A parks impact fee on new commercial and residential construction will help fund new parks and trails in Everett. One example could be developing into a park the former CEMEX property, which is next to the Phil Johnson Ballfields on Sievers-Duecy Boulevard. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

A parks impact fee on new commercial and residential construction will help fund new parks and trails in Everett. One example could be developing into a park the former CEMEX property, which is next to the Phil Johnson Ballfields on Sievers-Duecy Boulevard. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

New construction fee approved to help fund Everett parks

The City Council unanimously voted for a parks impact fee of $941 per bedroom on new housing.

EVERETT — New construction is going to cost more and help pay for more parks and trails in Everett.

On Wednesday, the Everett City Council unanimously approved implementing a parks impact fee on commercial and residential development. The one-time charges have a sliding scale for business buildings depending on the use and square footage. New housing will get a per bedroom rate of $941 that caps at three bedrooms.

Those fees will fund construction of parks and trails to bolster over 920 acres of parks and open space, as well as 27 miles of paths, already managed by the city.

Everett, with over 111,000 residents, is projected to have tens of thousands more by 2035. To keep pace with that growth, city leaders wanted new revenue to expand parks and outdoor recreation.

“We absolutely have to have more parks space,” Council President Brenda Stonecipher said. “I’ve been waiting for this parks impact fee to come forward for a very long time.”

But builders are worried it could affect the affordability of projects in Everett.

“Even increasing the fees slightly changes the affordability aspect,” said Dylan Sluder, Snohomish County manager of Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties.

Instead, the city could consider a parks levy to spread the cost across all residents instead of just new home buyers, he said.

His group’s members proposed a $750 per bedroom fee as more reasonable in the wake of labor and supply chain issues driving project costs higher.

“It’s difficult to make housing more affordable by making it more expensive to build,” Sluder said.

Snohomish County has a parks impact fee, as do Everett’s neighboring cities Lake Stevens and Marysville. All three only assess the fees on residential construction.

For the county, the fees vary from $339.32 to $1,630.22 per unit, based on being single family, duplex or multi-family, as well as which park service area it is in.

In Lake Stevens, single-family homes are charged $4,155 per bedroom. Multi-family buildings with three or more units pay $3,005 per bedroom.

Marysville’s park impact fees cost $1,251 per single-family unit and $884 per multi-family unit.

Residential fees will take effect Jan. 1 in Everett.

A phased approach was approved for projects already in the works, and those that will begin up to 18 months after the fees begin to be charged.

Projects with building permits nine months prior are exempt from the fees. Developments with building permits between nine months before, and up to 18 months after, would pay half of the fee.

Ben Watanabe: bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.

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