Residential and Commercial Developer Fees

Developer Fees

Developer fees, also known as "school fees," "school impact fees," and "Level 1, 2, and 3 fees," are fees that are paid by property owners and developers to school districts when constructing residential or commercial/ industrial improvements in order to mitigate the impact on school facilities created by new development within a school district's boundaries. Fees are paid to the school district as a condition of a property owner or developer obtaining a building permit from the city or county for certain types of construction projects. School districts are authorized to impose developer fees on construction projects pursuant to Government Code section 65995 and California Education Code section 17620.

Current Fee Rates

The California State Allocation Board, at its January 1, 2024 meeting, authorized an increase in Level 1 Developer Fees (aka School Impact Fees, or School Fees) and was approved by San Marcos Unified School District’s Governing Board on May 9, 2024 and went into effect on July 9, 2024. The fees are as follows, unless the project is deemed exempt. 

Residential: $5.17/sq. ft.

Fees will be assessed on new residential construction and additions with assessable area greater than 500 square feet.  No fees are due for residential additions with 500 square feet or less of assessable area.

Commercial & Industrial: $0.84/sq. ft.

Fees will be imposed on any new commercial/industrial construction or expansions regardless of square footage size.

Paying Developer Fees

Schedule An Appointment

Please call 760-290-2649 or email [email protected] to schedule an appointment.

Developer Fees must be paid in person at the following location:

Facilities Planning & Development Department

255 Pico Avenue, Suite 250

San Marcos, CA 92069

Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

Please be aware that we only accept checks or cash. Credit or debit cards are NOT an accepted form of payment.

When making payments, ensure all checks are made payable to "San Marcos Unified School District” or “SMUSD". If paying with cash, please ensure that the amount due is exact, as we will not be able to provide change. 

Additional Information

Notice: Please be advised that fees are subject to change at any time. Therefore, we recommend contacting our office to confirm the current rates before proceeding with securing building permits. Additionally, the District requires a copy of the form issued by your local jurisdiction’s building division. It is essential to have this form available when planning to make your payment, as we base the assessment of fees on the information provided on this document. To expedite the process of preparing your Certificate of Compliance, please email a copy of the letter to [email protected] in advance or bring it with you to avoid any delays.

Below, you will find the list of local jurisdictions served by our School District along with the corresponding forms necessary for paying developer fees. 

City of Carlsbad: “Certification of School Fees Paid”

City of Escondido: “Certification of School Fee Compliance”

City of San Marcos: “School Fees Letter”

City of Vista: “Application for Certification of Compliance”

County of San Diego: “Required Agency Clearances”


What Types of Development Projects Are Subject to Developer Fees?

Residential Construction: New residential construction of 500 sq. ft. or more (including new residential development, Accessory Dwelling Units, and in some instances, reconstruction).

  • Also includes the conversion of existing commercial/industrial construction into new residential construction, or non-assessable space to assessable space. (e.g., garage conversion to an Accessory Dwelling Unit).
  • Residential construction when there is an increase over 500 sq. ft. in assessable space to the same residential structure (e.g., a remodel or home addition) and location, installation, or occupancy of manufactured homes and mobile homes.

New Commercial and Industrial Construction: This does not include the sq. ft. of existing commercial and industrial site construction when building permit was first issued.

What types of development are exempt from the payment of Developer Fees, or

Receive Reduced Fee Rates?

Some common examples of development projects exempt from payment of fees include:

  • Facilities used exclusively for religious purposes. (See Gov. Code, § 65995(d); Rev. & Tax. Code, § 207)
  • Property owned and operated by a church, AND is used exclusively for religious worship, preschool purposes, nursery school purposes, or K-12 school purposes, AND Property is deemed exempt from property taxation under the laws of the state.
  • Any facility used exclusively as a private full-time day school for K-12 students. (See Ed. Code, § 48222; Gov. Code, § 65995(d))
  • Facilities that are owned and occupied by one or more agencies of the federal, state or local government. (See Gov. Code, § 65995(d))
  • Agricultural migrant worker housing (See Gov. Code, § 65995.1(6)) financed in whole or part by the Director of Housing and Community Development, AND housing is owned by the State and complies with the Special Housing Program for Migratory Workers. (See Health & Saf. Code, § 50710 et seq.)
  • Greenhouse I Enclosed agricultural space. (See Ed. Code, § 17622(a))