Developer fee to be debated

The Costa Mesa City Council on Tuesday is scheduled to examine the amount it charges developers for the burden their projects place on local infrastructure.

Since 2005, the city has charged a one-time fee that takes into account the average daily trips generated by a new or expanding project, whether it's commercial, industrial or residential. The collected fees then help fund any needed transportation upgrades caused by the development.

The daily trip average is determined by city staff using mathematical formulas.

Smaller projects, because they generate less traffic, have lower fees. The fee maximum is $181 per trip, if the project averages more than 100 trips daily. Projects that would generate 25 trips or fewer pay no fee.

The fee was first adopted in 1993 and is reviewed yearly. At one point

it was ruled that the fee could be as high as $300 or as low as $164. However, the $181 maximum has been in place since 2005, a few years after the city's General Plan was updated.

The majority of a seven-person ad-hoc committee formed to assess the subject — whose membership includes Mayor Jim Righeimer, Colin McCarthy of the Planning Commission, developer George Sakioka and Ed Fawcett of the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce — is recommending that the trip fee setup remain the same.

Staff members say that imposing the fee makes Costa Mesa eligible for Measure M money, the countywide, voter-approved sales tax for transportation improvements.

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