Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Friday, June 21 @ 10:03 a.m.

Crescent City To Establish Full-Time Building Inspector Position, Seek Third-Party Contractor Due To Housing Developments

Danco's Harbor Point Apartments is one of several housing projects being developed within Crescent City limits this year. |Courtesy the DANCO Group

Noting that more than $70 million in housing projects are being developed, Crescent City will likely have to rely on a third-party contractor for building inspection, City Manager Eric Wier said.

Crescent City will also employ a full-time building inspector instead of the part-time annuitant position they had been using for years, Wier told councilors Monday.

“[They’re] building almost 300 units of housing in the next two years,” Wier said. “It’s going to go fast. It’s going to be furious. We need to be able to keep up with it on our end because they need to get it done quickly.”

Two senior housing projects — DANCO’s 27-unit Harbor Point Apartments and a 40-unit building that’s part of the new Battery Point Apartments development — will be finished in about a year, Wier said.

Both projects will require “a lot of inspection,” Wier said, adding that Battery Point Apartments also includes roughly 120 units for families. As a result, the city’s 2024-25 budget calls for an expense of about $245,000 for a temporary building inspection contract.

“That is paid for out of building inspection fees, or building permit fees, that we have collected from these large projects,” Wier said, adding that Crescent City is also researching ways to keep costs associated with this expense down.

According to Wier’s budget presentation, Crescent City will also use $50,000 in Competitive Permanent Local Housing Allocation dollars to help pay for that third-party building inspector. DANCO had won $5 million in state CPLHA dollars to build Harbor Point Apartments, Wier said.

About $250,000 of that $5 million went to Crescent City to help get the project online, Wier said. As a result, Crescent City has an estimated $295,000 available for a third-party building inspector, he said.

The full-time building inspector position and expense for a temporary contracted building inspector were included in Crescent City’s 2024-25 budget, which councilors unanimously adopted Monday.

The City Council had previously discussed the 2024-25 budget at two workshops last month where they learned from Finance Director Linda Leaver that Crescent City would see a one-time increase in revenues due to the housing developments.

At the Council’s May 21 workshop, Leaver said that in addition to a projected $2.3 million each in sales tax and Measure S tax dollars and about $2 million in transient occupancy taxes, she was projecting $9.9 million in revenue for 2024-25. That was “mostly related to that housing development,” she said.

That revenue increase comes in the form of building permit fees and plan checks, she said.

On Thursday, Wier told the Wild Rivers Outpost that in addition to meeting the city’s normal demands, a full-time building inspector will also conduct inspections for the Housing Authority. He noted that it likely wouldn’t be sustainable for that person to do building checks and inspection services for the more than 300 housing units being developed within the city limits.

When it comes to Battery Point Apartments, a $55 million project, the developers will have “a lot of people calling for inspections constantly,” Wier said.

“We need to have the capacity to keep up with that so we can sign off on those projects,” he said. “There are some contractors who will do it, but they’re from out of the area, which is why costs are estimated at a high amount.”

Following Wier’s presentation, Councilor Kelly Schellong said she would prefer to see the city find a local building inspector than spending $295,000 on a consultant.

“If we took half that money and could get a qualified retired building inspector that wouldn’t mind working for two years being dedicated to these projects…” she said. “It’s worth trying to see if we can pull someone out of the wood work in the region.”

Wier said he and Public Works Director Dave Yeager are trying to find a local building inspector to handle the extra work associated with the housing projects.

On Thursday, Wier told the Outpost that if the city did find another annuitant building inspector the City Council would have to approve a resolution and that person wouldn’t be employed with the city for more than two years. Wier said hours for a retired building inspector is capped at 960 hours per year.

“It wouldn’t be the same as that full-time position,” he said. “A full-time position [works] 2,080 hours and that’s less than half.”

In addition to bringing Crescent City an injection of one-time revenue, the housing developments may also solve a dilemma for its Housing Authority. According to Director Megan Miller, the Housing Authority had a reserve of about $746,000 at the end of 2023 due to vouchers that couldn’t be used because the housing wasn’t available.

On Thursday, Wier said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development pulled back about $345,000 for calendar year 2024. Miller is appealing to get those dollars returned to Crescent City,

Wier told the Outpost, but the city’s isn’t sure yet if that appeal will be granted.

“The real solution is we just need to fill these units,” he said.

At the Council’s May 21 budget workshop, Miller said she wanted to make sure there were enough project-based housing vouchers to ensure that the Legacy — Del Norte County’s permanent supportive housing program — would be covered when its remodel was finished later this autumn.

At that meeting, Crescent City Mayor Blake Inscore reassured her that with more than 300 housing units coming online in the next two years, the dilemma will, hopefully, resolve itself.

“We’re going to show in the next calendar year, in 2025, just how many people we can pull off the waiting list,” he said. “We will max out all our vouchers, and in 2026 our funding will come back up to where we are and maybe a little bit above.”

Earlier at that workshop, Wier told councilors that with more than 300 units of housing being developed, Crescent City’s population could increase by 10 percent.

On Thursday, Wier told the Outpost that he had figured out that estimate himself.

“If you look at 300 units, say you put two people in each unit, that’s 600 people,” he said. “With city limits only having about 5,000 people….”

Wier said Del Norte Unified School District is aware of the potential population increase, especially since Battery Point Apartments is within walking distance of Joe Hamilton Elementary School and Crescent Elk Middle School.

However, since the first phase of the project focuses on senior housing, there won’t be a big impact on nearby schools, Wier said.

In addition to the Harbor Point Apartments and Battery Point Apartments, Roosevelt Estates, a 56-unit moderate income apartment complex, is being developed at 1405 California Street.
Another housing development at 2nd and 3rd streets is going through the permitting phase as well, according to Wier.


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