Photo of Market Street and Different Modes of Transportation
Credit: Sergio Ruiz ©
Citywide

Transportation Sustainability Program

Project Status: Completed in 2017

The Transportation Sustainability Program (TSP) seeks to improve and expand upon San Francisco's transportation system to help accommodate new growth.  Smart planning and investment will help us arrive safer and more comfortably at our destinations now and in the future.  

 

Keeping People Moving as Our City Grows

The Transportation Sustainability Program (TSP) seeks to improve and expand upon San Francisco's transportation system to help accommodate new growth.  Smart planning and investment will help us arrive safer and more comfortably at our destinations now and in the future.  

The Association of Bay Area Governments projects that the City will add as many as 190,000 jobs and 100,000 homes by 2040. Much of this is already occurring – projects to create housing for up to 60,000 new people are currently under review or in construction. It is possible to grow smartly, but we must start now.
The Transportation Sustainability Program is comprised of the following three components: Enhance Transportation to Support Growth (Invest), Modernize Environmental Review (Align), and Encourage Sustainable Travel (Shift).

Invest: Transportation Sustainability Fee
Invest in our transportation network by having developers pay their fair share to help offset the growth created by their project.  (Signed into law November 2015)

Align: CEQA Reform
Change how the City analyzes impacts of new development on the transportation system under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) so that it better aligns with the City's longstanding environmental policies, like reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (Adopted by the Planning Commission March 2016)

Shift: Transportation Demand Management
Require new developments to provide on-site amenities that prioritize sustainable alternatives to driving. (Signed into law February 2017)

Transportation Sustainability Fee (TSF)

The Transportation Sustainability Fee (TSF) has been adopted by the Board of Supervisors and went into effect on December 26, 2015. Please visit the Development Impact Fees page for more information and fee rates.

Require new development to invest more in our transportation system to help address the impacts of growth

In 2013, Mayor Lee’s Transportation Task Force found that to meet future demand, the City needs to invest $10 billion in transportation infrastructure through 2030, including $6.3 billion in new revenue. In November 2014, San Francisco voters passed Proposition A, approving a $500 million one-time investment. They also passed Proposition B, which is projected to contribute about $300 million for transportation over the next 15 years.

The Transportation Sustainability Fee (TSF) replaces the Transportation Impact Development Fee (TIDF) to provide additional revenue to help fill the City’s transportation funding gap. Currently, the TIDF generates about $24 million a year on average. The TSF is projected to add about $14 million a year, raising nearly $1.2 billion for transportation improvements over 30 years, or roughly $430 million in net new revenue.

Supporting Documents

Fee Amounts and Applicability

How Much Is The Transportation Sustainability Fee?

The new fee would be assessed in proportion to the size and use of the proposed development.

TSF Rates *

 Land Use Category Existing TIDF Rates TSF Per Gross Sq. Ft. of New Development
 Residential  NA  $7.74
 Non-Residential  $13.87 - $14.59  $18.04
 Production, Repair and
  Distribution (PDR/Industrial)
 $7.46  $7.61

* Subject to modifications as determined updates or modifications to the Development Impact Fee register.

How Were the Rates Determined?

The city conducted two data-intensive studies and then struck a careful balance to achieve maximum public benefit without hamstringing development.  The first analysis, a nexus study, set a maximum justifiable fee based on demands on the transportation system. The second study, an economic feasibility analysis, looked at how different fees affected the bottom line for different projects.  The result is a fair contribution for the transportation network without making projects too costly to build.  

When Will the New Fee Start Being Charged?

If the fee is approved by the Board of Supervisors and the mayor, it would be charged from the effective date of the ordinance.

What Is the Cutoff Point For Who Is Responsible For the New Fee?

Development projects that have a Planning Department or Planning Commission approval by the ordinance’s effective date would not have to pay the new fee. Residential development projects that have submitted a development application by the effective date would only pay 50 percent of the proposed fee. (A preliminary project assessment is not a development application.) Non-residential projects that have submitted an application to the Planning Department would pay the existing Transit Impact Development Fee, or TIDF. For all types of development, projects would still be subject to all applicable fees in effect at the time.

When Does The Transportation Sustainability Fee Apply?

As is the case with the current Transit Impact Development Fee, the new proposed fee will only apply to net new development or a change of use.  That means that either a building is completely new or is being expanded or converted to a more intense use.  The fee applies only to the net new part of the building.  So if a project demolishes 5,000 square feet of space and builds 20,000 square feet, the fee is paid on the 15,000 net new square feet.  Similarly, if someone is adding 5,000 square feet of space to a 20,000 square foot building, the fee would only apply to the 5,000 new square feet.

The fee would also apply for changes of use that generate more trips on the transportation system, like converting a building from industrial space to offices.

The fee does not apply to interior renovations that don’t expand a building’s footprint or change its use.  The fee does not apply to any addition or new building of 800 square feet or less.

If a new development project converts a site from a low-trip-generation use, like industrial, into a high-trip-generation use, like retail, then the new project pays the difference between the fee for the less-intense use and the new, higher use.  If a project goes in the opposite direction – converting from retail to industrial, for example – the fee doesn’t apply.

