Housing Production Delays and Costs
Primary DepartmentSecondary DepartmentDelay DescriptionCostCategory of Cost or Delay (See Key)Secondary Category
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SDCIA recent Construction Code Advisory Board ruling makse it impossible for SEDUs to be the size intended by council (220sf)Fewer, larger, higher priced unitsDiscretionary Requirement
SDCIKing County has introduced a new requirement for plan review for plumbing and gas piping for all projects 3 stories or greaterTime lost during review, some projects required to do costly reworking of plumbing plans.Discretionary Process - There's no code requirement for this.
SCCMandatory Inclusionary Zoning/Mandatory Housing Affordability – We know this program makes many projects infeasible because the cost of fees, inclusion, and additional construction to realize the benefits of additional floor area out weigh the value of that square footage. Again, this is an as yet unknown but significant cost and slowing of production, not to mention that many sellers of land in areas potentially impacted by upzones are beginning to demand more money for their property.Increased construction costs and fees in order to realize modest increases in FARLegislativeLegal
SPUPSE requests their Street Use permits on-line only which is a slower process; this means SPU waits and "piggy backs" on the PSE process.Can add 6 to 8 weeks to permittingDiscretionary Process
SDCIImpact fees – The Council is moving ahead with considering impact fees. We're highly skeptical of this. While potentially legal if done properly, it's hard to see how this would be implemented in Seattle. Again, this is yet another additional and still unknown cost to housing production.Unknown at this timeLegislative
SDCINew bike parking regulations requiring 1.2 bike parking spots per unitThis will eliminate housing units in many projects. The rationale for NOT requiring bike parking is the same for car parking; the market is mostly effective in addressing this need.Legislative - Currently in Council Process
Sizing of vaults required by SCL – they are HUGE and therefore Expensive! For example, Amazon's new vault is running at 30% of capacity even with high density. Over sized vaults cost extra money and also elimiinate space that could be used for peopleDiscretionary RequirementCode
Separation from Electrical Wires – Recently Seattle City Light implemented a new policy that requires a 14’ separation between new construction and the SCL service lines.  This has made some projects financially infeasible, has requires significant redesign to others and has necessitated costly and time-consuming relocation other SCL facilities, at the property owner's expenseThere is some additional costs from redesign and this could cause the loss of units or reduce the size of housing or force major reposition of projects or undergrounding. Most importantly, this is the sort of infringement that makes grants of FAR under the MHA scheme useless.Discretionary Requirement
SCL has increased power line setbacks to 14’, but is no longer willing to wing-arm right of way power lines to reduce the encroachment of this setback onto private property.See aboveDiscretionary Requirement
Seattle City Light is taking over a year from project application to service letter. We literally have to start our service applications at the outset of project design to have a hope of getting power to our projects before they are complete.Lost time and increased holding costs.Work Load
Car parking requirementsWhile the City has made great strides in removing and lowering parking requirements, it seems to moving in the opposite direction.LegislativeCode
Not issuing sewer permits because of private easements.Issues of easements for utilities can slow or stop projects and require lots of redesign.Discretionary Requirement
SCCIf MFTE and MHA inclusion are stacked (i.e. 100 unit building using both MFTE and MHA inclusion would have to set aside 20 units for MFTE and 6 units for MHA) participation in either or both will fall, meaning fewer subsidized units.MFTE set asides area already reaching the point of not being an incentive with inclusion rates and room requirements and AMI percentages down. The City needs to understand these programs don't work when they are value extractions rather than incentives.Legislative
Green Building Standard linked into HALA adds costsThis is an example of "feel good" requirement that doesn't take into account that the grant of FAR in the MHA scheme is of very small value. In fact, these items can make the value exchange negative.LegislativeCode
+15% better than energy code tucked into MHA/HALA.  This is really tough and expensive.  Our code is already impressive from an energy standpoint.  Makes final product more expensive, less natural light etc.See above. Additional requirements in MHA can kill any potential value in the additional grant of FAR.LegislativeCode
