Council to consider upping appeal fees
The city currently charges people $100 to appeal planning decisions to either the planning board or the city council. Tonight, the council will talk about changing that amount to $400 plus time and materials up to $1,500 for residential projects and $5,000 for commercial projects.
“The proposed increase in appeals fees is to recover the costs to process the appeal,” Planning and Building Director Cathy Woodbury said, adding that the planning department does not get money from the city’s general fund and must be financially self-sufficient.
The charge for lodging a planning appeal has seesawed over the years, from $250 to appeal something to the planning board and $350 to the city council in 1993-94 to $100 plus time and materials in 2005-06 to the current charge, which is a flat fee of $100. The average cost to the city over the past two years was $1,759, according to a staff report.
Staff surveyed 10 Bay Area cities, whose charges ranged from $35-$50 plus time and materials in Fremont to $500 in San Mateo. Time and materials costs in cities ranged into the thousands of dollars. (Just for the heck of it, I did a quick check on a few more cities here in the East Bay: Albany charges $340, Livermore charges $350 and Union City charges $509.)
The fees caused controversy a few years back when opponents of the Alameda Theatre got a monester bill for their appeal of the project. In the years since the fees were lowered, the city has collected $2,400 on appeals to the city council and planning board that cost a total of $38,691.
On a separate note, we’ll see if the third time’s the charm for a plan to charge fees for non-emergency calls to the fire department. More on that here.