Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Street Use Fees Could Go Up 900%

SMBC has learned that SDOT has proposed a substantial increase in the fees it charges those who use city street Right Of Ways (ROW) for storage. As part of the 2011 City budget process the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDoT) proposed a fee increase of 900% for ‘material storage’ on 128 parcels of city property leased to private organizations and individuals.

The proposed ordinance would increase annual SDoT Street Use Material Storage Fees (Use Code 12) from $.0.51 per square foot per year to $4.68 per square foot per year. The fee ordinance was bundled with other issues as part of the 2011 city budget adoption process; and was scheduled to be passed by Council on November 22nd.

Little advance notice was given to users of affected property. Permit holders were notified by letter of the city’s intent to increase the fees in a letter dated November 10th—fewer than two weeks prior to the City Councils scheduled hearing of the proposal on November 22nd.

SMBC and other businesses organizations joined affected property users in mid-December to urge Council members and SDoT director Peter Hahn to delay voting on this increase until affected property owners had a chance to comment on the proposal. Hahn has since consented to delay putting the proposal before the city council until 2011, but it’s pretty clear that SDoT intends to wrest a much larger lease fee from those who use city ROW to support their business activity. SMBC will continue to follow this issue, and we’ll keep members apprised of any proposals of which we become aware.