Burlingame officials discussing fee for developers

As Burlingame grows, officials are trying to force developers — not taxpayers — to foot the bill for wear and tear to community infrastructure resulting from new projects, a move that may drive up rent costs.

City staff and council discussed charging $9,000 for each new unit a developer builds within the city recently.

The fees would be applicable to all development projects that increase units in the city.

The fees could be used for facilities in city departments as well as for sidewalks and streets that are often torn up during development, city officials said. The fee talks come about a year after the council brainstormed methods to solve the city’s fiscal woes. Along with the developer fees, the council wanted to enforce a $100 business license tax, which was approved two weeks ago and is already in effect.

Vice Mayor Ann Keighran, a former planning commissioner, brought up the idea of charging developers after witnessing recent growth in the city.

“You have to think with all the construction and trucks being used, it does have an impact on the community,” Keighran said. “It would be nice to have that money that accumulates and use it for sidewalks and streets.”

The fees, however, would also take their toll on costs to live and work in these new buildings, said longtime Peninsula developer Dan Epstein. Rents usually rise with delays in the construction process and city fees like the one Burlingame is considering, he said.

“At the end of the day, you pass the cost along to the consumer,” Epstein said. “They are driving up the price, there’s no question about it.”

City Manager Jim Nantell and his staff are recommending that the council approve the fees, which could happen in the next month or two.

The council has been scrounging for opportunities to raise money. Councilwoman Terry Nagel said she just wants developers to pay their fair share for damaging infrastructure.

“Big trucks break curbs and destroy streets, and taxpayers pay for them,” Nagel said.

Developers may not be the only ones a little lighter in the wallet. The council also discussed a 100-page MuniFinancial report on various user fees throughout the city recently. The company investigated how much certain fees like permits cost the city and compared them to how much departments actually charge. Many of the fees would go up, some significantly, while others would actually decrease, Nantell said.

mrosenberg@examiner.com  

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