I’d like to thank Dawn Hodson for an excellent article about the horrendous costs of building fees. Measure Y, which was intended to levy fees on developers for road impacts, was essentially a no-growth measure. If the intent of Measure Y was to punish “developers,” the measure failed, since all of the costs were passed on to customers by folding them into the final cost of the new homes.
Ultimately, the exorbitant fees in this county have destroyed not only new home construction, but have slowed potential commercial and industrial growth that could have created many new jobs in our area. When you add on the cost of water meters and sewer hookup charges, it is not unusual to see the total fees for a new home amount to $70,000 to $80,000, before a shovel of dirt is turned.
The bottom line is that families who have owned raw land parcels for many years have had their property rights, property values and dreams destroyed by these confiscatory fees. Who can afford to build in such a punitive environment? In many ways, government has taken your land from you.
I recently completed a study that showed that current home prices would have to increase by 66 percent before it would make sense for new home builders to come back into the market, begin to build “spec homes” again and make a meager 5 percent profit after all expenses and before income taxes. This can all be attributed to the high cost of fees.
While it isn’t well known that we have a severe housing shortage in this county, it will be a long, long time before we will see any significant increase in supply. In the meantime, those of you who own raw land and lots can put your dreams on hold and watch the value of your land continue to decline, as it has for the last five years. What a strange irony: at a time when interest rates are at all time lows, landowners could be making their dreams come true and provide shelter for their families.
For those who are opposed to growth, the county now has a good General Plan that is being fine-tuned, along with upcoming zoning changes. That is the place to control growth. But to punish those who have owned their land — often for decades — through destructive fees is both unfair and unwise.
The whole idea of “mitigation” fees needs to be examined once again to determine if the revenues from improved growth (with no fees) would outweigh any gains supposedly attached to the levy of such fees in the first place. I suspect that
the original model that was used to justify the implementation of fees was limited in scope and did not consider all of the wider negative economic consequences that would result from such action.