BY CRYSTAL CRAWFORD
Mayor, Del Mar
On May 18, the Del Mar City Council heard a report from staff and FCS Group, a consultant retained by the city to study the cost of processing development review permits such as design review permits, tentative maps, conditional use permits, variances and encroachment permits. The consultant's work involved a detailed analysis of the time it takes for city staff to process permits in Del Mar. including preparing agendas, analyzing issues, writing reports, attending meetings and all of the necessary follow-up. The report also compared permit application fees charged by Del Mar to the fees charged by other cities and the county.
The conclusion reached by FCS Group was that the fees charged to project applicants do not nearly cover the costs involved in processing those applications. For example, of the $958,820 spent on processing private development requests in 2007-2008, the city recovered only $205,210 through our fee structure. Essentially the city's general fund subsidized the cost of proecessing these private projects. The information gathered in the report also showed that our fees are much lower than surrounding cities such as Solana Beach, Carlsbad and Encinitas.
The council made no decisions on May 18 other than directing staff to create a process for gathering more public input and to review alternatives including a possible tiered system that rewards applicants who minimize neighborhood controversy and submit designs in compliance with Del Mar design policies. Applicants whose projects generate neighborhood concerns and issues and require additional staff time would be charged greater fees.
Before returning to council, the city will conduct a public workshop to discuss the issues with the public and to gather input. The date and time of the workshop have not been set, but we will put that information in the newspaper and on the city's Web site.
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