City Real Estate Policies

Working with other City departments, Real Estate Services coordinates the development of Citywide real estate policies.

There are three types of policies:

Developed by staff, these type of policies are reviewed by the Real Estate Oversight Committee and the Law Department, and upon the Mayor's approval, are forwarded to Council for review and possible adoption via resolution or ordinance.

These types of polices are implemented at the direction of the Mayor and do not require Council adoption via resolution or ordinance.

Departments which have jurisdiction over City real property may implement departmental directives. For example, per SMC 3.39.020.d, the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services manages the City's real estate portfolio, which includes negotiation and execution of short-term permits and property-use authorizations.

The policies fall into four categories:

City property acquisition policy adopted by Resolution 29799 encourages the coordination and review of potential property acquisitions by City departments. Prospective acquisitions may be subject to a general feasibility analysis, as well as a site-specific analysis to consider issues and impacts that may result from an acquisition. Factors may include adopted City plans and policies, possible co-location opportunities at existing City facilities, community impacts and other concerns. City policy calls for review of proposed acquisitions by the interdepartmental Real Estate Oversight Committee and by Real Estate Services. Transportation and utility projects located in existing right-of-way are exempted from this review.

The City Council adopted Resolution 29799 in 1998 regarding the "Reuse or Disposal of City Property," amending it in 2006 via Resolution 30862, and amending it in 2017 with Resolution 31770. The procedures for the evaluation of City real property for reuse and disposition established a uniform evaluation process, as well as a standard method of classifying and reporting the status of City-owned property. Policies and procedures highlights:

  • All City-owned property is tracked in a Real Property Asset Management Information System (RPAMIS).
  • Properties are classified by use and status, with periodic reviews by the jurisdictional department.
  • Property declared excess by a department initiates an internal and external review process, managed by Real Estate Services.
  • The public has multiple opportunities for input throughout the review process.

The City Council ultimately makes final decisions on the reuse or disposition of each excess property.

When the City acquires private property, it offers relocation assistance to minimize the hardship of displacement on impacted households and businesses. Ordinance 121998 amended the Seattle Municipal Code Section 20.84 to extend the same assistance to any displaced households or businesses regardless of the source of funds used for a City project so that all households and businesses are treated fairly and equitably. The City's policy for relocation assistance is based closely on the Uniform Relocation Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 4601). Projects and programs with state and federal funding may be subject to additional state and federal requirements.

Under a separate policy, the City, by Ordinance 119163, adopted a Residential Antidisplacement and Relocation Assistance Plan (RARAP) as required by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for projects receiving certain federal funds (e.g., CDBG, UDAG). See the Seattle Office of Housing for more information.

Under certain circumstances, the City requires private property owners provide relocation assistance to residential tenants.

In 1996, the City Council passed Resolution 29344, which allows City facilities to be used for wireless communication facilities. The resolution established three criteria for evaluating proposals for use of City property:

  • Wireless facilities shall not unreasonably interfere with the intended City use of its real property or structures.
  • Such use of City real property must not violate any laws or impose limitations on the use of the City property nor any limitations on the structure established for the protection of the neighboring community.
  • Any City structure proposed for wireless facility shall have adequate physical capacity for the wireless facility. The lessee may propose and install renovations to a City structure, at its own expense and only after the City's jurisdictional department has given written approval.

In October 1997, the City Council and the Mayor approved Ordinance 118737, which allows individual City departments to negotiate and execute wireless communication site agreements. Contact the jurisdictional department for more information on leasing City property for wireless communication facilities.