Spring is upon us, and with it, the buzz of activity throughout Riverside and Imperial Counties abounds. The development community continues to see a push from jurisdictions to bring forward new fees. While permit numbers seem stable, it should be noted that that this level of growth is still relatively small, only last year, surpassing numbers seen in the worst years of the 1990s. With this in mind, the BIA Government Affairs Team is working hard to engage jurisdictions on a wide range of issues impacting the building industry. Though it is relatively early in the year, we find our team busy in both counties fighting fee increases.
User Fees / Development Impact Fees
The cities of Banning, Norco, Corona, and Canyon Lake all have User Fee Studies out for review. Most of the above-mentioned jurisdictions expressed a desire to adopt these fee increases prior to the end of last year. However, after BIA review of the studies, along with a submission of comments and questions to the jurisdictions, every city postponed adoption of the fees in order to engage in further dialogue with the BIA. That being said, most of these jurisdictions are intent on adopting these User Fee increases prior to the beginning of June.
Currently the City of Jurupa Valley has a DIF Study out for review. The BIA Government Affairs team is currently reviewing the study. As written, the proposed DIF Study does not seem to be of great concern, except for the fact that it is missing a transportation component, the omission of which suggests that the Industry is in for a concerning number once produced. Outside of Jurupa Valley, there are two other jurisdictions - San Jacinto and Coachella, that have indicated they will be looking to introduce a DIF in the coming year. No tentative date for release of these nexus studies have been provided.
School Facility Needs Analysis Studies
Spring is a frenzied time for School Districts intent on passing Level II School Fees. Accordingly, we have seen many School Facility Needs Analysis (SFNA) Studies sent our way for review. Thankfully, two School Districts that normally pursue Level II Fees - San Jacinto Unified and Val Verde, have indicated that they would not be pursuing Level II funding this year. This brings their fees down from $4.11 and $4.69 to the Level I fee of $3.79. The lower fee levels indicate that enrollment is declining in both Districts; but be assured that given their history of loose interpretation of Level II requirements, the minute these Districts feel they can impose the higher fee charge, they will do so. The BIA Government Affairs team continues to monitor these agencies closely.
Imperial Unified School District has indicated that they are going to continue to pursue Level II funding, increasing their fee from $4.57 - $4.93. We have submitted the School Facilities Needs Analysis study to our consultant to determine if the justifications presented by the District are valid. The proposed hearing date for the increase fee will take place in early May.
Also in May, Riverside Unified School District is looking to pass another increase to their Level II School fee. Currently the District collects a fee of $4.10 per square foot and they are looking to pass an increase which would bring their fee to $4.25 per square foot. The BIA is in the process of validating the study provided by the District and will argue against the District raising this fee during the ongoing housing crisis.