Red Barn Ranch Grant Conversion

Updated: October 14, 2020

Notice of Grant Conversion - Request for Public Comment

Red Barn Ranch, 17601 SE Lake Moneysmith Rd, Auburn, WA 98092

aerial map views of Red Barn Ranch and North Rainier Park

The City of Seattle is seeking public comment on:

  1. A proposal to convert aproperty outside City of Seattle limits, shown in the map above, and transfer the outdoor recreation grant covenant on to newly-acquired land in the City of Seattle as replacement that has equivalent or better recreational qualities and is valued at or above fair market value;
  2. the City's alternatives foraddressing the proposal; and
  3. properties to be considered for acquisition including: the preferred replacement property; and any other properties that meet acquisition requirements.

The City is seeking to transfer an outdoor recreation grant covenant from an unused rural property 30 miles outside city limits to a neighborhood park property within the Seattle city limits.

Comment Period

Comments will be accepted from October 14, 2020  until November 14, 2020  at 5:00 p.m.  Comments must be made in writing either via email to Jeanette Geiger, Seattle Parks and Recreation Property and Acquisition Services, at, or submitted to the City at the following address:
Seattle Parks & Recreation

Attn: Jeanette Geiger, Property and Acquisition Services
300 Elliott Avenue W., Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98119

North Rainier Neighborhood Park Project

artist's drawings of future park layout

The City proposes to create a new neighborhood park in the North Rainier community that would incorporate the proposed transfer parcel. The project would create a vibrant neighborhood park in a community that has been traditionally underserved with park and recreation resources. Being in a densely populated area, the new North Rainier park would serve thousands of people every year. This creates a public recreation benefit that far exceeds the current limited utility of the Red Barn Ranch property, which has not been accessible to many people and is currently not being maintained or managed for public park purposes.

The proposed park at the North Rainier site will include a variety of public recreational amenities including a large central natural grass gathering area, a play area, adult exercise equipment, a half-court basketball court, a walking loop and two picnic and barbecue areas with seating and planting (including 40 trees and green stormwater infrastructure) throughout the park. Pedestrian scaled lighting and cultural artistic elements representing cultures of the surrounding community are also included in the proposal. The area of the full park development is 38,700 square feet (6,617 square feet of which comes from the proposed replacement property described in this notice). Street frontage improvements include new sidewalks, curb and gutter, new curb bulbs for traffic calming and safety, drainage infrastructure, curb ramps and street parking on two of the three sides of the park. The entire pedestrian circulation system is designed and will be constructed for safety, durability, accessibility and compliance with the American with Disabilities Act.


The Red Barn Ranch property is a parcel of approximately 39 acres in unincorporated King County near Auburn (map included in Appendix A) that the City of Seattle acquired in 1970 using, in part, an acquisition grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) with covenants that require that the property be used for outdoor public recreation. Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) and our operating partners have historically used this property for summer camps and food production. The property has been vacant since 2018, when Seattle Tilth closed an on-site farm operation. SPR has attempted to transfer the property to an eligible public entity, King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, for the purpose of maintaining the previously-existing public use, but the County has concluded it would not take the property. SPR only provides maintenance to this site in response to complaints from neighbors, which has proved challenging as the site is 30 miles outside City limits. SPR has no plans to program or otherwise use the property and has been preparing to dispose of it. Because of its distance from Seattle and its remoteness, it is not well suited to remain a recreational site.

Use Limitations and the RCO Land Conversion Process

Under the RCO acquisition covenant by which the City acquired the Red Barn Ranch property, it is to remain available for outdoor public recreation. Since it is not feasible for  the City of Seattle to maintain this property for public recreation, the City explored the possibility of transferring the property to another governmental entity that could retain the public outdoor recreation use. The City has not been able to find another public agency to take over the property, therefore the City needs to be able to sell or otherwise dispose of it. The City therefore is seeking RCO approval to transfer the recreational covenant from the Red Barn Ranch to a proposed transfer property that the City would manage as a new outdoor recreation facility. The City believes this proposed grant covenant transfer will offer significant benefit to the public.

Proposed Action to Resolve the RCO Land Conversion Requirement

The City focused its search for replacement property where there are opportunities to add to existing open space. Below, Exhibit B is a list of the other potential replacement properties the City considered. One property on which to transfer the public outdoor recreation covenant stood out above all the others. The North Rainier (34th Ave. S. & S. Charlestown) property (map included in Appendix C) was acquired in 2019 after a Letter of Retroactivity dated 2/15/2019 was received from RCO Staff. The North Rainier parcel is less than an acre in size. The City purchased the property for $1,440,000 on 02/27/2019. The property is basically flat and is located in an area of the City where more parks are needed per Seattle's Comprehensive Plan and Parks and Open Space Gap Analysis.  The property is surrounded by city streets on two sides and surrounded by several parcels already owned by SPR, which the City is in the process of developing as a new City of Seattle Park.

