NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Incentives produce results

Western Nevada County has a Regional Transportation Mitigation program, which was crafted under the provisions of AB-1600 in 2000. AB-1600 requires new development pay for the demands it places on local infrastructure. You can find fee program details here, scroll to the heading “Regional Transportation Mitigation Fee” heading in the pdf document.

The Transportation Commission spent an hour or more today trying to find a fair increase to the mitigation fee program, as more demands are placed on the local transportation infrastructure. The basic problem is that fees for commercial development have risen so high in Zone 8 (Grass Valley), they are increasing the risk for commercial development. The aggregation of mitigation fees, permits, and construction costs make build commercial buildings a risky business decision. This could stifling economic growth in the County. According to Nevada County Contractor’s Association, “the new fee program is a business killer.”

The Commission agreed to approve the proposed increased fees, with an immediate review of the fees to find a more equitable distribution between, commercial business construction and private homes. While homes pay lower fees, based on traffic zones, they are major contributors to traffic congestion. As you can see in the reference document, the private home fees are less than one half of one percent of a homes cost. Commercial building are contributing about 5 percent about of the total building costs. This would rise to 10 percent, killing future business development.

Raising the fee on private homes will make affordable, or work force, housing more expensive. Here we find an opportunity for incentives. We need more low cost housing, so the County and Cities could lower mitigation fees for affordable and workforce housing, while raising the fees for large single family residences to one or two percent of the total value. This will provide an incentive to builders to focus on lower cost housing.

We need to solve the growing traffic congestion problems created by new development, without killing economic development. Who should pay the most, the business that attract consumers, or the consumers who use the business services? I am interested in your thoughts.

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