Our Process

When does Seattle Parks and Recreation publicly advertise for services and programs?

In general, it is industry best business practice and policy to advertise for goods and services in government contracting for the most responsive and responsible provider when current terms of contracts are expiring or if a new contracting opportunity presents itself. The primary tools for a formal public solicitation are a Request for Proposal (RFP) process or an Invitation for Bid (IFB) Process.

Request for Proposals (RFP)
A request for proposals (RFP) is a type of bidding solicitation in which a company or organization announces that funding is available for a particular project or program, and companies can place bids for the project's completion. The RFP outlines the bidding process and contract terms, and provides guidance on how the bid should be formatted and presented. An RFP is typically open to a wide range of bidders, creating open competition between companies looking for work.

Request for Statement of Interest and Qualifications (SOQ)
A statement of qualifications is a document showing a potential partner's abilities, business plan and mission statement. It may include the organization's history, tax identification number and contact information. It may also summarize the organization's departments and types and number of employees.

Invitation for Bid (IFB)
Invitation for Bid: When a company or organization provides detailed project specifications and allows contractors to send in their proposals indicating how much the project will cost to complete, it issues an Invitation for Bid (IFB). Because the focus of the invitation for bid is on the bidder's price for project completion, there is less emphasis on the bidder introducing its own ideas. This separates the IFB from a request for proposal (RFP).

Typically, Parks formally solicits new services and program providers for established partnership relationships, e.g., operation of moorages, operation of golf courses, the Green Lake boat rental, our performing and visual arts centers, and food vending, all of which have been around for quite some time and are open to and accepting of proposals for new ideas and proposals that have not been done before.

The primary tools for a formal public solicitation are a Request for Proposals (RFP) or an Invitation to Bid (IFB) process. For SPR, Policy 3.9.1, sections 7.2 and describe the criteria for using an RFP versus an IFB process.

We invite development of these opportunities through the Expression of Interest section of this website; in cases where we have a park facility but no resources to renovate or program it, we would specifically call this out as an opportunity for potential partners in the Expression of Interest site.

In Seattle Parks and Recreation Policy 3.9.1, sections 7.2 and 7.3 9.1 describe the criteria for using an RFP versus an IFB process.

This concept is also consistent with the municipal concept of fairness, access and opportunity in government contracts. SPR also models its solicitation practices on the City's Financial Administrative Services' citywide consultant contracting, purchasing, and public works rules that require formal advertising in soliciting goods and services in city government. Below is an excerpt from the city's Purchasing and consultant contract guidelines:

Competitive Solicitation

If the project is estimated to be more than $47,000 and the consultant is not selected from the Roster (an option for projects less than $285,000), SMC 20.50.030 requires a publicly advertised competition:

  • Request for Qualifications (RFQ): selection is based on qualifications only and not on the consultant's proposed approach or pricing.
  • Request for Proposal (RFP): selection considers qualifications and proposed approach. An RFP is especially useful if there are various ways to approach the work.
  • An RFQ and an RFP may be used in combination, when it's desirable to short-list the number of consultants asked to develop proposals.

If the project will be developed in multiple phases of work, the advertisement and solicitation must briefly describe each phase so the contract includes the full scope and budget. This is important to meet State Auditor expectations that all work is carefully identified in the original solicitation, and not altered by change order later.

An RFP or RFQ process requires careful planning and can often last 90 days or more, depending on the size and complexity of the project and the efficiency of the department.

SMC 20.50.030 requires these projects be advertised for two days (which need not be consecutive) in the City's official newspaper, the Daily Journal of Commerce. SMC requires a description, the department name, name and phone of contact person, and a statement that consultant is bound to laws and ordinances regarding equal employment opportunity. The depth and breadth of the advertisement is otherwise the choice of the department.

Per SMC 20.50, solicitations require a Consultant Evaluation Committee (CEC) appointed by the department head. Once the CEC has evaluated the consultants, the CEC chair recommends the CEC's choice and reasons for it for department head approval. Once approved, Selection and Non-Selection notices are sent to firms who responded to the solicitation (per SMC 20.50).

