Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My turn: Board acts on Rural Communities’ agenda

From page A4 | November 13, 2013 | Leave Comment

Wolsfeld Ron


The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors has taken action to help the more rural areas of the county. The devastation of hundreds of lost jobs and families and businesses struggling to survive will be getting some help.

The Rural Communities Coalition has been working for over 18 months to focus attention on the problems of ordinary citizens in our rural communities. The organization’s viewpoint has been that the county needs to get individuals building single family homes, granny units, and making home improvement projects from garages to remodels and additions to stimulate job creation.

The obstacles to local construction are many. First, a Building Department that is often less than helpful and often inconsistent. Secondly, traffic impact mitigation fees for a single family home that range from $14,000 to $37,000, depending on the district. Thirdly, water district fees that range from $9,200 (GPUD) to over $17,000 (EID). Lastly, school district fees in the neighborhood of three dollars per square foot, or $6,000 for a 2,000 square foot home.

That’s the reality of fees in El Dorado County, and it is difficult to understand why so little has been done about this in the last five years. It is hard to understand how certain school districts with severe declines in enrollment still cling to justifying an impact fee for new homes in their districts. Leadership from the Board of Supervisors is needed to get school districts and water districts to come together and agree to temporary but substantial fee reductions to make individual home construction more affordable.

On March 26, the Rural Communities Coalition began this process with the Board of Supervisors. The county’s traffic impact mitigation fee Offset Program was modified so that it can now be applied for by individuals at any time throughout the year by contacting C. J. Freeland at 530-621-5159. If an individual qualifies, (income up to $60,900 per year for a family of four) they may not have to pay any traffic impact mitigation fee at all. This applies both to single family homes and to granny units. Additionally, the board directed staff to provide pre-approved plans for garages, granny units and other small construction projects to simplify and improve the process at the Building Department.

On October 1, the board modified another traffic fee program that would allow an individual to pay 20 percent down on their traffic impact mitigation fee and to defer or amortize the balance over a 15-year period. This would be of great benefit to those individuals who did not qualify for the previously mentioned Traffic Impact Offset Program. The board also authorized a 25 percent reduction in the Building Department permit fee on the following types of projects: garages, granny flats, decks, additions and remodels. This policy is to be evaluated annually and terminated in two years.

The Rural Communities Coalition is hopeful that other community leaders will come forward to initiate similar programs with the water districts and school districts. The Rural Communities Coalition believes that what is needed in the county is safe, gradual, responsible growth in the building of single-family homes spread out into all parts of the county. This is the kind of growth that our rural school districts and fire districts need to survive. With this kind of growth there will not be major traffic impacts to Highway 50, nor will there be a need to build new schools, or new highway interchanges that end up increasing traffic impact mitigation fees. These TIM fees are the major impediment to people starting to build single family homes again.

Ron Wolsfeld is part of the Rural Communities Coalition, which can be reached for further information at 530-344-0880 or


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