LID background

An LID is a funding tool, governed by state law, by which property owners pay to help fund the costs of public improvements that directly benefit their property. For the proposed Waterfront LID, property owners would contribute to a portion of the improvement costs based on the “special benefit” they would receive from those improvements.

The LID is a key component of the Waterfront Seattle Program funding plan , along with City and State funding and private philanthropy. An LID was included in the Waterfront Strategic Plan and approved by Council in 2012. In September 2017, Seattle City Council adopted Resolution 31768, reaffirming the overall funding approach for the Waterfront Seattle Program.

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LID process

The LID formation process includes a series of steps with opportunities for property owners and the public to give direct input on the proposed LID. In May, the City Council voted to pass a Resolution of Intent to Form the Waterfront LID, initiating a legislative process and a formal public discussion about whether to form the LID. This is the first step in the City Council process. The City Council is anticipated to vote on an ordinance to form the LID late this year.

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Special benefit and preliminary assessments

The Waterfront LID preliminary special benefit study was published in May 2018. The study provides context, a summary of the Waterfront Seattle improvements, and the data and assumptions used by the appraiser to determine the special benefit – the extent to which park and streetscape improvements in the Waterfront Seattle Program will increase the market value of properties in the LID study area. The study was produced by an independent real estate consultant hired by the City.

Special benefit and preliminary assessments for each property in the LID are available via the LID property search tool. These numbers are preliminary and may vary from actual assessments. If the Waterfront LID is formed, final assessment amounts would be established by the Seattle City Council during the Confirmation of the Final Assessment Roll anticipated to take place in 2019.

In early June, the Seattle Office of the City Clerk mailed letters to each property owner in the proposed LID with the City’s official notice of intent to form, including information on owners’ special benefit and preliminary assessment, public hearing, and protest requirements. View a sample letter here.

The City is committed to not exceeding $200 million in LID funding. Based on the results of the preliminary special benefit study, the City set the preliminary assessment percentage to 48.23% of total special benefit in order to collect $200 million to fund the LID improvements.

In the event the Seattle City Council passes an ordinance to officially form the LID, at the earliest fall 2018, the independent real estate consultant will complete a final special benefit study. In finalizing the special benefit analysis, the assessment percentage and LID assessment amounts may differ from preliminary amounts. However, the total dollar amount assessed to all property owners in the LID area to pay for the construction of the LID improvements would still not exceed $200 million. 

Public comment report: LID formation

The formal comment period regarding LID formation began on July 13 and concluded on July 31, 2018. Formal comments submitted during the comment period were compiled by the City Hearing Examiner into a report for City Council to review prior to their consideration of passing an ordinance to form the LID, anticipated for fall 2018. 333 comments were submitted by members of the public during the formal comment period on LID formation. The Hearing Examiner’s Report and all public comments were published on September 17, 2018.

Quasi-judicial process

As of July 13, 2018, Council’s consideration of the LID is pending as a quasi-judicial matter. Under this process, a Councilmember may not have any direct or indirect communication about the LID outside a Council hearing or meeting considering the LID.

Formal LID protest

Owners of property in the proposed LID may submit a written protest to forming the LID with the City Clerk. The formal protest period began on May 21, 2018, when City Council passed the Resolution of Intent to Form the Waterfront LID. In the event City Council passes an ordinance to officially form the LID, at the earliest fall 2018, the last day to file a written protest to LID formation would be 30 days after the passage of that ordinance. Read more about how to submit a formal protest.

By the numbers

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Deferral options for property owners

Under state statute, low-income seniors and low-income disabled adults with an annual income of $45,000 or less who own property in the proposed LID may defer or postpone payment of 100% of their special assessments for up to 20 years. Low-income adults with an annual income of $57,000 or less may defer or postpone payment of 50% of their special assessments for a period of 20 years. People experiencing economic hardship may also defer their assessments.

Unlike the State’s property tax exemption program, the State’s special assessment deferral program is not a reduction in the amount owed. The program postpones payment of special assessments. The amount deferred plus interest per year becomes a lien on the property by the state until the total amount deferred is paid. In addition, payments are subject to interest. Principal and accumulated interest are due upon sale or change of ownership, or at end of the deferral term. More information on the State’s assessment deferral programs can be found below and on the State’s website.

State statue also allows for a City assessment deferral program. The City of Seattle’s assessment deferral program would allow qualifying property owners to postpone LID assessment payments for up to 2 years. Property owners with combined household income at or below 200% of the poverty level would qualify for the City’s assessment deferral program. Like the State’s program, the deferred amount plus interest per year, becomes a lien on the property until the total amount deferred is paid.

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While entirely separate from the LID process, the State of Washington has a property tax relief program that may help to reduce the overall tax burden for qualifying property owners. Qualifications for property tax exemption under this program include annual household income of $40,000 or less and at least one of the following:

  • 61 years of age or older by December 31 of the previous year, OR
  • Retired because of a disability, OR
  • Veteran with a 100% service-connected disability.

Widows, widowers, or state registered domestic partners of at least 57 years of age whose spouse or state registered domestic partner had an exemption at the time of death also qualify. Learn more and read about additional exemptions on King County’s Taxpayer Assistance webpage.

Contact us

If you have questions about the proposed LID, please email lid@waterfrontseattle.org or call 206.499.8040.

If you would like to sign up for LID email updates, please provide your email address and contact information below.

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