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Council hikes fees, charges for beach parties

By MARY SCHLEY

Published: July 15, 2011

THE CARMEL City Council on Tuesday voted to impose higher fees on construction projects, charge more for planning and building permits, and begin seeking payment for events at the beach and in parks, all to boost revenues during the fiscal year that began July 1.

Council members voted separately on the three types of fees, first approving an increase in the construction truck impact fee from .75 percent of the value of a project to 1 percent of the value. Interim city administrator John Goss estimated the change would bring in an additional $40,000 this year, for a total of $160,000.

Planning and building services manager Sean Conroy said the proposed increases and new fees for some planning processes would help offset the costs of planners’ working on them. Most are increasing by $25 to $50, but some are brand-new fees, like the $350 Conroy proposed charging for preliminary concept review of a project by the commission.

“In all cases, the fee either equals the staff time required for processing the application, or, as in most cases, only covers part of the full staff cost,” he said in his report for the council. Building fees, meanwhile, are mostly set by the California Building Code, but he proposed increases for permits for plumbing, mechanical, electrical and other work.

He proposed keeping the fee for filing an appeal with the city council at $260 and charging $150 for Mills Act applications to give owners of historic homes tax breaks if they renovate and preserve them. Last month, Conroy suggested higher fees for those items, but the majority of the council thought the appeal fee should be lower.

“In thinking about these fees, I try to structure between which ones are entirely accrued for a private entity versus which are for some issue or activity that has public benefit, and if it’s the latter, then I would argue the city should subsidize at least some part of it,” councilman Jason Burnett said. But if it’s for private benefit, the applicant should pay.

Most planning and building permits are for private interests, Burnett concluded, except for the Mills Act and appeals.

Councilman Ken Talmage suggested approving all the fee increases Conroy suggested, and setting the appeal fee and Mills Act application fee at $295 each, raising them from $260 and $0, respectively. The rest of the council agreed.

Finally, council members considered what they should charge people who want to hold special events at the beach, in city parks and in other public areas.

In her report for the council Tuesday, community services assistant Cindi Lopez-Frincke noted the city had been charging $125 per special-event permit, which she suggested be increased to $150, while film permits should go from $125 to $250. She also suggested $400 for four hours and $300 per additional hour at Devendorf Park, which has been free to use, and doubling the fee for community buildings from $55 for four hours for residents and $75 for four hours for nonresidents, to $110 for residents and $150 for nonresidents. Use of public works employees would cost $50 per hour, while cops would cost $75 per hour.

But she didn’t suggest any charges for weddings or other events at the beach. Goss said that was because city employees wouldn’t be there on weekends.

But councilwoman Paula Hazdovac said people who receive permits should be responsible for getting to the area they want and staking it out before anyone else does.

“That could be written into the agreement,” she said.

Mayor Sue McCloud commented that people who are having parties on the beach do that all the time.

“It seems to work when it’s free,” Hazdovac agreed.

Burnett proposed charging $400 for an event permit for the beach when the activity involves 50 people or more, and the rest of the council concurred.