Full Design review – Full design review continues to be a serious expense, especially in those cases where boards draw out the process into multiple meetings.The City needs to take a hard look at the rationale of design review. What's it for? What public benefit does it create? Is the downside of higher housing prices worth that public benefit?Legislative
New registry for vacant buildings -- Creates an inspection and registration regime more complications will be added to many projects in low-rise zones.This program is new and we have yet to see how it impacts new housing. The solution to vacancies are speed up permitting, partner with Weld to use vacant spaces creatively, and allow more flexibility on demolition and repurposing.Legislative
SCCEasement required for cars on lots with no parking requirement; removed from omnibus legisationThis requirement will impact housing supply, reducing the number and size of units and potentially make some projects infeasible.LegislativeDiscretionary Requirement
Historic review for all structures over 50 years old. ($5K per project to prove that a piece of junk is a piece of junk).$5,000Discretionary Requirement
SEPAView corridor studies needed to verify that views from adjacent residences are not being blocked by the addition 4’ of height granted to buildings to allow 13’ tall commercial use. This has been in SEPA regs forever, not ever enforced until recently. The commercial use in most cases is mandatory, but we still have to study the impacts of the height increase associate with it. ($5K per project in drawings and diagrams).$5,000Legislative - Its in the code, they just started enforcing it
Additional phase of design review for public outreach (unknown. likely $10-30k per project, weeks to months of timeline depending on how administered)$30,000Legislative
Design review requirements for dozens of pages of bespoke context analysis which could be provided a better format with 4-5 links to google maps, walk score, zoning maps, etc.$25,000Discretionary Requirement
Administrative design review has gone a little bit off the rails. While some of our projects have gone smoothly, the general consensus among my peers is that ADR is now considered riskier than full DR. This is to say, architects feel they have a better chance of being treated fairly and predictably by the citizen boards in full DR than by the professional planning staff in ADR. This is a tremendous inversion from what we’ve experienced in the past & raises concerns for a future in which more project go through ADR than full DR.This process is slowing projects and adding costs to design.Discretionary RequirementDiscretionary Process Change
Increasing conservatism from reviewers on details of how fire rated assemblies should be constructed.Discretionary Process Change
POTECH Review. Did we need a full dedicated department for this now?  Don’t think so.Discretionary Process Change
SCCDefinition of Frequent Transit Service – Currently there are dozens of projects currently in permitting with as many as 100 units or more at risk because the City has not enacted legislation to clarify the definition of frequent transit service. Projects will be stopped or forced to add parking that will reduce supply and boost the price.Legislative
Traffic studies required for all projects with no parking, despite code that prohibits SDCI from acting on the information. ($5-$7k per project for a study that is simultaneously mandatory and meaningless).$7,000Legislative
New ROWIM requirements.  Last year SDOT rolled out a new Right of Way Improvement Manual which generally increased the amount of street restoration required for project.  In some cases this has increased our requirements up to the total repaving of an entire street block for a single project!Discretionary Process Change
·SDOT permit fee increases.  For SIP/Utility Major permits which experienced the highest increase,They have gone from $146 to $4700.  An increase of 3,200%!Discretionary RequirementFee
SDCINew pedestrian zone requirements for large canopies over the sidewalk ($50K per project min.)$50,000Land Use Code Change 2014
SDCINew pedestrian zone requirements for wider sidewalks, more improvements along public ways ($25k per project)$25,000SDOT Policy Change Dec 2017
SDCINew requirements for curb ramps at corners ($25k per project)$25,000SDOT Policy Change Fall 2017
New requirements for pavement restoration in recent Pavement Opening and Restoration Requirements (PORR)This requirement has some new projects replacing pavement on an entire block, only to see that pavement opened later with other projects. A case of public benefit in the right of way paid for by renters and new home owners. One project reports a cost of $70,000 for repaving.LegislativeDiscretionary Requirement
SDOT is threatening to end its current practice of allowing streets to be temporarily re-opened in order to reset the meter on street use fees.  Currently the per diem escalates the longer you have the street closed, but if you re-open for 5 days and then close down again you go back to the starting point again. The cost differential is huge.  One project is looking at$100k.  Future project is 6x higher.  .Discretionary Process Change
