May 5, 2007

impact fee reduction: what's the impact?

The City Council has decided, with the Olympia School District's blessing, to cut "impact fees" in the downtown area by 60%, in order to attract developers to build more housing downtown.
Developers are charged impact fees to offset the burden that new residents have on city services. The council's move means developers will pay $343 per unit rather than $874, all money that's funneled to the school district.

Council members approved the change April 24 after meeting April 3 with Olympia School District officials, who said the change is fine with them.

City officials lowered the fee because they determined children were less likely to live downtown, said Keith Stahley, director of the city department of Community Planning and Development. A Thurston County Regional Planning Council survey of the 984 units downtown that don't have age restrictions found only 51 children.
That's probably because downtown housing costs have priced most middle class families out of the market. Over the past few years, Olympia's demographic has been shifting away from households with small children. The baby boom is elsewhere in the county: Lacey, Tumwater, Yelm. This latest move ensures that the trend will continue.

At the high school level, we should be fine, at least for a little while. Our facilities are operating at capacity, if not beyond.

Now, if the Council could only do something about the Ugly Building.

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