Trumark executive calls hike in housing fee ‘a deal killer’

The former La Puerta school site, proposed home of a future Trumark Homes development. Courier photo/Peter Weinberger

by Steven Felschundneff |

The Courier obtained an email Wednesday from Eric Nelson, vice president, community development for Trumark Homes, expressing surprise at the recent decision by the Claremont City Council to change the fee structure associated with its inclusionary housing ordinance.


The former La Puerta school site, is the proposed home of a future Trumark Homes development.

“This recent change has increased the fee to $148,000 per unit,” Nelson wrote in the email. “Obviously, this change is a deal killer for us and any other housing projects that would be proposing to pay the in-lieu fee.”

During its May 23 meeting the council revamped the in-lieu fee structure a builder must pay to opt out of the city’s requirement that every new housing development must provide a percentage of affordable units.

In the case of large developments, such as Trumark’s La Puerta project, the fee went up significantly.

“For context, we have always intended on paying the fee vs building on-site and roughly estimated it at 30k per unit,” Nelson wrote in the email.

Claremont Community Development Director Brad Johnson confirmed that he, too, had spoken with Nelson about the change in the fee but said it was never a given that La Puerta would be exempt from the provisions in the inclusionary housing ordnance. He added that Nelson had a number of options besides just paying the higher fee.

According to Johnson, Trumark could ask the City Council to authorize applying the old fee schedule at La Puerta because the project has been in the approval process for years.

Alternately, Trumark could just opt to construct the 87 unit “builder’s remedy” plan the company submitted last month as part of a Senate Bill 330 application. Under that law a developer can skip a city’s usual approval process if the jurisdiction has not completed its updated housing element and the builder offers 20% of the units to low income people.

Finally, Trumark could ask for a reduction in the price it is paying Claremont Unified School District for the land to offset the fee increase.

In his email Nelson said he has not decided what path the company will take.

“We are still working on how we are going to respond to this but thought you should be in the loop in the even the city failed to notice the Chamber as well,” Nelson wrote to the unknown recipient.


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