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Developer Fees for Child Care, Arts Considered:

After a lengthy discussion last Wednesday, Santa Monica’s Planning Commission hammered out a recommendation for the City Council to incorporate in the City’s Child Care Linkage Program and Developer Cultural Arts Requirements.

Adopted in 1991, the City’s Child Care Master Plan and Policy, according to the City staff report “set forth a goal that the City of Santa Monica shall integrate the child care needs of those who live or work in the community into the City’s land use planning process” in order to alleviate the shortage of child care facilities.

“Similarly,” the report continued. “The 1992 Cultural Arts Master Plan and its 1996 update identified the need to offset development impacts to community cultural resources as the City becomes more built-out.”

The Commission is recommending that developers be charged approximately $5 per square foot, reflecting  the high cost of developing child care facilities in the City with and without land.  The fee would be triggered on new developments of 7,500 square feet or more and would escalate annually. The commission further recommended that a fee be assessed for residential development and that it  could be used for the rehabilitation or repair of existing facilities.

Turning their attention to developer fees for the arts, commission members recommended that two percent  of a building permit valuation should be spent on on-site art, with a contribution equivalent to one percent as an in-lieu fee option. As with the child care program,  the square foot trigger for new developments should be 7,500 square feet for both commercial and residential developments. 

In addition, a flexible administrative process should be developed for developer funded on-site art.   

Finally, the Commission recommended that in-lieu funds be given the broadest use, including  subsidizing affordable housing.  It agreed with City staff that the funds could be used for “funding of new and renovation of existing cultural facilities, contributions to City festivals and events, designation of fees to contribute to pre-approved public art works or events, conservation of existing works of public art, funding of new City cultural programs, and grants to cultural organizations.” 

The Commission also wants the City to carefully examine the relationship between one time fund uses and continuing fund uses.

Prior to making its recommendations, the Commission heard from the community.  Former Mayor Nat Trives commended the commission for its “vision, ”  and compared the Developer Cultural Art Requirement to the City’s “setting aside $200 per residential unit for park space” when he was on the City Council in 1975.

Irene Zivi, a member of the Santa Monica Childcare and Early Education Task Force, expressed her organization’s support for a City Childcare Linkage Program, noting that it’s difficult to “fashion” a different agreement with each individual developer for childcare.  She also asked that developer fees be used to subsidize childcare.  The City Council will consider the Commission’s recommendations  at its February 14, 2006 meeting.

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