Peninsula builders face fee increases 

Developers hoping to build in Peninsula cities can face a vast array of fees for everything from parks to public art and libraries — and the overall financial impact on builders could be rising.

Redwood City adopted a water-capacity charge June 4 and is exploring a parking in-lieu fee for developers who don’t create parking spaces to accompany large-scale residential projects. The Sequoia High School District today will consider increasing its school-facilities fee, which residential developers pay to provide classroom space for new students who move into the projects they build.

Under existing rules, developers pay between $2.14 and $2.63 per square foot toward schools, depending on which elementary school district they’re building in.

New fees would be $2.63 per square foot across the board, according to Sequoia district Finance Director Ed LaVigne. While 40 percent goes to the Sequoia High School District, 60 percent is divided among the 10 elementary school districts that feed into the high schools.

"We have allocated all of our remaining bond funds to projects," said LaVigne, saying the last $45 million to $50 million is tied up in renovations, new buildings and property purchases. "But there are unmet needs for biotech rooms. We have buildings that are 50-plus years old ... I could go on."

Those who build residences in Redwood City pay the usual complement of building, inspection and utility fees, as well as a transportation-impact fee that offset the wear on city streets caused by new drivers moving in, according to Planning Manager Jill Ekas. "What developers are paying for is their cumulative impact on our structures," Ekas said.

While the numbers can add up, some fees, such as the parking in-lieu fee for small projects with no room for parking, can actually save developers money. Building new parking spaces can cost upward of $20,000 above ground and $30,000 below, but the in-lieu fee is $10,000, according to Ekas.

Developers take a certain roster of fees in stride, as long as it doesn’t get too expensive, according to John Baer, who is slated to build 100 condominiums at 333 Main St. and is proposing another 100 at 201 Marshall St. in Redwood City.

"We expect them to fall between $20,000 and $30,000 per unit. We expect our fees in Redwood City to be $26,000 or $27,000 per unit, which is sneaking up on the high side," Baer said. "But we think what they’re proposing is reasonable; they’re being very thoughtful about it."

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Beth Winegarner

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