The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved an almost 10% increase to developer fees for the benefit of the Fire Protection District of the county after a public hearing on Jan. 31. These updated rates would take effect on April 1 in the incorporated areas of the county, and in cities upon an approved resolution.
“It’s always hard to talk about raising fees,” Supervisor Janice Hahn, 4th District, and presiding officer of the Board of Supervisors, said during the meeting. “But I know for me personally, I have pledged my support to our Fire Department collecting the appropriate fees that help pay for the work they’re doing.”
The developer fees also help fund new fire stations and upgraded equipment. Hahn also noted the Fire Department is realigning its budget as it addresses a “structural deficit.”
“It’s always difficult to raise fees, but they absolutely have the right to collect the appropriate fees for the service that they provide,” Hahn continued. “Ultimately, I think it will make for a more reliable and safer department as we continue to support them.”
Interim Fire Chief Anthony Marrone noted the updated fee rates will be imposed in the three areas of benefit, including the Santa Clarita Valley, the Antelope Valley, the Malibu/Santa Monica Mountains, and in Calabasas.
In the area of benefit No. 2, the SCV, according to the county documents, the developer fee rates include a component to recoup the district’s costs associated with financing the five new fire stations. The developer fee program increased by 8.3% in the SCV, which resulted from an increase in the following costs: land costs, fire station development, equipping and furnishing, and personnel to operate the local stations.
The developer fees in the Antelope Valley increased 9.7%, and in the Malibu/Santa Monica Mountains and Calabasas increased by 8.3%.
The Fire Department based the new developer fee in the SCV based on its new calculation, $1.5499 per square foot of new development.
The developer fees will be implemented on April 1 in the unincorporated areas of the county. The new rates will be imposed in the cities of Santa Clarita, Malibu and Lancaster upon adoption of a resolution updating the fee amounts by each respective city.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger, 5th District, which includes the SCV, commended the Fire Department as fire officials conducted outreach to various city managers to discuss this potential developer fee increase.
“And there was no pushback because they recognized that in fact fees had not been updated and did not accurately reflect the actual costs,” Barger said. “It’s not like we’re making money. This is just recovering actual costs based on what the developers are doing.”
In the SCV, these developer fees are intended to fund a total of 11 fire stations — six of which have already been built and are operational, as well as five more new ones yet to be built.
“Without the requested developer fee increase, fire station construction will be outpaced by development, resulting in insufficient fire protection for growth areas,” according to the supervisors’ agenda report.