Shoreline Council funds $393M for Bus, Bike and Sidewalk projects with new development fees

Sunday, February 18, 2024

New TIF funds could pay for sidewalks and bike lanes on this high-traffic and pedestrian section of 10th Ave NE in North City. Photo by Oliver Moffat

By Oliver Moffat

Sidewalks are expensive.

Until recently the city wasn’t allowed to pay for sidewalk improvements using its top funding source for roads: Transportation Impact Fees (TIF). 

But, in 2023, Washington State passed legislation (SB 5452) allowing cities to spend impact fee revenue to fund bicycle and pedestrian improvements. And now, for the first time, Shoreline will be using TIF revenue to fund improvements for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders.

Project map

At the Monday, February 12, meeting the Shoreline city council unanimously voted to use TIF revenue to fund improvements specifically for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders for the first time. 

The city’s Transportation Impact Fee Rate Study identified nineteen potential projects that could get the green light with the new revenue. But it is difficult for the city to predict how much revenue will be generated by the new fees because the city collects TIF revenue when new development is permitted. 

As previously reported, high interest rates, inflation, worker shortages, and rising vacancy rates are making it hard for developers to secure financing. So although there has been a recent surge in new development, it is possible there could be a slowdown coming. Or not.
Amongst the proposed projects the city would spend the TIF revenue on include: 
  • Funding for the 148th non-motorized bridge crossing of Interstate 5
  • Fund the 175th corridor improvement project including sidewalks and bike lanes
  • Improve the Dayton & Carlyle Hall intersection near Shoreline College
  • Install a roundabout at 1st & 155th by Twin Ponds park and at 25th & 150th near Shorecrest
  • Build a shared use mobility hub at Aurora & 185th
  • And miles of bus, bike and sidewalk improvements on 200th, 185th, Richmond Beach Rd, 15th Ave NE, 10th Ave NE, Ashworth, Fremont and Linden Aves

Designated high activity areas in Shoreline

The new TIF rates provide a 15% discount to encourage new development in neighborhoods the city calls “High Activity Areas” (HAA). These HAA neighborhoods are expected to have more walking, biking and transit use with fewer people driving cars alone.

The HAA includes the 145th and 185th station subareas, the Aurora corridor and parts of the North City business district.

According to a map from the city, the HAA does not include high density, mixed use areas in the northeast Ballinger neighborhood or the southeast Briarcrest neighborhood. Also not included in the HAA is the high density, mixed use area along Richmond Beach Road know as the 4-Corners neighborhood.

The council received no comments from Shoreline residents. But developers had something to say.

A representative from the developers building an assisted living facility on Richmond Beach Road in the 4-Corners neighborhood provided written comments in support of lowering transportation impact fees for senior housing. 

According to written comments from Áegis Living, Assisted Living contributes very little to traffic because residents rarely own cars and therefore traffic impact fees should be calculated based on traffic from staff and visitors not the number of residents. 

In written comments, a representative from the developers building the 1,358-unit Shoreline Place said they support lowering fees for senior housing as long as the costs don’t increase fees for multifamily developments.

The council rejected an amendment from Councilmember John Ramsdell that would have exempted small Adult Family homes from transportation fees. 

Ramsdell noted there are 150 adult family homes in Shoreline that typically have fewer than six residents and he would like to see transportation impact fees waived when a single family home is converted to an Adult Family home. 

Ramsdell has proposed the exemption at previous council meetings and the council voted the amendment down then too. However, the council directed city staff to study the proposal and come back with a formal amendment for the council to review and vote on at a later time.

The city collects Transportation Impact Fees (TIF) when new development occurs and is the primary source of revenue for transportation projects. Rates are set based on the impact new development is expected to have. For example, a new 24-hour convenience store will have a higher transportation impact than a new Nursing Home and therefore will pay a higher TIF rate.

The new TIF rates will take effect March 15, 2024.

Correction: the original article named a specific amount of money expected from TIF. As stated in the revision, the city collects TIF revenue when new development is permitted. 


