As many as 25,000 acres of King County’s farms and forests will receive protection from development under an innovative partnership proposed by King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, and approved Monday by both the City and the County Councils.
“This is an historic day and an historic agreement with Seattle that will sustain the production of fresh, local food for generations to come,” said Executive Constantine
"This is a great win for the environment and supporting sustainable growth in Seattle," said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. "Today's vote means that growth in our urban neighborhoods will be directly tied to new public benefits while protecting our region's forests and working farms. I thank Executive Constantine, the Seattle and King County Councils, Forterra and everyone who made today's great news possible."
Simultaneously Monday, the Seattle City Council and the King County Council approved the agreement, under which developers will purchase 800 urban density credits worth $16 million as they develop new projects. These credits will result in the protection of 2,000 acres of farmland and 23,000 acres of forestland.
“This effort will help keep our rural areas pristine while supporting the development needed to spur our economy, especially in the fast-growing technology field,” said King County Councilmember Jane Hague.
Priority for use of the funds would be protection of active farms that supply Seattle’s farmers markets and restaurants.
"This agreement will protect our local farms and preserve our foodshed," said Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin. "This important step conserves farmland for ourselves and for future generations. Working together increases access to healthy foods -- and helps farmers make a living."
Erick Haakenson of Jubilee Farm in Carnation said “the TDR agreement is a bold step forward to protect King County’s valuable farmland, and ensure these lands remain available for local food production rather than housing developments - I commend Executive Constantine and Seattle’s elected officials for leading on this effort.”
In exchange for Seattle’s acceptance of rural development rights, King County will partner with the City on infrastructure investments and public improvements that will support the resulting new growth and increased density. For up to 25 years the County will share with the City 17.4 percent of the new property tax revenue generated by new development in South Lake Union and Downtown, to help pay for an estimated $16 million of “Green Street” improvements on Thomas and Eighth Streets; bike, pedestrian, and transit improvements on Harrison Street, Denny Street, and Third Avenue; and a new Community Center.
The agreement simultaneously advances King County’s and Seattle’s climate change goals. By reducing vehicle miles travelled to and from 800 rural homes greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by an estimated 173,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, according to study conducted by The Sightline Institute. And, by supporting additional development in South Lake Union – the region’s largest urban center – the County reduces the cost of providing water, sewer and police protection to remote rural areas.
Monday's City and County Council adoption fulfills the inter-jurisdictional agreement envisioned more than a year ago by Executive Constantine and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn for the rezone of South Lake Union to allow purchase by developers of the 800 development credits.
The partnership agreement is the first under a 2011 state law that enables cities and counties to partner on a program that links transfers of development rights (TDR) with a form of tax increment financing. This program is known as the Landscape Conservation and Local Infrastructure Program (LCLIP).
The Landscape Conservation and Local Infrastructure Program is a game changer for our region’s lands and communities,” said Gene Duvernoy, Forterra President. “I commend the leadership of the City of Seattle and King County for implementing its first use.”
Learn more about King County’s Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Program at:www.kingcounty.gov/TDR