On July 24th, the City of Spokane Plan Commission held a Transportation Impact Fee workshop to discuss plans to update the current fee schedule that has been in place since 2011. Before addressing the revenue-generation aspect of the proposed update, there are a couple logistical changes to the City Code that have been suggested. The first is to update code to match state law that extends the timeline to spend revenue generated from these fees to 10 years from the current 6-year limit. The next change would extend the time frame for City Council to review the Impact Fee schedule from every two years to 4-6 years.
The proposal features a fee decrease in the Downtown and Northeast regions, but an increase in the Northwest and a significant increase in the South. If adopted, this schedule would also be the first to contain a West Plains region, where development would have the largest fee. However, note that development on Airport property, which covers a large swath of the West Plains territory, is exempt from this fee. The proposed fee schedule is as follows:
- Downtown – Existing: $90 Proposed: $85
- Northeast – Existing: $850 Proposed: $584
- Northwest – Existing: $634 Proposed: $699
- South – Existing: $587 Proposed: $992
- West Plains – Existing: N/A Proposed: $1,076
This fee schedule will not only cover single and multi-family development, but also commercial and industrial as well. The City has allocated a one-time pool of $1 million to mitigate or exempt a project from impact fees, but only in the West Plains or Northeast Public Development Authority (PDA) areas. This is generally a good move for economic development, but if addressing the housing crisis is of paramount importance, there should be a pool like that for residential construction. It brings up an equality concern if those who build commercial or industrial in the PDA areas can get their fees mitigated and claim up to 30% credit while residential construction only gets the latter.
Lastly, we need to talk about prospective home buyers. While median incomes in Spokane lag behind much of the state, housing prices continue to increase due to product scarcity. Any development happening in the areas of Spokane that could be subject to higher impact fees will get absorbed by builders that are not deterred by the incurred cost, then that cost will be passed down to the consumers, or home buyers. Many of these people could be first-time owners who were born-and-raised in Spokane. Is it fair for them to have to carry the burden for infrastructure improvements that the rest of us will be using, too? There has to be a more equitable solution to consider.
The Plan Commission will have a hearing on this issue on August 14th at 2:00 pm at Spokane City Hall. We encourage you to attend and have your voice heard by the Plan Commissioners or reach out to City staff if you are unable to attend.
If you would like more information on this issue, contact Kieran Sprague, SHBA Government Affairs Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 5209-532-4990 ext. 31.