While it is not quite Spring, the temperatures and fee fights throughout Riverside County are quickly warming up as 2018 gets underway. The development community continues to see increases in permit activity, however, permit activity throughout Riverside County is only now reaching numbers on par with the worst years of the 1990’s, a time universally acknowledged to have been one of the most devastating recessions for the industry. With a perceived improvement in permit activity, comes a push from jurisdictions to bring forward new fees. There are currently several cities, agencies and special districts in the process of considering the adoption of new fee studies. Of note, the cities of Cathedral City, Lake Elsinore, along with Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District (EVMWD) and Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) are high on the BIA’s radar.
Cathedral City: In mid-2017, the City Council began discussion on inclusionary zoning. Despite protest from the BIA, a Special Subcommittee was formed to determine a way of implementing an affordable housing ordinance in Cathedral City. The BIA sits on this Subcommittee and has provided a list of legal alternatives to inclusionary zoning that will incentivize affordable housing projects instead of mandates. In addition to the prospect of inclusionary zoning, the City recently began discussions on the possibility of introducing a mandatory solar ordinance. In both these cases, the BIA has voiced its strong objection to these proposals and suggest that the City incorporate market driven policies designed to stimulate development in their community.
Lake Elsinore Area: In 2015 the City of Lake Elsinore notified the BIA of their intention to bring forward a new Development Impact Fee (DIF) study. Though the DIF study was successfully postponed, it is expected to be brought forward again in 2018. No official date has been set for bringing forward the new study, but the Government Affairs Team continues to closely monitor the jurisdiction. It should also be noted that EVMWD, which covers the cities of Lake Elsinore, Canyon Lake, Wildomar and portions of Murrieta, has recently introduced a fee study which proposes a $4,353 increase in fees. The BIA and our consultants are reviewing EVMWD’s proposed fee study.
Coachella Valley Association of Governments: In early 2017 the BIA was notified that CVAG was undertaking a new Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fee Nexus Study. An initial Technical Memorandum produced by CVAG, proposed a dramatic fee increase of over $7,000 per Single Family Dwelling Unit, a 390% increase over their current $1,800 fee. At the urging of the BIA, the proposed project list was dramatically reduced. CVAG is now in the process of preparing a new Nexus Study and estimates that their adjusted fee will be approximately $2,151, a 17% increase over what the agency currently collects. The BIA is prepared to review the new study once it is released.
In conclusion, 2018 promises to be a busy year on the Government Affairs front. Your BIA Government Affairs team will continue to advocate on behalf of the industry by meeting with elected officials and staff from the jurisdictions named above. As changes occur, we will be sure to inform you of any updates that may impact your projects.