In September, the Mountain Democrat featured an article describing how permit fees to build a single family home in the county had risen over a 10-year period.
By way of comparison, permit fees to build in the City of Placerville have also increased substantially over the past 10 years with water and traffic mitigation fees accounting for a majority of the increase.
According to Mike Webb, Director of Community Development and Engineering for the City of Placerville, the current cost of permits to build a single family home with 2,500 square feet of living space (not including a garage or patio) is $52,619.
That includes $6,355 for a sewer hookup; $16,140 for a water hookup; $14,256 in traffic impact fees; $7,425 in school fees; $2,750 in fire impact fees; $4,295 in building and engineering fees; $1,320 in park impact fees; and $78 in other fees.
Ten years ago, the cost of city permits for a similarly sized home was $25,675 or half of what it is today.
In 2002, those fees were $4,840 for sewer hookup; $6,971 for water hookup; $1,692 for traffic impact fees; $6,000 for school fees; $500 for fire impact fees; $4,318 in building and engineering fees; $1,320 in park impact fees; and $34 for other fees.
Webb said the biggest reason for the increase in water hook up fees is to cover the cost of the $45 million Hangtown Creek Water Reclamation facility that was completed in 2009. The city was facing fines of $10,000 a day from the state if it wasn’t built.
In comparing the cost of building in the City of Placerville to building in the county, there are some important differences.
TIM fees are the costliest part of the permit process regardless of where one builds, but they are generally much higher in the county (currently $13,330 to $35,740 depending upon where the dwelling is located). Webb said it’s probably because building roads in the county entails covering a much wider area and the housing density is lower. “Our system is more or less built out so we’re not having to do big stretches of new roadways that connect to a development,” he said.
However, the county is currently in the process of revising its TIM fees based on an updated traffic model and a new schedule with lower fees should be issued in the coming months.
Differences in water and sewer availability also factor into building costs. In the City of Placerville, very few people are on septic so new construction almost always entails paying for a city sewer and water connection.
Those building in the county have different choices. In the example used for the county, permit fees for building a single family home in the community of Rescue were used since fees for schools and fire districts can vary. Those permit fees came to $52,284. However that total did not include the cost of hooking up to a water or sewer system.
The basic residential water hook up charge to the El Dorado Irrigation District is an additional $16,539 to $17,093, which doesn’t include all the costs associated with putting in a meter. For those putting in a well instead, the average cost is around $10,000 but it can go higher depending on factors such as the depth of the well, type of filtration system and length of piping.
As far as sewer service, county residents can either pay to hook up to a sewer system, where available, or put in a septic system.
Erik Viksna of Advantage Septic & Sewer said that at least sixty percent of residents in the county are on septic — either an individual or shared system. He estimated the average cost for a septic system for a three bedroom home El Dorado County at around $6,500.
For those hooking up to EID’s sewer system, the standard fee depends on the area, availability, existence of a meter and distance from the main line. The basic cost for one EDU (equivalent dwelling unit) of service with a 3/4 inch line is $13,441 in El Dorado Hills, $9,449 in Cameron Park, $13,403 in the Mother Lode, and $9,897 in Camino Heights/Gold Ridge/Rancho Ponderosa area.
So depending upon where residents build and how they choose to get their water and sewer service, the cost of permits and connections for a 2,500 square foot home in the county could be anywhere from $46,000 to more than $80,000.
For the City of Placerville, the costs are more fixed and would be around $53,000.
An issue that arises with permits is non-compliance which can lead to prosecution in cases when a more serious violation triggers a criminal case.
Recently Vincent Cal, owner of Cal’s Market in Greenwood, was tried and sentenced to probation for two counts of zoning violations and one count of building a deck without a permit.
Deputy district attorney Michael Pizzuti, who prosecuted Cal, said the county building and safety department handles most complaints about people building without a permit. “There are usually a variety of responses for permitting issues. The more recalcitrant violators are the ones referred to our office,” he said.
According to city and county planning officials, responding to code violations is usually a complaint driven process rather than one where they are actively looking for violations. And when they do find them, they favor more of an administrative approach that begins with a warning letter or stop work order and escalates from there.
Roger Trout, Director of El Dorado County Development Services Department, said his department is more focused on processing permit applications than on tracking down everyone who might be doing work without a permit.
Webb said they do have instances where people undertake building projects in the city without first obtaining the right permits, but there is no trend that indicates that more people are doing so.
“If we see work being done that needs a permit, we will take action,” he said. “When it comes to code enforcement, our goal is compliance and we try to give people opportunities to comply. But we have tools should someone thumb their nose at the process. It’s those who do comply who end up paying the price for those who don’t. The code enforcement actions we can take are ones that encourage compliance in the first place.”
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.