Chapter 10.85


10.85.010    Authority.

10.85.020    Intent and purpose.

10.85.030    Definitions.

10.85.040    Traffic impact fee.

10.85.050    Limited use of fee.

10.85.060    Developer construction of facilities.

10.85.070    Exemptions.

10.85.080    Fee adjustments.

10.85.090    Refund of fee.

10.85.100    Statutory exemption.

10.85.110    Severability.

10.85.010 AUTHORITY.

The ordinance codified in this chapter is enacted pursuant to the Mitigation Fee Act, California Government Code Section 66000 et seq., and to the Charter City authority provided by the Constitution of the State of California.

(Ord. 2004-11 § 1 (part), 2004).


(a)    The city council of the city of Santa Cruz declares that:

(1)    Adequate capital transportation improvements and facilities are needed to protect and advance the health, safety, and general welfare of the city’s citizens;

(2)    The city of Santa Cruz provides transportation improvements, facilities and services for residents, businesses, visitors, and employees within the city;

(3)    New development within the city will create an additional burden on the existing transportation system;

(4)    In order to implement the goals and objectives of the Santa Cruz general plan, to mitigate the impacts caused by new and anticipated development identified in the general plan, and maintain acceptable levels of traffic service within the city, traffic mitigation projects contemplated by and described in the general plan must be constructed;

(5)    The city council has determined that a traffic impact fee is needed in order to finance these capital improvements and to pay for new development’s fair share of the acquisition and improvement construction costs and other costs necessary or convenient to insure conformity to or implementation of the general plan;

(6)    In establishing the fee described in the following sections, the city council has found the fee to be consistent with the general plan.

(b)    This chapter applies to fees charged as a condition of development approval to defray the cost of certain transportation improvements required to serve new development within designated areas of the city of Santa Cruz. This chapter does not replace normal subdivision map exactions or other measures required to mitigate site specific impacts of a development project including, but not limited to, mitigations imposed pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act; regulatory and processing fees; fees required pursuant to a development agreement; funds collected pursuant to a reimbursement agreement that exceed the developer’s share of public improvement costs; or assessment district proceedings, benefit assessments, or taxes.

(c)    Fees collected pursuant to this chapter are not intended to replace or limit requirements to provide mitigation of traffic impacts not mitigated by the traffic impact fee, created by a specific project, and imposed as conditions of approval upon development projects as part of the development review process.

(Ord. 2004-11 § 1 (part), 2004).

10.85.030 DEFINITIONS.

For the purposes of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

(a)    “City” shall mean the city of Santa Cruz.

(b)    “Development permit” shall mean any permit or approval from the city of Santa Cruz including, but not limited to, a general plan amendment, zoning or rezoning of property, a conditional use permit, a design permit, a coastal development permit, a variance permit, a planned development permit, subdivision map, parcel map, building permit, or another permit for construction, reconstruction, or development.

(c)    “New development” shall mean any development requiring a development permit.

(Ord. 2004-11 § 1 (part), 2004).


(a)    A traffic impact fee is hereby established to be assessed in connection with the issuance of any development permit for development in areas of the city designated by city council resolution. In accordance with the general plan, the fee shall be used to pay costs associated with the mitigation of traffic impacts attributable to the development that is the subject of the permit. The city council shall, in a city council resolution, set forth the specific amount of the fee, describe the benefit and impact areas on which the traffic impact fee is imposed, list the specific capital improvements to be financed, describe the estimated cost of these facilities, describe the reasonable relationship between this fee and the various types of new developments, and set forth time for payment.

(b)    To the extent that the traffic impact fee includes components for financing projects already included in fees collected under other city ordinances, such other fees, when paid, shall be a credit against the appropriate components of the traffic impact fee. To the extent that some or all of the project financing or to be financed by the traffic impact fee are financed through a community facilities district, special assessment district or other financing mechanism, participation in such other financing mechanism shall be a credit against the appropriate component of the traffic impact fee.

(c)    As described in the fee resolution, this traffic impact fee shall be paid by each developer either prior to issuance of a building permit or prior to issuance of a certificate of occupancy of the commercial or industrial project or the respective dwelling units in a residential project, or at such earlier time permitted by law, as set forth in, if applicable, Government Code Section 66007 or successor legislation.

(d)    Payment of the fee may be deferred for five years provided the owner of the real property for which the fees are required enters into a recordable agreement with the city prior to issuance of the building permit for the development, which from the date of recordation, shall constitute a lien on the property and shall be enforceable against successors in interest to the property owner. The agreement may provide for administrative fees, inflationary costs of construction and late payment fees. The agreement shall provide that, in any action to collect the fees or any portion thereof, the city shall be entitled to all its costs of enforcement and collection, including reasonable attorney’s fees. The director of planning and community development may execute the agreement on behalf of the city in a form acceptable to the city attorney. Any deferral granted pursuant to this paragraph shall be consistent with the requirements of Government Code Section 66007.

(e)    On an annual basis, the city council shall review the fees to determine whether the fee amounts are reasonably related to the burden of developments and whether the described public facilities are still needed. Within one hundred eighty days of the close of each fiscal year, the city council shall review and make available to the public all information required by state laws, including information required by Government Code Section 66006(b)(1) or successor legislation.

(f)    If applicable, during the annual review, the city council shall make the findings required by Government Code Section 66001(d) or successor legislation.

(Ord. 2012-20 § 1, 2012: Ord. 2004-11 § 1 (part), 2004).


