los Angeles, retail developers pay $7,087 per 1,000 square feet, while in Culver City, it is $1,000.
The money paid by developers will go toward the costs of building and improving infrastructure to reduce car trips and move people more efficiently throughout the city, officials said.
Those projects include improving public transportation, implementing the City's bike action plan, developing parking and improving pedestrian pathways.
Over the next 20 years, the City expects to spend more than $172 million on these projects, $60 million of which would come from the proposed fee.
Wednesday's discussion was less about whether or not there should be a fee – which was unanimously supported by the Commission – but whether the staff recommendation was high enough.
McKinnon said that, in the end, the Commission went with the staff recommendation because asking too much of developers for a transportation fee could undermine the City's attempt at getting other public benefits out of development agreements.
He added that developing in Santa Monica comes with a “unending stream of revenue,” adding that the City should try to capture some of the benefits.
The City Council will vote on the proposed fee in late April.
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