2017 Changes to Permitting Fees and Other Charges

The Seattle City Council recently adopted the 2017-18 budget, including legislation that implements Seattle DCI fee changes in 2017 to cover wage increases in order to reflect our cost of doing business.

On January 1, 2017, these service fees go into effect. As in past years, we are making inflationary adjustments to most fees. Unlike past years, when our inflationary changes were made to account for cost increases that occurred since our last fee ordinance (usually every two years), this year our inflationary changes also include Council-adopted inflation changes already approved for 2017.  As a result, most fees will increase by approximately 10.5%, representing three years’ worth of known cost increases (2015-2017). As an example, our Base Hourly Fee will increase from $190 to $210. The Land Use Hourly fee, which was revised from $250 to $280 last year after a 15-year freeze, is increased 12.5% to $315.

We are also making additional changes to two of our fee tables: Table D-1– Calculation of the Development Fee Index; and Table D-14 – Electrical Permit Fees (when plans are reviewed). The minimum building permit fee in the Development Fee Index (Table D-1) has not changed since 2003. These tables have been expanded to include a greater number of discrete bands of project valuation upon which to base fees. In addition, the marginal rates applied to most bands are updated.

In 2017 we are implementing a new fee schedule for permanent signs.  Table D-16 – Permanent Sign Fees sets fees for signs based on a graduating scale of square footage and applies a marginally increasing rate to each band of the scale. Currently the fee for a sign permit is charged at a flat rate for the first 100 square feet of the sign display area with an additional charge as the display area increases in size. We have found that this methodology for generating fees is outdated and inadequate for cost recovery for the permitting/review process and field inspections of signs installed in the city.

As in past years, we have adopted, by Director’s Rule, the latest building valuation data (BVD) table. The table establishes construction cost values by occupancy and construction type, which are then used to assess permit fees.

Finally, we are increasing the Rental Housing Unit Inspection Fees related to the Rental Registration & Inspection Ordinance. The 2017 fee for us to serve as qualified rental housing inspector for a property including the first housing unit is $160. The 2017 fee for us to inspect each additional housing unit on the same property is $30.

New Director’s Rules, the BVD table and other fee-related information will be available to you on our website early next year.