On January 28, 2019, the Seattle City Council passed, and Mayor Jenny Durkan signed into law, an ordinance to form the Waterfront Local Improvement District (LID). This ordinance sets a cap of $160 million for the total LID assessment amount plus the amounts necessary to pay the cost of financing.

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 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. In January 2019, Council passed and the Mayor signed into law Ordinance 119449 forming the Waterfront LID.

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 2018, 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. In January 2019, Mayor Durkan sent legislation to form the LID to City Council for consideration. Final assessment amounts will be established by the Seattle City Council during the Confirmation of the Final Assessment Roll, anticipated to begin late 2019. Property owners will have the opportunity to contest individual assessments during this process.

LID schedule
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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 preliminary 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.

In early June 2018, 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’ preliminary special benefit and preliminary assessment, public hearing, and protest requirements. View a sample letter here.

In January 2019, City Council passed and Mayor Durkan signed into law legislation officially forming the LID. This legislation commits to the City to not exceeding$160 million in LID finding, plus the amounts necessary to pay the costs of financing.

Starting in early 2019, the independent real estate consultant hired by the City will complete a Final Special Benefit Study, which will inform final assessment amounts. Final assessment amounts will be established by the Seattle City Council during the Confirmation of the Final Assessment Roll, anticipated to begin late 2019.

The final special benefit, final assessment percentage, and final 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 will not exceed $160 million plus the amounts necessary to pay the costs of financing.

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 in early 2019. 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.

By the numbers

What would the typical property owner pay?
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What is the range of assessments?
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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.

Deferral options for property owners
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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.

Related documents

Contact us

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

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