If you’re managing an office building in San Diego, you’re well aware that the fire inspection fees were doubled in 2022 (from $5,000 per year to $11,000). The typical fire inspection takes about 2 to 3-hours to complete, and the likelihood of an hourly fee of $3,688 seemed astronomical. We reached out to other Downtown managers and all had indicated they too had received the increases. We discovered the City had issued a notice for stakeholder meetings that had taken place in January, which we had never received. After several calls to the Fire Marshal's office, I was informed the fees had been increased, they had not been raised since 2017, and there was not much we could do – (and that’s what we call an invitation to make a difference!)
We proceeded to inquire further as to how the increase was calculated, requested documents that were provided to the City Council, and found they had projected an increase in revenues across all departments for an increase of $187,000, of which 96% was coming from high-rise owners. Their own language in the Ordinance stated that the fees “may not exceed the reasonable cost of providing a service, product, or regulation which includes all reasonable direct and indirect expenses incurred by the City.” These increases were clearly not reasonable, so they went back to their Finance people and looked further into their calculations.
After months of persistent communications, we got the good news that they would make some reallocations, and that all Downtown office building owners would be receiving a partial credit for fees already paid sometime over the next 12 months, and that our overall increase would be in the 15-20% range, not 100% as had been previously billed. Thanks tremendously to the Fire Marshal Deputy who really helped us resolve these excess fee increases, and provide a benefit to our BOMA property owners! Lesson learned: Just because they tell you there’s not much they can do, establish a great relationship and work together to get it resolved – a win-win for everyone!