Fee Reduction Recommended in East County HCP
A team hired to audit fees charged by the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) is recommending the member cities and county lower the per acre development mitigation rate by 4.3 percent. For the most expensive zone, this would result in a savings of $1,267 per acre.
But unresolved litigation between Discovery Builders of Pittsburg and the City of Brentwood filed back in 2013 may prevent developers from seeing those cost savings.
Under provisions of the joint powers agreement signed by HCP members — Pittsburg, Brentwood, Oakley, Clayton and Contra Costa County — litigation filed against any single member triggers a freeze in fees in all all jurisdictions. As a result, none of the HCP member agencies can adopt the recommended fee reductions until the litigation is settled.
The East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy’s governing board is expected to formally accept the audit team’s recommended fees in October and recommend that the cities and counties adopt the new rates as soon as it is feasible. Until the cities and county take action, developers may pay their HCP fees under protest in order to be eligible for refunds of excess fees if and when the lawsuit is concluded. Developers pay the HCP fees through cities or the county as part of the permitting process for specific projects while other government agencies such as BART or the Contra Costa Transportation Authority pay their fees directly to the HCP. The HCP has had lower fees since the first fee audit in 2013.
Discovery Builders, Inc., filed suit against the City of Brentwood in November 2013, challenging the city’s legal authority to impose HCP fees on the builder’s Mission Grove residential development project on the grounds that the site did not contain the threatened or endangered species covered by the permit.
For more information on how to pay HCP fees under protest, contact HCP Executive Director Abigail Fateman at 925)-674-7820 or the city or county planning department where your project is located.
Click here for the ECC HCP Fee Nexus study.
Click here to view the 2017 Mitigation Fee Audit draft report presentation made to the ECCC Habitat Conservancy’s board on June 26, 2017. For questions or comments, contact BIA’s Lisa Vorderbrueggen at 925-348-1956 or firstname.lastname@example.org.