Remember how Supervisors Scott Wiener and Jane Kim were expressing some concern a couple months ago about the Mayor's Office's assurances that the rooftop park at the new Transbay Transit Center would be fully funded? Their concerns were that Mello-Roos funds (a special assessment agreed to by developers in the Transbay district) would be tapped and therefore take funds away from the planned DTX, the downtown rail extension project that is necessary to connect both CalTrain and the eventual High-Speed Rail line to the transit hub. Now, as Streetsblog reports, those concerns are proving more urgent as the Supervisors are getting ready to approve the Mello-Roos assessment district, and developers in the area are fighting to reduce the amount they will be taxed.
The Supes have delayed their vote on the district until next week, though it was originally scheduled for tomorrow, because, as Kim says, "We wanted additional time to be able to brief all of the offices on this issue, but also talk to the multiple parties involved."
At issue are the city's methodology for calculating the assessments, and the rising values of property in the area, meaning that developers could be on the hook for $1.4 billion in special assessments.
Of course, the city needs all that money to build the DTX, which was the whole point. Developers agreed to be assessed in exchange for the ability to build taller buildings than would have previously been allowed. Also, there's still the issue of $37 million needed for the rooftop park.
The developers are saying that things have changed since the district plan was originally approved, and therefore they should be granted an exception, i.e. the ability to pay less money into the fund.
Here's a moment where Wiener gets to show himself to be less of the developer-coddling centrist that some might think he is.
“We all like ‘compromise,’ we all like ‘consensus,’” said Supervisor Scott Wiener. “But in this scenario, what that means is that every dollar of ‘consensus’ is a dollar that’s not going to the downtown extension. And then we’re left with a very expensive bus station with no train service — or, at least, it’s going to take a heck of a lot longer to get there.”