Developer Barratt American again sues Encinitas over fees
By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer
ENCINITAS ---- Developer Barratt American Inc. is suing the city for increasing building and plan-checking fees, even as a related case remains unresolved.
Filed this month in Superior Court, Barratt's lawsuit alleges that Encinitas' approval in December of a revised fee schedule would result "in a massive and unjustified increase in the fees for building permits and plan reviews."
Several city officials contacted Monday said they weren't aware of the lawsuit.
"I hope we can talk to (Barratt) and settle it early and get it resolved," Mayor Christy Guerin said.
The city's fees are at about the midpoint of those charged by other cities in the region.
"It's a little frustrating, to say the least," Guerin said of the lawsuit.
In a related lawsuit, lawyers for the Carlsbad-based builder have argued that Encinitas charges more in fees than it spends to provide the inspection services.
It's hard to feel sorry for Barratt American, they posted record multi-million dollar profits last year and they are major proponent of sprawl in north county, but these same fees do effect the little guy. If you want to build a home you gotta pay these fees too.
Are these fees justified? Well, we know that the city is constantly revenue hungry. The city tries to raises taxes and fees whenever and wherever it can. (Short term rental folk, the city doesn't really care about solving your noise problems but they are licking their chops at collecting fines). The city wants to charge you extra streetlight fees, water fees, building fees, they even kick around the idea of parking meters.
Michael D Pattinson, CEO of Barratt American, writes a bi-weekly opinion column for the North County Times. He whines like a little girl often that his company is always getting sued by grumpy NIMBY's, yet Barratt keeps their lawyers busy with full time work. Barratt is constantly suing local governments. A case of the pot calling the kettle black?
In December, the City Council approved the first adjustment to Encinitas' fees in 11 years, which brought increases ranging from 13 percent to 52 percent. The increase would recover the costs of providing building and plan-check services, officials said at the time.
The Barratt lawsuit asks the court to overturn the City Council's approval of the revised fee schedule.
Encinitas employs the private San Diego-based firm of EsGil Corp. to review plans and inspect buildings.
I think EsGil Corp. does a fine job plan checking. It's easy to figure out if the increased fees are necessary. EsGil has overhead just like any other business. It's a little unclear if EsGil had simply raised it's rates or if the city of Encinitas is pocketing the money.
I like this quote, "It is the first-time, entry-level home buyer that is most challenged by these fees," Pattinson said. "Any time you add $1,000 to the cost of a house, you're eliminating a certain amount of people to the home-buying opportunity."
When is the last time Barratt and Pattinson built anything in Encinitas that wasn't a million dollar+ McMansion?
Pattinson isn't going to pass the savings on to you if you buy a Barratt home but if he wins this lawsuit it will help you save some money on your next project.