Why Is There A Credit For Existing Uses?

This is about new development paying its fair share. Projects would be required to pay for new impacts they generate, meaning additional developed space or changes to a more intensive use. For changes of use, the project would be required to pay the difference between the new use and any pre-existing uses. For example, if a development project would demolish an existing 5,000 square foot office building and build a 50,000 square foot office building, the fee would be applied on 45,000 square feet of new development.

Can Developers Get An In-kind Fee To Fund Transportation Improvements In the Area Their Project Is Located In?

No. This is a citywide fee, and it goes to citywide programs, but priority is given to specific projects identified in different Area Plans.

Timing of Fee/Grandfathering

  • My condo building had its application approved.
    • Development projects that already have their Planning Department entitlements would not have to pay the new fee (any other applicable fees would still apply).
  • I filed my application for a new 100-unit residential building with the Planning Department 3 months ago and am in the middle of the review process.
    • Partially applies. Residential development projects that have submitted an application to the Planning Department would pay 50 percent of the proposed fee.
  • I filed my application for a new 100,000-square-foot office building with the Planning Department three months ago, and I’m in the middle of the review process.
    • Does not apply. Non-residential projects that have submitted an application to the Planning Department prior to the effective date of the ordinance would pay the existing Transit Impact Development Fee, or TIDF, and any other applicable fees.

How does the fee apply to common types of building applications?

Housing

  • I’m building a single-family home
    • Does not apply. Residential developments with 20 units or less would not be subject to the fee.
  • I’m remodeling or adding on to my home.
    • Does not apply. Would only apply to new developments that would create more than 20 new units.
  • I'm proposing a new building with 10 housing units. 
    • Does not apply. Residential developments with 20 units or less would not be subject to the fee.
  • I'm proposing a new building with 100 housing units
    • Applies. Residential developments with more than 20 units would be subject to the fee.
  • I’m proposing a new group housing development where people share kitchens and other facilities.
    • Applies. Group housing projects of any size would be subject to the fee.
  • I propose to include 12 on-site affordable housing units in my 100-unit development.
    • Applies to all units. Required inclusionary (affordable) units would be subject to the fee. However, they would still be required to be kept affordable at the same levels; the fee could not be passed on to the individual owners or tenants.
  • I’m renovating a building with 100 housing units, with no expansion to the building.
    • Does not apply. Would only apply to residential developments creating more than 20 units.
  • I am a large master development with an approved Developer Agreement with the City
    • May apply. The terms of the Developer Agreement would dictate whether the fee applies or not.

Office

  • I’m building a new 100,000 square foot office building
    • Applies. Would apply to new office development, similar to the existing Transit Impact Development Fee.
  • I'm proposing to expand my office by 10,000 square feet into another part of an existing office building.
    • Does not apply. Only applies to new construction, building additions, and changes of use.  Since this would be changing from one office tenant to another office tenant, it would not change the use.
  • I'm proposing a new floor in an existing building that will expand the building by 10,000 square feet.
    • Applies. Would apply to building additions of 800 square feet or more.
  • I'm proposing to convert an auto-body shop into office space.
    • Applies. This would be considered a change of use, from industrial use to office use, which has a higher fee rate. You would pay the difference between the two rates.

Retail

  • I’m a small business that will move into an existing retail space.
    • Does not apply. The fee would only apply to new construction, building additions, or changes of use.
  • I’m a small business that will build a new 4,000 square foot space for my store.
    • Does not apply. The fee does not apply to small businesses under 5,000 square feet.
  • I’m building a new building for a Starbucks
    • Applies. Formula retail would be subject to the fee.
  • I’m building a new development with housing units above ground-floor storefronts.
    • Probably applies. The fee only applies to the residential component of the development on the upper floors if 20 or more new units are being created. The fee will likely apply to the ground floor commercial space depending on the uses that existed on the property prior to development.

Nonprofits -- This Legislation Does Not Change Anything In Current Practice Other Than Apply the Development Fee To Large Private Universities

  • I’m a nonprofit that is moving into an existing office space
    • Does not apply. The fee would only apply to new construction, building additions, or changes of use. Going from one office tenant to another office or institutional tenant would not be a change of use.
  • I’m a nonprofit that will build a new facility for my headquarters
    • Does not apply, except for major private universities, if the nonprofit also owns the land.
  • I’m a nonprofit that will rent space that was previously an auto-body shop and convert it into office space for my headquarters.
    • Applies.  Like the existing fee, the new fee would apply to a change of use for all users, including nonprofits that don’t also own the land. This would be a change of use from industrial to office space.
  • I’m a nonprofit, private high school that will build a new campus building.
    • Does not apply. Nonprofits, including private high schools, that own and develop land would be exempt from the fee. The fee only applies to nonprofit schools (K-12) if they don’t own the land, as with the current fee.

