Friday, November 16, 2012

Letter to Supervisor about the Transportation Sustainability Program

I sent this letter to Supervisor Wiener about the Transportation Sustainability Program which is coming before the board next week.

Read about it in Streetsblog

Dear Supervisor Wiener,

I am writing to ask you to support the TIDF legislation coming before you on November 20th. The TIDF legislation is an important first step in achieving the goals of the Transportation Sustainability Program. Under the TSP, the City will finally invest in sorely needed and overdue systematic improvements to the transportation system.

San Francisco has a "Transit First Policy". We know that transit is critical for our city. We have a problem in that new developments are planned without taking into account the costs they will impose upon the transit system and price mitigation into the planning.

I understand that the non-profit community is fighting to be exempted from the TIDF. While Non-Profits are a vital part of the city, they represent 20% of new development and thus have a large impact on the system. The TIDF update will address this deficiency.

To be clear: the TIDF only applies to net new development. This means a building can be torn down and a new one can be put up in its footprint, and as long as the new building has less or the same square footage as the old building, then TIDF doesn’t apply. If the building adds new square footage, the TIDF only applies to these additional square feet. This isn’t about punishing non-profits who want to renovate an existing space or build a new development within the footprint of an old building; it’s about making organizations who build larger and more expansive campuses and buildings accountable for the added strain being imposed on our transportation system.

The reality is that most small social service providers don’t propose new developments. I also understand that small social service providers are proposed to be exempted from the fee, which means that only those non-profits with sufficient funding to build new projects would need to pay their share to recognize the burden they place on the transportation system. Additionally, the TIDF has grandfathering for non-profits, which means that non-profit projects would likely never pay the TIDF, if the TSP can move forward efficiently.

I know that you understand the value of the City’s transportation system and can see the many benefits of implementing the TSP. I hope that you won’t allow self-interest to undermine a really great program that finally means we will see real environmental mitigation for new development impacts on the transportation system. Thank you for your support.

John Murphy

Here are supervisors email addresses if you are interested in joining the fray.