The City would place the outdoor recreation covenant onto a parcel of land that the City recently acquired and that is subject to the Waiver of Retroactivity, namely a parcel of land (King County Parcel No. 335740-0055) in the North Rainier neighborhood within the City of Seattle, which will become part of a neighborhood park. The City explored many other possible replacement sites and determined this to be the alternative that provides the most benefit to the public. This proposed replacement site will serve many thousands of park users each year, making it substantially more useful for Seattle residents than the Red Barn Ranch property. More importantly, the proposed replacement site will provide accessible outdoor recreation opportunities for many who have historically had limited access to recreational land.

The City of Seattle is seeking public comment on the proposed land conversion including feedback on the proposed replacement property and on identifying, developing and evaluating other alternatives for replacement.

Why It's Important

As described above, the Red Barn Ranch property - located far outside Seattle and not easily accessible by neighboring communities, unfortunately - currently provides essentially no recreational value. The ranch has provided limited, recreational opportunity in the past for relatively few persons.  Currently no members of the public can use it for outdoor recreation and the City does not expect that to change. Although the property, at 40 acres, is much larger than any replacement considered, it consists of a collection of decaying facilities that have no place in the SPR plan for the future. The North Rainier property, by comparison, is located in an active, vibrant part of the City where it will be incorporated into a larger park that will be enjoyed by thousands of park goers. The recreational value of the North Rainier site far exceeds the value of the now unused Red Barn Ranch property.

This conversion and a proposed property sale or other disposition is essential to enabling the City of Seattle to provide recreational resources to the communities it serves. By resolving this proposed conversion the City can repurpose property that is currently not serving any public recreation purposes while focusing on developing (with an RCO development grant) a new neighborhood park in a densely-populated area that will greatly benefit from the new outdoor recreation resource.

How Compliance Can Be Achieved

  • Alternative 1: Do Nothing - Retain the Red Barn Ranch with the outdoor recreation covenant as-is. Selecting this alternative would mean the property would remain unmanaged and unused for public recreation purposes.
  • Alternative 2: Convert the Red Barn Ranch site and transfer the outdoor recreation covenant to part of the new North Rainier neighborhood park.

To replace the Red Barn Ranch property, the City of Seattle considered several replacement properties within Seattle.  See Exhibit B below, Potential Replacement Parcels Map.

In highly-developed Seattle, it is challenging to find land for new park facilities. Of the sites the City considered for potential transfer, the North Rainier property, located at 3656 34th Avenue S., tax parcel number 335740-0055 offered the most beneficial exchange.The City's preferred replacement property meets the following requirements set forth by RCO:

  1. equal or greater fair market value based on an appraisal; equivalent or better recreational use qualities
  2. equivalent or better recreational use qualities

The Preferred Replacement Property

The preferred replacement property consists of a parcel of land that completes the area that will become the new North Rainier Neighborhood Park.  The preferred replacement property is located within the City of Seattle, in a densely populated area, offering the opportunity to serve many thousands of park users each year. In addition to having an appraised value that greatly exceeds the appraised value of the Red Barn Ranch property, the North Rainier preferred replacement property fulfills the City of Seattle's park acquisition Gap Map criteria, which seek to put park resources within a five-minute walk of every Urban Village.

Exhibit A

Red Barn Ranch Property

The Red Barn Ranch property consists of approximately 39 acres and is located near Auburn, approximately 30 miles outside the City of Seattle.

aerial view of Red Barn Ranch parcel

Exhibit B

Other Replacement Properties Considered

The South Park Bridge property is a County-owned 0.40-acre parcel located on South Rose Street near the South Park Bridge.  It is across the street from the South Park Plaza property.

aerial view of South Park Bridge

The Seattle City Light Broadview property is a 0.89-acre parcel located at the intersection of N. 107th  and Fremont Ave. N. in the northeast Seattle area.  It is mostly level and has mature trees.  City Light would retain partial control of the property for overhead powerlines.

Aerial view of Broadview property

Exhibit C

North Rainier Parcel - Preferred Replacement Property

The North Rainier property is a 0.15-acre parcel located at the intersection of 35th Avenue S. and S. Charlestown Street. It is adjacent to city-owned Parks property that is being developed into a new neighborhood park.

Aerial view of North Rainier property