Northwest NEWS

Nember 13, 2000


City should drop parks impact fees for businesses

After attending the final meeting of the Woodinville Planning Commission on the parks impact fees for Woodinville businesses, I came away with the impression that the consultants who wrote the PRO Plan recommendations never read the state law on impact fees.
   Completely ignored were state requirements that projects for which impact fees may be imposed must be itemized in the city's capital facilities plan. There was no reference at all to itemized capital-facilities-plan parks projects that would be impacted by a new business's customers or employees - such as a public gym attraction. (Staff insists on counting the Sammamish River Trail as being impacted, but that is a non-Woodinville, regional facility for which Woodinville cannot, by law, impose impact fees.)
   What the consultants seems to have done is compare the low amount of existing Woodinville parks to the much higher amounts in other cities, and then willy-nilly calculate how businesses shall help pay for the deficiencies. (State law also does not allow impact fees to be imposed to cure existing deficiencies.)
   But to require businesses to pay parks fees based on the number of parking stalls, when the city controls the number of required parking stalls and when the city has already expressed a need for more parking in the wineries' Tourist District Overlay (TDO) area, indicates a potentially unfair manipulation of numbers, and a lack of state-required nexus-relationship-to a business's actual impacts on city parks. (How many readers, during a shopping or work trip to a particular city, stop and recreate in that city's parks?)
   Of nine surveyed cities, only Redmond charges parks impact fees for businesses. (Of course, Redmond's 800-pound gorilla creates unique needs and opportunities there.) Woodinville should copy the other eight and drop the idea of parks impact fees for businesses that already provide high property and retail taxes to the city.
   Next stop, City Council. Readers should make their feelings known to City Council members.
   Maxine Keesling, Woodinville