SAN CLEMENTE — More than 100 people crowded into the City Council chambers this week, most to voice opposition to a proposed road repair fee that would cost the average homeowner on a public street about $130 a year.
During about two hours of public testimony, a vast majority of the residents, many of them senior citizens, said they believed the proposed fee is inequitable because homeowners on private streets would pay less.
Many also urged the city to find other ways to pay for much-needed street repairs, whether it be from loans or reserve funds or through additional budget cuts.
"You want more and more and more from us," said Audrey Germer, echoing the frustrations voiced by many in the audience.
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions," said Harold White, another property owner.
Only a handful of those in the audience approved of the fee, saying they believed it was a good investment to keep the city beautiful, safe and property values high.
Under the proposed Street Overlay and Replacement District, which would raise either $1.5 million or $1.9 million annually for road work on both major and residential streets, homeowners on public streets would pay fees of up to $130 per year, officials said.
Those on private streets, who already pay fees to homeowner associations for road repairs, would pay up to $33 annually to cover a share of projects on major streets, officials said. Property owners in the Pier Bowl would also pay the $33 yearly fee, since they are already being assessed for street repairs under a 1983 program.
Commercial property owners each year would pay about $283 per acre.
The City Council will make a final decision on the proposed fee at its July 14 meeting after another public hearing.
If approved, the new fee would be the second adopted by the City Council this year. Last month, a council majority adopted a storm-drain utility fee that would assess homeowners $2.96 per month to help the city raise about $1 million annually for storm-drain repairs.
In a report to the council Wednesday, City Engineer William Cameron said the city would have to spend about $2.85 million annually over the next 10 to 20 years to fix streets already in disrepair and prevent others from needing costly improvements.
But Cameron said the city can only expect to receive about $750,000 per year in state and county funds for repairs on the 120 miles of streets in the city.
"Without this funding source," he said, referring to the fee proposal, "the city is going to fall further and further behind."
Under the $1.9-million fee program, the city would be able to fix larger streets in about seven years and smaller residential streets in 10 years, Cameron said.