Emeryville's Anemic Impact Fees
Existing Residents/Business Subsidize New Business
Last week, the Emeryville City Council engaged in some very unusual behavior when they conducted a study session with an eye to possibly raise the City's fee schedule on new business and development, known as impact fees. The April 1st meeting was the first time since 1998 the Council has looked critically at its compliment of impact fees, a turn of events brought on by the demise of the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency and the resultant hit the City has taken on its finances.
Any rise in these impact fees would bring Emeryville closer to closing the considerable gap that's grown between what's charged here versus neighboring cities. Every city in the Bay Area charges impact fees and the study session revealed that Emeryville as it stands now, is the cheapest place around to do business... by far.
Paid at the time of development by the developers, impact fees offset costs associated with providing public services to new development and paying for capital improvement expenditures due to population growth (for residential projects). These fees provide a way for municipalities to ensure new comers not financially burden those here already.
As with so many other of its other business generated revenue streams, business friendly Emeryville has the lowest impact fees around; putting existing businesses and residents on the hook for helping provide public services for these new arrivals. The result is a depleted capital improvement fund, making it more difficult for Emeryville to pay for existing services let alone provide new services citizens (and businesses) want.
The services impact fees pay for in Emeryville are earmarked for transportation, parks & recreation and affordable housing.
Emeryville's ultra low Impact Fees are not a accident. They're the conjoined work of the the Emeryville City Council majority and the Chamber of Commerce.
A manifestation of the Council's pro-business, pro-developer ideology, the impact fee schedule at City Hall falls behind neighbors Oakland and Berkeley in every single category. Not just behind in most cases but far behind.
The staff presented the Council at the April 1st study session, with information that was revelatory.
Among the findings are the following impact fee comparisons with our neighbors:
Existing Emeryville Impact Fees*
(dollars behind average of Berkeley, Richmond and Alameda based on per unit/square feet/or room)
-Multi Family $13,543 per unit less than neighboring cities
-Town Homes $22,668 per unit less
-$2,377 per room less
-$7.50 per square foot less
Research & Development:
-$5.34 per sq ft less
-$5.80 per sq ft less
Of course impact fees are just one way in which Emeryville charges business far less than what neighboring cities charge. When it comes time to leave Emeryville, businesses get a nice parting gift from City Hall with its business friendly real estate transfer tax. At $.55 per $1000 of value of real estate, the anemic transfer tax, paid primarily by business, falls far below all the neighboring cities including Oakland and Berkeley who charge $15 per $1000; some 2700% more than Emeryville, enabling those cities to pay for public amenities such as sidewalk repair and new parks.
The April 1st presentation is found HERE
*page 13 of introductory staff report to City Manger Sabrina Landreth from Director of Economic Development Helen Bean and head of Planning Department Charlie Bryant