The Sioux City Council's decision to raise building permit fees is short-sighted and a misguided attempt to help fund the staffing required to enforce construction requirements forced on cities by the Iowa Legislature. Should the city not meet the state's code, the city becomes a target for lawsuits for "sub-standard" construction.
Every action to improve construction quality and safety has a cost. One has to wonder if anyone checks to see if the benefit of each "improvement" justifies that cost. Eventually, the accumulation of costs makes construction financially unattractive, or even just plain unaffordable within cities. The first people to feel the squeeze are those earning the least.
My family returned to Sioux City 25 years ago, in part because the city where we lived was ignoring affordable housing. In fact, they were making affordable housing very difficult to build. Today, in that city, an average city lot costs around $175,000. Next, the city building permit costs $55,000, and water and sewer connection fees are $35,000. To be a first-time homebuyer there, you need a top-level salary.
Cities have tried raising fees, only to find that construction moves to any area beyond the city limits. The city gets ringed with a wall of affordable housing.
Sioux City Council, reconsider your stance on permits. Most residential construction in the area has moved outside your city limits. That does not help your budget. Doug W. Johnson, Sioux City