The Hollister City Council passed a resolution May 20 to increase public facilities impact fees on new construction in order to fund the San Benito County Jail and juvenile hall, San Benito County Free Library, park construction, storm drainage and water facilities. They also approved new fees related to city hall and the city yard.
When the fees go into effect in approximately 30 days, they will increase the cost of a single-family home from $46,708.78 to $59,983.35, a 28% jump. Fees will increase the cost of multi-family homes of two or more bedrooms from $34,106.63 to $44,968.51, a 32% jump. The fees will increase the cost of studios from $29,000.43 to $30,094.31, or 3.7%.
Mary Paxton, program manager of the city’s development services department, reminded the council that Councilman Marty Richman had asked her at the March 25 meeting to review the impact fees in relation to the California Department of Housing and Community Development to see if they were creating a barrier to the construction of affordable housing. She said the proposed fee hikes were in an acceptable range and were, except for traffic impact fees, comparable to other communities. She explained the traffic impact fees were higher because Hollister is “burdened with costs of widening Highways 156 and 25.”
Impact fees for commercial buildings will also increase, Paxton said. There are two fee structures depending on who the building is serving. She said fees would increase, per 1,000 square feet, to $7,300 for a local restaurant; $7,800 for a regional restaurant; and $10,000 for an office building.
Before votes were cast, Richman said that while the fees are high, they are fair because it’s the cost of doing business. He was concerned, though, about the $10,000 fee for multi-family homes.
“We’re never going to get any affordable housing in the state of California at these prices,” he said. Richman went on to explain that he has no agenda, one way or another, to encourage or impede building. “What I do know is our city employees can’t afford to buy a house. That is a terrible problem.”
He said while he supported the increases, he hoped that in the future there would be decreases in the cost for multi-family and affordable housing so people can put a roof over their heads.
“Nothing is as terrible as having nowhere to live,” Richman said.
Councilwoman Carol Lenoir agreed with Richman.
“Yes, I know it sounds expensive, but we have to mitigate things,” Lenoir said. “It does put a damper on multi-family homes. I’d love to see the city do some phasing in of impact fees for multi-family, just as they’ve done for commercial and industrial. Marty is right, if we’re trying to do something affordable, this does make it a bigger hurdle, but we owe it to the community to adequately fund services.”