New houses mean new students, so developers will pay
The Chico Unified School District was set to decide at its June 19 meeting whether to raise the fees—from $2.05 per square foot to $2.14—charged developers to compensate for the impact of new residential building.

A “Developer Fee Justification Study” solicited by the CUSD supported the idea of the increase. The district paid Government Financial Strategies, out of Sacramento, $8,200 to do the work, reported Randy Meeker, assistant superintendent of business services for the CUSD. Meeker said the firm looked at census data and the city’s projection of growth rates and translated that into a “student yield rate” per unit, broken down into grade levels. The result was a prediction that, during the next 10 years, 1,100 new units would produce 4,610 students.

But Jim Mann, executive director of the North Valley Building Industry Association, said that although the organization wouldn’t formally object to the fee increase, “we do have some concerns with [the CUSD’s] background material.” Mann said he would be sending a letter to the district letting it know the study’s projection of new home permits is about triple what the BIA believes is realistically expected.

Development fees—or, as builders prefer to call them, new-homebuyer fees—are a steady source of income for municipalities and school districts. In fact, the CUSD is relying on stored-up fee money to help with the costs of such projects as the Marsh Junior High School gymnasium and Canyon View High School.

Corning man detained for terrorist ties
A Corning man, a Pakistani immigrant who runs a small aircraft maintenance business, is currently being held in Oakland without bail and without being charged with a crime because of a former association with an acknowledged terrorist.

Nasir Ali Mubarak, 34, entered this country on a student visa in 1991 to attend flight schools in New York, California, North Carolina and Texas. During the first two years he was here, he shared several residences with convicted Al-Qaeda operative Abdul Hakim Murad. Mubarak has admitted several times to authorities that he lived with Murad but has always maintained that he never knew Murad was involved in any illegal activities.

Murad’s arrest in the Philippines in 1995 helped lead prosecutors to Ramzi Yousef, who along with Murad is currently serving a life sentence in New York for his part in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In an interrogation transcript obtained from court records by Court TV-owned Web site, Murad, being questioned about his terror plans, mentioned that he stayed with a man in the United States named “Nasser Ali.”

The FBI questioned Mubarak on Sept. 11 and on several other occasions about his ties to Murad. His home and business were searched, and he reportedly passed a polygraph test in which he gave an account of his relationship with Murad.

Julie Caskey, an attorney working on Mubarak’s case, called his detention “a clear case of guilt by association.” Caskey said it was unusual for an immigrant to be detained without bail, especially when he is not being accused of any crime. Mubarak is in the process of obtaining permanent-resident status on the grounds that his wife is a U.S. citizen.

Mubarak was arrested at a Dallas­Fort Worth International Airport on June 2 and taken into the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Caskey reports that he told authorities in Dallas that he was there to buy a used car. His wife, Stephanie Mubarak, of Corning, was with him at the time of his arrest.