NAIOP POSITION STATEMENT ON CRITICAL AREAS POLICY
Statement of Policy: NAIOP supports the regulation of critical areas to prevent inappropriate development of such areas. However, the current regulatory approach, particularly in the area of wetlands, needs to be much more sophisticated. The current approach is to identify critical areas; and, with limited exceptions, to put those areas off limits for development regardless of the environmental functions that the particular critical area may or may not serve and regardless of the economic costs to the property owner and to the society as a whole incurred by preventing the development of the land. Under the Growth Management Act, land that is suitable for intensive development - that is, land within the urban growth area, physically suited for development, and served by adequate roads and utilities - is in short supply. Such land is, itself, a critical resource for the economic heath of our society. The regulation of critical areas within urban growth areas by local governments must take into account and balance all of the relevant factors.
- Size should not be used as a basis for determining the functions and values of a wetland.
- The filling of wetlands without mitigation should be allowed consistent with the provisions of Nationwide Permit 26 and its regional conditions.
- Unlimited filling of wetlands with relatively low functions and values should be allowed if mitigation is provided.
- Mitigation should not be required at a ratio greater than 1:1 for wetlands with relatively low functions and values.
- Only minimal buffers should be required for critical areas with relatively low functions and values, and buffer areas should generally be available to be used for appropriately designed stormwater detention areas that can enhance the functioning of the adjacent critical area and increase the efficiency of site utilization.
- Off-site mitigation within the same watershed should be permitted.
- Mitigation banking should be permitted and encouraged.
- The intense urban development called for by the GMA and wildlife habitat retention on a site-by-site basis are typically incompatible goals. In most cases habitat retention and economic development would both be better served through contributions to the purchase of areas that have been already identified as critical habitat rather than through preventing development of property that is otherwise suitable for development and that provides marginal habitat at best.
- Viable engineering solutions for development on steeper slopes should be recognized and accepted.
The first regulations governing critical areas were promulgated pursuant to the Shoreline Management Act of 1971. These regulations govern development within 200 feet of shorelines of the state. In 1972, the United States Congress adopted the Clean Water Act, and regulations governing the discharge of fill material in wetlands were thereafter promulgated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency. Prior to 1987, the Clean Water Act was utilized only to regulate wetlands that were adjacent to waters of the United States. In 1987, however, the Corps of Engineers began asserting regulatory control over isolated wetlands as well as adjacent wetlands. In 1990, the Washington state legislature adopted the Growth Management Act which required all local governments planning under the act to adopt regulations that would prevent development in critical area Critical areas were defined to include wetlands, critical aquifer recharge areas, fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, frequently flooded areas, and geologically hazardous areas.
This increasing regulatory control over critical areas presents a conflict between the policy to preserve and protect these areas and the policy to develop land intensively within the urban growth areas. This conflict is exacerbated by the geography, geology, and climate of the Puget Sound area. The Puget Sound lowlands generally consist of broad, relatively flat valleys separated by north-south ridges. The land that is most suitable for development is generally located in the valleys both because flat land is more suited to development and because existing transportation corridors have been primarily developed along a north-south axis. These valleys, however, are often underlain by poorly-drained soils. Flat land, poorly-drained soils, and an abundance of rainfall produce a large number of small, isolated areas that meet national regulatory criteria as wetlands but that are marginal, at best, in fulfilling wetland functions.
Inside urban growth areas, the loss of critical areas with relatively low functions and values should be accepted and permitted if mitigation to offset the lost functions and values is provided. Mitigation for the loss of critical areas should be flexible, including off-site mitigation and mitigation banking. Unless land within the urban growth area can be utilized efficiently for development, there will be a growing pressure on rural areas to develop.
NAIOP POSITION STATEMENT ON IMPACT FEES
Statement of Policy: NAIOP supports impact fees that are proportional to the direct impacts of the project and are to be spent on such improvements. NAIOP is opposed to the imposition of impact fees by local governments on new development in order to provide general improvements to infrastructure systems and public services such as roads, schools, and parks. The public funds needed to provide for these general public improvements should come from taxes on the public as a whole. NAIOP supports raising sufficient general public revenues to fully fund general public improvements such as schools, parks, and open space.
