The Building Industry Association of San Diego County sued the San Marcos Unified School District this month, arguing that increased developer fees amount to illegal taxes that will raise the cost of new homes in the area.“The disputed fees should be deemed to be a form of unlawful tax, rather than reasonable ‘fees,’ ” the lawsuit, filed Aug. 10 in San Diego Superior Court, argued.The suit challenges a 21 percent hike in the fee that the district charges home developers, to cover the costs of serving new students in the school system. In May, the district raised that rate from $4.61 to $5.61 per square foot of new construction, a hike that the association called an “unjustified and grossly excessive schedule of fees on new residential construction.”
Ken is overseeing the completion of the final phase of the San Elijo Hills.
Kent Aden, a licensed architect, developer and the visionary behind many of San Diego’s most honored master-planned communities, was inducted into the San Diego Building Industry Association’s (BIA) Hall of Fame on Feb. 3, during a ceremony at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. The Hall of Fame recognition is the highest honor bestowed by the organization, which comprises 800 member companies throughout San Diego County.
Aden was inducted by David Hammar, president of Hunsaker & Associates San Diego, Inc., who praised Aden’s leadership in the industry, contributions to the community and devotion to his family.
Hammar said, “Kent has been in the building industry for over 35 years, involved in the planning, community design and entitlement of master plans that will produce over 40,000 homes. I have been fortunate to draft in his wake for much of my professional career and even more fortunate to call him a friend.”
Aden has been a passionate advocate for walkable, pedestrian-centric communities that encourage neighborliness and community interaction. He has left his imprint on South County’s communities of Eastlake and Otay Ranch during his career, which included 11 years in executive positions with the Eastlake Development Company and 18 years with The Otay Ranch Company.
Aden’s current position, vice president and senior development officer for HomeFed Corporation, involves communities on both coasts. He is responsible for managing entitlements, design and development for the 700-acre SweetBay community in Panama City, Florida, the 6,200-acre Otay Land Company project in Chula Vista, and the 2,600-acre Fanita Ranch in Santee. He is also overseeing the completion of the final phase of the San Elijo Hills community in San Marcos.
“The greatest satisfaction I have had in my career is to build great communities and get to see residents enjoying the lifestyle,” Aden said. “The design of each community builds on what we have learned from previous projects and what we learn visiting the best communities around the country. Just as architectural innovations are creating better living spaces, community design trends are creating more inviting and hospitable communities.”
Aden has been active in the BIA of San Diego for 34 years and served as president in 2003. He also chaired the 2008 Pacific Coast Builders Conference (PCBC) in San Francisco, which attracted 33,000 participants. For 18 years he was a director of Housing Opportunities Inc., which developed affordable housing in San Diego County.
In addition to his roles in the building industry, he has been a member of the board of the San Diego International Sports Council and managed Little League Baseball.
Aden was the co-chair of the 2009 Miracle Maker’s Gala for Rady Children’s Hospital and received the 2008 Spirit of Life® Award from the City of Hope’s San Diego Construction Industries Alliance.
He has an MBA degree from California State University, Fullerton, and a BA degree in architecture from the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He lives in Coronado with his wife Toni. Their two children are attending college.
From tax-credit education to an easier permitting process, the city is striving to do business better
When it comes to economic development, the City of San Marcos is raising the bar and local businesses are taking note—like Cliniqa, a bio-techne company that just went through an expansion.
“What can be a lengthy permit process was made easier by the wonderful employees in the Planning, Fire and Building departments,” said Lisa Profeta, Facilities Manager at Cliniqa in San Marcos.
The city has always embraced entrepreneurship because it drives a high quality of life—but it took center stage in 2012 when the State ended redevelopment programming, which took a toll on local business growth. Coupled with the recession, San Marcos saw a need to be more proactive in its economic development.
“City Council quickly realized we needed to focus our energy there if we wanted to remain a thriving, leading city,” said City Manager Jack Griffin. “Given that, City Council created a vision for a more business-friendly San Marcos.”
That vision began to take shape in 2015, when the city’s first economic development division was created. Since then, significant progress has been made, including the hire of an economic development manager and the launch of the San Marcos Business Walk Program, a twice-a-year event where volunteers collect feedback about the challenges facing local commerce.
Staff has also worked to cut a lot of red tape from the development approval process—everything from making it easier to navigate the land entitlement process, to bolstering city and private sector collaboration on California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) document preparation, to a City of San Marcos and Building Industry Association (BIA) pilot project that is under development to allow for digital submission of project plans to save money on construction document printing costs, which can run $20,000 to $70,000 per on a typical subdivision during the entirety of the development approval process.”
“The city Development Services team, particularly Planning staff, are constantly working with the city’s Economic Development Manager to understand the needs of existing and prospective businesses,” said Director of Development Services Dahvia Lynch. “Planning and Economic Development go hand in hand and our collaboration is crucial to our improvements, which are a work in progress.”
In fact, staff still sees plenty of room for improvements. For example, they are working to give business owners more opportunities to save time or money by streamlining and more clearly defining permitting process. There are also plans to standardize more reference materials for the permitting process, and to make more resources available online for business owners.
“Ideally, we would love to empower more business owners with the knowledge and resources they need,” Lynch said.
In that vein, city staff has also started to educate business owners about any benefits that they may qualify for. For example, Wholesale Shade was awarded a $500,000 California Competes Tax Credit, which Founder and CEO Patrick Howe learned about through the bi-monthly Council Business Visits. As part of the credit, the company intends to create 26 jobs over the next five years.
Likewise, the Council Business Visits, also led Cliniqa to apply, resulting in a $350,000 California Competes Tax Credit, with which the company plans to use to create 24 jobs over the next five years. Economic Development Manager Tess Radmill and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation worked closely with the two companies—along with other San Marcos businesses that hope to receive the credit in the future—to simplify the application process.
“Most business owners I know are focused on the daily challenges of keeping their doors open and are not experts at regulations or government programs,” Howe explained. “Knowing that the City of San Marcos is a partner in the success of our business is reassuring.”
Radmill says that’s precisely how she hopes the business community views the city: a partner in their success.
“We’re working to ensure our local businesses are empowered to reach their full potential because their success is part of what drives the high quality of life we all enjoy here in San Marcos.”
To learn more about the city’s economic development efforts, contact Economic Development Manager Tess Radmill at email@example.com.