An increase in fees to be paid for new home construction in unincorporated areas of Kern County that are part of the Tehachapi Valley Recreation and Park District was approved by the district’s board at its meeting on Sept. 21.
According to a staff report prepared by District Manager Corey Torres, the district’s impact fees — also known as developer impact fees or park impact fees — are one-time fees imposed to raise funds for new or expanded park infrastructure required because of new residential development. Funds raised through the fees cannot be used for ongoing operations or maintenance, he said.
The district serves both the city of Tehachapi and certain unincorporated areas of the Greater Tehachapi area (excluding both Bear Valley Springs and Stallion Springs). Impact fees cannot be imposed directly by the district, according to the staff report, but must be levied by the appropriate land use authority — Kern County for the unincorporated areas or the city of Tehachapi for areas within its jurisdiction.
According to a March 2021 draft report prepared for the city of Tehachapi and included as part of the staff report, within the city the current parks and recreation impact fee for single-family home construction is $4,274 per dwelling unit. This is split 50-50 by the city and TVRPD, making $2,137 per dwelling unit the district’s share. For multifamily development, the total fee within the city is $2,534 per dwelling unit — also split 50-50 with the city, making $1,267 the district’s share.
Currently, for residential development within the district but outside the city of Tehachapi, the district’s impact fee is $2,137 for single-family homes and $1,267 per dwelling unit for multifamily.
The proposed increase, which must be approved by the Kern County Board of Supervisors, is for an increase of $1,118.60 per single-family residential permit (to $3,255.60) and an increase of $922.92 (to $2,189.92) per multifamily residential permit.
The proposed park impact fee for unincorporated areas would still be lower than the total fee charged by the city of Tehachapi, according to the city’s draft March 2021 “Parks & Recreation and Civic Facilities Development Impact Fee Study.”
In the staff report, Torres said that the district worked as part of a coalition that included North of the River Recreation and Park District in Bakersfield, six other recreation and park districts and one community service district to do a comprehensive review of both impact fee and Quimby Act ordinances and how they impact a special district’s ability to develop parks.
The state Quimby Act authorizes legislative bodies (such as cities and counties) to require the dedication of land or impose fees for park or recreational purposes as a condition of approval of a tentative or parcel subdivision map, with conditions.
Torres said that a subsequent meeting with county planning staff resulted in positive reception for finding less complicated ways for special districts to increase fees when needed.
The district’s Master Plan, completed in 2013, stated a goal of a minimum of three acres of local parkland per 1,000 residents, consistent with the Quimby Act. The plan also discussed the role of impact fees in paying for park facilities needed to meet the needs of a growing population.
Claudia Elliott is a freelance journalist and former editor of the Tehachapi News. She lives in Tehachapi and can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.