County supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to reduce the fee charged to appeal development decisions from $1,785 to $760.
The action grew out of complaints from environmental activist Sherry Meddick, who maintained that the larger fee stifled public participation in major land-use decisions by making challenges to those decisions too expensive.
During the summer, supervisors had almost tripled the appeal fee as part of an effort to reduce the cost of operating county government. County departments are establishing new fees to cover the costs of services such as issuing building permits, conducting background checks for licenses and making legally required inspections.
Complaints about the increases have also come from masseurs and masseuses, whose license fees would be raised from $398 to $939 under a Sheriff’s Department proposal. In that case, the supervisors have postponed putting the higher fee into effect while the county staff determines whether it is appropriate.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Harriett M. Wieder, who sponsored the proposal calling for the reduction of the fee for development appeals, said in a letter to her colleagues Tuesday that the Environmental Management Agency calculated the higher fee on “a straight-average basis” that included very complex appeals. The lower fee, the letter said, was based on the cost of a typical appeal.