In all, sole source contracting and or renewal with current providers are exceptions and typically done with longstanding nonprofit community based organizations/partners that have a history of contributing to Parks and are well supported by the public/community.

When does Seattle Parks and Recreation accept proposals from external parties?

In general, Seattle Parks and Recreation is open to proposals, new ideas, new programs and services that have not been tried or piloted before, and/or potential investments to park facilities or programs that have not resulted in any interest through previous RFPs or IFBs. Interested potential partners can submit an Expression of Interest through this website.

Community and Nonprofit Partners

Seattle Parks and Recreation wants to attract and maintain creative partnerships with a diverse range of program providers who can help reach underserved communities.
Some examples include:

  • Use of community center space for a long period of time by non-profits who offer programs but who are unable to pay rent
  • An artist gives his/her art work to sell at one of Parks' community centers and shares the proceeds
  • A yoga instructor wants to teach yoga at a Parks facility
  • A young school child sets up a lemonade stand in front of the entrance to a Park's facility and plans to use the proceeds for a worthy cause

See also see and Successful Partnerships for ideas.

Business Partners

We also want to attract and maintain creative partnerships with a wide range of businesses who share our vision and priorities. Business partners include concessions, sponsorships and other opportunities. Seattle Parks and Recreation has agreements with businesses that are as simple as a park use permit for a park vendor and as complex as our relationship with Arena Sports, which through a Request for Proposals process renovated, and operates and maintains, Building 27 at Magnuson Park. Parks is committed to increasing diversity and opportunities for WMBE businesses.

If you have an idea for a partnership, below is the process to submit your proposal:

Additional Resources and Code Regulations

The following resource agencies may be helpful to you if you are starting a new business, are looking for licensing or tax information or need assistance with your business. All information contained here is general in nature and is not intended to be used as a substitute for appropriate professional advice. Our Design and Construction Standards page can be helpful for past project parameters.

City of Seattle Policies

City of Seattle, Revenue and Consumer Affairs
700 Fifth Ave., Suite 4250
PO Box 34214
Seattle, WA 98124-4214
Telephone 206-684-8484
Fax 206684-5170
Email: rca.bizlictx@seattle.gov

Anyone engaging in business within the Seattle city limits needs a business license from the City of Seattle; a license from another city cannot be accepted, and you may have to pay business tax as well. An informative guide provided on the City's website gives information to help you file your business tax return and make you aware of some of the common deductions to which you might be entitled. In addition, the City's website includes information regarding related taxes that businesses sometimes also have to pay.

Washington State Department of Revenue

Your business will most likely collect and pay sales tax on the products that you sell. Information about doing business in Washington State, links to other resources, sales tax rates and other information is available at the Department of Revenue Website or by contacting the Department at 1-800-647-7706.

Special Note - Leasehold Excise Tax

Please be aware that Washington State Leasehold Excise Taxes (LET) are due over and above any and all concession fee payments made to the City. LET is paid by anyone using public property or operating a business on public property. Proposers are advised to consult their financial advisors. At this time Washington State Leasehold Taxes are 12.84% (Twelve and eighty-four hundredths percent) of the net concession fee payments to the City. This tax is remitted to the Department along with each concession fee payment and the Department sends the tax payment to the State. This tax does NOT apply to the $250 performance deposit.

For example, if your concession permit included a concession fee of 10 % of net sales, the following sample calculations will demonstrate how to arrive at leasehold excise tax:

  • Total Sales And Sales Taxes Collected For The Month $2,000.00
  • Less Sales Tax Collected (Assuming a 9.2% tax rate) $ 168.50
  • Equals Net Sales $1,831.50
  • Times 10 % Concession Fee Equals Fee Dollars $ 183.15
  • Times 12.84 % LET Rate Equals LET Dollars $ 23.52

The Seattle office for the Department of Revenue is located at 2101 4th Ave., Suite 1400, Seattle, WA 98121-2300. Driving directions to the Seattle office are as follows: from I-5 North or South-bound Take Exit #165, Stewart Street. Continue west to 4th Avenue, turn right onto 4th Avenue, and continue to 2101 - 4th Avenue. The building is located on the west side of 4th Avenue between Lenora and Blanchard streets in the Sedwick James Building. The office hours are from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. The office phone number is 206-0956-3000 and their fax number is 206-956-3037.

