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Orange County Focus

ORANGE : Developer Fee Hike for Parks Urged

June 13, 1991|MARY HELEN BERG

A proposal to increase park fees in the city of Orange would cost developers $650 more per home to build here but would raise tens of millions of dollars to improve the city's parks.

The plan from the community services department, presented as part of the 1991-92 budget package, recommends that the City Council approve park fee increases of 40% for each single- and multifamily residence built.

Currently, Orange charges among the lowest park fees in the county and the city needs the additional funds to satisfy the growing demand for park facilities, said Gary Wann, director of community services.

"A few years ago we were dead last" in park fees, Wann said. "And right now we have an ungodly need for recreational sports facilities."

There are more than 10,000 children in the city who should have access to play facilities, but the city has no public gymnasiums and few lighted playing fields, according to the city's Community Services Department. Two gyms are scheduled for design this year, but it could be as long as three years before the facilities are completed, Wann said.

Last year, the city raised park fees to developers from $1,500 to $1,650 per unit. Under the new proposal, fees would increase from $1,650 to $2,300 per single-family home, and from from $880 to $1,230 for an apartment or condominium. The park fee for a mobile home would remain at $660 per home.

Even with the increase proposed for next year, Orange's park fees are still more than $450 below the county average of $2,768 for a single-family home, Wann said.

"I would hope (developers) would understand the reason that we have recommended the increase," Wann said. "If they are building in a city adjacent to Orange they know what they're paying. and it's much more. So this is only fair."

Some industry representatives say that while builders should help pay for parks, they should not be made to rectify the mistakes of the last 20 years by paying fees that are too high.

"Low fees period make a city a more attractive place to build," said Tom Daly, spokesman for the Building Industry Assn. of Orange County. "Park fees probably would not sway a builder one way or another, but when considered a part of a package of very high fees it surely might make the difference whether a house is built there or not and surely would effect the type and price of the housing."

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