Print Back to Calendar Return
  Agenda Item   22.    
City Council Meeting
Meeting Date: 06/15/2021  
FROM: Bill Gallardo

Public Hearing to Consider Resolution Adding New User Fees for Special City Services
Adopt Resolution No. 2021-042 adding a new Preliminary Plan Review (PPR) User Fee and Zoning Verification Letter User Fee.
The City of Brea provides a wide range of services which are of general benefit to the public.  Examples of these are the maintenance of streets and parks, and police, fire and paramedic response. The City also provides a number of services that benefit a specific user or users of those services.
When a service is provided and benefits a particular user of that service, it is appropriate to charge a fee to recover all or a portion of the cost of providing that service.  When the full cost of providing that service is not recovered from the user, it is necessary to subsidize the cost of that service by using general tax dollars that would otherwise be available to support fundamental City-wide services.  The application of user fees is not only an issue of equity in terms of who bears the financial burden for program and service costs, but is also good budget practice in that it better addresses the cost of conducting business in a changing environment. 
During preparation of the FY 2021-22 Budget, all City user fees were evaluated based upon an analysis of the cost of providing the service, date of last review and/or update, and demand for the program or service relative to resources necessary to provide said program or service.  Staff is recommending adding certain user fees for the applicable programs and services as delineated in Exhibit A to the proposed resolution.  The addition of these fees was discussed with the City Council during the Budget Workshop conducted on May 18, 2021 and are summarized below:

Preliminary Plan Review (PPR) Fee
The City’s Development Review Team consists of staff from the Community Development, Public Works, Fire, Police and Community Services’ Departments. They are committed to working with developers to provide information to assist their development projects within the City. Currently, the Development Review Team reviews development projects in various stages including those projects that have yet to submit a formal development application. On occasion, prospective applicants may request some initial feedback from staff before submitting a formal application.  This valuable feedback is currently provided to the prospective applicant at no charge.

The department is recommending to charge a new screen check fee or a Preliminary Plan Review (PPR) fee to allow the City to recover staff costs associated with setting up meetings with the developer, reviewing the feasibility of the project, providing written comments, and presenting the concept to City Council prior to a formal application being submitted. Staff is proposing to charge the prospective applicant for actual staff time spent through the City’s Developer Deposit Program. Initiating this new fee is not intended to dis-incentivize development in the City, but rather a mechanism to maintain staff’s high level of customer service.

Staff has evaluated estimated staffing costs associated with screen checks over the past five years. Depending on the project, a preliminary review can take up to 14 hours of staff time, or approximately $1,600. Over the last five years, approximately $14,000 to $62,000 of staff time has been charged to the General Fund, with an estimated $8,000 charged to date this fiscal year for the processing of five screen checks.  Therefore, the department is recommending that the developer submit a $2,000 deposit, similar to other development applications. Any deposit amount provided by the prospective applicant can be credited towards future planning applications, if the developer decides to submit a formal application.

Current Fee:  $0.00
Proposed Fee:  Hourly rate based upon the current development hourly rates (see below table).
Division/Activity Hourly Rate
Planning Plan Check and Entitlement $87.00
Building Plan Check $104.00
Building Inspection $116.00
Engineering Plan Check $137.00
Engineering Inspection $134.00
Fire Plan Check and Inspection $119.00
Zoning Verification Letter Fee
A zoning verification letter is prepared by Planning Division staff to inform commercial property owners, lenders and prospective buyers of zoning information related to the particular property based on the City’s current zoning codes and may include past history of the site. This is commonly used in property appraisals, mortgage lending, legal disputes, and land speculations.  A Zoning Verification Letter can take staff approximately three hours to research and prepare the formal letter for the requestor.  This costs the City approximately $261 in staff time to prepare.  Currently, there is no charge for this service and the department is requesting to charge based upon the current development hourly rate.  Other jurisdictions that charge this fee include the City of Anaheim ($285), City of Yorba Linda ($255), City of Orange ($300), City of Placentia ($341) and City of Fullerton ($78.62).

The department is committed to working with Zoning Letter requestor’s and providing information in a timely manner. This fee proposal is not designed to disincentive development in the City, but is rather a mechanism to maintain staff’s high level of customer service, while keeping up with current trends and standards of other cities.

The proposed user fee is projected to recover approximately $6,525 annually in associated staff costs. This is based upon receiving 25 requests assuming it takes three hours to prepare each zoning verification letter.

Current Fee: $0.00
Proposed Fee: Hourly rate based upon the current development hourly rate (see below table).
Division/Activity Hourly Rate
Planning Plan Check and Entitlement $87.00

To maintain a sound fiscal plan, it is important that fees be reviewed and/or updated on a regular basis.  The regular review process is currently applied for all City fees during each budget process to ensure that no fee goes unexamined for a long period of time.  Doing so ensures that the City of Brea is keeping pace with internal and external changes that create a financial impact upon City programs and services.

All fee additions will be effective July 1, 2021.
Based on a similar volume of services, this would result in an estimated $20,525 to the City's General Fund (110) annually and is currently programmed in the proposed FY 2021-22 Budget.
William Gallardo, City Manager
Prepared by: Alicia Brenner, Senior Fiscal Analyst
Concurrence: Cindy Russell, Administrative Services Director
Exhibit A - Fee Schedule

AgendaQuick©2005 - 2022 Destiny Software Inc., All Rights Reserved