Ask City Council to allow discussion on Transportation Impact Fees. Support Council Bill 120635.

CALL TO ACTION: Email, Call and Testify

This week, please ask City Council to support Council Bill 120635 to amend the City’s Comprehensive Plan to allow the Council to engage with the public and then to later vote on whether to adopt transportation impact fees to pay for infrastructure needs created by new developments.

Monday, Nov. 6th: Please contact all Members of City Council and ask them to vote YES on CB 120635.

Tuesday, Nov. 7th: Please consider also making public comment either in-person or via telephone and ask all Councilmembers to vote YES on CB 120635.

City Council needs to hear from we, the people.  🙂

NOTE: CB 120635 is a procedural requirement—it does NOT impose any fees. What it does do is allow for the discussion, public engagement, and then, ideally, a vote.  If the comp plan does not get amended, then the exploration of impact fees cannot happen.  Impact fees are charged by all surrounding communities of Seattle, i.e., Redmond, Bellevue, Renton, Bainbridge Island, etc..

What are Impact Fees?  Impact fees are one-time charges assessed by a local government against a new development project to help pay for new or expanded public capital facilities that will directly address the increased demand for services created by that development. *
What can Transportation Impact Fees be used for?
Transportation impact fees must be used for “public streets, roads, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities that were designed with multimodal commuting as an intended use” that are addressed by a capital facilities plan element of a comprehensive plan adopted under the GMA, per RCW 82.02.050(4) and RCW 82.02.090(7).
According to our discussions with the Washington State Department of Transportation, “bicycle and pedestrian facilities that were designed with multimodal commuting as an intended use” would include any bike trail/lane/path, sidewalk, or any other multimodal trail/lane/path, whether on-street or off-street, as long as it is publicly owned or within the public right-of-way and connects two or more destinations.
It is unlikely that transportation impact fees can be used for other multimodal improvements not listed above, such as transit vehicles or recreational hiking trails.
Since impact fees are restricted to capital facilities, they cannot be used to fund transportation studies or operating and maintenance costs. *

Development impact fees are not a new idea—the cost to provide infrastructure for new real estate development should be carried in part by those new projects (“growth should pay for growth”).  Implementing development impacts fees—like 70 other Washington Cities already do—requires a two-step process: our comprehensive plan must be amended to allow impact fees before they can be considered by a separate ordinance. CB 120635 is just the first step (amending the comprehensive plan)!  

The timing of CB 120635 is particularly important because the 2015 Move Seattle property tax levy expires next year. Ideally, that property tax can remain flat or even decrease; shifting a reasonable amount of the burden to the for-profit developers of new market rate projects (as is done by Redmond, Bellevue, Federal Way, Shoreline, and 66 other Washington cities) will help make this tax reform possible. 
CM Herbold, a long-time proponent of impact fees, and CM Pedersen are co-sponsors of CB 120635 to amend the Comp Plan to enable consideration of a program at a later date.

– * Source and language for What are Impact Fees and What can Transportation Impact Fees be used for? Comes from
– To read Council Bill 120635 – click here

Background reading links:
– CM Pedersen’s page
– CM Herbold’s page
– Seattle Times: Seattle Leader Wants Developers to Help Pay for Transportation Projects

Some talking points on this topic:
•        Seattle is overdue for impact fees to help us pay for our transportation infrastructure rather than piling the entire cost-burden on homeowners and renters through property taxes. 
•        Seattle is an outlier when 70 other Washington State cities, including Bellevue, Redmond, Renton, Bainbridge Island (as well as cities across the nation) collect this important revenue for better infrastructure to support growth. 
•        Impact fees do not interfere with growth – Bellevue, Redmond and many other cities in Washington use those fees and these cities have not stopped growing. 
•        Seattle’s proposed impact fees would be relatively small in comparison with other cities’ programs.
•        Public, non-profit, and other low-income housing projects could be exempt from these fees. 
•        Impact fee revenue can be used for projects that support for ALL modes of travel, including pedestrians, transit, bikes, and freight. 
•        Impact fee revenue would free up other transportation revenues that Seattle needs to fix our aging bridges.  
•        Impact fees could be used to help pay for new or replacement trees in upgraded rights of way (streets) projects. 
•        Impact fees are not likely to appreciably impact market rate housing production or rents – driving down land values reduces upward pressure on market rent rates.  
•        Impact fees will not reduce the supply of low-income housing: Low-income housing is likely to be exempt.


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