Impact Fees

Background

Planning and policy development work for an impact fee program began in 2015. Impact fees are statutorily authorized fees charged to new development to partially address the needs for capacity improvements to transportation, parks, schools, and fire facilities associated with growth. In 2015, the City recommended a work program for: (1) development of an impact fee program for parks and transportation and (2) exploration with the Seattle School District of a program for public schools. Competing policy priorities forestalled completion of the work program. In 2017 the Council docketed consideration of Comprehensive Plan amendments for impact fees through Resolution 31732. In 2018, the Council began to complete some policy development work necessary to implement a transportation impact fee program.

Current Status

This summer the Council may consider whether to implement a transportation impact fee program. Implementation steps would include: (1) amending the Comprehensive Plan and (2) developing policies and regulations for the program:

  • Amending the Comprehensive Plan establishes the policy basis for a transportation impact fee program. Among other things, Comprehensive Plan amendments would establish a list of projects, for which capacity improvements are needed to accommodate growth. Projects on the list would be eligible for potential future expenditures of impact fee revenue. Projects on the draft list are drawn from current projects in the Capital Improvement Program, Seattle’s transportation modal plans, and Move Seattle Vision projects. Development of the projects would improve the reliability and efficiency of Seattle’s transportation network and benefit all modes of transportation. Establishing the list in the Comprehensive Plan is a necessary, but not sufficient, step towards implementing an impact fee program.
  • The Council and Mayor would need to approve additional legislation establishing substantive and procedural requirements of an impact fee program. Those requirements include establishing a transportation impact fee rate schedule by type of land use, determining whether transportation impact fees should be adjusted by location to recognize access to multimodal opportunities, and establishing procedural requirements for assessing and collecting fees.

The Council has issued a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) threshold determination of non-significance for Comprehensive Plan amendments to help implement an impact fee program. That SEPA threshold determination has been appealed to the City Hearing Examiner. The appeal hearing is currently scheduled for June 2019. The Council will take up implementing legislation after that appeal is resolved.

Next Steps

  • March 19, 2019 – Public Hearing on draft Comprehensive Plan Amendment Bill
  • April to June 2019 – Continued analyses, development of a potential impact fee rate schedule, , and legislation drafting.
  • July to August 2019 – Council consideration of legislation implementing a transportation impact fee program.

Resources