Time extended to reimburse Granite Construction for state Route 76 improvements

Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved an amendment to the county’s agreement to reimburse Granite Construction for improvements to state Route 76.

The board voted 5-0, Sept. 13, to extend the time for the county to reimburse Granite Construction by 25 years, and the agreement amendment also clarified the process under which Granite Construction can transfer some of the company’s Transportation Infrastructure Fee credits to other developers to reduce Granite Construction’s unpaid balance at a faster rate. The supervisors also directed county staff to analyze the possibility of reinstating the reimbursement option for improvements which exceed a developer’s TIF payment requirements.

“This seems like a good idea,” Supervisor Ron Roberts said.

In April 2005, the board of supervisors adopted a Transportation Impact Fee ordinance in order to comply with state law and provide funding for the construction of transportation facilities needed to support the increased traffic generated by new development. The Transportation Impact Fee is actually an option rather than a requirement; developers may still perform an individual cumulative impact traffic study and make the appropriate mitigation. The TIF ordinance was expected to help small developers who could address their projects’ impacts easier with a single check rather than with a comprehensive cumulative impact study. The TIF assessment includes both the project’s share of costs for future road improvements within the project’s community planning area and a regional roads fee to cover multi-community roads within the designated region.

The initial TIF ordinance included a clause which allowed for reimbursement to developers who advanced funding and constructed road improvements which eliminated capacity deficiencies in roads identified in the TIF plan. Those reimbursements covered only verified actual costs beyond the TIF costs the developer was required to pay for the project.

“The credits were in effect built into the TIF rates,” Rich Crompton, the director of the county’s Department of Public Works, said.

In October 2002, the board of supervisors granted a Major Use Permit for the Rosemary’s Mountain quarry and also certified the Environmental Impact Report and addendum. The project site consists of 96.4 acres approximately 1.25 miles east of Interstate 15, and the quarry entrance is approximately 2,000 feet west of Couser Canyon Road. The conditions of approval required Granite Construction Company to realign SR-76 and widen the road from two lanes to four from I-15 to the project entrance.

“Granite Construction paid for the entire improvement all the way from I-15 past the quarry,” Supervisor Bill Horn said.

The Transportation Impact Fee program had not yet been implemented in 2002, and SR-76 east of I-15 was not included in the Regional Transportation Plan approved by the San Diego Association of Governments, so the improvements likely would not have been constructed during much of the 20-year period in which Granite Construction is estimated to mine approximately 22 million tons of aggregate.

In October 2006, the board of supervisors voted 5-0 to approve an agreement with Granite Construction Company to reimburse the company for work performed on SR-76 as part of the Rosemary’s Mountain project. The TIF amount was deducted from the total reimbursement amount, and the agreement stipulated that the reimbursement began upon completion and acceptance of the facilities and determination of the actual cost. The agreement noted that the reimbursement would occur through TIF credits for other projects, cash reimbursement or a combination of those two and that payments would be made quarterly from fees collected in the North Region TIF fund. The Bonsall, Fallbrook, Pala-Pauma, Rainbow and Valley Center community planning areas are all within the North Region.

The road improvements to SR-76 were completed in 2009. The agreement called for Granite Construction to be reimbursed fully over a 25-year period. Currently $16 million is owned to Granite Construction, and at the current TIF collection rate it is unlikely that the full reimbursement amount will be paid within the 25-year term.

The reimbursement must utilize TIF revenue from the North Region.

“It’s very limited funding,” Sarah Aghassi, the county’s deputy chief administrative officer for the county’s Land Use and Environment Group, said.

“This is a pretty isolated area,” Horn said. “There has not been a whole lot of development in this area to get them reimbursed, so I think we should extend it.”

The extension changes the end of the reimbursement period from 2031 to 2056.

The TIF ordinance was amended in October 2012, and the clause to reimburse developers for constructing improvements beyond their TIF assessment was removed. County staff will explore whether the reimbursement credit provision can be restored without increasing TIF charges for other developers.

“This is a good way to get improvements,” Horn said.

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