Parks Impact Fee Program


This program strengthens the County's commitment to improving and expanding the parks system
and continuing to provide recreational amenities for the community.

The purpose of the Parks Impact Fee Program is to provide funds to acquire new parkland and develop new park facilities in new and existing parks. As new development brings new residents, visitors and workers to the county, the Parks Impact Fee Program provides funds to expand the parks system to meet the increased demand.

What are Impact Fees?

Many cities and counties throughout California have impact fee programs so that new development pays for needed infrastructure improvements. New development brings new residents, workers and visitors, which can put strain on public infrastructure and services, such as schools, libraries, parks, roads, water and sewage, police and fire protection services. Impact fees can be designed to offset the additional cost of expanding these services as an alternative to raising property taxes. Park impact fees are one type of impact fee that apply to park infrastructure.

How are Parks Impact Fees used?

County Parks uses Parks Impact Fees to expand and improve parks, coastal access points, trails and facilities to maximize recreational opportunities and stewardship of natural resources in the community. Fees contribute to acquisition of new parkland, trails and open space; preparation of park master plans, studies and environmental review documents; and construction of new parks, recreational facilities and amenities.
Check out current park projects!

Parks Impact Fee Program

The fee program includes two types of fees that apply to new development:

In-Lieu Fees

Parkland dedication in-lieu fees apply to new residential subdivisions. All residential subdivisions in the unincorporated County must either dedicate parkland or pay a fee in-lieu of dedicating parkland. The fee is per dwelling unit based on whether the parcel is zoned for single family or multi-family residential, described in Santa Cruz County Code Chapter 15.01. The fee program is based on provisions of the Quimby Act (Section 66477 of the California Government Code).

Parks Impact Fees

Parks impact fees apply to new building permits for new residential and nonresidential development. New development projects that add square footage to an existing structure, or create a new structure, are subject to park impact fees. Projects that paid in-lieu fees at the time of subdivision pay a reduced rate for the impact fees. Park impact fees are described in Santa Cruz County Code Chapter 15.03. The fee program is based on provisions of the Mitigation Fee Act (Sections 66000 – 66008 of the California Government Code).

How are Fees Calculated?

Current Parks Impact Fee rates are listed in the County’s Unified Fee Schedule. Fees are collected by the County Planning Department.

New Building Permits

For new building permits, fees are calculated per new square foot of building area. There are different fee rates for single-family residential, multi-family residential, and different types of nonresidential development. Fees are due to the County Planning Department prior to issuance of permit:

Residential Subdivisions

For Residential subdivisions, parkland dedication in-lieu fees are calculated per allowable new dwellings, with separate rates for multi-family and single-family zoning. In-lieu fees are due to the County Planning Department prior to recording the Final Map or Parcel Map.

Program Update Process

After 23 years without changes or updates to the fee rates or to the park fee program, the Parks Impact Fee program was comprehensively updated in 2021, and changes took effect October 1, 2021. The previous program was referred to as the Parks Dedication Fee Program. The Parks Impact Fee Program update process included preparing a Nexus Study, completing ordinance amendments, and amending the unified fee schedule.

Major Dates Timeline


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(831) 454-7901

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