Thursday, June 24, 2021

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Colusa approves fee moratorium on downtown building projects

The Colusa City Council on Tuesday approved a temporary moratorium on certain fees to incentivize property owners in Colusa’s downtown to upgrade their facades or make general repairs to their buildings. 

The fee moratorium covers permit fees, plan check, and inspection fees for existing buildings in Colusa’s historic downtown. 

The moratorium was first introduced at the Jan. 19 City Council meeting, which had not been properly noticed, and then approved in regular session on Tuesday. 

The six month fee moratorium, which runs Feb. 1 through July 31, is an economic stimulus incentive that will run concurrently with the city’s rezoning and policy changes that will guide future enforcement efforts to hold property owners accountable for downtown properties, officials said. 

Colusa officials also hope the tactic increases overall economic vitality and tourism. 

The 5-0 decision kicks off the city’s plan to change the downtown’s current commercial designation to mixed use. 

Mixed zoning or mixed use planning is a type of urban development that integrates commercial, residential (often upstairs), cultural, institutional, and entertainment uses into one building or space. 

The fee moratorium applies only to existing buildings in the downtown area of Market Street, between Second and 13th streets, and Main Street, between Fourth and 12th streets, and includes the immediately adjacent streets. 

“This is a very specific area, and not just what everyone considers downtown,” said Mayor Josh Hill. 

City officials said the fee moratorium will hopefully result in the business district getting a refreshed look, which could help attract new businesses and increase the city’s overall economic vitality. 

“We started this transition in 2013, and we’re going to finish it this year,” said Community Development Manager Bryan Stice, in a statement. “When we move to mixed-use zoning in the downtown, there will likely be aesthetic requirements that apply to future property improvements. This moratorium helps to kickstart renovation now.” 

The immediate cost to the city is unknown. Fees can run from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, officials said. 

“It depends on how many people participate,” Cain said. 

Building owners and businesses interested in taking advantage of the fee moratorium are encouraged to contact the City Community Services Department at (530) 458-4740 (x103) or planning@cityofcolusa.com. 

Even though certain fees will be waived for six months, owners of buildings in the Main/Market Street core would still have to come into City Hall and pull the required permits, Cain said.

“The goal is to see if we can get a couple people down there to actually start doing something with their buildings to start fixing the downtown up,” Cain said. “Hopefully, this will kick up and get going.” 

The city will host a webinar to help property owners navigate their options at 6 PM on Feb. 17. Those interested in attending can access the meeting via Zoom. The meeting ID number is 93902854666.

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