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Washington Legislative Update Post Bill Cut-Off
February 28, 2013
I’d like to give a brief status update on where some important land use bills stand following the cut-off date to make it out of committee this past Friday.

Impact Fees
House Bill 1652 and companion Senate Bill 5644 made it out of both committees.  These bills will require that local governments provide options for the deferral on the payment of impact fees.  This could be accomplished two ways.  The first requires a recorded covenant against the property that would serve as a lien and would be paid at the time of the building permit issuance.  The covenant recorded against the property and payment of the impact fee would be deferred until escrow at the time of the closing of the lot or unit and the seller would be obligated to pay unless an agreement is reached otherwise.  The seller or the seller’s agent must disclose the covenant in writing to the purchaser and once the fees are paid the county or city must remove the covenant.  The second way would allow for the deferral to occur until final inspection or final occupancy.

Many jurisdictions throughout Washington already provide for deferred impact fees, but this would move the program statewide.  This makes a lot of policy sense now that financing for development is tight and it is harder for developers to front load the costs while waiting for a sale or lease of property.

Plat Extensions
House Bill 1074, which made it out of committee, would extend plats one more year for a maximum of up to ten years. This follows up on some legislation from prior years that first extended to seven then eventually nine years.  This would also apply to development within the jurisdiction of a county and would not be limited just to cities.  This is another bill that is being used to create a development incentive and assist local governments by not requiring them to re-review plats.

Six-Year Building Cycle
Senate Bill 5378, which made it out of committee, would require that substantial amendments to the building code only occur every six years, rather than the current three-year cycle.  This will allow builders to catch up to the code before having a new code in place.  This bill also makes policy sense.  Builders often take years to learn and apply the new code.  This would slow updates down a bit and allow builders to catch up to the code more easily.
 



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