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Council to Address Blue Bus Revenue, Development Agreement Compliance  

By Lookout Staff

September 23, 2010 --The City Council on Tuesday will discuss proposals by City staff on how to increase revenue for the Big Blue Bus. The municipal transit service had been operating on a deficit that was covered by the City’s General Fund. The deficit was eliminated by the recent fare increase. But this will only cover the imbalance through 2013, according to the City.

City staff has proposed five options to increase revenue. One is to lease land for development on City-owned sites. The staff report mentions as possibilities the Blue Bus employee parking lot on Colorado Avenue between Sixth and Seventh Streets and the areas near the future Expo Light Rail Stations at Bergamot Station and Colorado Avenue/Fourth Street.

“The City would either need to determine the type of development it would like to see on the site, or offer the site to the development community to propose uses consistent with the (General Plan’s Land Use and Circulation Element, or LUCE),” the staff report states. “A request for a development proposal could include specific criteria including requests for LEED certification, developments that provide for high employment generation, or the like.”

Another option is digital advertising on buses. The staff report states that digital ads will allow for greater flexibility and increased customization. According to the report, the maximum revenue potential for the existing static signs is $4.1 million. For digital signs, it could be as high as $16.5 million.

“A restaurant could buy time from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. to promote their breakfast special and additional time in the evening to promote a dinner special,” the staff report states. “In addition, increased advertising real estate offers greater public benefit by allowing more space for public service announcements or city sponsored events. For example, concerts on the pier could be added to the rotation and could change weekly to promote just that week’s headliner.”

There could be legal issues with the digital advertising due to the California Vehicle Code’s section on light-emitting signs. The California Transit Association has said it will work to advocate for modifications.

Other options include fees from new developments, increased parking citation fines and use of photo IDs for employer passes to reduce fraud and properly record use for precise reimbursement.

Also on the agenda for Tuesday is the review of compliance reports for 12 development agreements. City staff had reported in May that four development agreements were in full compliance and the other eight were not. The staff report for Tuesday’s meeting says an additional three developments are now in compliance. They are the Water Garden, Arboretum, and MTV. The report gives a “compliance schedule” for the other five developments, which are Saint John’s Health Center, Yahoo Center, Maguire Thomas, Sheraton Delphina and mixed-used developments at 1541 and 1733 Ocean Avenue.

Also on the agenda is a contract to purchase homes for the City-owned Mountain View Mobile Home Park. This is a controversial item because the council had rejected a previous staff proposal due to its inclusion of a company out of Arizona. The City has a boycott against businesses from that State due to Arizona’s illegal immigration enforcement law. See: City Reaches Tentative Deal for Mobile Homes, Avoiding Arizona Business, September 22, 2010



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