The revenue raised by payment of this fee shall be placed in a separate and special account and such revenues, along with any interest earnings on the account, shall be used solely to:

(a)    Pay for the city’s future construction of facilities described in the city council resolution enacted pursuant to Section 10.85.040(a), or to reimburse the city for those described or listed facilities constructed by the city with funds advanced by the city from other resources; or

(b)    Reimburse developers who have been required or permitted by Section 10.85.060 to install such listed facilities which are oversized with supplemental size, length, or capacity, relative to demand generated by the subject project; or

(c)    Pay costs required for the administration of this chapter, including, but not limited to costs incurred in conducting hearings required by state law.

(Ord. 2004-11 § 1 (part), 2004).


Whenever a developer is required, as a condition of approval of a development permit, to construct a public facility described in a resolution adopted pursuant to Section 10.85.040(a), which facility is determined by the city to have supplemental size, length, or capacity over that needed for the impacts of that development, and when such construction is necessary to ensure efficient and timely construction of the facilities network, a reimbursement agreement with the developer shall be offered. The reimbursement amount shall not include the portion of the improvement needed to provide services or mitigate the need for the facility or the burdens created by the development.

(Ord. 2004-11 § 1 (part), 2004).

10.85.070 EXEMPTIONS.

(a)    Public park facilities, city buildings, and those public facilities entitled to an exemption under law are exempt from the traffic impact fee.

(b)    Nonresidential development shall be exempt when the total square footage is equal to or less than one thousand square feet in size.

(Ord. 2012-20 § 2, 2012: Ord. 2004-11 § 1 (part), 2004).


(a)    A developer of any project subject to the traffic impact fee described in Section 10.85.040 may apply to the city council for a reduction or adjustment to that fee, or a waiver of that fee, based upon the absence of any reasonable relationship or nexus between the impacts of that development and either the amount of the fee charged or the type of facilities to be financed. The application shall be made in writing and filed with the city clerk not later than ten days prior to the public hearing on the development permit application for the project. The application shall state in detail the factual basis for the claim of waiver, reduction or adjustment. The applicant shall bear the burden of proof in presenting substantial evidence to support the application. The city council shall consider the application at the public hearing on the permit application or at a separate hearing held within sixty days after the filing of the fee adjustment application, whichever is later. The city council shall uphold the fee and deny the application if it finds that there is a reasonable relationship between the impacts of the development and the amount of the fee charged and the type of facilities to be financed. The city council shall consider the land use category determination, and the substance and nature of the evidence, including the fee calculation method, supporting technical documentation, and the appellant’s technical data. In lieu of waiving a fee pursuant to a fee waiver application, the council may adjust the fee upon concluding that the evidence offered at the hearing justifies an adjustment rather than a waiver. The decision of the city council shall be final. If a reduction, adjustment, or waiver is granted, any change in use within the project shall invalidate the waiver, adjustment, or reduction of the fee.

(b)    At the time of the approval of the project or at the time of the imposition of the fee, the developer shall receive a written statement of the amount of the fee and notification that the 90-day approval period in which the applicant may protest has begun.

(Ord. 2004-11 § 1 (part), 2004).

10.85.090 REFUND OF FEE.

(a)    If a development permit expires, is canceled, or is voided and any fees paid pursuant to this chapter have not been expended, no construction has taken place on either the development or the public facility, and the use has never occupied the site, the city council, shall, upon the written request of the applicant and the finding of these facts order return of the fee and the interest accrued thereon, less administrative costs.

(b)    If, during the course of the annual review described in Section 10.85.040(d), the city council determines that sufficient funds have been collected to complete financing on an incomplete public improvement, and the public improvement remains incomplete, the city shall identify, within one hundred eighty days of the determination that sufficient funds have been collected, an approximate date by which the construction of the public improvement will be commenced, or shall refund the unexpended portion of the fee, and any interest accrued thereon, in compliance with state law, including, if applicable, Government Code Section 66001(e) or successor legislation.

(c)    If the city council fails to make the findings described in Section 10.85.040(e) when required to do so by state law, the city shall refund the fee as set forth in Government Code Section 66001(e) or successor legislation.

(Ord. 2004-11 § 1 (part), 2004).


The city council hereby finds and determines that pursuant to Public Resources Code Section 21080(b)(8) the enactment of this chapter constitutes a project which is statutorily exempt from the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. Specifically this chapter establishes and approves traffic impact fees that will generate funds for capital projects which are necessary to maintain acceptable levels of traffic and transportation service within the city. This chapter does not, nor is it intended to, approve or predetermine any development project which may be proposed in the future for which a traffic impact fee may be exacted in accordance with this chapter. As such it merely provides the city with the procedural authority to impose traffic impact fees if and when any such development project might be proposed or applied for.

(Ord. 2004-11 § 1 (part), 2004).


The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to any person, association, corporation or to any property as to whom or which it is beyond the power of the city of Santa Cruz to impose the fee herein provided. If any sentence, clause, section or part of this chapter, or any fee imposed upon any person or entity is found to be unconstitutional, illegal or invalid, such unconstitutionality, illegality, or invalidity shall affect only such clause, sentence, section or part of this chapter, or person or entity; and shall not affect or impair any of the remaining provisions, sentences, clauses, sections or other parts of this chapter, or its effect on other persons or entities. It is hereby declared to be the intention of the city council that this chapter would have been adopted had such unconstitutional, illegal or invalid sentence, clause, section or part of this chapter not been included herein; or had such person or entity been expressly exempted from the application of this chapter. To this end the provisions of this chapter are severable.

(Ord. 2004-11 § 1 (part), 2004).