Agreement with City of Seattle preserves rural working farms and forests, while the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle will see increased housing density.
King County Executive Dow Constantine thanked Governor Jay Inslee for naming the County’s 2013 agreement with the City of Seattle to preserve rural working farms and forests as a winner of a 2014 Smart Communities Award, which recognizes achievements by local leaders who promote smart growth planning and projects that contribute to quality of life in Washington state.
“We’re honored that Governor Inslee recognized our innovative program that benefits both rural and urban areas,” said Executive Constantine. “Our unique approach ensures that forests and working farms will remain undeveloped while promoting livable urban communities.”
Under the historic agreement, King County will protect up to 2,000 acres of working farmland and 23,000 acres of working forestland in unincorporated King County, while the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle will see increased housing density.
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 with a form of tax increment financing called a Landscape Conservation and Local Infrastructure Program.
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 advances King County’s climate change goals. By reducing vehicle miles traveled 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.