Home prices in Ventura could rise by more than $4,000 under a road-improvement plan now favored by a majority of the Ventura City Council.
Three councilmen, who are studying how much developers should pay for such measures, say they will probably recommend increasing the fee from $1,200 to $5,400 for a single-family home.
But such a dramatic increase would be passed on to home buyers, who might shun Ventura for less-expensive communities, developers contend.
In opting for the highest rates among the three plans presented by city staff, the councilmen said their recommendation would call for dropping the fees if county voters approved a half-cent sales tax earmarked for transportation needs.
"While all developers are concerned about the price, they also have to recognize that we have a problem and that we have to deal with it," said Councilman Bill Crew, chairman of the city's transportation and traffic committee. "There are only several sources of income that are at all realistic."
Although the consensus reached by Crew and Councilmen Richard Francis and John Sullard must still weather another public hearing and a vote of the seven-member council, a sampling of opinion from other council members suggests that it will be supported.
"I think something has to be done with traffic, and the only way I can see at this particular time to get any money is through that means," Councilman John McWherter said.
"I think it's a good strategy," agreed Councilman Don Villeneuve.
Reaction from developers, however, was negative.
"I think all those developers who are looking to do low-cost projects are basically going to have to walk away from Ventura," said Ron Polito, manager of Don L. Carleton Inc., a Ventura realtor and developer. "You just can't add on those kind of prices."
Tom Buford, president of the Greater Ventura Chamber of Commerce, agreed.
'No Sense at All'
"We'll end up driving away substantial business from the city and creating an atmosphere that says to those around us, 'We don't really want you here,' " he said. "To me, that makes no sense at all."
Although the figures are tentative, the top fees being supported by the committee would fund $92 million in road improvements over the next 12 years. Those improvements would raise traffic circulation throughout the city to a "C" level, which means a steady flow of cars with low to moderate delay.
Council members have been presented with two alternatives, which include funding either 75% or 50% of the proposed improvements. Those plans would leave some intersections at service levels of "D," "E" and "F"--the last signifying a complete traffic flow breakdown.
In supporting the top rates, the committee would recommend raising the fee for a single-family home from $1,200 to $5,400, the fee for an apartment unit from $720 to $3,570, the fee for general commercial projects from $2,400 per thousand square feet to $4,870 and the fee for manufacturing projects from $1,000 per thousand square feet to $2,870.
The Ventura County Economic Development Assn., which favors the sales tax, will ask the county Board of Supervisors to put the issue on the November ballot if a survey sponsored by the group shows sufficient public support, president Norman Lueck said.
The tax, which is expected to generate $315 million over 15 years, would probably be able to pay for most of the city's traffic improvements, as well as similar transportation projects throughout the county, Lueck said.