Puget Sound Region, Washington

The regional Puget Sound TDR program operates in four counties in central Washington: King, Pierce, Kitsap and Snohomish. Each of these counties has its own individual TDR program with the King County program being the oldest of the four and preserving 137,500 acres to date, making it the most successful TDR program in the nation in terms of amount of land preserved.

The regional program was initiated by key legislators and the Cascade Land Conservancy, a regional conservancy working in ten western counties in the State of Washington. In 2007, the legislature passed a measure to study the feasibility of a regional TDR market. In 2008, the Washington Community Trade and Economic Development (CTED) completed a report recommending that the state proceed with a TDR program for the Central Puget Sound region within specified parameters. In May 2009, Governor Chris Gregoire signed legislation that established this program.

The program is designed to encourage the voluntary transfer of development rights from rural, forested and agricultural lands under county jurisdiction to receiving sites in cities and towns throughout the four-county region. Individual cities/towns and counties may choose to use a preexisting code section and enter into separate interlocal agreements as they have in the past. Alternatively, communities may choose to reference a regional agreement developed by CTED. The version of this regional agreement outlined below was presented as Preliminary Draft Rule Chapter 365-198 WAC, dated December 24, 2009. Even though this in not final, it is presented here in an effort to describe CTED’s vision for how the regional TDR program might be implemented.

When communities choose to use the regional agreement by reference, cities and towns have a mandatory requirement to specify the following.

  • In consultation with the transferring county, designation of the receiving areas in the city or town.
  • City or town ordinances pertaining to receiving areas including the receiving area ratio.
  • The number of development rights that the city or town will accept from the transferring county.
  • Standards for reporting to the transferring county and CTED including notification to a transferring county that development rights have been used at a receiving site.

As an option, cities and towns can identify those sending areas from which they will accept transferred rights.

When choosing to use the regional agreement by reference, counties have a mandatory obligation to specify the following.

  • Policies governing the qualification and certification of development rights from designated sending areas.
  • Procedures to facilitate the sale of development rights.
  • Procedures to record, maintain and enforce deed restrictions on sending sites.
  • Annual notification to receiving towns and cities of the number of development rights remaining to be transferred from the sending areas.

On an optional basis, counties may establish a TDR bank, provide amenity funding to receiving cities and towns and develop mechanisms for facilitating transactions between buyers and sellers.

When communities choose to use the regional agreement by reference, the receiving area cities and towns and sending area counties have a mandatory obligation to jointly provide the following.

  • Sending and receiving area ratios.
  • A process for monitoring program performance in compliance with CTED measures.
  • Dispute resolution procedures.
  • Reciprocal indemnification.
  • Agreement duration, termination and provisions for agreement extension.

As mentioned above, the provisions of December 24, 2009 draft agreement are offered here to give readers an idea of how CTED envisions implementation of the program as of the end of 2009.