When a tract of land is governed by both a vesting tentative map and a subsequent development agreement and the terms of the two documents conflict, the development agreement controls. North Murrieta Community v. City of Murrieta, No. E072663 (4th Dist., June 8, 2020).

North Murrieta Community, LLC, is the master developer of a large community in Riverside County called the “Golden City Project.” In 1999, the City of Murrieta approved a two-year Vesting Tentative Map for a subset of the overall project property. In 2001, four months before the Vesting Tentative Map was set to expire, North Murrieta and the City entered into a Development Agreement, which covered the entire project, including the tract subject to the 1999 Vesting Tentative Map.

The Development Agreement extended the Vesting Tentative Map for fifteen years, locking in regulations and fees for the same period, although now with an effective date of 2001. Importantly, in addition to the new effective date, the City expressly reserved rights in the Development Agreement to impose additional fees (or increase fees) in the future for city-wide impacts that were not fully mitigated at the time of project approval. The Vesting Tentative Map and Development agreement were both subsequently extended, with final expiration dates of 2019 and 2021, respectively.

In 2003, the City passed the Transportation Uniform Fee Program Ordinance (TUMF) to raise funds to improve the regional transportation system. Originally, the TUMF contained an exemption for projects subject to existing vesting tentative maps or development agreements, but the Murrieta City Council voted to remove the exemption in 2010. The City subsequently collected TUMF fees for development within the Golden City Project.
Continue Reading Development Agreement, Not Vesting Tentative Map, Governed Whether New Fees Applied to Project

School impact fees for an apartment complex must be calculated based on the square footage of both the individual units and other space within the interior of the buildings, such as hallways and elevator shafts. 1901 First Street Owner v. Tustin Unified School District, 21 Cal. App. 5th 1186 (2018).

School impact fees under Government Code section 65995 are based on “assessable space,” defined as “all of the square footage within the perimeter of a residential structure, not including any carport, covered or uncovered walkway, garage, overhang, patio, enclosed patio, detached accessory structure, or similar area.” (§ 65995(b)(1).) This square footage is to be “calculated by the building department of the city or county issuing the building permit, in accordance with the standard practice of that city or county in calculating structural perimeters.” (Id.)

The City of Tustin calculated the square footage of an apartment building owned by 1901 First Street using a “net rentable” method — the City’s standard practice at that time — which included the square footage of the individual apartment units but excluded everything else in the building. The school district objected to this method, contending that the statute required all space within the perimeter of the building to be included. The City then revised its square footage calculation based on the perimeter of the building, which resulted in an increase in the fee of over $238,000. First Street sued to recover the difference.
Continue Reading School Fees for Apartment Buildings Not Limited to Square Footage of Individual Units