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Richard Rider

California fines and fees are at least TRIPLE the national average

People who have lived in California for much or all of their lives have little grasp of how badly our CA state and local governments hammer the population and businesses with exorbitant fees. In every area. 

The general rule of thumb is that CA fees are at least triple the average of the other states.  And too often a LOT more. 

Arguably the Golden State is one giant Hazzard County — the fictitious corrupt county run by the comically evil Boss Hogg.  This mythical locale was made famous by the “Dukes of Hazzard” TV series. 

Let’s compare some CA fees with the national fees.  Two very different examples:

1.  TRAFFIC FINES — Let’s consider the total fines for “running” a red light — using a red light camera to produce automatic tickets.   According to NOLO, a CA red light ticket fine is $250, with other fees bringing the total cost to $490.

But the average national fine and fees for running a stop light is only about $150.  The average national stop light camera ticket is $100 to $125.  Hence the standard CA “red light camera” fine is about four times higher than the national average.

BTW, these red light cameras have been discredited by many.  Some cities have dropped the red light camera program entirely.  Moreover, oddly enough, these cameras can sometimes prove one’s innocence — to an unbiased adjudicator.

2.  BUILDING FEES — The average total fees in CA for building the median single-family residence ($548,000 – May, 2019) varied from 6% ($32,880) to 18% ($98,640) per home, about double the fees charged by the next most expensive state and more than TRIPLE the norm among jurisdictions that levy such fees. Such fees typically pay for capital improvements, like water and wastewater facilities, required by a new development. 


Many states and localities on the eastern side of the Sierras have little or no such fees at all. To add insult to injury, that “fee” becomes part of the price of the home or apartment – the base on which the annual property taxes are calculated.

These fees also impact CA multifamily housing. CA local fees on multifamily units vary from about $15,000 to $77,000 — almost quadruple the average outside California.  Again, this does not count the states and cities where such fees are not levied at all.

The CA cost of living (COL) is the second highest in the nation — only isolated Hawaii is higher. But while the CA COL is about 40% higher than the national average our government fees are over TRIPLE the national average.

Why do politicians charge us so much? Because they can.  And because the public employee labor unions demand it.  Meanwhile the CA MSM is strangely quite about this awful social injustice.

The rush of the middle class to leave California is growing annually.  In the year ending June 2019, the CA outflow to other states — “net domestic migration” — grew another 30% to over 203,000.  

Just to be clear — this is a NET figure.  203,000 MORE left for other states than came here from those states.

With the 2020 coronavirus lockdown and the job disruptions, that will likely slow this year. But when things return to a more normal state, I expect the outflow to dramatically grow again. Indeed, I guarantee it.