Developers to pay higher fees to fund fire stations

Newhall Ranch graders captured in aerial shot in March 2018. photo by Austin Dave, The Signal.

When it comes to building more homes in the Santa Clarita Valley, the developers building those homes will now pay increased fees to cover the cost of five new fire stations needed to protect those homes.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approve a motion to charge housing developers an extra nickel for every square foot of home development completed.

Beginning April 1, developers who already pay a fee of $1.1846 for every square foot of land they develop will instead pay $1.2357 — a difference of five cents per square foot.

“The fee is applied to square footage of improvements under roof,” Stephanie English, Santa Clarita Valley senior deputy and fire deputy for Supervisor Kathryn Barger, said Tuesday.

“So for a 2,000-square-foot home, developers will pay an additional $102 per home built,” she said.

“The reason the increase only applies to SCV is because of all the fire stations we have built over the past several years and anticipated plans for more stations as communities get built out,” English said.  “So the small increase was need to cover the costs associated with financing the five stations that have been built previously and for funding for new stations as needed in the future as the community grows.”

As explained in documents made available to supervisors voting on the proposed rate increase, the extra money is expected to “recoup the district’s costs associated with financing the five new fire stations in the Santa Clarita Valley.”

The developer fee program provides the money needed to fund “essential fire station facilities and equipment in the areas of urban growth.”

The fee increase comes at a time when the SCV is seeing significant urban growth with several housing projects in some stage of development.

As pointed out in documents explaining the increase: “Without the requested developer fee increase, fire station construction will be outpaced by development resulting in insufficient fire protection for the growth areas.”

And even though the increase is just a nickel, huge housing developments will see hefty fee payments.

The Spring Canyon housing project, with 550 homes planned for land close to Agua Dulce, has been in the works for 15 years.

Its developer Matt Villalobos said Tuesday’s fee hike — which county officials describe as a 4 percent increase — was almost expected.

“The fees go up usually in January and July,” he said. “Typically, we see a 3 to 5 percent increase every year. The fees are a cost and in the grand scheme of things expected.”

Villalobos noted that extra costs such as the fee increase are typically added to the cost of the finished house.

The Spring Canyon housing development sits north of Highway 14 and Soledad Canyon Road, between Shadow Pines Boulevard and Agua Dulce Canyon Road.

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