Home Brentwood Brentwood Establishes Land Use Change Application Fee

Brentwood Establishes Land Use Change Application Fee

by ECT

As Brentwood moves forward with its General Plan update, property owners used to have an opportunity to request changes to the existing land use design for their respective properties at no cost. Now they will be charged a fee in the name of recovering staff time.

The Ad Hoc Committee made the following fee recommendations to partially collect the cost of staff time.

  • 0-5 Acres would have a full cost recovery of $235.46 – Recommended fee $160
  • 5.1-20 Acres would have a full cost recovery of $353.19 – Recommended fee $260
  • 20.1+ Acres would have a full cost recovery of $470.92 – Recommended fee $360

According to the Staff Report:

 One of the key steps in the General Plan Update process is providing property owners with an opportunity to request changes to the existing land use designations for their respective parcels.This step involves a dedicated time to document and analyze the various requests, on the part of both staff and the City’s consultant. In order to recover at least a portion of staff’s time involved in this step, and to encourage property owners to carefully consider requests before submitting them, the Ad Hoc Committee recommends that a nominal fee be established.

Estimating the total amount of time that will be involved for each request is difficult, especially since requests will vary based on the size and location of parcels. For purposes of estimating the fee, assumptions were made with respect to the amount of time that will be needed – one hour for small parcels, 90 minutes for medium-sized parcels, and two hours for large parcels. Using the hourly rate identified in the Cost Allocation Plan for Step E of the City’s Planning Manager, this would equate to $235.46, $353.19, and $470.92, respectively (this is inclusive of all benefits and overhead). Since the fee is not intended to discourage property owners from requesting changes, the Ad Hoc Committee recommends that it be reduced slightly from the full recovery amount (see below).

  • 0-5 Acres would have a full cost recovery of $235.46 – Recommended fee $160
  • 5.1-20 Acres would have a full cost recovery of $353.19 – Recommended fee $260
  • 20.1+ Acres would have a full cost recovery of $470.92 – Recommended fee $360

The General Plan Update project is included in the Capital Improvement Program with a budget not to exceed $1,000,000. Previously, a General Fund designated reserve was established for this purpose. These reserved funds are in addition to the General Fund’s 30% reserves. The City also has a General Plan Maintenance Fee that is paid by all new development to ensure that it pays for its fair share of current and future General Plan updates. It is anticipated that the fees collected under the attached resolution will defray at least a portion of the costs incurred by the City in processing any land use change request applications submitted in association with the General Plan Update. As a result, no budget adjustment is necessary.

Mayor Bob Taylor appeared not to be in favor of a new fee considering they never charged this type of fee in the past.

“Explain to me, have we ever charged for doing this?” asked Mayor Taylor. “I am trying to get it through my head why all of a sudden at this point charge for equal overhead. I’d hate to deviate or discourage people from something that is prudent.”

The last time the city did a general plan update was in 2001 where a fee was not charged at that time.

“Did we charge a fee for Brentwood Boulvard?” asked Taylor.

Staff replied no.

Councilman Erick Stonebarger stated there is a financial driver behind the application on the committees thought process. He stated the staff time was charged out of the General Fund and explained how those who make application changes could financially benefit.

Councilman Steve Barr explained how he was a bit surprised they were going to charge. He explained the process and additional staff time it seemed.

“The fees are small and one thing to keep in mind property owners can still make a request without a fee, at any of our working group meeting or land use. It would require no staff time because they are making a public request—this is more of a formal request,” explained Barr. “It seemed to me this fee was a nominal amount… the potential change in value is far greater than 20 acre plus $300 fee. I know it’s a fee, but there is a concern, but its not full recovery.”

Vice Mayor Joel Bryant chimed in by stating  in addition to the city absorbing $100 per application, outside of general plan update, this application costs the land over $5,800 per application.

“In comparison to what it normally costs, the amount of $160 to get same attention and same process from city staff is in anyone’s mindset, its insignificant,” said Bryant.

Barr also stated that outside of this process (General Plan Update), one would also have to pay for environmental studies and other fees.

“This would be the only fee for the entire process. When you put it in that context, the fee isn’t very much,” said Barr.

“When you put it like that, the fee is very low,” stated Mayor Taylor.

Prior to the vote, Erick Stonebarger stated that no general fund money should be spent on staff time to review applications, but rather, applicants should pay for the staff time if they request a change–hinting that the fee is cheaper than a normal process.

“I am not a fan of general funding subsidizing this,” said Stonebarger.

Joel Bryant countered that his first thought was in line with Stonebargers argument, but didn’t want a high fee from discouraging anyone to submit an application so the general fund should just cover a portion.

“To some that $75 could make a difference to putting in an application or not. We put in these fees to make it as accessible and less burdensome as possible,” stated Bryant.

Vote was 4-1 with Stonebarger opposing

Editors Comment:

The council made the wrong choice in establishing a fee for land use change request applications that are submitted in association with the General Plan Update because it’s essentially a “double tax”.  Residents are already taxed which fills up the General Fund to pay for staff time. Trying to recover staff time cost by a fee may be legal, but it’s immoral.

The purpose of a General Plan Update is to allow the City and residents to work on future plans, residents shouldn’t be charged for this especially when this process is only every 10-15 years. This is a very short window considering its done every 10-15 years where applications could be made without a fee, it should continue.

If anyone puts in an application outside of this General Plan Update, its on the land owner to pay a $5,800 fee.

At $160 to $360, what is the point other than adding an annoying fee on an application?

The real question is how many land use applications does the city get during a typical year vs. General Plan update and will this fee even impact the General Fund?

I doubt the fee makes any significant impact.

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John Apr 11, 2013 - 9:36 am

Thank you Mr. Burkholder for stating what this really is which is a double tax on Brentwood parcel owners. Shame on our City Council and shame on Erick Stonebarger.

Barbara DuMont Apr 11, 2013 - 9:45 am

I am more than a little confused. Isn’t it the part of the job to review and work on applications like this?

B-Wood Apr 11, 2013 - 9:45 am

Does Stonebarger even know what a general fund is for? It appears to be a race to the bottom between Erick Stonebarger and Bob Taylor.

Shame on the voters for not figuring this out in the last election. Now we are stuck with these two.

JimSimmons42 Apr 11, 2013 - 10:41 am

Tax tax tax has become Brentwoods motto. This should be part of the city’s job during a general plan review, not nickel and dime its residents. Why pay staff a salary, just bill residents as staff is needed.

Dave Clarke Apr 11, 2013 - 1:44 pm

These guys are crooks for trying to charge a fee. I hope someone challenges it because the purpose of a general plan is to somewhat redirect the city’s direction, goals and priorities

Julio-Antioch Apr 11, 2013 - 6:26 pm

Don’t you just love Ad Hoc committees? Good Lord!

Comments are closed.