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Earlier today, SF 998, a bill that would allow applicants to request an estimate of the consulting fees from cities, passed the House of Representatives with unanimous support, 127-0. The bill had previously passed in the Senate, 57-8, so it now heads to the Governor’s desk.
Cities and towns routinely use technical consultants to provide expertise in evaluating various permits, licenses or other applications in which special expertise is required. Applications in which outside consultants are used include: residential and commercial building permits, cell tower/water tank permits, grading and utility permits or similar requests.
In these situations, while the municipality hires and directs the outside consultant, the fees charged by that consultant are paid by the applicant as an added charge to the permit itself. Such consulting fees routinely run into the thousands or tens of thousands and much more depending on the complexity of the permit application. The amount of these fees often is a surprise to the applicant. If the permit applicant objects to the amount of the fees charged by the city’s consultants, they are not able to obtain their permit.
SF 998 allows applicants to request that a city provide a written nonbinding estimate of the consulting fees. If the applicant requests this estimate, the application shall not be deemed complete until the city has: