FAIRFIELD — Lower fees for apartment developers will help create construction jobs and provide work so Fairfield residents can hold on to their homes, City Councilman John Mraz said before the unanimous council vote Tuesday to cut in half the park and recreation impact fees developers pay.
“We don’t have a lot of construction,” Mraz said before the vote. “We don’t have a lot of jobs.”
Mayor Harry Price said the measure will “stimulate the kind of growth we want to see.”
The city resolution takes affect immediately and reduces park and recreation development impact fees from $4,285 per unit fee to $2,143.
David Feinstein, senior planner for the city, told the council that Fairfield has had no apartment construction in almost a decade. The fee reduction, which two Concord-based developers say is necessary to allow profitable apartment construction, limits the lower fees to 750 units built within the next two years. Feinstein said that limit will serve as an incentive for developers to act.
The fee drop will improve opportunities for developers, said Trent Sanson, a project manager for DeNova Homes in Concord. DeNova plans 284 apartment units north of Interstate 80 near Solano Community College.
Owen Poole, a Walnut Creek real estate broker involved with a Fairfield development, supported the change and said city fees are among the challenges the project faces.
“It has been a real struggle to make it work,” he said.
Brian Thiemer, representing the Libertarian Party of Solano County, told the council that the fee reduction set to end in March 2017 could open the door to favoritism and set the precedent that anyone who doesn’t like city fees can wait and Fairfield will yield.
City Manager Sean Quinn responded that the reduction applies to any owner of property zoned for apartments.
“It’s not targeted at anybody,” he said.
A city staff report said the Bay Area boom in apartment construction has bypassed Fairfield because developers believe high fees prevent profitably building apartments. Collapse of the single-family housing market in 2008 forced many homeowners into rental housing and increased the competition for apartments throughout Fairfield, according to the staff.
Vice Mayor Rick Vaccaro called the resolution “a kick start” for development.
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