November 2010 home page

  Fearsome Fees
Dick Murray, | Stratford Court (commentary)


Last year the City of Del Mar hired a consultant to review the fees they charge people to use City resources and to conduct requested activities offered by the City. I and 8 other of my condominium neighbors got caught up in this new fee schedule. Here is what happened. In 2003 after many years of attempting to resolve a trees and view situation with our neighbor, we applied to the City to open a Trees,Scenic Views and Sunlight (TVS) action against our unresponsive neighbor. We paid the requested $1169.50 city fee. After purposely delaying the action due to the deteriorating health of our neighbor - who passed away in 2008, we again tried to negotiate a solution to our view problems to no avail.

In requesting the city to reactivate the TVS 30-30 we were told the new fee would be $3790. WOW we were taken back. Then because 9 of us applied we would need to pay $3790 each. The City Manager said the City Council may wave the need for each of us to pay the full amount, but we may expect to pay the increase to the new amount. The history of our complaint goes way back to the early 1990s. We have documented proof that the neighbor, or their representatives have promised action but not followed through.

The $2600 increase for applying to use the TVS ordinance to force our neighbors to arbitration seems like a way to kill most people from applying to the City for help in negotiating View loss due to excessive tree growth and /or using tall trees as a fence or a way to obtain total privacy. At one time the Del Mar City Council coined a term for purposeful view blockage. It was called a “spite fence” and these few situations were instrumental in establishing the Trees, Scenic Views and Sunlight ordinance. Maybe the City should retire this ordinance and once again let us fight such things out in court. I also think it would be interesting for the City to publish a newspaper article showing the old fee structure and the newer fees now being charged for all fee based activities.

Maybe the new Fees need some sunlight.
A triple increase in city fees in 7 years seems a good way to stop most citizen requested City help.


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