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Burbank officials consider raising development impact fees for new projects

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The LaTerra Select Burbank project plans to have 573 apartment units, 1,067 square feet of retail space and a seven-story, 307-room hotel. Burbank planning staff will be studying projects like LaTerra as the City Council determines if it should raise its development impact fees.
(Courtesy of the City of Burbank)

Burbank officials are considering changing the city’s development impact fees to better address the ways new projects affect infrastructure and services.

The City Council held a study session Tuesday on the matter and discussed how much they should raise such fees without scaring away future residential or commercial developments.

For the record:
1:21 PM, Feb. 12, 2020 It was previously stated that Burbank does not charge developers impact fees for transportation. Burbank charges development impact fees for transportation on non-residential projects.

Beverly Wong, a senior administrative analyst for Burbank, went over the findings of a study that calculated the maximum fee the city could charge developers based on several categories, including existing and estimated future population figures, workforce size and new capital improvement projects that may be needed, to name a few.

Wong reported the city could charge impact fees of $5,316 per unit for new single-family homes and up to $4,184 for every unit in a multifamily project.

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In comparison, Burbank currently charges $2,854.05 for each new single-family home and $2,111.65 per unit for a multifamily residence.

On the commercial side, the study determined the city could charge up to $3.18 per square foot for a retail space, $5.26 per square foot for offices and $3.18 per square foot for a warehouse or industrial project.

The current city rates per square feet for retail, offices and warehouse projects are $0.95, $1.80 and $0.85, respectively.

The study also suggested charging developers up to $7,497 for a new single-family home and $3,332 per unit of a multifamily dwelling as a fee for transportation.

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Burbank currently charges developers impact fees for transportation for non-residential projects.

The fees collected from these projects, Wong said, go toward funding the necessary improvements to community facilities, such as police, fire, library and parks, as well as transportation infrastructure that are projected to be affected when the developments are completed and active.

Wong added that city staff is considering charging a fee for impacts on information technology infrastructure.

Burbank’s development impact fees were first established in 1993 and have incrementally gone up to reflect the cost of living in the city, said Simone McFarland, assistant community development director of economic development and housing.

The study also determined Burbank’s current development impact fees for residential projects were considerably lower than what neighboring municipalities like Glendale and Pasadena charge developers.

Glendale currently charges $21,828 for a new single-family home and $18,751 per unit for a multifamily project, fees that go toward park and library improvements. Glendale currently does not charge transportation impact fees.

Pasadena charges two fees for single-family homes and multifamily dwellings.

For single-family houses, Pasadena charges $25,800 to address city park needs and $9,228 for impacts on transportation. That city also charges $20,201 per unit for multifamily projects, which also goes toward parks, and $3,573 per unit as a transportation fee.

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Wong told the City Council that members need to carefully consider how much they want to raise the fees, as charging the maximum amount could discourage developers from considering Burbank for their projects.

Additionally, Wong said the council members need to factor in the impacts increased fees can have on the developer incorporating community benefits into their project.

A recently approved development that city staff will be studying is the LaTerra Select Burbank mixed-use project, which incorporated about $33 million in community benefits by way of the construction of a new park, a public elevator that would connect two streets and the repaving of the surrounding streets.

“If the city increases [development impact fees], consequently community benefits requests will need to decrease or the project will become economically infeasible,” Wong said.

As city staff prepares for another study session on the topic for a future council meeting, Vice Mayor Bob Frutos asked staff to detail the improvements that were funded by development impact fees over the last five years.

Noting residents are wary of big developments like the LaTerra Select project, Frutos said it would help people understand where the impact fees go and what they can’t be used for, as well as the community benefits that may be derived from a given project.

“I’d really like to be able to learn and get educated about exactly what public benefits were generated from these projects,” Frutos said.

The vice mayor added that development impact fees should not be raised just for the sake of approving more projects to collect funds.

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“I’m proud that we as a council are really about building better neighborhoods,” Frutos said. “I don’t ever want to be like Glendale and just build and collect money. I want there to be deep thought on any project that’s moving forward.”

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