Washington Secretary of State

Some forms of businesses must register with the Secretary of State. Visit the Secretary of State's website or contact their office at Secretary of State, Legislative Office Building, PO Box 40220, Olympia, WA 98504-0220 or phone 360-902-4151. The Secretary of State's website provides a wealth of information about your business (the following italic text is taken from the website):

"You may operate your business or organization under any one of several organizational structures. Each type of structure has certain advantages and disadvantages that should be considered. You should contact an attorney, accountant, financial advisor, banker, or other business or legal advisors to determine which form is most suitable for your business or organization.

A Sole Proprietorship is one individual or married couple in business alone. Sole proprietorships are the most common form of business structure. This type of business is simple to form and operate, and may enjoy greater flexibility of management and fewer legal controls. However, the business owner is personally liable for all debts incurred by the business.

A General Partnership is composed of two or more persons (usually not a married couple) who agree to contribute money, labor, and/or skill to a business. Each partner shares the profits, losses, and management of the business and each partner is personally and equally liable for debts of the partnership. Formal terms of the partnership are usually contained in a written partnership agreement.

A Limited Partnership (Registers with the Secretary of State) is composed of one or more general partners and one or more limited partners. The general partners manage the business and share full in its profits and losses. Limited partners share in the profits of the business, but their losses are limited to the extent of their investment. Limited partners are usually not involved in the day-to-day operations of the business.

A Limited Liability Partnership (Registers with the Secretary of State) is similar to a General Partnership except that normally a partner does not have personal liability for the negligence of another partner. This business structure is used most commonly by professionals such as accountants and lawyers.

A Corporation (Registers with the Secretary of State) is a more complex business structure. As a chartered legal entity, a corporation has certain rights, privileges, and liabilities beyond those of an individual. Doing business as a corporation may yield tax or financial benefits, but these can be offset by other considerations, such as increased licensing fees or decreased personal control. Corporations may be formed for profit or nonprofit purposes.

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) (Registers with the Secretary of State) and the Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) (Registers with the Secretary of State) are the newest forms of business structure in Washington. An LLC or LLP is formed by one or more individuals or entities through a special written agreement. The agreement details the organization of the LLC or LLP, including: provisions for management, assignability of interests, and distribution of profits or losses. Limited liability companies and limited liability partnerships are permitted to engage in any lawful, for profit business or activity other than banking or insurance."

Washington State Department of Licensing

The Department of Licensing will provide information about Master Business License Applications, Business License Renewals, Corporation and LLC renewals, business licensing information, Electronic business tax filing as well as other licensing information. The Department's Master License Service provides one-stop business licensing and registration for more than 74 different licenses and registrations administered by 11 state agencies. It also oversees trade name registration and provides information on the licensing and registration requirements of state, local, and federal agencies. Their website address is: http://www.dol.wa.gov/# and their contact information is Washington State Department of Licensing, 1125 Washington St. SE, Post Office Box 9020, Olympia, WA 98507-9020, (360) 902-3600 and TDD (360) 664-8885.

Public Health Department

The Public Health Department's website offers in depth information about starting and operating a food service business here. Familiarize yourself the Plan Review Process for Mobile Food Service Operation. Whenever you start a new mobile food service operation or make changes to an existing one, or its commissary, facility (the mobile unit itself), equipment, menu, location or route, you must contact Public Health. The changes will determine whether you need to update plans or submit new ones.

The process of submitting plans for mobile food carts will vary depending on the location of your operation and the type of vehicle or cart you will be operating. If you need help getting started or if you have any questions about preparing your food plans, contact the Plans Examiner serving the downtown Seattle area: Trish Ryan, Sr. Environmental Health Specialist, Downtown Public Health Center, Environmental Health Division, 2124 - 4th Avenue, 4th Floor, Seattle, WA 98121 or 206-263-8484.