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Fees set for bingo, design review

DEL MAR — Hoping to recuperate at least some money spent on staff time to review applications, City Council unanimously approved fees for two new services at the Dec. 13 meeting, but neither is expected to result in full-cost recovery.
Council members set the application fee for bingo permits and renewals at $50 each, the maximum allowed by state law but “well below” the actual estimated cost, Planning Manager Adam Birnbaum said.
To process a bingo permit, staff will have to meet with the applicant to explain the law, review the application, prepare a staff report and attend a council meeting, a three- to four-hour procedure that would cost approximately $225.
The estimated fee to renew an existing application is $72.
Last year the 22nd District Agricultural Association sought to conduct bingo games at the Del Mar Fairgrounds to help make up for a major decrease in satellite wagering attendance and revenue.
A law allowing charitable bingo went into effect in October. So far only the 22nd DAA has requested an application. Fairgrounds officials said the game could bring in about $200,000 annually.
The city cannot profit directly from the games, however, it can recover all costs incurred for law enforcement and public safety services and a maximum of $50 to process a permit.
“We’re … really constrained by the fact that state law limits how much a local jurisdiction can charge for the review of bingo permits and bingo permit renewal applications,” Birnbaum said.
Del Mar will receive increased sales tax from any food and beverages sold at bingo games.
A $75 fee for staff to review and process a citizens participation program was also adopted. Hoping to streamline the design review process and reduce costs, council recently authorized the formation of a citizens participation program.
The new law requires certain applicants to take part in the process so neighbors can become better informed and provide input on proposals early in the design phase.
Staff estimates it will take two hours and $100 to administer the new program.
Councilman Terry Sinnott said committing time up front for the citizens participation program should save staff time in the long run during the design review process.
“Overall the process may help limit the time of review for DRB applications,” Birnbaum said. “But clearly there’s going to be some time for staff to meet with the applicant, explain the requirements of the citizens participation program and then do an analysis of the CPP.”
Staff would also have to prepare a staff report and spend “a very small portion of the time … at the DRB meeting itself,” he said.
Councilwoman Lee Haydu, who recommended the program while she was a member of the Design Review Board, said she would like the initial fee set at $100, but her colleagues said they were comfortable with the lower amount.
Because the program was established for a two-year trial period, they said the fee could be raised later.
Councilman Mark Filanc said the city is already adding a step to a sometimes difficult process. “I’d hate to see it become more onerous,” he said.