Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)
8/2/2005 3:00:00 PM
Mayor proposes development fee to pay for parks and open space
Program would help ensure open space keeps pace with growth
SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels is proposing a new fee on developers of commercial and residential buildings to help pay for parks and open space in some of city’s fastest-growing neighborhoods, including downtown Seattle.
The proposed impact fees on new development could generate more than $57 million to buy and build parks and open space in the Center City, University District and Northgate neighborhoods. The program would help ensure that public parks and open space keep pace with housing and job growth over the next 20 years.
“We need more parks and open space to create the kind of livable, walkable urban neighborhoods that people want to live in,” Nickels said. “This is a way for growth to help pay for growth by providing the kind of quality public spaces that will make these areas an attractive place to live and work.”
The proposal is a key element of the Mayor’s Center City Strategy, which anticipates significant growth in downtown Seattle and surrounding neighborhoods. The development fees could help pay for the equivalent of six city blocks of new parks and open space in Center City area.
The fees will apply to residential, commercial, office and R & D projects
in all six Seattle urban centers: Uptown, South Lake Union, Downtown, Capitol
Hill/First Hill, the University District, and Northgate.
The mayor sent the City Council proposed amendments to Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan today that sets the stage for the new fees. Legislation creating the program will be proposed early next year.
Under the mayor’s proposal, developers will be required to pay a set fee for each square foot of residential and commercial construction. The amount per square foot has yet to be determined. The new fees would not apply to developments that meet affordable and workforce housing requirements.
Based on the city’s growth projections, the Center City neighborhoods
will need 12.3 acres and the University District will need 1.6 acres of additional
open space by 2024. Northgate will require money to develop existing open space
in the area.
"This is a huge step forward in the Mayor's Center City Strategy and is sure to be a welcome tool by park and open space advocates in Seattle," says Ken Bounds, Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation.
The program would mark a shift in the way the city requires open space by
changing the focus from small, privately-owned areas in new developments to
larger, more meaningful public spaces open to everyone.
The city would use a new formula that takes into account both housing and job growth in determining the amount of new open space required in the future. Currently, open space needs for the downtown urban center is based on the number of workers. In the other areas, needs are on the number of residents.
Although common in the region and around the country, Seattle has never imposed impact fees for development.
"We want to shape the way our city grows by directing the growth toward the neighborhoods best able to accommodate it,” said Nickels. “That means creating good transportation links, making streets lively and walkable, and building enough parks and open space for everyone to enjoy.”
Visit the mayor’s web site at www.seattle.gov/mayor. Get the mayor’s inside view on initiatives to promote transportation, public safety, economic opportunity and healthy communities by signing up for The Nickels Newsletter at www.seattle.gov/mayor/newsletter_signup.htm
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