The Seattle City Council is considering transportation impact fees for development in the city.
Reporting for The Urbanist, Ryan Packer shares the background on a years-long process of exploring a new transportation impact fee, which has recently yielded a potential project list before the City Council for consideration.
Notably, Seattle has no existing impact fee—for transportation, fire protection, nor schools—like most cities in Washington State, according to Packer. Hence the cities ongoing efforts, dating back to 2014, to implement an impact fee.
There’s one big catch, however, to the idea of adding a charge on new residential or commercial construction to help fund infrastructure improvements: At the moment impact fees are under consideration by the City Council, “the City of Seattle is facing a revenue forecast that shows multifamily home construction slowing significantly, prompting the question of whether the timing is right to add yet another cost barrier onto the construction of new housing,” writes Packer.
The impact fee is currently held up by legal challenges to the Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) required by the Washington State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA).
“Until that appeal is resolved (a hearing is now scheduled for late May), Seattle cannot move beyond the initial rate study for impact fees, which includes a potential ceiling for the fee. Only certain transportation projects are eligible to be funded by impact fees, and often only certain elements of those projects as well,” reports Packer.
Impact fees are frequently provoke opposition from developers and YIMBYs for creating another expense for development projects. A lot more detail about the politics and potential consequences of the proposed impact fee can be found at the link below.