SDOTWhen we do Unit Lot subdivisions or short plots, we are not allowed to submit our applications for water or power until the city has granted the ULS and provided the correct addressing!  There have been many times that we have a completed project and are ready to put it on the market, but do not have power because we have not received the official addressing. 6 to 8 weeksWork Load
Multiple tap requirements.  Instead of allowing a single tap location as previously required, many projects with multiple units on a street face are now being required to provide multiple taps to the main. Each new tap triggers additional street restoration (see ROWIM comment above).Discretionary Requirement
Casing requirement.  Although it’s been ensconced in CS101 for years, SPU is now enforcing the requirement to place on-site water lines in casing pipe when multiple lines pass through a 5’ setback.The costs are new and we don't have a measure yet, but sometimes this is being enforced when a field has already been laid out.Discretionary Requirement
Lack of inter-dept communication. SPU failed to file form with SDOT for water meters.  Pending sales delayed.  No accountability of their mistake. Interdepartmental Communication
Water Main Extension requirements. Seattle Public Utilities is already requiring new and costly water main extensions for new housing based on sub divided lots rather than parent lots. This means that although water service is feasible from existing mains, new mains are being required. The effect is either fewer more expensive units to avoid the additional costs or increasing the price of existing units to absorb the costs of the new water main.  We understand that SPU may be in the process of increasing the circumstances where water main extensions will be required.This is costing homeowners a lot; one project that was a four town house project that would have sold for $500k to $600k became two houses for close to $1,000,000. The other options would be building the extension and adding to the price of the new homes.Discretionary Requirement
New drainage requirements. Seattle Public Utilities is in the process of reviewing drainage requirements as well, and we're concerned that new housing projects that can already handle drainage without new and expensive infrastructure are going to be now required to build storm water main extensions, another significant and we believe unnecessary added cost to housing production.This is similar to the water main issue. Current code requires a lot of on site treatment; much of the new drainage requirement is redundant.Discretionary Requirement
System capacity (or similar) charges. It is our understanding that Seattle Public Utilities, or perhaps other instrumentalities of the City, are exploring implementing this type of charge to help build out the water/sewer infrastructure of the CityState law doesn't allow the use of service chagres to lower rates. While there is benefit to the public when rates don't go up, is it worth increases in housing price?FeeLegislative
SDCIIncreases in size of garbage facilities – Because of a change of staff, previous allowances for multiple weekly pick ups of recycling and garbage, garbage rooms are getting bigger based on the assumption of once a week pick up.This means cutting into unit count in multifamily projects. More garbage or more housing?Discretionary Requirement
SPU memorandum of drainage control process. Dozens of pages of gobbledygook that must be reviewed and recorded for each project. Drainage reviewers are choking on the workload, delaying projects by weeks and months. The recording process adds an extra correction cycle with the review staff that is slowest to turn things around as it is$10,000Discretionary Requirement
Requirements for civil engineers to design OSSM measures that are essentially prescriptive. No flexibility provided to allow OSSM measures to mitigate need for costly main extensions.Time and design costs.Discretionary Requirement
LOCALReal Estate Excise Tax (REET) -- Proposed increases and repurposing for subsidized housingThe City needs to reconsider this in light of the high costs of subsidized housing.Legislative
LOCALSales TaxRoughly 10 percent on total costsLegislative
LOCALProperty TaxVaries, but is rising steadily.Legislative
Key for Category
Discretionary Requirement -- Something they've decided to make everyone do
Discretionary Process Change -- A change they've made to existing process for some unknown reason
Work Load -- Too much work for staff 
Legislative -- A cost created by the Council     
Code -- Some feature of the building or land use code driving the cost
Interdepartmental Communication -- Problems between departments; finger pointing            
Fee -- A charge paid to the City for ROW or service or just becuase
Legal -- Something that is legally dubious