Planning Commissioners To Discuss Transportation Demand Management

Wednesday, 5 Jun 2013, 9:02:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

Traffic circulation and management is on the agenda tonight for Santa Monica’s planning commissioners, who will tackle the Transportation Demand Management (TDM) as part of Santa Monica’s Zoning Ordinance Update.

Considered by civic leaders and city planners as a vital cog in the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE), commissioners will be discussing how to tweak the TDM to be a more effective tool in development negotiations.

“The City of Santa Monica’s Transportation Demand Management program is an important component in implementing the Land Use and Circulation Element’s policies to proactively manage congestion and to achieve no net new PM-peak hour trips by 2030,” City staff stated.

City staff added its administration of the TDM, which aims to “reduce vehicle trips and address air quality,” could be broadened to have a greater impact in light of the LUCE.

Accordingly, the TDM will circulate through City Hall to be further refined, with Santa Monica’s Planning Commission taking a first stab at the transportation management policy.

Specifically, planning commissioners will discuss how to: revise and define TDM requirements for developers and businesses; incorporate TDM requirements for mixed-use and residential developments; increase Average Vehicle Ridership (AVR) requirements depending on how large a development is or where the project is located; and, adjust TDM thresholds to properly reflect on-site employers or project size.

The current TDM program was adopted as part of the City’s Municipal Code in 1991 and aimed at “minimizing peak hour automobile commute trips. According to City staff, about 758 employers and 40,000 employees within Santa Monica are covered by the current TDM policy.

“Under the current provisions, all employers with ten or more employees are also subject to a per-employee annual transportation fee of $16.35 per employee for small employers and $12.23 per employee for large employers,” City staff stated in its report to Planning Commissioners. “The fee currently covers the costs of administration and enforcement of the employer trip reduction ordinance.”

Also, the current AVR standard is 1.5 persons per vehicle, meaning, according to City staff, about 33 out of 100 employees would have to carpool to work. City staff states about 60 percent of Santa Monica’s large employers (50 or more employees) have met the 1.5 AVR goal for both morning and afternoon peak hours.

Planning commissioners will be considering tonight how to alter TDM requirements for developers, employers, and residences in order to maximize the LUCE’s goal of no net new PM-peak hour trips by 2030.

For example, commissioners will grapple with whether it might be better to apply TDM requirements to non-residential projects with 7,500 square feet or more. Commissioners would discuss whether 7,500 square feet is an ideal threshold for the TDM to become a requirement. Currently, the threshold to determine whether a non-residential project would be subject to a TDM requirement is contingent upon the projected number of trips per hour.

Another question planning commissioners will ponder: how big or small should a mixed-use or residential development be in determining whether it would be subject to a TDM requirement. City staff suggested 10 units as a possible threshold.

Finally, commissioners will discuss what would trigger a TDM requirement for non-residential projects that expand upon existing floor area or increase average daily trips.

“Should the City also enact requirements to ensure that TDM programs continue to apply when there is a change of occupancy or use that does not require discretionary zoning approval?” City staff asked planning commissioners.

Planning commissioners will meet tonight inside Council Chambers at City Hall. The meeting begins at 7 pm.

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