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Bill requires cities to collect fees

California’s development impact fees were designed to help communities pay for the needs of new growth.

The Mitigation Fee Act went into effect in 1989 after legislators approved it the year before. The law, also referred to as Assembly Bill 1600, requires local governments to collect fees from new developments. Those fees are supposed to be used to pay for capital improvements that soften the impact of new development.

The money is not supposed to be used to maintain existing infrastructure or correct existing deficiencies.



However, the law does not require governments to use the money collected by a specific landowner to pay for a specific mitigation. Instead, the money goes into a pot to pay for any project in its category.

Impact fees currently are collected for improvements in roads, water, sewerage, drainage, fire protection, police service, city administration and parks and recreation.




Each new development is expected to pay according to the amount of impact that it has on city infrastructure.

When the City of Grass Valley approved its General Plan in 1999, planners looked ahead to where the city would grow and what impact that growth would have on city services. They also projected what improvements would be needed to serve that growth and how much the improvements would cost.

The result is called the capital improvement plan.

Out of the capital improvement plan, projects that were most urgently needed were included in a program to collect mitigation fees to pay for them over the next 20 years. That money goes into a pot: the capital improvement fund.

In 1996, Grass Valley also started collecting impact fees to pay for the traffic impacts of local projects that draw motorists from throughout the region.

A recent traffic study by the Nevada County Transportation Commission showed that roughly 29 percent of the traffic in the Grass Valley-Nevada City urban area comes from outside the area.

The City of Grass Valley last updated its impact fees in 2001 to account for the rising costs of growth-related improvements.

New impact fees were approved in November for fire and police services and already are in effect. New fees for city administration and parks and recreation go into effect this month.

On March 28, city staff will present new draft fees for water, sewerage and drainage. The most controversial ” on new fees for local traffic impacts ” is expected to go before the City Council this summer.

This month, council members also approved buying a computerized traffic model that will help engineers forecast future traffic in the city. They will work out new projects to address that traffic and adjust the traffic fees again to pay for them. Officials expect that process to take about a year.

In addition, the county Transportation Commission is updating county impact fees. Those fees are collected on new construction in the unincorporated areas, as well as in Grass Valley, Nevada City and Truckee.

Regional traffic impact fees can be used to pay for growth-related improvements in any of those areas.

The draft of new regional fees is expected to go before the Transportation Commission in June.


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