Anonymous,  February 18, 2024 at 11:56 AM  

I'm not too sure I'm buying the "senior citizens don't drive cars" scenario. My inlaws lived assisted living in MLT for years. They brought their two cars with them. Most people had cars. There are rules governing assisted living which are very different than nursing homes. The residents sometime have small kitchens so they go shopping. They get themselves to the drs unless they pay extra for transportation service. The go visit friends and family so they use cars. Not all residents have cars, of course, but a good many of them do. It is not unusual for people to relocate to an assisted living arrangement if one of the spouses is infirmed but the other isn't. The one not needing extra care uses the car. The plan for parking I read assumes a very low parking needs accomodation.

Anonymous,  February 18, 2024 at 1:01 PM  

I heard there was going to be parking enforcement in Shoreline?? What about some basic ticketing of speeders? 10th is already a raceway and will only become worse once light rail opens.

Anonymous,  February 18, 2024 at 1:21 PM  

This is great to hear. Having a reliable funding source should help move walking, rolling, and biking infrastructure projects along. The 175th corridor project is especially needed; as it stands, that road is unpleasant to walk on and downright dangerous to bike on.

Anonymous,  February 18, 2024 at 2:54 PM  

Ticket speeders on 20th leaving the Saltwater Park. Nonstop flow of cash guaranteed.

Kevin Atkinson,  February 19, 2024 at 9:09 AM  

It's worth nothing that the list of improvements does not appear to take into consideration the east/west connection between the light rail station at 185th and the North City Business District (where there's loads of homes.)

Presently, if you're walking east/west in North City, the only option is 175th Ave NE if you don't want to walk in the road.

180th Ave NE needs to be re-priortized. It's the logical east/west connection for pedestrians between the light rail station and the NCBD, it's where folks are already walking, and that "25 MPH" painted on the road going up and down the hill is not something drivers are paying attention to when connecting from 10th to 15th.

Anonymous,  February 19, 2024 at 10:58 PM  

As another resident of 10th Ave NE Speedway, I certainly welcome the much needed sidewalk improvements, but sincerely agree that our street is in serious need of enforcement of some kind. Our street is truly depressing & dangerous. The street has zero sense of community like I see even a block up on 9th. I have no doubt it’s because of how drivers treat our street. I’ve never seen the kind of insane reckless driving like on our road between 155th & 165th. It’s unrealistic to expect police to sit out here & ticket drivers every day, but road calming measures such as speed bumps & even road striping to signify lanes to discourage drivers from always using the middle of the road would help. We’ve had enough serious speed related accidents along here. The city of Shoreline knows it, but does nothing about it on account of emergency vehicles & school busses (which I also seen speed on 10th plenty of times). All this with an elementary school on the corner of 165th & children using 10th to walk to school daily. City of Shoreline- DO SOMETHING.

Anonymous,  February 20, 2024 at 9:57 AM  

There's no need for a roundabout at 1st NE & 155th. The city has road dieted 1st ruthlessly between 145th and 155th, to the point of pushing people to take alternative routes. The present stop sign at the intersection works just fine and should not be replaced.

Anonymous,  February 20, 2024 at 2:29 PM  

Thank you, Oliver, for a nice summary of the coming transportation issues. It will be wonderful to expand the comfortable walking/biking routes, but I hope not at the cost of losing our mature trees along the way. Lovely sidewalks aren't enjoyable if they are like a frying pan, and all that concrete and asphalt absorbs heat and releases it at night - in fact, urban concrete jungles are often 10 degrees hotter day and night than areas with significant tree canopy. And that's only one benefit of many. The city has been ruthless at removing large trees for sidewalk projects, when there are other options available: it doesn't have to be either/or. But that will take a different mind-set at City Hall.

I hope residents will take the time to express their views to our City Council; you know that the developers are expressing theirs. More housing options, better sidewalks can be compatible with maintaining our tree canopy, if it matters to our elected officials.

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