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Monday, November 26, 2012

BikeWalkLee's comments on draft transportation element of Comp Plan--a different path forward for Lee County



BikeWalkLee has invested a great deal of time and effort in working to ensure that the principles of complete streets and a balanced multi-modal transportation system that supports livable and sustainable communities in Lee County are incorporated into the amendments of the Comp Plan.  We are now at the critical stage--reviewing the all-important draft transportation element.  

On November 25th, BikeWalkLee provided written comments to both the LPA and the CSAC, recommending the rescission of transportation concurrency and the replacement of the automobile Level of Service (LOS) tool with an alternative approach that is performance-based, multi-modal and context sensitive.  The auto-LOS tool has been the primary driver of Lee County's roadway overbuilding and growth of sprawl.

Report from 11/26/12 LPA Public Hearing on Draft Transportation Element

The LPA began its review of the transportation element, starting with a staff power point presentation by LeeDOT's Andy Getch, followed by public comment, and then some general discussion among the members.  In addition to BikeWalkLee's comments, representatives from both the Bayshore and Palm Beach community panels spoke, emphasizing the need for a multi-modal complete streets approach consistent with their community character.  There was strong representation from the health community--Sally Jackson and Syndi Bultman from LMHS, Diane Holm from the Lee County Health Department, and Rick Hadec, the Horizon Council Health and Wellness task force chair.  The health team focused on the cost in lives and dollars to our community of unhealthy lifestyles and unsafe roadways. Syndi's Mark Twain quote in referring to problems with the auto-LOS approach was perfect:  "If you always DO what you always DID, you always GET what you always GOT!" Thanks to everyone who spoke at this morning's LPA hearing!

While the LPA will continue its review of the transportation element at its Dec. 10th meeting, there will be no further opportunities for public comment. The only individuals that will be allowed to speak on December 10th will be those from a county agency or committee, with specific mention of the CSAC and the MPO.  Although there is no opportunity for the public to speak at the Dec. 10th meeting,  you can still submit your comments in writing to Janet Miller and she will distribute them to the LPA members.  There will also be an opportunity for the public to comment online in the "Town Hall" Horizon 2035 site.  As soon as the transportation element has been posted for discussion, we'll let you know.

BikeWalkLee Overview Comments on 10/26/12 Draft Transportation Element
LPA Meeting 11/26/12

OVERVIEW
The New Reality
In order to understand what's at stake in Lee County's Comp Plan rewrite--the first major redo in 26 years--it's important to understand the multi-faceted new reality we face.  The bottom-line is that the status quo is not an option.  In order for Lee County to deal with this new reality and chart an economically viable path forward for our future we must make radical changes in the Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan), especially in the land use and transportation elements.  Changes in the transportation and land use paradigm are evolving at a rapidly accelerating pace both nationally and regionally.  It is important for Lee County to reap the potential benefits and not get left behind.  We are at a crossroads: suffer the negative economic consequences of a status quo approach or position ourselves to be at a competitive advantage.   Luckily, with today's technology and "open source" approach to sharing best practices, Lee County can benefit from models and best practices developed by other communities across Florida and around the country with little difficulty.   It is critical that our elected officials understand what is at stake in this process and embrace the change that is required.

Summary of Comments and Recommendations
To provide the big picture context in which to review the draft transportation element, this paper presents the components of this new reality, outlines what has to change, then specifically looks at the implications for Lee County's draft Transportation Element.  Our specific comments on the draft are informed by two new studies--BikeWalkLee's"Moving Beyond Transportation Concurrency" November 12th report on other Florida communities and FDOT's "Expanded Transportation Performance Measures for Growth Management" Oct. 31st report.

Our summary recommendations are as follows:
  1.  The rescission of transportation concurrency now, as recommended by staff;
  2. Deletion of automobile and proposed multi-modal LOS and replace it with goals for the LOS replacement tool, with the actual tool to be developed and incorporated into the LDC; 
  3. Outline a joint County and MPO collaborative process for developing transportation performance measures and a mobility plan and fee system all of which would be incorporated into 2040 LRTP ( finalized by 2015); and
  4. Amend the County's LDCs subsequent to the LRTP adoption to reflect additional changes to the LOS replacement tool as well as to implement the mobility fee. 
 Given the significant changes needed in this draft, we suggest that the LPA request staff to bring back a revised version of the transportation element to the LPA for a second review.

Click here to continue reading BikeWalkLee's comments:

Food for thought:  "We've run out of money, now we have to think!"  Winston Churchill

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