Cal City to slash cost of plan re­views

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - By ALLISON GATLIN Val­ley Press Staff Writer

CAL­I­FOR­NIA CITY — In the hopes of help­ing to spur hous­ing con­struc­tion and to en­sure charges re­flect the ac­tual costs of pro­vid­ing ser­vices, the City Coun­cil on Jan. 14 agreed to re­duce the fee it charges to re­view plans for hous­ing de­vel­op­ments in which a sin­gle floor plan de­sign is used over mul­ti­ple in­di­vid­ual homes.

These mas­ter res­i­den­tial plan sets have been charged at 65% of the build­ing per­mit fee. But be­cause so many pages of the plans are iden­ti­cal, they take as much as 75% less staff time to in­spect and re­view, Se­nior Build­ing Of­fi­cial Joe Bar­ra­gan said.

Dur­ing the build­ing boom in the early 2000s, the city was charg­ing 50% of the build­ing per­mit fees, al­though the fee was not in

writ­ing any­where in the city records, he said.

To bring the costs bet­ter in line with the staff time ded­i­cated to the process, staff pro­posed re­duc­ing the plan re­view fee for these mas­ter plan sets to 16.25% of the build­ing per­mit fee.

In the past decade or so, the fee was not an is­sue be­cause the city has not had hous­ing de­vel­op­ments to re­view as build­ing has been very lim­ited. How­ever, the city is now start­ing to re­ceive mas­ter plans for re­view, Bar­ra­gan said.

Mayor Chuck McGuire wanted to hold off on chang­ing any fees un­til the Coun­cil ad­dresses re­vi­sions to the city’s mas­ter fee sched­ule. The mas­ter fee sched­ule is a list­ing of all fees the city charges for ser­vices across de­part­ments.

“I think the mas­ter fee sched­ule should lead be­fore we do any re­duc­tions.

It hasn’t been ad­dressed and it doesn’t seem right to me,” he said.

Bar­ra­gan said those re­vi­sions to the mas­ter fee sched­ule are ex­pected to be pre­sented to the Coun­cil for the Jan. 28 meet­ing.

“Right now, we don’t have any large de­vel­op­ments that are con­crete… but I think if we can legally do this, this would spur an in­ter­est in large developmen­t in our com­mu­nity,” Coun­cilmem­ber Ron Smith said.

“Where I’m a con­ser­va­tive, I be­lieve we need to be pro­gres­sive in pur­su­ing ev­ery le­git­i­mate rev­enue stream we have,” he said. “I think it would be good for our com­mu­nity if we could legally do that.”

The Coun­cil may legally re­duce fees with­out hold­ing a pub­lic hear­ing, City Man­ager Anna Linn said.

Busi­ness­man D.J. Twohig said there are many im­ped­i­ments to developmen­t in Cal City and that steps the city has taken al­ready to ac­com­mo­date the build­ing in­dus­try are see­ing re­sults.

While this move alone would not re­move all ob­sta­cles, Twohig said it would help make developmen­t within the city more at­trac­tive.

Plan­ning Com­mis­sion Chair­man Jim Creighton agreed with McGuire in that it should wait for the mas­ter fee sched­ule re­view, be­cause two weeks would not make any real dif­fer­ence in terms of the fee re­duc­tion’s ef­fects.

With am­biva­lence from the other two Coun­cil mem­bers, Smith moved to go ahead and ap­prove the re­duc­tion right away, rather than wait two weeks.

“I don’t see it neg­a­tively af­fect­ing and the mas­ter fee sched­ule can ad­dress this,” he said.

The fee re­duc­tion passed unan­i­mously, al­though McGuire made note he re­luc­tantly voted in its fa­vor.

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