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Higher Fees Urged to Pay for Expanded Police Facilities


MOORPARK — Saying the city's sheriff's headquarters is overcrowded and will only get worse, Moorpark officials will urge the City Council tonight to hike developer fees to build a new station.

But opponents of the proposal say any increase in building fees should be used to increase housing for low-income families.

"I believe it was overcrowded the day they moved in," said Mayor Pat Hunter, a lieutenant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "That's why this fee is so imperative. The most obvious thing is that it doesn't accommodate future growth. In the next 12 to 24 months, we're expanding the department and providing more patrol services."

The city contracts with the Ventura County Sheriff's Department for law enforcement services, and now has about two dozen deputies and non-sworn workers at the Moorpark headquarters, located in the old Moorpark Unified School District office on Flory Avenue.

Developers pay about $27,000 in county and city fees per residential unit built, said Ventura County Planning Commissioner Michael Wesner, who represents Moorpark and Simi Valley. Business construction requires higher fees.

The police facility fee for residential units would go from $303 per unit to $677. The price for new businesses would increase from 19 cents per square foot to 41 cents.

That's a lot of money for someone building a 1,000-square-foot warehouse, Wesner said. Now they're charged $19,000 in police fees, but could wind up paying $40,000.

"This is one of those items on the consent calendar [of the council's meeting agenda] that hasn't had much discussion," said Wesner, who is running for the Moorpark City Council. "It's one of those silent things that gets put on developers and it all comes back to us eventually, particularly when bringing business into town."

Projected city growth moved station construction up on the city's list of priorities, Hunter said.

"In order to provide acceptable services, we must add detectives, patrol functions and the support staff that goes with that," he added.

Until about two years ago, city deputies worked from the East Valley office, a complex five miles outside Moorpark that is used by the Thousand Oaks police force.

Hunter pushed to get Moorpark officers a home within the city limits, and the present 2,200-square-foot office was rented from the school district. Residents pay for police protection, he said, and should get a good response time from officers if they dial 911.

Suspects still are booked and housed at the East Valley location, but deputies come back to Moorpark when writing reports, he added.

"You can't overlook the responsibility to provide fundamental law enforcement to the community," Hunter said. "As we grow and expand, we need a dedicated facility."

Councilman Chris Evans said he knows that the city needs a police station, but added that he would rather see extra fees used for affordable housing.

"I'm getting tired of this," Evans said. "I ran into a couple desperately looking for a home. The woman grew up here and she can't afford to stay here."

There are six developments with a total of 1,275 units scheduled to be built in Moorpark. Of those, 132 are for people in the low- to very low-income bracket, said Nancy Burns, a redevelopment analyst for the city.

There's roughly $3 million in a city account, funded by developers who paid a fee in lieu of building affordable units, she said. With the money, Moorpark can offset housing prices and offer other subsidies.

However, there are no units available for low-income renters and buyers, and none has been built in about a decade, she said.

All income levels are affected by fee increases, said Hugh Riley, assistant city manager.

"If you want a police station, you must find the money," he said. "We expect the development community to pay its share of facilities needed because of growth."

The City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 799 Moorpark Ave.

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