Irvine City Council is set to vote Tuesday on whether to slash fees on development at the Irvine Business Complex by nearly 75 percent.

The vision plan for the complex calls for as many as 8,000 new homes. But representatives of the developers have made it clear that actually building the homes would have been difficult with the fees in place. The fees would pay for new and improved roads and sidewalks and amenities like a new library.

Developers never liked the fee schedule, but chose to complain privately to city officials rather than make a big public stink.

The lobbying has been intense in recent months with representatives from the Building Industry Association of Southern California meeting with city staff to express their concern with the fee schedule, according to a Jan. 19 letter from the association.

If the developers get their way, the fee for traffic mitigation would be slashed from $7,175 to $1,862 per home, and there would be fee cuts for other types of development as well, according to the report.

Such a big fee cut is possible because major traffic improvements, like widening projects involving Alton and Von Karman roads, have been scrapped, according to the report.

“I had one builder that previously indicated that his project wouldn’t pencil, and now with these fee reductions he can actually move forward,” said Kristine Thalman, chief executive officer of the association. “We commend the city for that.”

The city expects developer fees to cover about 90 percent of the cost of the traffic mitigation improvements, with the remaining 10 percent covered through “outside funding sources, such as federal, state and county grants,” the report said.

Although major traffic improvements are going by the wayside, a $79 million neighborhood infrastructure plan is still in place, and there is still some concern that the fees to pay for those improvements are too high.

“I think there probably still could be some discussion whether some of those improvements identified are feasible,” said Pamela Sapetto, a representative with business and property owners in the area.

Developers will still pay in-lieu-of affordable housing fees that go as high as $14,820. But revenues from those fees won’t be enough to pay for the total cost of improvements, according to the report. The city expects to cover the shortfall through grant opportunities.

Also on council’s agenda is a resolution to oppose Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate the state’s 425 redevelopment agencies and the appointment of a council subcommittee to handle the issue.

Gov Brown ‘s proposal would take control of the estimated $5 billion in property taxes redevelopment agencies collect each year. As Voice of OC reported last week, no OC asset would be hit harder by the proposal than the Great Park, which, in future years, is supposed to rely on property tax increment as its main funding source.

Correction: A previous version of this post inaccurately described in-lieu-of affordable housing fees paid by developers. We regret the error.


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