Stockton City Council to take up builders’ fees Tuesday

October 10, 2015

 

constructionSTOCKTON — The Stockton City Council will consider Mayor Anthony Silva’s plan to reduce builders’ fees in the city at a special session Tuesday.

On Oct. 6, Council members voted 7-0 to study the proposal, called the Stockton Economic Stimulus Plan, that would reduce public facilities fees in the hopes it will jump-start home construction in Stockton and create construction-related jobs.

John Beckman,  CEO of the Building Industry Association of the Greater Valley, presented some changes to the initial proposal which were made after meeting with stakeholders in the community. The plan now calls for more development on vacant lots in the south and central parts of the city. Fee reductions were added for parts of town 80 years and older. He emphasized that apartments and condominiums will be included.

“The plan is not just for single family homes,” Beckman said.

After meeting with members of the African-American community, a racial component was added to the proposal that would ensure an effort would be made to include African-Americans in the guarantee to hire local construction workers.

The plan calls for reducing building fees in Stockton by $17,000 for three years on each of 1,000 new homes in the city limits. The total reduction in fees would be $22 million.

During Beckman’s presentation, he presented a slide that showed construction activity in San Joaquin County. After cratering during the recession, most cities — with the exception of Stockton — have begun building new homes again. Beckman said that was largely due to the fact that Stockton’s building fees are considerably higher than those in surrounding communities.

Council members said they favor some kind of economic stimulus but some were unsure whether the city could afford to reduce fees.

Tuesday night’s discussion took place in the shadow of a report earlier in the evening that showed the fund from public facilities fees, which pay for infrastructure related to development, was seriously depleted.

Council members Elbert Holman, Moses Zapien and Michael Tubbs said they were concerned that if Stockton takes away some of the fees, impacts of more development won’t be covered.

Vice Mayor Christina Fugazi asked how Beckman had arrived at the 80-year limit for fee reductions for infill lots and suggested slightly newer areas of town should be included.

Council member Dan Wright said he wanted to encourage multi-family housing construction and believes there is a need for stimulus but any plan needs to be “thoughtful.”

Silva expressed frustration with the plan’s progress. In August, the Council had approved a motion to consider the plan at a study session, but that session was never put on a calendar because of scheduling conflicts, City Manager Kurt Wilson said.

Both Beckman and Silva accused city staff of stonewalling.
“Did you see?” Silva said as he was leaving the meeting. “They keep trying to push it off, but I keep trying to push it back in.”

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