City triples parks fees for developers
Tucked into the initial selling price of new homes and condominiums built in Yorba Linda is the developer's cost to comply with city regulations requiring dedication of land or payment of fees to support acquisition of new parkland or improvement of existing parks.
In recent times, most developers have paid “in-lieu” fees for each single-family home and condominium or apartment unit they've built. Beginning later this month the fees will more than triple, based on a recent unanimous City Council decision.
The fee for a new single-family home will jump from $1,902 to $6,020, while the fee for each unit in a new condominium or apartment project will rise from $1,212 to $3,860, representing the first boost since 2002.
Fees are determined by a formula involving acreage, fair market value and average population per dwelling unit, as allowed by 1965 state legislation--the Quimby Act--that cities began using in earnest after voters approved property tax limitations with Proposition 13 in 1978.
State legislators have amended the Quimbly Act several times, including an October change that allows fees to be used for parks in neighborhoods other than the one in which the developer's project is located, if certain strict conditions are met.
Fees are paid directly to the city by developers “prior to the issuance of any residential building permit,” notes a new council-adopted ordinance, and the fees must be committed for use within five years or refunded to lot owners under Quimby requirements.
A longtime city policy, adopted by a 1972 council, sets a city standard of four acres of parkland per 1,000 in population, with two acres per 1,000 satisfied by school district-owned fields. That leaves two acres per 1,000 to be used in the formula establishing the fees charged developers.
According to figures from the city's Parks and Recreation department, Yorba Linda now has 2.22 acres of neighborhood and community parkland per 1,000 residents--nearly 142 acres--or 3.38 acres per 1,000--nearly 217 acres--when about 75 acres of school land is counted.
Along with adopting the fee increase, council directed city staffers “to bring back at the earliest possible time,” an increase in the parkland formula from two to three acres per 1,000 residents.
And council approved a revised policy that includes an annual review of the city's “in-lieu” fees.
Still, with the tripling of fees, Yorba Linda is in the lower mid-range of 17 Orange County cities surveyed by city officials, running from $3,125 in Los Alamitos to $26,125 in Newport Beach for single-family homes. Multi-family project fees run from $3,810 in Placentia to $13,829 in Costa Mesa for each condominium or apartment unit in a seven-city survey.
Some cynics say such fees are actually taxes on new development, but using the term “fee increase” rather than “tax hike” is less apt to anger voters.