Medical / Health Care

  • I'm a hospital system proposing a new 200,000 square foot hospital.
    • Does not apply. Hospitals are exempt through at least 2030. The Board would have to pass legislation to apply the fee to hospitals at that time.

Universities

  • I'm a private university proposing a new 200,000 square foot campus building
    • Applies. The fee would apply to all new developments for large university systems.
  • I’m a private university with over 50,000 square feet of space in total, proposing a new 20,000 foot campus building
    • Applies. The fee would apply to all new developments for large university systems.
  • I’m a public university proposing a new 200,000 square foot campus building
    • Does not apply. Public universities are exempt from the fee.

CEQA Reform

On March 3, 2016, the San Francisco Planning Commission adopted a resolution to move forward with state-proposed guidelines that modernize the way City officials measure the transportation impacts of new development. This will remove automobile delay as a significant impact on the environment and replace it with a vehicle miles traveled threshold for all CEQA environmental determinations, including active projects, going forward.

Since the 1950's, analysis of transportation impacts was often determined solely by something called Level of Service (LOS). Developed largely for analyzing traffic capacity on highways as opposed to environmental effects, LOS is an outdated and flawed approach that was expensive to calculate, did little to benefit the environment, and promoted urban sprawl rather than smart infill growth.

California and San Francisco set out to establish a modernized environmental planning process that takes a more universal approach to how we calculate the effects of transportation. This will ensure that when we assess the impacts of projects, we are better equipped to recognize the effects they have on the transportation system and associated outcomes, such as whether a project encourages more people to travel long distances in a car, or if it provides safe and effective alternatives to driving.

Vehicle Miles Traveled

chart of vehicle miles travelled in San Franciscochart of vehicle miles travelled in Bay AreaVehicle miles traveled per person (or per capita) is a measurement of the amount and distance that a resident, employee, or visitor drives, accounting for the number of passengers within a vehicle. Many interdependent factors affect the amount and distance a person might drive.

In particular, the built environment affects how many places a person can access within a given distance, time, and cost, using different ways of travels (e.g., private vehicle, public transit, bicycling, walking, etc.).

Typically, low-density development located at great distances from other land uses and in areas with few options for ways of travel provides less access than a location with high density, mix of land uses, and numerous ways of travel. Therefore, low-density development typically generates more VMT compared to development located in urban areas. 

Given these travel behavior factors, on average, persons living or working in San Francisco result in lower amounts of VMT per person than persons living or working elsewhere in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area region. In addition, on average, persons living or working in some areas of San Francisco result in lower amounts of VMT per person than persons living or working elsewhere in San Francisco.

Frequently Asked Questions

Background on CEQA Transportation Analysis

With the adoption of the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008 (Senate Bill 375), the state made its commitment to encourage land use and transportation planning decisions that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled, as required by the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006(Assembly Bill 32).

On Sept. 27, 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown signed California Senate Bill 743, which determined that new practices are needed for evaluating transportation impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act, also known as CEQA, that are “better able to promote the state’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and traffic-related air pollution, promoting the development of a multimodal transportation system, and providing clean, efficient access to destinations.” Helping move that process forward, SB 743 added Chapter 2.7, Modernization of Transportation Analysis for Transit-Oriented Infill Projects, to Division 13 (Section 21099) of the Public Resources Code.

Section 21099 of the California Environmental Quality Act requires the Office of Planning and Research, the state’s long-range planning and research agency, to develop revisions to the CEQA Guidelines establishing criteria for determining the significance of transportation impacts of projects within transit priority areas that promote the “…reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the development of multimodal transportation networks, and a diversity of land uses.” Section 21099 states that upon adoption of the revisions to the CEQA Guidelines, automobile delay, as described solely by level of service or similar measures of vehicular capacity or traffic congestion, shall not be considered a significant impact on the environment under CEQA.

Since December 2013, the Office of Planning and Research and the Secretary of natural Resources Agency published several documents to implement Senate Bill 743 and the associated CEQA Guidelines:

  1. Current CEQA Guidelines Update
  2. CEQA: The California Environmental Quality Act

The documents indicate that the primary consideration in transportation environmental analysis should be the amount and distance that the project might cause people to drive. Accordingly, the state proposes that the level of service metric be replaced with a vehicle miles traveled metric, also known as VMT.

Given the negative effects the results of environmental impact analysis can have on beneficial projects in San Francisco and that the change is imminent statewide, San Francisco moved ahead of the state in implementing this change. A resolution adopted by the Planning Commission on March 3, 2016 removed automobile delay as a significant impact on the environment and replaced with a vehicle miles traveled threshold for all CEQA environmental determinations.

The Transportation Sustainability Program is a joint effort between the San Francisco Planning Department, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority,  and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Wade Wietgrefe, AICP
Principal Planner, San Francisco Planning
wade.wietgrefe@sfgov.org

Rachel Schuett
Transportation Planner, San Francisco Planning
rachel.schuett@sfgov.org

Carli Paine
TDM Manager, SFMTA
carli.paine@sfmta.org

Warren Logan
Senior Transportation Planner, SFCTA
warren.logan@sfcta.org