Avila Ranch, a recently approved housing project in San Luis Obispo, is starting to sound like those hotel deals that seem so great when you book them — only to find it’s a different story when you check in.
First, there’s that $25 resort fee mentioned in the fine print that was too small to read.
And, wait, you need to park a car? That’s another $40.
Oh, and that cot for your room? That’ll be 10 bucks.
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But in the case of Avila Ranch — which has been praised for its affordability — we’re not just talking about a few nights in a hotel.
It turns out homebuyers will pay an additional $2,000 to $3,000 per year on their property tax bills to compensate the city for improvements and services it will provide the development. That’s necessary because — and here’s where it gets complicated — as part of a 2008 annexation agreement between the city and the county, the city won’t collect its standard share of property taxes from future Avila Ranch homeowners. Instead, those taxes will go to the county, to schools and to various special districts.
Since Avila Ranch has been promoted as a relatively affordable housing project, it’s disappointing that homebuyers will be stuck paying another $200 or so a month in taxes, on top of the usual 1 percent property tax.
A spokesman for Avila Ranch said the $200 a month is comparable to a typical homeowners association fee. True, but we aren’t fans of homeowner association fees, either, since they drive up housing costs and can catch homebuyers unaware.
So here’s an idea: Can we at least have a lot more transparency about hidden costs — whether they’re for a hotel room or a house? Otherwise, those touting “affordability” might find themselves stubbing their toes on a few hidden brickbats wrapped up in fine print.