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Yuba looks to cash in on new construction
A sampling of fees and how they would change under an initial proposal Yuba County supervisors heard this week:
• Based on an hourly rate of $138, up from $105 as set in 2005.
• Putting a new roof on a home, $342.82 to $379.50.
• Tentative parcel map review by planning, $3,320 to $2,760.
• Lot line adjustment review by planning, $210 to $345.
• New water well, $354 to $414.
After not adjusting fees for development since the last decade's housing boom, Yuba County is beginning the process to mostly increase them to reflect actual costs, just as interest in development is picking up again.
Supervisors could see an ordinance change on development fees later this month, as the Community Development and Services Agency tries to keep the costs of processing projects as self-sustaining as possible.
Community Development Director Kevin Mallen told supervisors at a workshop on fee adjustments earlier this week that Yuba County is unique among neighboring counties because it doesn't draw on the General Fund to pay for his agency's costs.
But that means adjusting some fees upward, while simultaneously overhauling aspects of fees to help applicants understand them and get them paid more quickly.
"Sometimes it gets difficult when you get in there and there's a line," board Chairman Andy Vasquez said after Mallen's presentation. "I commend you on streamlining this."
Among the agencies under Community Development where fees may be adjusted are code enforcement, environmental health, building inspection and public works and surveying.
County officials have noticed an uptick in interest in development in recent months. Home prices have stabilized and are rising in many cases, and Magnolia Ranch, a large housing project east of Highway 65, could be ready for development by early next year.
In some cases, Mallen said, the fees need to be adjusted because while his agency has fewer employees than when the fees were set in 2005 — about 90 now, down from 150 — the per-employee cost has risen, with health care 80 percent more expensive and pension costs 40 percent higher.
Supervisors who heard the rationale, though, said they wanted some clarification on some aspects. Supervisor Roger Abe, for example, said while the revised fees explained what a solar project would cost, nothing covered the cost for putting up a windmill, for example.
"They're going to say, 'I don't see anything in here, so I don't have to pay,'" he said.
And Supervisor John Nicoletti, who teaches cooking classes at Yuba College, said given the small margins between operating costs and revenues for restaurants, he worried start-up fees would be set too high. Mallen said restaurant operators would have the option of paying fees over six months rather than all at once.
A vote on changing fees could come before the board May 18. If approved, the new fee schedule would take effect July 1.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at bvandermeer @appealdemocrat.com or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.