Executive and Mayor announce innovative partnership for rural protections
and urban densities
Incentive program provides new public benefits for development of South Lake Union while preserving rural farms and forests
King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn today proposed a new development incentive program that will invest millions of dollars in community infrastructure projects in the South Lake Union neighborhood, while preserving the working forests and farms that supply Seattle and its residents with fresh locally grown food.
“By partnering with Seattle we can help create a healthy urban environment, while preserving 25,000 acres of the region’s working forests and farms – the same farms that supply the City’s restaurants and farmers markets with fresh local food,” said Executive Constantine.
“This is the definition of win-win,” said Mayor McGinn. “We will continue to concentrate growth in our urban neighborhoods, where the jobs are and where people want to live and work. In return we will receive important benefits for the city and permanently secure more rural areas as forests and working farms.”
“This agreement brings to fruition the policy direction expressed in the City Council’s 2009 Resolution 31147 to protect rural farms and dairies through a TDR program,” said Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin, chair of the land use committee. “It’s crucial to advancing my Local Food Action Initiative because, after all, no farms, no food.”
“The Landscape Conservation and Local Infrastructure Program is a game changer for our region and the leadership of the City of Seattle and King County advancing its first use is a major milestone.” said Gene Duvernoy, Forterra president. “Under the Program we can simultaneously build livable and affordable communities while conserving our region’s landscapes. Today’s announcement show’s a path for creating a region worthy of our children and grandchildren.”
The program, known as the Landscape Conservation and Local Infrastructure Program, was developed by the City of Seattle, King County, and the environmental organization Forterra. It is the first to be developed under new state legislation that enables cities to access a portion of the county’s property tax increment resulting from new development when a certain percentage of the new development results from the use of Transferable Development Rights (TDRs). TDRs are created by the permanent protection from future development of the region’s working forest and farmlands.
Under the program, a portion of incentive zoning (5 percent in Downtown and 33 percent in South Lake Union) would be gained through the purchase of regional Transferable Development Rights. In exchange, the City will receive a portion of future County property tax revenue from new development occurring in the area for up to 25 years that can fund local infrastructure improvements, including new sidewalks, parks, and potentially a community center in the South Lake Union neighborhood. The South Lake Union neighborhood will be involved in the process of vetting improvements to be funded.
The South Lake Union rezone ordinance will implement the development standards for the program. In the coming months, the City will be developing a specific list of infrastructure projects that could be funded through this program.
The South Lake Union rezone ordinance is currently under review by the Seattle City Council and requires their approval. The resulting interlocal agreement must be approved by the King County and Seattle City Council.
- In 2011, state legislation created Landscape Conservation and Local Infrastructure Program (LCLIP) program, which establishes framework for agreement (SB5253)
- Seattle will be first city to use this enabling legislation
- City, County and Forterra have been working together for 9 months to model and develop the proposal