San Diego Business Journal

Coalition Launching Campaign to Overturn Linkage Fee Hike

By Lou Hirsh Wednesday, December 11, 2013

San Diego opponents of a newly approved increase in commercial developer “linkage” fees plan to launch a signature drive aimed at overturning the decision or placing it before voters.

Leaders of the Jobs Coalition, consisting of more than 50 local business organizations, said they are seeking to collect 34,000 valid signatures, to force San Diego City Council to either rescind the measure or place it on the June 2014 election ballot. A coalition spokeswoman said the drive will begin before month’s end, likely on Dec. 25 or 26.

City Council recently approved a measure to restore the linkage fee to 1.5 percent of construction costs, where it stood when the fee was established in 1990. The percentage was cut in half in 1996, and the restored percentage would impact projects approved after June 30, 2014.

Depending on the type of commercial project, the current fee cost will rise between 400 and 900 percent, which opponents contend will curtail local development and job creation.

“At a time when our economy is still fragile, we cannot afford a tax on job creation that could easily push San Diego back into a recession,” said Jerry Sanders, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, at a Dec. 11 coalition news briefing outside San Diego City Hall.

The Jobs Coalition includes the chamber, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., building industry and commercial real estate organizations, and local companies.

The fee hike was proposed by the nonprofit San Diego Housing Commission, which said more local funding is needed to build affordable workforce housing following the disbanding of California’s redevelopment agencies.

San Diego is among 60 California cities with the commercial linkage fee, and the only city in San Diego County.