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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fee Schedule Reflects Values

New Building In Emeryville Nets Fees

The final part of 2010 and the first part of 2011 Emeryville Building Department fees collected tally has been released by City Hall and as is the case with fees the city charges, an cursory examination can reveal much about what the city values.  For the period between July 2010 through February 2011, here are the totals of some of the fees collected:

  • Art In Public Places Fees             $251,246
  • Building Permit Fees                  $208,577
  • Technology Fees                          $39,563
  • Schools Fees                                  $8,650
  • Microfische Fees                            $4,654
  • Traffic Impact Fees                       $2,105
These fees reflect the city's take from 197 building permits issued.  The total amount of all fees collected was $1.7 million.  The valuation assessed for the permitted work during the time period totals $62.6 million with about $46.5 million of that categorized as commercial construction.


  1. Wow, it is great to see that the 1% for art fee yielded so much money! This is a wonderful program and it is great to see the fruits of the program all around town.

    You cannot accurately compare these fees since some of them are cost recovery for services provided (the cost of service) and some of them are impact fees (the cost of the impact). The art fee is actually neither of these, further complicating matters. Therefore, is not accurate to say that this breakdown reflects what the City values. The different fees are, by law, based on different calculations, and cannot readily be compared. Some that appear low may be relatively high according to what the law allows.

    Also, please note that the school district sets the school fee based on an elaborate fee study which establishes the impact of new construction on schools.

  2. Many of the fees a city chooses are fungible insofar as cost recovery for services provided support the wages of the city workers. So if Emeryville wanted to pay their workers more, it would charge more for the fees for services. The low pay of the fees is reflected in the fact that the city chooses to pay their workers less. This is values based.

    The traffic impact fee reflects how much cost Emeryville wants to recover for putting more cars on our streets. If the city wanted to charge more for intangibles such as the impact traffic has on the residents in the form of noise pollution or sound pollution or even the general unaesthetic nature of traffic, that could be done. The fact that Emeryville chooses not to do that reflects a set of values.

    The art fee is set at a level that is entirely of Emeryville's choosing and so it reflects the city's values.

  3. The first commenter is a real cheerleader for the city. THF? What the city charges for most of this is up to the city. There's no law stopping them.

  4. Microfiche fees? Are the reports available on microfiche? How about 78-rpm records or as Stereopticon cards?