Increasing Short Plat Thresholds

Action by cities to increase the threshold (i.e., the maximum number of building lots) for projects that will qualify as “short plats” will save time, reduce costs, and help to get new homes to the market faster.

That’s why SEATTLE KingCounty REALTORS® is supportive of on-going efforts in local cities – like Auburn – to reform short plat regulations.

When a property owner or developer submits an application to develop (or redevelop) property in order to build single family homes, the application is typically classified as either a “short plat,” or as a “subdivision.” The classification normally depends upon how many lots are being created. Smaller projects tend to be classified as “short plats” while larger projects are treated as “subdivisions.”

The difference is important because short plats cost less to process, and the review and permitting process tends to be faster. Subdivisions tend to be more complex, and thus cost more and take longer.

On Monday, November 3rd the Auburn City Council voted unanimously to increase the City’s short plat threshold from 4 lots, to 9 lots (an increase of 125%). The proposal had been supported by REALTORS® and Masterbuilders in meetings with the City, and the issue was considered by the City’s Planning Commission on October 7th and the City Council’s Planning and Community Development Committee on October 13th.

The change to Auburn’s code is estimated to save $4,660 in fees, and also reduce the administrative burden placed on city staff. Alex Wold of the Masterbuilders also noted that the change “brings the City of Auburn into alignment with the state recommendation, increases flexibility, and promotes infill development.”