Increasing vehicle traffic is a major concern in Boca Raton. Objective and anecdotal evidence suggests that traffic congestion in the City has become worse and is a trend that will continue. This article examines the effect of Boca’s high-density residential development on traffic and advocates urgent action to create and execute plans to reverse the worsening trend.
Boca Residents’ Vehicle Use is increasing
According to the US Census Bureau, residents of Boca Raton are increasing their use of cars, trucks and vans for commuting. See the following graphic.
Measures to Limit Traffic Increases in Boca Seem to Have Failed
In 2010 Boca Raton passed an ordinance titled “Planned Mobility Development” (PMD) that allowed developers to increase the density of multi-family developments. In consideration of this, development design was to provide incentives for residents to decrease use of vehicles. Although the ordinance was adopted in 2010, the first PMD wasn’t approved until 2013. For more information on PMD’s see our BocaMatters Interview with local attorney Steve Utrecht.
The following chart is a current snapshot of the multifamily dwelling unit (DU) situation in Boca Raton since 2013. Out of all of the developments approved and occupied since 2013, 1,230 are in PMD developments and 239 are not. Considering U.S. Government data showing an increasing trend in Boca resident vehicle commuters, PMD and other measures to limit traffic in Boca Raton seem to have failed.
Almost 5,000 More Apartments, Condos and Hotel Rooms are in the Pipeline for Boca
Regarding the future, the above chart also shows that developments with another 3,673 DU’s are approved and are in planning or construction, but are not occupied yet. Additionally, developments with 1,107 DU’s are working their way toward approval. That’s a pipeline of 4,780 DU’s worth of future occupancy and commuters.
Based on the US Census Bureau’s data in the previous commuter chart, a large increase in Boca Raton residents’ use of vehicles since 2010 occurred with 1,469 DU’s coming on-line starting in 2013. This does not bode well for the future traffic situation in Boca Raton with another 4,780 DU’s in the pipeline for development.
A recommendation is for the City to use the data provided by the US Census Bureau to develop goals for reversing the trend of residents’ increasing vehicle usage. Plans can then be made for meeting these goals. With all of the new DU’s coming on-line, continued increased resident vehicle usage will negatively impact residents’ quality of life unless urgent measures are taken to fix this problem.
The Proposed Brightline Station Complex will add even more Dwelling Units and more Boca Traffic
Note that the Boca Raton Brightline station complex is not included in any of the DU’s in the pipeline since designs have not been formally proposed to the City. A recommendation is that before approval of any Brightline station funding by the City, goals, plans and budget be adopted by the City to reverse the above vehicle use trend and assure that the station complex will not result in increased vehicle traffic in the City.