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City Council Report: RIFT Backers Charge City Failed to Collect Millions:

Charges that the City failed to collect millions of dollars from developers as traffic impact mitigation fees enlivened the City Council’s September 23 meeting. The accusation was made during consideration of Planning Department recommendations related to transportation aspects of the Land Use and Circulation Elements (LUCE) of the City’s General Plan.

Among the recommendations of Planning Director Eileen Fogarty was that the Council direct her staff to develop a “nexus study” to implement a Traffic Mitigation Impact Fee. But during the public comment period following her presentation, several citizens argued that the City Council had adopted an ordinance in 1991 providing for just such fees to be charged against developers and then never actually assessed those fees.

Two of the prime forces behind the Residents’ Initiative to Fight Traffic (RIFT), now Proposition T on the November ballot, Diana Gordon and Ted Winterer, among others, said that the City should have been collecting the fees for the past 16 years. Winterer, who is running for one of the four Council seats to be filled in the November election, estimated that “$45 million was left on the table,” although Councilmember Ken Genser, who is also in the race, seriously questioned that number.

Councilmember Kevin McKeown, who is not up for reelection this year, located on his computer during the meeting a report of an April 14, 1992 meeting at which the Council authorized the City Manager to execute a contract with consultants for the preparation of a nexus study, but it was not clear whether the contract was ever executed or the consultants paid or the study conducted.

In the end, the Council unanimously approved McKeown’s motion to have the City Manager and City Attorney research just what happened in 1991 and 1992 and report back to the Council as soon as possible.

On the subject of the Planning Department’s current recommendations, the Council unanimously directed the staff to refine measurement tools to monitor traffic, to develop a forecasting model for use in the environmental evaluation of LUCE, to develop a nexus study to implement a Transportation Mitigation Impact Fee, and to develop a traffic impact “breaking” mechanism to be used if traffic goals are not met.

In other action, the Council approved a Planning Commission approval of a four-story, 164-room “affordable” Travelodge hotel on Ocean Avenue between Broadway and Colorado Avenue with a three-tier pedestrian bridge over the alley behind Ocean Avenue to connect the two structures that will comprise the hotel.

At its September 16 meeting, the Council unanimously endorsed Proposition AA on the ballot, SMC bonds. After Councilmember Shriver read a letter from Phil Hendricks in opposition to the measure, SMC Trustee Louise Jaffe spoke in refutation.

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