February 23, 2018

Metropolitan Bakersfield Habitat Conservation Plan

WHAT IS THE METROPOLITAN BAKERSFIELD HABITAT CONSERVATION PLAN?

The Metropolitan Bakersfield Habitat Conservation Plan (MBHCP) is a program that addresses the effect of urban growth on federally and State protected plant and animal species within the Metropolitan Bakersfield General Plan area. The MBHCP is a joint program of the City of Bakersfield and Kern County that was undertaken to assist urban development applicants in complying with State and federal endangered species laws.

HOW DO THE STATE AND FEDERAL ENDANGERED SPECIES ACTS AFFECT LAND USE PERMIT APPLICANTS?

State and Federal Endangered Species Acts prohibit the “take” (killing, harming, or harassment) of plant or animal species that are listed as endangered or threatened. Under the federal law, species “take” also includes the loss of species habitat to urban development, such as buildings, paving, grading, etc. Endangered species protected under these State and federal laws include the San Joaquin kit fox, Tipton kangaroo rat, blunt nosed leopard lizard, and Bakersfield cactus.

Prior to the development of the MBHCP, individual project applicants were required by State and federal wildlife agencies to demonstrate compliance with the endangered species laws by preparing expensive biological reports, securing compensation lands, and undertaking other measures to avoid impacts to the species. These requirements added expense, project delay, and uncertainty to the land development process.

WHY DO WE HAVE A METROPOLITAN BAKERSFIELD HABITAT CONSERVATION PLAN?

The MBHCP is designed to bring certainty to the process of complying with endangered species laws while allowing for future economic growth of the Metropolitan Bakersfield area. The program also satisfies the conservation goals of State and federal endangered species laws.

HOW DOES THE METROPOLITAN BAKERSFIELD HABITAT CONSERVATION PLAN WORK?

The MBHCP utilizes a mitigation fee paid by applicants for grading or building permits to fund the purchase and maintenance of habitat land to compensate for the effects of urban development on endangered species habitat. The lands to be acquired for the program are generally located outside the Metropolitan Bakersfield area.

Kern County and the City of Bakersfield have entered into a legal agreement with the California Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that spells out obligations in conjunction with the MBHCP. The agreement allows the County and the City to receive habitat mitigation credit that can be applied against future habitat loss that accompanies urban development.

HOW DOES THE METROPOLITAN BAKERSFIELD HABITAT CONSERVATION PLAN AFFECT ME?

If you plan to grade, build, or otherwise develop land within the Metropolitan Bakersfield area, you will be responsible for payment of a one-time MBHCP habitat mitigation fee of $2,145.00 per gross acre of land involved in your development. The fee for parcels containing less than 2 ½ acres is based on the size of the parcel. For example, if your development site is a ½-acre parcel your habitat mitigation fee would be $1,072.50.

The habitat mitigation fee is collected from you by the County Building Inspection Division along with any other fees that are associated with the building or grading permit. The habitat mitigation fee is due at the time that your grading or building permit is issued.

DOES EVERYONE PAY THIS FEE?

Unless separate mitigation has been agreed upon by the wildlife agencies, all new development that is covered by the program pays the habitat mitigation fee.

There is also a limited number of activities for which payment of a habitat mitigation fee is not required under the terms of the program, either because the activities are not covered by the program or because of the activity’s minimal impact. Those activities include:

• Additions, remodels, or reconstruction totaling not more that a 50% increase over the existing development.
• Replacement of a mobilehome.
• Oil and gas production and extraction.
• Commercial agriculture (where permitted) including equipment buildings, storage, barns, and agricultural housing.
• Development on property for which wildlife agencies have already granted “incidental take permits”.
• Demolition.
• Development on property for which an Interim HCP fee was paid before the current program was approved.

HOW DOES THE METROPOLITAN BAKERSFIELD HABITAT CONSERVATION PLAN FACILITATE PROCESSING OF MY LAND USE PERMIT?

The MBHCP was developed in conjunction with the local building industry to facilitate the land use permit issuance process. In addition, the program provides the following benefits:

• provides compliance with State and federal endangered species laws
• provides for candidate species that have yet to be listed
• avoids expensive piecemeal biological reports and project-by-project mitigation
• provides predictable mitigation for project applicants
• coordinates State and federal wildlife agency mitigation requirements

FORM 716 (1/2013)

Posted in