Seattle Public Utilities Mami Hara, General Manager/CEO

Benefitting Parcels FAQs

How is the cost distributed across the parcels in the Assessment Reimbursement Area?

Each parcel in the assessment reimbursement area will be assigned its pro rata share of the costs to install the utility based on the calculation below. The intent of the calculation is to approximate that parcel’s equivalent frontage (the length that the front of the parcel runs along, or ‘fronts’ the Right Of Way). The cost of constructing a utility mainline is related to the distance the mainline must be built, which is a result of the benefitting parcels’ frontages.

In the City, frontages tend not to be consistent due to infill development and irregularly shaped lots. To most fairly distribute costs, an equivalent frontage, which is the square root of the parcel’s area, is used. The square root essentially takes a funny-shaped lot, makes it a square, and measures the length of one side of the square. This equivalent frontage results in a normalized frontage length for each parcel regardless of the shape of the parcel. In this way each benefitting parcel will be assigned its share of the distance the utility needs to be constructed.

If a benefitting parcel has another mainline it can directly connect to in addition to the new mainline being constructed, it will be assigned a ½ share in the calculation of its pro rata share. This will be done by creating an effective area for the parcel equal to one-half of the parcel’s actual area. Determination of this qualification will be by SPU.

The calculation for the pro rata share is:

proRataCalc

How are corner lots and future subdivisions handled?

Due to unpredictable development choices, and to provide consistent, predictable ruling decisions, all corner parcels with frontage that abuts the water, drainage, or sewer facility will be considered a benefitting parcel.

If a benefitting parcel subdivides at some point after a latecomer agreement is established, all new parcels will be subject to the latecomer agreement conditions of the ‘parent parcel’. The first connection from the ‘parent parcel’ will be required to pay the reimbursement amount in full.

If a benefitting parcel has another mainline it can directly connect to in addition to the new mainline being constructed, it will be assigned a ½ share in the calculation of its pro rata share. Determination of this qualification will be by SPU.

How are the pro rata shares recorded for each benefitting parcel?

After the Latecomer Agreement is finalized and recorded at the King County Recorder’s Office, each benefitting parcel will receive a certified letter explaining the pro rata share assigned to the parcel. This letter will also be recorded at the King County Recorder’s Office as an encumbrance against the property. This record will be available publically through the King County Recorder’s Office. The letter sent to parcels in the assessment reimbursement area that are exempt from paying the Latecomer Reimbursement will not be recorded at the King County Recorder’s Office.

Once a benefitting property pays the Latecomer reimbursement, SPU will send another certified letter to the benefitting property owner which documents that the payment has been made and that the encumbrance on the property has been satisfied. This letter will be recorded at the King County Recorder’s Office, and it will become public record that the encumbrance has been paid.

How does the originating developer partner up front with benefitting parcels?

An originating developer can partner with owners of benefitting parcels to facilitate new connections to the new utility. In such cases, it may benefit all parties to reach a civil agreement so that the originating developer is paid an equitable amount to the pro rata share up front, and the benefitting parcel is not burdened with the Latecomer Encumbrance recorded against its title. For example, if the estimated pro rata share for a benefitting parcel is $1,000, the originating developer might accept $950 from the benefitting parcel owner and then mark that benefitting parcel as ‘exempt’ from future payment.

In the Latecomer Agreement, the originating developer can identify any benefitting parcel as exempt from future payment. This decision may be accompanied by a civil agreement between the originating developer and the owner of the benefitting parcel—the City will not be involved in this civil agreement. Any exempt benefitting parcel will not have an encumbrance recorded against the property at the King County Recorder’s Office. This benefits the originating developer because they must pay the up-front costs to record the encumbrance against each benefitting parcel.

When is a reimbursement payment required?

Reimbursement of a Latecomer encumbrance is triggered by a new or upsized connection to the utility (this will usually occur during a development activity). Note that if a benefitting parcel merely replaces an existing service connection in-kind with the same size connection, the parcel is not considered to have benefitted from the utility, so will not be required to pay the Latecomer encumbrance at that time.

The City will notify property owners that their development activity triggers reimbursement at the earliest time possible. For a development project, this would be during through the Preliminary Application Report. It may be during review of a service connection request (DPD Side Sewer permitting or SPU Water Availability) for a non-development related upgrade or reconnection request. The reimbursement must be paid prior to the City permitting the service connection.

Will the water connection charge apply if I pay a latecomer reimbursement fee for a water main?

When a benefitting parcel pays the Latecomer reimbursement fee, the amount of its pro rata share will be credited to the water Connection Charge. See the Connection Charge Policy (pdf)

How long will a benefitting parcel be burdened by the Latecomer Encumbrance?

The state law requires utility Latecomer Agreements to last for 20 years. If the Agreement expires and a benefitting parcel has not made a reimbursement payment, the benefitting parcel will not be required to pay the reimbursement in the future.

What legal language is required for subdividing/re-platting a benefitting parcel?

If an owner of a benefitting parcel that has an active Latecomer encumbrance wishes to subdivide or otherwise change the lot boundaries without first paying the Latecomer encumbrance, a statement will be required on the face of the plat explaining the Latecomer encumbrance.

The language that must be included is:

The existing Latecomer encumbrance (Recording # of Latecomer; Recording # of Letter of Notification) affecting the parent lot of this subdivision (Parent Lot #) shall apply to all child parcels affected by this plat. The first proposed connection to the utility identified in the latecomer encumbrance shall be responsible to pay the full amount of the latecomer encumbrance prior to connection.