Hesperia Extending Growth Spur Ploy By Fee Reductions

(September 17)  HESPERIA — The city of Hesperia will not give up on its effort to induce more development through the stratagem of discounting the development impact fees it has traditionally imposed on builders, a divided city council decided this week.
Hesperia experienced explosive growth in the late 1990s and well into the first decade of the current millennium. In 2000, the population in the City of Progress stood at 62,582. Over the next ten years, there was an influx of 27,591 into the city, as indicated in the 2010 Census, when 90,173 noses were counted.
But between February 2010 and April of 2012, the city did not issue a single residential construction permit. At that point, the council voted to reduce its development impact fees as a ploy of encouraging further expansion. City officials represented the move as an ‘experiment” and “pilot program,” stating that it was understood that the discounts would lessen the amount of money collected to offset the construction of infrastructure, such as providing equipment and capital improvements for the fire department, water and sewer facilities and roads and bridges.
Residential construction in the city did pick up afterward.  Ariaz Construction undertook a project to construct a single 1,711-square-foot home eight days after the council approved the developer impact fee reduction, which was largely seen as a symbolic change. But gradually, things got moving. From April to November 2013, 21 planned homes were submitted for a plan check, and 61 building permits have been issued since October 2013.
In November 2013, Alan Colatuono requested that he be allowed to apply the discount to his plans for a 19-home tract development. The council granted that request, as it did to that of Sorrento Homes to save $5,500 per home on its proposed project.
The city calculates that since the inception of the developer impact fee discounts, it has foregone the collection of $330,000.
While the economy in general and in Hesperia in particular has not come roaring back, homes construction is picking up.
This week, the city council considered an extension of the reductions, which were to sunset later this year.
Expressing concern that the discounts were depleting the city of its ability to create infrastructure to stay on pace with development, the two senior members of the council, Mike Leonard and Thurston Smith, opposed the extension. The remainder of the council, Eric Schmidt, Bill Holland and Russ Blewett, supported the extension, saying they were hopeful it would provoke further growth.

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