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City Council Committee Delays Vote on Linkage Fee Plan

A San Diego City Council committee has voted to postpone action on a proposed compromise plan regarding commercial development linkage fees.

Members of the Smart Growth and Land Use Committee decided to hold off on a vote until its next meeting in September, to give the measure’s authors more time to fine-tune details. The compromise plan will then be sent by the committee to the full City Council for review.

Representatives of the San Diego Housing Commission and the Jobs Coalition recently held eight meetings to work out a compromise measure that would approximately double the fees currently paid on most kinds of commercial projects, to support development of affordable workforce housing.

An earlier proposal by the Housing Commission, approved last year by City Council, would have raised the fees between 375 and 750 percent, depending on the type of project. City Council repealed that measure in March, after local business opponents led by the Jobs Coalition gathered enough signatures to have it placed before voters.

As a condition of its repeal, however, City Council called on housing advocates and fee-hike opponents to come together on a feasible compromise. Like the earlier council-approved measure, the current version restores the linkage fee to its original 1.5 percent of overall project costs, established in 1990 but cut in half in 1996.

The compromise plan exempts certain types of commercial projects from the increase, including industrial manufacturing and warehouse projects, research and development facilities, and non-profit hospitals.

The new measure would take effect in January 2015. Unlike with the prior version, however, the fee increase would “sunset” – essentially be terminated – in January 2018 unless certain milestones are reached by the city, including streamlining processes for project approvals.

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