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Higher permit fees may be in county's future

Original post made on Mar 15, 2012

Residents of unincorporated San Mateo County with building or planning projects may soon see their permit costs go up. But first, the Board of Supervisors has asked county planners to justify the increases.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 15, 2012, 2:13 PM

Comments (13)

Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 15, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Disgraceful and disgusting. Fire some gold plated and useless bureaucrats instead, or reduce compensation to a mere 2 or 3x the average in the private sector.

Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Joseph E. Davis is totally correct........Changes are coming and I doubt Eggemeyer carries too much weight anymore..............
I have spoken to Reps. in Sacramento, and a bill is in the works for anyone who owns, or who has built BUNKERS UNDERGROUND with 600/sq.ft.
costs, without paying for building fees and at an average of 1700 sq. ft. up to 3500 or more, are going to be paying taxes for that underground land (it does not count as air space in case someone is as dumb enough to ask)Supposedly, 75% of new construction includes bunkers and when calling the bldg. dept for the past 5 years, there is not any help in answering questions of legality.Eggemeyer signed off quite a few.....This could add hundreds of millions of dollars to our COUNTY...and not just the rich...wait..AND the rich.Plumbing and electrical is all another charge. There is substantial proof among builders and employees.........

Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2012 at 5:10 pm

IF the editor kills that last entry, I suggest you call the bldg. dept and apply to build a bunker against bomb attacks, natural disasters and see where you are directed. Also call Eggemeyer.

I have complained to the San Jose Mercury and The Los Angeles Times and Santa Barbara, has less bunkers than Silicon Valley, Palo Alto and Woodside......THEY are circumventing some laws but paying for new construction. Adding bunkers to existing property, is almost TWICE as expensive. Why should the rest of you be paying their taxes?

Posted by gunste
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Mar 16, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Some County fees are justified. Others border on being ridiculous and excessive. The "emergency tree removal fee" seems out of place and should be ZERO. If a tree is a current danger it must come down. Years ago, when the County demanded that the neighbors be polled about removal of a tree that posed danger to life and property, I commented that delay would be acceptable, if they assumed responsibility and liability for the delay for any damage and injury: the County said to proceed - no fee then.

Water tank replacement: if the tank is shot one needs a new one. Why should the County charge a fee? Inspection of the plumbing? that it is tied to the wall? If they insist on inspecting the work, charge a nominal fee of the real cost of a 5 minute inspection: $25. Not $150.

Posted by Stan
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Mar 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm

The fee schedule should be reviewed by an independent financial auditor to determine if the fee can be justified in view of the amount of time + overhead that is actually invested in the effort.

Then the county should allow an outside inspection service to bid on the work to see if a competitive, professional for profit service would be less expensive.

I'll wager two things though:
1) The county will never let the work go outside. They'd be too embarrassed at how much more efficient a well managed for profit company would be.

2) If they did solicit an outside bid it will be MUCH less than the county's inefficient, sluggish, bureaucracy that instills contempt for the concept of getting a permit unless there's absolutely no way of avoiding it.

Taken to the letter of what the written rules say you need a permit in San Mateo County to replace a sprinkler head.

Go Tell!!!

Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2012 at 8:12 pm

A LOT of contracting has been done using builders for major jobs to smaller repairs........I attempted to mention names, but was not permitted.
They never had permits given to do the work, and the inspectors looked the other way.There is a Los Altos builder who has a big part in building in Woodside.
He eventually either moved but his logo was removed from many of his trucks or were on unmarked vehicles he bought with millions saved to owners.

Posted by Member
a resident of another community
on Mar 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm

We discovered after our new house was built that our building permit fees of over $40,000 were included in the value of our home when it was reassessed. We tried to dispute it but were told that was how it was going to be. After working with the county planning and building department during the construction our home, it was clear to me that the department as a whole could use an extensive system analysis and overhaul, with the goals to include improved customer service and a fluid, more timely permitting process.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm


if you're referring to the San Mateo County Building Department you are absolutely correct. In my 20 years of building it is bar none the worst building department I've ever had the displeasure of dealing with.

Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Mar 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm

As I have mentioned before, it was actually the most corrupt in any places where I own or have owned property out of this state (MAKE THAT SAN MATEO COUNTY).The GREED and the difficulty it is to deal with them eventually to have it all recorded with names and video and most of all, the names of those who have moved around.
It will be this year that a few of them will end up in hot water and I do not mean fines only.
TO MEMBER: If you had the problem outside of the Peninsula, I can almost give you the name of any person involved if you mention the time it was you built your home..Thst will tell who was taking "favors'.
Menlo Voter has never agreed with me, so I am ignoring his comment above as a ruse.

Posted by bobthebuilder
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jun 18, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Past examples like the winery above La Honda (TJ Rodgers Clos de la Tech) show that money can influence projects approval. Blasting three caves into a hillside, filling in a drainage and building a winery all with a grading permit? Project managers and county planners agreed to break the large project up into smaller projects to avoid the CEQA process. If not for the diligence of the residences of La Honda money and political influence would have prevailed over the environment and public interests.

The real 800 pound gorilla in the room is not the increase in permit fees, that’s just a symptom of the problem… The real problem is the “good-ole-boy” culture and the lack of creative problem solving in the planning department. What started out as a small service fee to the taxpaying homeowner has turned into a regressive tax that lacks any common sense or justification. It’s not hard to understand why people ignore permits when they have the biggest impact on middle and lower income homeowners. If the issue is compliance, why not propose a change in the permit process that ties fee to the income of the applicant? If San Mateo County officials are concerned about water quality issues in San Gregorio and Pescadero Watersheds, why not allow composting or incinerating toilets?

The county needs to change there game!

Posted by fed Up SMC Citizen
a resident of another community
on Sep 27, 2012 at 5:15 pm

I have never met more abusive, arrogant, unhelpful, incompetent, indefensibly inept set of personnel under one roof than the San Mateo County Building and Planning Department. There may be two good souls in that department but the rest are hell bent on a path that will foster me and hopefully others to reveal the extent of corrupt and disgraceful "services" provided by SMC Building and Planning.

Any owner considering getting a permit in san mateo county would be better off shooting themselves in the foot than following through with that desire. The bureaucratic nightmare that revolves around every single person in every sub-dept wanting to cover their ass with irrational, unfounded, obstructionist requests for materials that have no helpful virtues other than to fatten their departments purses and pretend to appear busy as fewer and fewer people choose the permit route.

They provide an excellent public dis-service. Anybody interested in a class action against this department please holler.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 27, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Yesterday, Comcast announced that it was moving 1,000 Bay Area jobs to Oregon because doing business in California was no longer worth it.

Today, Campbell's Soup announced the closure of a plant in Sacramento that will cost 700 jobs directly and another 1,300 indirectly.

Let's keep raising taxes and placing more burdens on businesses in California and see how that works out for us.

Posted by La Honda
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 10, 2013 at 10:29 pm

The building department sent an order to PG&E to turn off power to the main house on my property that is legally permitted because another building on the property is not yet permitted. They have sent notice to get a timbering permit..a tree has not even fallen on our property this year. We have not even chopped fire wood. They have sent notice to get a grading permit because we scraped weeds off a path so we can walk our grandchildren to the creek. We have lived on our property for 30 years paying taxes to San Mateo County.

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