Kitsap County, Washington

Kitsap County, Washington, population 271,473 (2019), lies across Puget Sound from Seattle and includes the cities of Bremerton and Bainbridge Island. Considering its proximity to Seattle, much of the County remains remarkably rural. In December 2006, the County adopted a TDR ordinance as part of an update of its comprehensive plan, development regulations, and zoning. In 2016, the TDR program was revised as Chapter 17.580.

The Kitsap County TDR ordinance is intended to provide flexibility, preserve critical areas, watershed, and open space, increase equalization of property values between zones and generally implement the goals of the Comprehensive Plan.

The TDR ordinance is intended to provide flexibility as well as preserve rural character, farmland, and open space. Sending sites include land zoned rural wooded, rural residential, rural protection, or forest resource. Development units on sending sites are calculated as either the number of legal lots or number of lots that would be allowed by the sending site zoning, whichever is greater, minus the number of existing or proposed dwelling units. These development units are then converted to TDRs by the following sending site ratios:

  • Farming areas: 4 to 1
  • Open Space Acquisition Areas: 4 to 1
  • Lots smaller than minimum size: 3 to 1
  • Other Rural: 1 to 1.

Originally, sending sites could qualify to participate with a deed restriction for a period of 40 years. As of 2020, sending sites must be preserved by a perpetual conservation easement. However, Section 17.580.130 allows development rights to be automatically reinstituted to sending sites that are subsequently included in an urban growth boundary expansion. 

Receiving areas are located within urban growth areas and designated in the comprehensive plan. The board of county commissioners may require TDRs for urban growth boundary expansions, site-specific comprehensive plan amendments, and rezonings. Development rights purchased for a site-specific amendment may also count towards any future rezone request within the new designation. The number of additional units allowed by TDR is calculated by exchange rates established by resolution and subject to periodic evaluation and modification. Resolution 217-2017 established the following rates.

  • Rezones: 1 TDR per acre
  • Comprehensive Plan Designation Amendments: varies depending on the pre-amendment designation and post-amendment designation. For example, land with a pre-amendment designation of Urban Low-Density Residential requires one TDR per acre for an amendment to Urban Medium-Density Residential, two TDRs per acre for an amendment to Urban High-Density Residential, and three TDRs per acre for an amendment to Urban High-Intensity Commercial.   

The Kitsap County TDR Exchange indicates 23 certified TDRs for sale.