Solana Beach passes fee increases for businesses

By Claire Harlin

After a measure passed by the Solana Beach City Council on Nov. 9, new businesses or businesses wishing to change name or ownership will see fee increases that could be dramatic for larger businesses. These changes go into effect immediately.

A new business certificate, which currently costs $75 for all new businesses or changes of name or ownership, will increase in a tiered manner. Home-based business or businesses outside of Solana Beach (which don’t have to undergo a fire inspection, officials said) will have to pay $110 under the fee update. Businesses under 1,000 square feet will pay $150 and those under 3,500 square feet will pay $170. The fees top off at $570 for businesses that are 10,001 square feet and above.

To renew a business certificate, business owners currently pay an annual fee of $16. Under the new measure, this fee will increase to $17 for home-based or out-of-area businesses and up to $475 for businesses above 10,000 square feet. City staff reiterated that the fire inspection that is necessary for renewal is a major cost that necessitates these fee increases.

These changes resulted from a routine assessment of the fee schedule to “ensure user fees are appropriately set to recover costs,” said City Manager David Ott.

There was no public comment on these fee changes, and the item passed unanimously.

Deputy Mayor Joe Kellejian expressed concern that Solana Beach competes with neighboring areas to bring in new business, and asked if these increases are in line with other communities. Ott assured the council that the new fees are “significantly” lower than Del Mar, however Encinitas charges a flat $35 fee regardless of the property size.

The city is also implementing a fee based on an increase in requests for written documentation for past permit history and zoning regulations for specific properties. To recover costs for the research, reparation and review of these letters, the city is instating a fee of $135 per letter.