Despite Protest, Placentia Building Fees Jump 41%

Over the objections of a Building Industry Assn. representative, the City Council on Tuesday approved a 41% increase in building permit fees.

"Our industry does recognize that fees are a necessary part of business, but our members that are building in the city of Placentia were not really informed of the magnitude of the fee increase," said Kelly Sylvester, director of community affairs for the Orange County Building Industry Assn.

"Our members want an explanation and a justification for why it would just be an automatic 41% fee increase," Sylvester said.

Council members provided an explanation and also approved the second reading of the city's revised Uniform Building Code that increases a range of building-related fees.

City Development Director Joyce Rosenthal said the city has not increased building fees since 1985. When compared to other Orange County cities, Placentia has "relatively low" fees that are in line with state guidelines even after the increase, Rosenthal said.

"If we had increased it gradually on our own over the years, we wouldn't have the 41% increase there is now," Rosenthal said. "After 10 years, we feel like there should be a raise."

City Administrator Robert D'Amato said local builders can apply for building permits at the lower rate until Dec. 31. "We've informed them of that," D'Amato said. "Whether they choose to take advantage of that is certainly up to them."

Councilman Michael L. Maertzweiler, who was succeeded as mayor Tuesday night by Councilwoman Carol Downey, said it was unfortunate the city had not made a more gradual rate increase over the years.

"I know it's not necessarily fair, but I think it's important that we adopt the most current standards of the building code," Maertzweiler said. "It's unfortunate that it carries various fee increases, but I don't know what we can do about it."

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