Update: Snoqualmie City Ordinance Giving Property Tax Exemption To Potential 160-Unit Low-Income Housing Complex On Ridge Not Considered Until July 9th

Two things happened at last night’s Snoqualmie City Council Meeting regarding land parcel S-20, the possible site for a 160-unit low-income housing development in the Eagle Point neighborhood of  Snoqualmie Ridge.

First, the council did approve the resolution that designates the land as “the Initial Residential Targeted D Area For Exemption From Ad Valorem Real Property Taxation Pursuant To Chapter 84.14 Of The Revised Code Of Washington.”  In a nutshell, the city had to adopt this resolution in order for the land to first qualify for tax-exempt status for 12 years.  Then the actual tax exemption program has to be established by a city ordinance.

If the ordinance is approved, the city could forgo 12 years of property taxation on the 160-unit development.  Snoqualmie homes pay about $12 for every $1000 of assessed value in King County property taxes, about 23% of which directly supports Snoqualmie city services.

That city ordinance on last night’s council agenda was introduced, but not approved.  The council did schedule a public hearing on the proposed ordinance and housing project for July 9th.  The ordinance could then be considered for action on that July 9th date.

The Mixed Use Final Plan for Snoqualmie Ridge Division II requires both for-sale and rental affordable housing.  The for-sale requirement was met with Quadrant’s two cottage home developments, but the affordable rental housing requirement has not yet been met.

In 2009 the city approved a modification that allowed all of the affordable rental housing to be built on land parcel S-20 in the Eagle Point neighborhood.  Then Snoqualmie Ridge II Development, LLC recorded a covenant restricting the use of this parcel to such rental housing.

Enter Imagine Housing, one of the region’s leading developers of low-income housing.  They build rental homes for individuals and families making 60% or less of King County’s median income.  Imagine Housing’s financing for the proposed 160-unit apartment complex is contingent upon the city exempting the value of the improvements built on parcel S-20 from real property tax.  This tax benefit for private investors is a big way to secure the private financing of affordable multifamily housing; no property tax also helps keep potential rental payments lower.

According to Councilwoman Maria Henriksen, “Part of the requirement for this particular tax exemption is that the property is rental, and the renter’s income is required to be under the 60% of median income for the area.” The proposed project meets these two requirements.  The project would also fulfill Snoqualmie Ridge II Mixed Use Plan’s affordable rental housing requirement.

Imagine Housing is also currently in negotiations with the Snoqualmie Ridge Home Owner’s Association for reduced HOA dues during the 12-year tax exempt time period, if the land tax exemption is granted.  Imagine Housing requested full abeyance of association assessments.  The HOA counter-offered Imagine Housing 25% of current yearly HOA dues – or $75 per unit.  Imagine Housing is working on a counter offer.

The city council has heard from several concerned citizens regarding the complicated project and will offer the July 9th meeting as another opportunity for citizens to express concerns.  Councilwoman Henriksen added that, “We [council] will want all of our questions answered.”  She suspects more time will be needed to ensure that those questions are answered.


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