Impact Fees


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 March the Council will consider whether to amend the Comprehensive Plan to establish 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 future legislation establishing substantive and procedural requirements of an impact fee program.

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 Council will take up Comprehensive plan amendments after that appeal is resolved.

Next Steps

  • December 2018 to February 2019 – Continued analyses and development of a potential impact fee rate schedule, development of options for credits based on planning geography, and legislation drafting.
  • March to April 2019 – Council consideration of legislation implementing a transportation impact fee program.