Al Bartolotta, planning division manager, tells the Forward Pinellas Board July 11 that proposed amendments to the Multimodal Impact Fee Ordinance could help for affordable housing.

CLEARWATER – Forward Pinellas Board members unanimously approved a staff recommendation July 11 to amend the countywide multimodal impact fee schedule to provide an incentive to help increase the supply of affordable housing.

According to county ordinance, the multimode impact fee must be paid by people who seek a certificate of occupancy for land development activity or those who seek to change a use by applying for an occupational license, land use permit or and equivalent that would generate additional traffic.

The amount the fee depends on factors that include the type of land development activity, and several fixed elements, such as the average cost to construct one lane-mile of roadway and the average capacity of one lane-mile of roadway, 6,900 vehicles per day.

The fee funds the county’s Mobility Plan, which is a countywide approach to manage the impact of development projects and increase mobility for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and motor vehicles.

Examples of ways to improve mobility include construction of new turn lanes, intersection improvements, construction of sidewalks, installation of bicycle lanes, construction of bus shelters and more.

Al Bartolotta, planning division manager, said the Technical Coordinating Committee discussed proposed amendments to the Multimodal Impact Fee Ordinance in April 2017. They included adjustments to construction cost, road capacity and reduction factor variables in the fee calculation formula.

Adjustments also included trip generation rates, average trip lengths and average new trip percentages associated with 24 land use types in the fee schedules.

The most significant adjustment proposed for the rate variables was the increase of the reduction factor from 0.268 to 0.4, as it was at the time the ordinance was originally adopted in 1986. The amendments would result in an across the board increase of 33 percent.

The next step would have been approval by the County Commission. County administration, however, requested to delay consideration of any increases until after the Penny for Pinellas referendum in November 2017.

Voters did approve the extension of the Penny tax; however, Forward Pinellas staff decided to wait on asking the Commission to consider the fee amendments until after a more comprehensive discussion and evaluation took place of all options.

Affordable housing incentive

The TCC did approve one recommendation at a June 27 meeting that does not involve a fee increase but could help boost the supply of affordable housing, Bartolotta said. The plan is to replace the single flat fee charged for single-family uses to a tier system that considers the size of the unit.

For example, in non-downtown districts the multimodal impact fee for a single-family residential unit is $2,066. If the tier-system were used, only a unit sized 2,500 square feet or more would be charged a fee of $2,066. The fee for a unit sized at 1,500 square feet or less would be $1,356 and for 1,500-2,499 square feet, $1,679.

The proposed residential use amendments are based on U.S. Census Bureau data and were adopted by Pasco County as part of its Mobility Fee Ordinance in 2011, according to a staff report. Sarasota and Manatee counties also have adopted tiered single-family rates.