Just when you thought there was no more milk in the Urban Cluster cow
Just when you thought everyone in county government knew the Urban Cluster Multi-Modal Transportation Mitigation program is just a symbolic neo-liberal government idea that dupes the public into subsidizing the haves at the expense of the have-nots; now we get this recommendation from the county public works director:
"Make a legislative finding that the construction of the bus stop shelters identified in this agenda item are expected to increase RTS ridership along SW 8th Avenue, which will mitigate transportation impacts caused by developments with the NW transportation district."
The SW 8th Avenue area the staff recommendation is referring to is in what is called the "Urban Cluster." The Urban Cluster operates under a program called Multi-Modal Transportation Mitigation (MMTM). MMTM is the county's agreement with developers that is supposed to cover the cost of development. Developers love this agreement because under it, they don't have to pay the full impact costs for roads. MMTM only require the developers to pay for things like bus stops and bike paths.
The county does have to prove to the state that it is making a reasonable effort to mitigate impacts caused by growth. Therefore the recommendation calls for the making of a legislative finding.
There is a serious level of denial taking place in county government when it comes to the Urban Cluster. On paper, the Unified Land Development Code (ULDC) is committed to everything the county comprehensive plan requires for an Urban Cluster. County staff is very versed in Urban Cluster talk. However, what is on paper and what is being spoken does not jive with the realities on the ground. The comprehensive plan and the majority of the growth management staff insist that because of strict adherence to code, the Urban Cluster will only experience a very limited amount of automobile traffic.
Increased RTS ridership along SW 8TH Avenue will offset any transportation impacts that may arise from any new development. Developers do not pay their fair share of impact costs because the growth management staff does not charge them the full cost. They believe that it would not be fair to developers if they were charged an amount that covered the full costs of impacts to roads by automobiles; in staff's mind there will be no automobiles, so the impact from new develop would be very minuscule. The County Commissioners agreed with the staff recommendation and voted unanimously to approve it.