Right call made to review fees | TheUnion.com

Right call made to review fees

The Grass Valley City Council took a prudent step Tuesday night when it decided to postpone a vote that would have dramatically increased development impact fees on new commercial buildings.

The proposal would have increased fees from $100,248.95 to $237,724.32, an increase of 137 percent, for the new Moule Paint & Glass building on East Main Street. Most of those higher fees – $210,978 – would have gone to either local road projects or for regional traffic fees.

The building fees for a proposed 25,000-square-foot medical building would have jumped from $127,823 to $425,573, or an increase of 233 percent. The traffic and road fees would have increased from $85,974 to $375,491 in this case.

The development impact fees for a new home, meanwhile, were scheduled to go from $11,635 to $14,009, or an increase of 25 percent. Traffic and road fees would increase from $1,086 to $4,219 in that scenario.

These proposals seem to spring from the premise that even longtime existing businesses like Moule’s are responsible for the increase in traffic in Grass Valley. It does not seem to reflect the reality that many newcomers choose to move here to take advantage of our remarkable quality of life.

The businesses and offices, therefore, are expanding or coming here to meet the increased demand generated by growth. It’s also in the interest of the city to have local businesses that try to meet our growing needs or we will see more people leaving the county to shop, which will cost local government much-needed revenue to meet the costs that come with growth.

In the end, the community needs a more balanced development impact fee schedule. Not only should those who choose to build new homes have to pay a greater share of the costs associated with growth, but those who build the largest homes should have to pay even a greater share.

It’s unfair to ask small business owners to pay the lion’s share of the cost of growth. The higher fees could discourage them from expanding while at the same time attract the chains that can afford the higher development costs, which in the end might attract even more traffic to our streets.

In addition, it might be time for Grass Valley, Nevada City and Nevada County to consider a more regional approach for development fees. An estimated 82 percent of Grass Valley’s traffic is generated by nonresidents who travel here to shop and enjoy our cultural amenities. As someone recently pointed out, this area is like a large cul-de-sac at the end of Highway 49 and most of our high-traffic arteries cross city and county boundaries.

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