A plan tentatively approved by the Torrance City Council this week to raise user fees charged by the city’s Planning, Building and Engineering departments would increase the cost of permits needed to build a new house in Torrance by about 70% over the next three years.
The 44 new and increased user fees discussed Tuesday night vary from permits to modify building plans to fees to install a satellite dish. The increases would vary depending on the service provided and rise incrementally over three years.
It now costs $3,292 for the 21 permits needed to build a 2,700-square-foot single-family house valued at $182,800, the city staff reported. Under the plan, the same permits would cost $4,619 in the first year, $5,141 in the second and $5,664 in the third.
The 19 permits needed to build a 30,000-square-foot retail store valued at $1 million now cost $9,149. Under the plan, the permits would cost $10,195 in the first year, $11,629 in the second and $13,021 in the third.
Further raising the cost of residential development, the council also approved in concept a plan to charge a $750 fee for every new unit built and use the proceeds for parks and development of open land. The fee would collect $60,000 to $80,000 annually for the city, officials said.
Tuesday night’s discussion came at the second of three weekly meetings at which the council is announcing and tentatively approving proposals to set or increase user fees for 109 city services. Last week, the council gave preliminary approval to 19 user fees. Another 46 are on the agenda for March 14.
Final approval of the new fee schedule is expected at council meetings March 21, March 28 and April 4.
The council wants to raise revenue by making users pay more of the cost of many city services. If approved, the increases and new fees for the 109 services would raise about $2 million more than the $2.6 million now collected annually by the city, according to a report released in January by David M. Griffith & Associates Ltd., a Sacramento-based consulting firm.
In the Planning, Engineering and Building departments, the city staff has recommended that the council adopt fees to recover 59% of the city’s cost to review developers’ plans, 100% of its cost for engineering inspections and 100% of its cost to enforce building regulations.
If approved, the new user fees in the three departments would raise about $400,000 next year and $648,000 in the third year, officials said.
City Finance Director Mary Giordano said the most frequently used services discussed Tuesday are precise plan reviews and conditional-use permits. Last year, the city made 60 precise plan reviews and issued 70 conditional-use permits, she said.
Under the plan, the fee for a precise plan review would rise from $547 to $1,200 in the third year and for a conditional-use permit from $547 to $1,000.
The city has also proposed increasing the fee for a zoning change from $602 to $1,000 and for a parking-lot sale from $57 to $150.
Last year, the city allocated about $8.9 million to provide user-fee services. It collected $2.6 million in fees and subsidized the remaining $6.3 million, or 70% of the cost of the services. If the plan is approved, the city subsidy would drop to $4.3 million, or 49%.
Giordano said the Finance Department is recommending that the council approve all the increases suggested by the Griffith report.