What is Planned Mobility?
Note: The following text in Part I was written many months ago.
The concept of Planned Mobility (PM), as originally presented to the residents of Boca Raton, is a plan to minimize daily car trips on our roads. For PM to succeed residents will voluntarily take buses, car-pool, walk and/or ride bikes and choose to live, work and play within a close distance.
Several PM districts have already been designated and approved within our city. If carried out as conceived, the concept might work, particularly in areas such as Town Center Mall, the Light Industrial Research Park (LIRP) and ARVIDA Park of Commerce (APOC).
There are two crucial components of Planned Mobility, which cannot be overlooked. They are:
- Transportation connectivity. It’s an absolute must to provide the infrastructure and short trip transportation to final destinations.
- It’s imperative to have mixed used development, which provides the necessary daily services and conveniences within close range.
If done well PM is a laudable goal.
Prior to approval, the discussion changed slightly when those arguing for PM admitted they were not actually lowering the number of daily car trips on our roads. They were simply lowering the distance that people would drive. This is a red flag, to be sure.
But beware of this Trojan Horse, which contains within, the developers’ demand for added “Density”. The narrative from developers will offer justification for increased density beyond existing city codes.
The notion that PM is a “solution” is a false narrative. The plan is designed to increase the value of the underlying property and if allowed will further stress our roadways and infrastructure. The trouble will come for those that live in the aftermath. For Planned Mobility to succeed for everyone, existing density rules should be strictly followed. At the end of the day this is nothing more than a financial gift to developers and landowners in the PM districts.
July 23, 2015
As if we couldn’t see this one coming.
Deputy Mayor Robert Weinroth will be introducing Ordinance 5312 at the next City Council meeting scheduled for July 28, 2015. The Ordinance is fairly straight forward: Mr. Weinroth is seeking a change to existing City Code by increasing the number of residential units in designated Planned Mobility Districts (PMD) from 2,500 units to 4,500 units. A whopping 80 percent increase in units.
The justification for this increase is questionable at best. According to a Memo from City Manager Leif Ahnell (see below) to City Council members the only support for the increase appears in the “Background” paragraph of the Memo. It states that a developer requested approval for 1,500 residential units but was denied due to the fact that 1,642 units had already been approved. The combined total exceeds the 2,500 maximum.
The existing Ordinance specifically states, “The multifamily residential units shall be available on a first come first served basis.” The existing Ordinance further states, “If, and at such time as 2,500 multifamily dwelling units have been authorized…no additional multifamily dwelling units shall be approved.”
The original PMD Ordinance was approved a mere two and a half years ago. What has changed to warrant such a dramatic increase in residential units? According to the Ordinance, the maximum of 2,500 units were put in place for multiple reasons including “to ensure multiple/mixed use land patterns…while respecting the existing character of adjacent land uses.”
The City has not yet experienced what the impact of 2,500 units will be and we are already entering a discussion to increase to 4,500 units? Where is the logic in that approach?
So what does this mean? It means…The Trojan Horse of Planned Mobility as a solution to traffic woes, under the circumstance of increased density, is no solution at all.
Give us a chance to see how this new idea works as planned and approved. Let’s add the mixed use and the transportation components before we start adding more density! City Council members need to reject this egregious request to add density and additional traffic to our roadways.
The introduction of this ordinance will be at the City Council meeting, Tuesday, July 28 at 6pm, City Hall. If this of concern to you, contact your City Council now. Contact info here. The brief Memo and proposed Ordinance 5312 are available through this link.