These impact fees are crazy and it was nice to see such a good turnout to change the direction that the city is trying to impose. I'm not sure if people really understand the impact that these fees will have on the building industry. The city is trying to saddled builders with 95% of the cost of the new roads.
Builders, developers, and real estate professionals turned out in force on Wednesday at a Spokane Plan Commission public hearing regarding the proposed transportation impact fee. The message was clear: Don't impose the fee before completing the baseline traffic study, and don't saddle development with 95% of the cost for new road capacity.
The vast majority of oral and written testimony on impact fees has been provided by the development and real estate communities, and Wednesday evening proved no different. George Paras, of Paras Homes, distributed eye-popping numbers illustrating that a home built in Spokane without impact fees is already assessed over $30,000 in building fees and related taxes. The same home built in Post Falls, ID, which includes impact fees, has only $19,000 in fees and taxes. Clearly the addition of an impact fee in Spokane will affect housing affordability and regional competitiveness.
Only one no-growth activist showed up to speak, calling for emergency adoption of the ordinance and threatening to shut down development through a building moratorium if impact fees aren't enacted.
First of all, threatening moratoria over the lack of impact fees is a red herring at best, but it's laughable to say that sitting through an additional stop light cycle during rush hour constitutes an emergency. It's also significant to point out that prior to the impact fee hearing, several dozen citizens showed up to oppose a comprehensive plan amendment that would allow a multi-family housing development to be built in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood center. Not one of these individuals stuck around to speak on behalf of the impact fee. Some emergency.
We have to stick together in this fight, not just for our businesses but for every homeowner out there...the result will be even less affordable housing than we have now and more people not being able to enjoy the benefits of owning their own home.
(information courtesy of the Spokane Home Builders Association weekly newsletter)