Impact Fees


Planning and policy development work for an impact fee program began in 2015. Impact fees are statutorily authorized fees charged to new development to partially address the needs associated with growth for capacity improvements to transportation, parks, schools, and fire facilities.   Since 2017 the Council has annually docketed consideration of Comprehensive Plan amendments for impact fees.

In 2018, the Council began to complete some policy development work necessary to implement a transportation impact fee program, including developing a transportation impact fee rate study, drafting a council bill to amend the Comprehensive Plan to authorize a transportation impact fee program, and issuing a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) threshold determination for that council bill.  That SEPA threshold determination was appealed to the City Hearing Examiner, who remanded the determination to the Council in October 2019.

Current Status

The Council has updated the 2018 rate study.  The updated rate study retains the original list of projects considered in 2018, with the exception of completed projects.  This spring and summer the Council may consider whether to implement a transportation impact fee program. Implementation steps would include: (1) amending the Comprehensive Plan and (2) developing policies and regulations for the program:

  • Amending the Comprehensive Plan establishes the policy basis for a transportation impact fee program. Among other things, Comprehensive Plan amendments would establish a list of projects, for which capacity improvements are needed to accommodate growth. Projects on the list would be eligible for potential future expenditures of impact fee revenue. Projects on the draft list are drawn from current projects in the Capital Improvement Program, Seattle’s transportation modal plans, and Move Seattle Vision projects. Development of the projects would improve the reliability and efficiency of Seattle’s transportation network and benefit all modes of transportation. Establishing the list in the Comprehensive Plan is a necessary, but not sufficient, step towards implementing an impact fee program.
  • The Council and Mayor would need to approve additional legislation establishing substantive and procedural requirements of an impact fee program. Those requirements include establishing a transportation impact fee rate schedule by type of land use, determining whether transportation impact fees should be adjusted by location to recognize access to multimodal opportunities, and establishing procedural requirements for assessing and collecting fees.

On February 13, 2023, Council issued a SEPA threshold determination of non-significance for Comprehensive Plan amendments to help implement an impact fee program.  The threshold determination responds to the hearing Examiner’s 2019 remand.

Next Steps

  • Comments on the SEPA threshold determination must be submitted by February 27, 2023
  • Council consideration of legislation amending the Comprehensive Plan could occur in April and May, 2023


Note that track-changes in the draft Comprehensive Plan amendment legislation and SEPA checklist show changes to those documents from the original 2018 documents.

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