10:00 PM PDT on Monday, August 15, 2011

By IMRAN GHORI
Staff Writer ighori@pe.com

A proposal by San Bernardino County to study imposing fees on developers to pay for streets, parks and other improvements is generating concerns from the building industry.

The county is still in the early stages of exploring whether to impose such a fee, but the Building Industry Association of Southern California has asked that the study be halted, saying it could hurt an already fragile housing market.

The county put out a request for proposals in May seeking a consultant to handle the study, expected to cost about $250,000 and take 18 months to complete. County staff will recommend a firm from three finalists this week with a contract expected to go to the Board of Supervisors for approval Sept. 13, county spokesman David Wert said.

Carlos Rodriquez, CEO of the Building Industry Association, Baldy View chapter, said the development community was taken by surprise by the study. He asked the Board of Supervisors last week not to go forward, saying it could “usher in a cloud of uncertainty to an already uncertain economy.”

Housing permits have plummeted from about 16,600 in 2005 to about 1,700 in 2010, and more than half of the 141,000 job losses in 2009 were due to a decline in construction activity, according to the BIA.

“We’re concerned about having potentially a level of uncertainty over the next few years that’s going to have a chilling effect on future land purchases,” Rodriguez said.

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