California-Developer School Fees under Sb13 / Land Use 65852.2

10 Replies

I am currently battling with the local school district here in Orange County. Capistrano Unified School District. Their interpretation of the new ADU laws don't match up with the intent of the legislation. They are attempting to impose their latest developer fee rate of $4.08 per square ft, even on designs less than 750 square ft.

Any thoughts?  HCD currently agrees with me that the fees do not apply- although they have no leverage against specific school districts.

Originally posted by @Michael Frost :

I am currently battling with the local school district here in Orange County. Capistrano Unified School District. Their interpretation of the new ADU laws don't match up with the intent of the legislation. They are attempting to impose their latest developer fee rate of $4.08 per square ft, even on designs less than 750 square ft.

Any thoughts?  HCD currently agrees with me that the fees do not apply- although they have no leverage against specific school districts.

Did HCD provide any guidance? I thought part of their charter/purpose was to ensure local jurisdictions abide by the ADU regulations. I am surprised that they indicate they have no leverage. I recently heard Greg Nickless from HCD speak and he indicated they were working with all jurisdictions to ensure that the jurisdictions were compliant with the existing ADU rules. If he did not outright state that they would ensure the rules were obeyed by the various jurisdictions, I thought he, at a minimum, implied it.

I would press HCD for guidance.  I fear if you pay it with hopes of ever getting it back because it was not supposed to be charged, you may be disappointed.  I fear once you pay it, that $3K is like gone.

Also you may have chosen 750' to avoid the impact fees which would suck if for example you would have preferred 800' but chose 750' to save the impact fees.

Good luck

Dan- you are correct.  Great response by the way.  Exactly the way i think.


I am working with HCD and Greg.  Although they need attorney general formal opinion- and that is weeks away.   I do have a five page response to their current policy- and HCD is part of that document.  We shall see. 

Hi Michael - What was the result of your battle with the school district? I am going through the same thing with the Long Beach school district; they insist that they are exempt from SB13 and that I have to pay school impact fees to develop my 500-square-foot ADU... very frustrating.

Mike I too am dealing with the LBUSD over my 360SF detached garage/ADU conversion. I was stuck with paying the $1,500 school impact fee in order to get their approval. I then went through the three-step "grievance" procedure where the District basically blew me off. I had provided them with the updated HCD ADU handbook that states school districts can not charge impact fees for ADU's under 500sf. LBUSD seemed to just go through the motions and denied me every step of the way.

After the holidays I will again contact Reid Miller at HCD and see where they are at with this. He has stated that the LBUSD is improperly charging me this fee. It looks like I will have to take them to (small claims) court, after I submit a PRA request for and receive pertinent information.

Now I feel like a fool as in the last 10 years the LBUSD has been provided 2.7 BILLION dollars from two bond measures on the ballot. On the first bond measure (K) I was on committees, attended meetings, and promoted the measure in person at school sites and special-called meetings. I also promoted the second bond measure (E) in multiple ways. My business was a business partner with the LBUSD/Long Beach Education Foundation, as a result of my many financial contributions. 

This is one greedy entity-no good deed with them goes unpunished. I am going to do my part to correct this injustice.

John-   

Long story short. (assuming you meet development standards). I believe building anything less than 500 square ft- you will save money if you can define the project as an "addition" vs. an "ADU". Now, you may be taking advantage of the ADU code for other components- but if a project is under 500 square ft, there are no fee savings........


As for fees-  

You are exactly correct. The HCD clearly identifies any ADU project under 500 square ft. as not applicable for School fees. (BTW- I think new HCD booklet is really good)

Although- my guess is this- the 2020 ADU legislation actually says, "Local Agencies" and 'Special Districts" cannot charge fees. Unfortunately, within the fee section (66000) of government code, a "school district" is determined to not be a "Local Agency" or "Special District". So school districts are leveraging that discrepancy in order to continue to apply fees.

So why did HCD write that fees are not applicable for project under 500 square  ft?   (That notion is not contained within any of the new legislation)   Most likely, HCD is referencing the standard fee section of the government code- and it does state that a owner can add up to 500 square ft to their property and not pay "school fees".

So- you can see the problem here. Simply do an addition to a house of under 500 square ft. no school fees. But do that same project defined as an "ADU"- school districts now apply the fee.

Assuming, you have the flexibility to define your project as an "addition", and still accomplish your goals- you would be exempt from school fees, developer fees, sprinklers are still off the table etc....


  

 

Michael the LBUSD is claiming the Education Code is their guiding document. The Education Code refers to the Government Code to describe meaning of the work being done. The Government Code says that new construction or reconstruction shall be considered as "residential construction", which in the Education Code means the square footage fee limitations apply. It's pretty clear. As such I don't believe a school district has ever had the ability to evade these provisions.

I've been in contact with Reid Miller at the HCD since January 2020 and the lawyers have been looking at this particular clause in SB 13 since then, with the result being their interpretation that the language applies to school districts, as spelled out in the late 2020 handbook.

Addition vs ADU would go nowhere they will charge you an impact fee regardless.

Where do you see in the Government Code the language you quote "HCD is referencing the standard fee section of the government code- and it does state that a owner can add up to 500 square ft to their property and not pay "school fees"?

Since we're talking about substantial money the school districts will fight this to the end. They won't be bothered spending our money and using their (our) lawyers so they can continue to overcharge us.

LBUSD charged a resident school impact fees for adding sewer service to a 300sf permitted existing "rumpus room". What a ripoff!

My 360 sf ADU, probably rented to a family with five children, will be putting such a strain on the school districts finances. The 500sf cutoff makes perfect sense.

Its been a while since i have dived into this.  But I was mistaken.  The 500 square ft. requirement is in the Education code section 1760.    (a)(C)(i)


Assuming you simply were building an "addition" as long as the net add is less than 500 square ft- it would not apply.

I see your point now. Reclassifying as an "addition" shouldn't matter, considering it states "new construction". Although- I do believe an "ADU" is technically a new residential "use" - The issue with flipping to an "addition" would be that it is not a new "Use".

I am splitting hairs here- but I think that is what they are hanging their hat on.

FYI - In Dana Point we would not charge School Fees on any addition less than 500 square ft.

Sorry - one last item. I am currently building a 1200 square ft detached ADU. (3 beds 2 bath). In order to reduce fees, I did identify the structure as 749 sq. ft. ADU, plus an addition of 450 sq. ft. to the existing structure. (I do have a 1 hr firewall)

Under this scenario- I paid no development impact fees- and I paid school fees on 749 square ft.  I probably saved about 8k.