Impact Fees

What’s Happening Now

Impact fees are one-time charges on new development to fund new public capital facilities. Cities can charge impact fees for transportation, parks and recreation, schools, and/or fire facilities. Currently, the City of Seattle does not charge any impact fees.

In 2015, a City working group began studying the possibility of using impact fees as part of a comprehensive strategy for funding key City priorities. The working group developed the Impact Fee Policy Assessment and Work Plan Development Summary. Based on the findings in the summary, Council Central staff were given direction and funding to develop impact fees for transportation. It is anticipated that Council Central staff may also evaluate implementing park and/or school impact fees in 2019 or 2020.

For information on Council's work to develop impact fees, visit:
http://www.seattle.gov/council/issues/impact-fees

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Background

Under Washington State Law, cities may charge impact fees on new development to fund transportation, parks and recreation, schools, and fire facilities. Impact fees can only fund the cost of public capital facilities that are necessary because of new development. Impact fees cannot fund maintenance, operations, or projects to address existing deficiencies. Currently, the City of Seattle does not charge any impact fees.

In September of 2014, Council appropriated money to fund the evaluation and development of an impact fee proposal, and requested that the Mayor present a work plan for achieving this request. In response to Council's request, the City convened an interdepartmental working group and steering committee to determine how, or if, the City should proceed with an impact fee proposal. The working group developed the Impact Fee Policy Assessment and Work Plan Development Summary.

The working group presented their findings to the Transportation Committee in April of 2015. Based on the findings in the summary, Council requested that City staff develop a specific proposal for Transportation and Park Impacts. We are currently in process of developing options.

At the same time, we are working on multiple initiatives which will impact both our approach to funding capital improvements and will make significant contributions to addressing our infrastructure needs. These efforts include the Housing Affordability Livability Agenda (HALA), System Development Charges, Street Use Fee Update, and Update of the Parks Development Plan as well as implementation of the Move Seattle Transportation Levy and the new Parks District. In 2017 and 2018, we will be working to understand how these initiatives work together and the appropriate role for impact fees in meeting our needs.