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SB 1473: El Dorado County Fighting California Green Building Legislation

In the aftermath of last year’s AHRI et al. v. City of Albuquerque litigation, there has been an increased level of discussion with respect to how municipalities and states should craft green building policy and legislation. Although I have not been following what’s been taking place in California all that closely, a recent article in the Sacramento Bee noting one California county’s reaction to a newly enacted piece of state-level green building legislation caught my eye. California’s Senate Bill 1473 took effect on January 1 and requires cities and counties in California to collect, on behalf of California’s Building Standards Commission, a building permit application fee. The fee is based on the building’s valuation as determined by the pertinent local building official and is assessed at $1.00 for every $25,000.00 of value. Cities and counties are entitled to keep up to 10 percent of the fee in order to cover their own administrative and enforcement costs; the rest of the funds are sent to a special revolving fund established by SB 1473 which the Commission will use to “fund development of statewide building standards, with emphasis on green building standards.” Officials in El Dorado County (which is about halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe) believe that the fee is illegal, calling it “a tax without calling it a tax.”

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