Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray

Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray

During councilmember comments at last night Anaheim City Council meeting, Councilwoman Kris Murray proposed the return of a most excellent policy: the Home Improvement Holiday (HIH).

It’s been almost 10 years since Anaheim launch the original HIH under Mayor Curt Pringle. It was one of the emblematic policies of the “Freedom Friendly” days.

HIH by-passed the top-down, bureaucratic and expensive governmental approach to neighborhood revitalization in favor of decentralized, free market policy that tapped into the natural desire of residents to improve their homes in a way that suited themselves — and in the aggregate, improved the city through their own time, money and effort.

The original HIH program ran for three-months. Fees were waived, and an amnesty granted to homeowners seeking permits for unpermitted improvements. 3,562 residential building permits were issued (compared to 112 in the same three-month period the year before), with an average of $7,946 spent on home improvements per permit issued. All told, Anaheim homeowners invested nearly $30 million in home improvements. During the same three-month period the year before, the city issued only 112 permits for $1.65 million worth of improvements.

The “cost” to the city of this de-centralized, homeowner-driven initiative was $772,240 in waived fees – not bad considering the return-in-investment of almost $30 million in home improvements. No central planning from City Hall. No expensive, consultant-driven studies and “visioning” programs. No diversion of TOT tax.

Here is Councilwoman Murray on her HIH proposal from an e-mail announcement she sent out this morning:

Could You Use a Home Improvement Holiday?

In case you missed it, during closing comments at last night’s City Council meeting, I made the request to City Manager Bob Wingenroth that the Home Improvement Holiday (HIH) – originally adopted in 2004 – be brought back for Council consideration as part of the 2013 fiscal year budget.  

This past fiscal year, we as a city had much success in balancing the budget, restoring cash reserves, and making necessary reinvestments into city programs. With our economy rebounding and people getting back to work, we are now seeing a greater increase in revenues and have the resources available to cut through the red tape and work with residents to improve the curb appeal in our neighborhoods!

HIH will encourage property owners to invest in improvements to their homes. In return, for a set period of time, the City will waive fees for permits, inspections, re-inspections and other related activities. The City will also wave penalty fees and plan check and permit fees for construction done without a permit.  

Past eligible permits included:  

* Block walls/columns

* Patio Covers

* Re-roofing

* Remodels

* Accessory structures

* Room additions

* Swimming pools/spas

* Minor grading plans

* Residential right-of-way construction  

In addition to removing the burdens of permit fees, a series of HIH workshops will be available to homeowners covering topics such as obtaining permits, fees that are waived, preparing for plan check submittals, re-roofing, block walls, historic preservation, water heater replacement, patio covers, and swimming pools.        

As the economy rebounds, this program provides a wonderful opportunity for the City to eliminate costly red tape so that homeowners in Anaheim can move forward with upgrades to their property that have been on hold over the recession.    For more information about the past HIH program, visit  


Kris Murray,

Council Member City of Anaheim