Orange County’s transportation impact fees are due for an update, and a recent workshop session revealed there's a strong push to keep housing affordable.
The Tuesday meeting was the second workshop session, following a kick-off to the discussions back in February which was intended to give commissioners a general overview of the process.
Part two focused more on the policy aspects, Jon Weiss, the county's director of community, environmental and development services, said.
At the meeting, Weiss put-forth different options for the board to consider prior to voting on the ordinance, set for a public hearing in early Fall.
The fees are intended to help make new development pitch in for transportation-related services, such as expanding roads and intersections.
If approved at the full rate, the impact fees could more than double in certain areas.
Recent increases to impact fees for parks, fire stations and deputy gear have also been made in Orange County. Plus a study to update the county's school impact fees is underway.
Raising transportation impact fees is met with dread by some professionals in the industry worried that the added new costs will make the county less attractive to developers.
Staff presented some options aimed at keeping housing affordable, including potentially phasing or stepping into an increase and doing away with with previous designated Alternative Mobility Areas.
The AMAs were designed to encourage infill and redevelopment in certain sectors by lowering transportation impact fees.
Weiss instead proposed replacing them with separate fee schedules for urban, suburban and rural assessment areas. He suggested expanding the urban areas, which charge the lowest impact fees, to incorporate regions that are experiencing high-density development, such as the area around the University of Central Florida and the I-Drive corridor.
In regards to affordability, the topic was expected considering Mayor Jerry Demings' pledge to tackle the lack of affordable housing inventory in Orange County.
Single-family homes constructed in 2018 sold for an average of $453,204, according to data pulled from home sales in the county and showed at the presentation. The median sale amount was $376,000.
That's a big difference compared to the affordability price point set for homes for families earning less than 50 percent of the county’s area median income (AMI), which for homes is set at $83,500.
For families earning less than 80 percent of AMI, an affordable home is considered to cost $178,000, and $290,000 for families earning 120 percent of AMI, which is considered moderately low housing.
Impact fees for building a single-family home currently adds up to about $15,000.
"When you compare that to what’s affordable to those folks with very low, low or low moderate incomes, you can see it's a significant percentage," Weiss said. "It is a real costs and it does affect sale price."
Commissioners discussed ways to tackle the issue head-on by subsidizing or waiving impact fees for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), certified affordable housing units and new construction valued at price points affordable to very low, low or moderate income households.
Only 10 percent of new construction is set at that price point, Weiss said.
"I think it’s a tool, but definitely not a silver bullet by any stretch."
School impact fees still make up half of what the county levies.
At the end of the presentation Mayor Demings said he felt that city staff was moving in the right direction.
"We do have to be intentional with what we're doing so we don't impact ourselves in adverse ways," Demings said.