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Berkeley considers $10K fee on affordable housing

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“Monitoring fee” would cover city’s costs related to housing programs

Berkeley City Hall.
Berkeley City Hall.
Photo by Almonroth

On Tuesday, Berkeley’s City Council considered leveling new fees on BMR apartments, including a onetime $10,000 “set-up fee” and a perpetual $450/year fee (payable by the landlord) on each new BMR home.

The annual “monitoring fee” would help pay for additional staff to oversee programs related to subsidized housing. City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley explained in a memo:

The City does not currently charge any fees associated with the cost of staffing the City’s below market rate programs. [...] Currently, General Funds pay for time associated with monitoring the BMR program.

[...] If the fees are adopted, fee revenue would be used to hire an additional Community Development Project Coordinator dedicated to the BMR program, which accounts for the increase in program costs in the following table. General funds now supporting BMR monitoring staffing would support Housing Trust Fund monitoring, which requires more time than federal funds can support.

Berkeley estimates that it will spend about $150,000 on oversight for affordable housing this year. Next year it will be $289,000.

If implemented, the new fees would generate an estimated $232,000 in the fiscal year 2018, including $182,000 from the first annual fees on 405 subsidized apartments.

New buildings that pay the $10,000 onetime fee wouldn’t be hit with the per unit costs until the next year. Developers already paying into Berkeley’s affordable housing fund (to build BMR homes offsite) wouldn’t have to pay the $10K.

Photo by pikkappa51

Monitoring subsidized homes means keeping tabs on things like how much property managers charge tenants. According to the job posting for the position in April, the project coordinator whose salary the fees would pay is:

Responsible for coordinating various phases of projects including initial planning, project approval and implementing activities of economic development, housing, developing requests for grant funding, contract compliance matters, operations support, data analysis, or policy, procedure or budget development and administration.

Other responsibilities include representing the department in meetings with other agencies, boards and commissions and community groups.

San Francisco doesn’t charge a monitoring fee for affordable units, but some other California cities do, ranging from just $25/unit in Irvine to over $800 annually apiece in Dublin. Berkeley originally proposed a $600 annual fee.

The City Council did not reach a decision on the proposal on Tuesday, and set another hearing for June.