Redmond, Washington

Redmond, population 54,144 (2010), lies 20 miles east of downtown Seattle. In 1995, the City adopted a TDR program designed exclusively to preserve agricultural land in the Sammamish River Valley. In 1998, the TDR program was expanded to allow critical habitat areas to also serve as sending areas.


In the Redmond program, sending areas are properties zoned Agriculture and Urban Recreation as well as parcels classified as critical habitat or buffers for critical habitat. The calculation is based on gross acreage of the sending parcel with no reductions for wetlands or other environmentally sensitive areas that would limit on-site development. This gross acreage is multiplied by different development rights factors for each sending site category. For example, land that is not critical habitat but is zoned Agriculture or Urban Recreation is allocated one development right per gross acre of land. At the other end of the spectrum, land that is commercially zoned and classified as critical habitat or critical habitat buffer is allocated 11.7 development rights per gross acre of land. These factors where developed by using assessed market value of land per acre and dividing by $50,000, the estimated value of a TDR in Redmond. Sending site owners may also request that the City increase the development rights factor for their property by demonstrating that the market value is higher than the factors assume.

Sending site property owners who wish to sell their development rights are issued a Certificate of Development Rights indicating the number of TDR available on the property. Prior to the sale of development rights, the owner must record a TDR conservation easement that thereafter controls development and use of the sending property. Any person can buy, hold and sell TDRs. When TDRs are sold, A Deed of Transfer of Development Rights must be signed by both parties and recorded. When the TDRs are used in a receiving site project, an Extinguishment Document is used to identify the sending site, the receiving site and how the TDRs are applied. Additional regulations apply when an owner sells only some of the development rights available on a sending site and when owners wish to sell TDRs for partially developed wildlife areas.

Receiving areas are properties zoned City Center, Retail Commercial, General Commercial, Overlake Business and Advanced Technology, Business Park, Manufacturing Park and Industry. No more than 35 percent of the total number of sending area TDRs can be transferred into any single neighborhood.

Redmond offers various incentives for developers to buy TDRs. One TDR can be used to achieve any of the following.

  • Authorize an additional 8,712 square feet of floor area.
  • Substitute for a requirement to provide 8,712 square feet of parkland.
  • Increase impervious surface or structural coverage limits by 8,712 square feet.
  • Add up to five additional parking stalls.

Transfers to receiving sites cannot exceed the limitations on density or intensity allowed by the zone through a transfer of development rights.

Program Status

In 1998, Tim Trohimovich, Comprehensive Planning Division Manager, reported that the TDR program has experienced four transfers. In one transaction, TDRs were purchased in order to exceed maximum building height for a mixed-use commercial-residential project in downtown Redmond. In another transfer, 100 TDRs were used to allow a parking garage to exceed the maximum parking limits in the City’s Overlake neighborhood. As of the end of 1998, TDR easements had been recorded on 43 acres and certificates had been issued for another 100 acres of sending areas.

As of a February 2003 update, the City had issued certificates for 503.9 TDRs. Some applications for TDR certificates resulted from the preparation of a Draft Wildlife Plan. Of this total, 284.24 TDRs had been used to preserve 342.506 acres of land in the northern Sammamish Valley and in critical habitat areas citywide. Additionally, easements had been placed on 5.4 acres of habitat in southeast Redmond. The City calculated at that time that TDR purchases totaled $12.982 million at an average per-TDR price of $35,000.