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San Clemente : City Is First to Approve Freeway Fees Program

The City Council has formally ratified agreements with the county and nine other cities for a funding scheme under which fees collected from developers will be used to help pay for proposed new freeway systems.

The action came on a 4-1 vote last Wednesday after a two-hour hearing and made San Clemente the first Orange County city to ratify a joint-powers agreement with the county Traffic Commission.

The agreement is aimed at the eventual construction of three transportation corridors that developers and several officials say are needed to alleviate traffic congestion in Orange County.

Under the plan, the cities will charge developers $1,010 to $1,305 for new residential dwellings and between $1.30 and $1.75 per square-foot for new commercial buildings. Construction currently under way will not be affected.

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Although San Clemente formally adopted the developer fee system, the council opted to delay the actual collection of the fees until after other cities formally join the joint-powers authority and begin charging the fees themselves.

City Manager Jim Hendrickson said that for San Clemente to collect the developer fees in advance of other cities would place “an unfair burden” on San Clemente residents and builders.

The vote in San Clemente followed by one day a similar decision in neighboring San Juan Capistrano, whose City Council last Tuesday approved the joint-powers agreement but voted to delay final adoption of the fee structure.

The vote in San Juan Capistrano to delay by one month a final decision on levying developer fees came after a brief public hearing in which several residents criticized the funding plan.

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However, a spokesman for the Orange County Transportation Commission said San Juan Capistrano must agree to the fee program in order to have a say in how and where the freeways are built, because the joint-powers agreements are a “package deal.”


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