Calaveras County Super-visors adopted an updated set of fire impact mitigation fees for new developers in the Calaveras Consolidated Fire Protection District Tuesday, which encompasses the communities of Burson, Valley Springs, Wallace, Campo Seco, Milton, Rancho Calaveras, La Contenta and Jenny Lind.
Fire Chief Richard Dickinson told the board the update in the district’s development fee schedule is a proactive measure to cover infrastructural and equipment costs as the district’s population continues to increase. He said the district has poured about $40,000 in legal fees over the last four years into a Nexus study to “get it right.”
Replacing a flat fee of $300 for all developers, the study recommends a more fine-tuned set of rates based on square footage and types of land uses. For “residential development” land uses, the adopted fees include 90 cents per square foot for single-family housing, $1.06 for multi-family housing and 68 cents for mobile homes. For “nonresidential development” land uses, the new fees are $1.22 per square foot for office/commercial, $1.70 for office, $1.12 for industrial, 16 cents for agriculture and 60 cents for warehouse distribution.
“This is a very busy department,” he said. “The quality of what we go to is off the charts. This last weekend, we’ve been impacted hard with two fires … In our area down there, it’s very challenging.”
Calaveras Consolidated is facing a $152,000 deficit in its budget this year, and “I’ve got to find a way to survive,” Dickinson said.
In the past, the district has sent resources to respond to wildfires up and down the state to make up for funding shortages, but that means less personnel to respond to local fires.
“I’m trying to protect the community. Right now my personal approach to this is we need to be able to build infrastructure, we need to be able to get rigs and have a funding mechanism that will let us grow as a community,” Dickinson said.
As indicators for projected growth, Dickinson referenced residential developments of about 100 homes in Gold Creek, northwest of New Hogan Lake, in a phone interview Tuesday. He added that spikes in housing and development costs in the Bay Area and Central Valley are pushing people to Calaveras County.
The fees will go into effect in 60 days, meaning they won’t apply to developers that have been already been permitted to build in the area. Some of those include Grocery Outlet, DeVinci’s and the Mark Twain Health Care District clinic in Valley Springs, Dickinson said.
He clarified that the fees would not be used for staffing, as that would require an assessment and public outreach process, and would ultimately be decided by voters living within the district’s boundaries. “We’re going to be apparatus-capable but people-poor,” he said.
“We are not trying to do a hostile development fee on everyone,” Dickinson said at the meeting. “We will still always allow the developer to sit down with our board … We will have an ear for you.”
After voicing appreciation for Calaveras Consolidated, District 1 Supervisor Gary Tofanelli made a motion to move the item, and District 5 Supervisor Ben Stopper made the second. The item passed on a 4-0 vote, in the absence of District 2 Supervisor Jack Garamendi.