Impact Fees For Planning

Dear Management Doctor:

The City of Culver City is interested in implementing an additional developer impact fee to specifically fund general plan amendments, special plans, and future development. From my understanding, a nexus study is required to determine if there is a reasonable relationship between the fee's use and the type of development on which the fee is to be imposed. Do you know of any California companies that specialize in this type of nexus study? And do you have any advice on implementing additional developer impact fees for the previously stated purposes?


Jeremiah Lee

Dear Jeremiah,

I think you will find that many of the economic consulting firms in California will also do impact fees. Others that, I believe, do them include Muni, Maximus and DMG (I am not certain if they still exist or were bought out my Maximus). I also believe that several staff that were with DMG started their own firm but I can't seem to find a reference. In my experience, the work of all of these can be a bit spotty, depending on the staff they assign. I would do some careful reference checking. Also working in California are several well-known national firms that you may want to contact. These include Tischler & Associates (800-424-4318) and Duncan Associates (512-258-7347). You might also try Hofman Planning Associates in Carlsbad (760-438-1465) and Joe Colgan at

I hope our readers can add to this list and give you some actual first-hand experience with some of these.

On your broader question, several things come to mind.

  1. You are correct that in California, as well as some other states, a nexus is clearly required.
  2. Merced County has a building permit override fee for funding the General Plan. They also have a building permit override fee for funding community plans. Some people question whether there is an adequate nexus for this type of fee but it has yet to be tested in court in California.
  3. You might also want to talk to Carlsbad about how they funded its growth management plan. They divided the city into sub-districts and required the owners of property to prepare the detailed plans.
Good luck on this,

The Management Doctor

Reader Responses

When I worked as a Senior Planner for the City of Hawthorne, we utilized DMG and the work was satisfactory. They interviewed staff and we took a good look at how much time we spent processing different types of entitlement applications.

Helen Ramirez
Hermosa, CA

Tulare County also has a fee structure with building permits to fund ongoing maintenance of the County General Plan and its various community plans, similar to Merced County.

Mary Beatie
Visalia, CA

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