- Impacts fees are essentially a direct tax on new development. Because they are tax imposed on a small and relatively unpopular group (the real estate development industry) and because these taxes are ultimately paid for a group that is unrepresented at the time that the tax is imposed (the purchaser or lessor of the property) impact fees are a classic example of bad tax policy.
- Impact fees provide an uncertain and limited source of revenue that is inherently ill-suited to finance large-scale public improvements. It is bad policy for government to plan on using such fees to provide the revenue needed for important governmental services.
- New development already pays its fair-share of infrastructure cost through the provision of an increased tax base in a community thereby increasing property tax revenues, through sales tax from construction activities, and through the payment of connection hookup and facility fees.
NAIOP POSITION STATEMENT TRANSPORTATION POLICY
Statement of Policy: NAIOP supports raising sufficient governmental revenue to provide adequate funds for the transportation improvements that are needed to provide an efficient transportation system to accommodate projected growth. These revenues should be raised primarily by taxes that are essentially user fees such as the gas tax and through actual user fees such as tolls and fare-box revenues whenever possible.
- An efficient transportation system is essential for economic development and a healthy real estate development industry. An efficient transportation system allows growth in and redevelopment of our cities and regions.
- It is state government’s responsibility to provide and maintain state highways to serve the needs of the citizens of the state. The state, through the Growth Management Act, has limited the areas where growth may occur. It is the state’s responsibility to provide an efficient transportation system which can accommodate the projected growth in these areas at the time that growth occurs.
- Funding for the construction, improvement, and maintenance of an efficient transportation system should come primarily from the users of the system through the gasoline tax, tolls, and other user-based fees.
- Revenues collected at the state level and generated by users of the transportation system should be shared with local governments. In addition, local governments should have the authority to enact local option gasoline taxes that are sufficient to meet local needs. The authority to impose such local option gas taxes should be done on a county-wide or regional basis with revenues apportioned to local governments based upon their population.
- A safe, efficient multi-modal system which meets the needs and expected growth of the region is needed. System improvements should address freight mobility, road improvements needed to reduce congestion, HOV lanes, promotion of carpools and vanpools, public transit, the provision of safe bicycle facilities designed to fill the needs of commuters, and other mean of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the transportation network.
NAIOP POSITION STATEMENT ON LAND SUPPLY
Statement of Policy: NAIOP believe local governments should designate sufficient land that is suitable for development to accommodate the projected population growth for a 20-year period.
- An adequate supply of land is essential to provide for economic development. Artificially high real estate prices caused by the inappropriate restriction of the supply of land hurts the ability of local business to compete, hurts the ability of the region to attract desirable new businesses, and hurts individuals seeking to purchase or rent shelter.
- In determining the amount of land that is suitable for development, local governments must take into account the physical constraints to development of the land (such as its size, topography, and its location in relationship to transportation networks and market demand), the regulatory restrictions on development of the property (for example, critical area regulations and the need to remediate "hazardous" sites before development can occur), and the adequacy of the existing and planned infrastructure needed to serve the projected development.
- In determining the amount of land that should be designated for development, local governments should base their determination of future needs upon actual land consumption within the jurisdiction since the adoption of the Growth Management Act.
- Because the projections on which land supply is based are inherently uncertain and because the real estate market will not function without sufficient excess capacity to prevent scarcity-driven price increases, local governments must include a substantial "market factor" in determining the amount of land that should be designated for development.
- The primary purpose of limiting the size of the urban growth area is to prevent sprawl. The failure to designate an adequate supply of land within the urban growth area of King County to satisfy the demand actually creates sprawl on a much larger scale as individuals commute from affordable single-family homes over a multi-county area to jobs located primarily in King County, south Snohomish County, and north Pierce County. This results in increased costs to everyone in our society through longer commuting time, greater traffic congestion throughout the region, higher direct costs for transportation and indirect costs associated with congestion, a higher level of transportation-related environmental impacts; and the conversion of land in outlying communities to housing and residentially-related service uses.