Auburn Moving Forward with Bundle of Development Code Improvements

Auburn officials have been meeting on a quarterly basis with representatives of Seattle King County REALTORS® and the Masterbuilders in connection with a bundle of potential development code updates that could make it easier to bring new housing inventory to the market in a way that is consistent with the City’s aspirations for enhanced Quality of Life for residents of the City. The changes include:

  • Implementation of Low Impact Development Requirements: Under the federal Clean Water Act, cities are required to implement a new Phase II Permit for the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) that will affect all development and re-development activities, including new residential construction projects.  The federal requirements mandate that all stormwater from new developments be retained on-site using Low Impact Development (LID) techniques.  The City is working to ensure its permitting requirements are sufficient to avoid construction projects being shut down in mid-stream if Department of Ecology officials become concerned about whether or not the project will be able to retain all stormwater on-site.
  • Review of Civil Plans Prior to Hearing Examiner Approval: At the direction of Mayor Nancy Backus, city staff is evaluating potential amendments to Auburn’s development code that would allow permit applicants to submit their civil engineering plans prior to the hearing examiner’s approval of plats. If the change can be implemented without granting early vesting of development rights, allowing contemporaneous review of engineering plans could save significant permit reviewing time for both City staff and applicants.  That, in turn, could allow new home and condo inventories to make it to the market sooner (without compromising the City’s substantive development standards).
  • Universal Base Plans: The City is considering participating with other jurisdictions in the Universal Base Building Plans program.  When builders have a home design that is in high demand, they build multiple homes with the same floor plan, often in different cities.  Under the Universal Base Building Plans program, when one city certifies that the structural framing plans for the home met the requirements of the uniform building code, that information is placed on a website maintained by the local governments.  Each time the builder submits that particular set of house plans in another city, the new city can check the website, confirm that the framing plans have been evaluated for compliance with the code, and rely on that earlier certification instead of having a redundant review of compliance with the structural provisions of the uniform building codes.
  • Building Permit Time Frames: The City of Auburn continues to meet its goal of two week turn-around time frames on most permit applications (that are not processed the same day over the counter), which provides a great example for other jurisdictions.
  • System Development Charges: The city will be moving forward with increases to its System Development Charges.  Water will increase from $2,424 to $6,272 per lot, and Sewer will increase from $850 to $2,327.  When implemented, these will be one-time increases to compensate for the City holding down these system development charges below costs during the recession.  Once the one-time catch-up increase is implemented, future increases will occur annually based on changes in the Construction Cost Index (CCI), which is the “CPI” for the construction industry.