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Extension of homebuilding permits by County Council will aid struggling housing market

Summary

Ordinance extends life of building permits by two years, for faster restarts of stalled projects when economy revives

Story

The Metropolitan King County Council today extended the life of permits for stalled homebuilding projects by two years, providing some economic stimulus and relief to homebuilders struggling with financing and slowing demand due to the recession.

“These extensions will allow builders to get their work started without delay once the economy starts to recover,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, prime sponsor of the ordinance. “Making builders repeat the process because their permits have expired would needlessly delay job creation and stifle housing supply right when we will need it to help propel economic growth.”

“This new tool will provide some flexibility to accommodate builders who have had to put their projects on hold while waiting for the economy to recover,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, co-sponsor of the ordinance. “Allowing this temporary extension of building permits keeps future development costs down, and that translates into savings for homebuyers as well. This is a common-sense, no-cost way for King County to stimulate restoration of construction jobs and production of affordable housing.”

“We need to focus on keeping costs down and making family homes affordable,” said Councilmember Jane Hague, sponsor of an amendment to the ordinance. “This ordinance will keep construction costs down for local home builders and allows them the time and flexibility they need to build family homes during the economic slump.”

The adopted ordinance temporarily extends the validity of preliminary approvals for plats and short plats to seven years from the current five-year period, and grants the option for a third extension for building permits where substantial work has not begun. The proposed extension would apply to any plat that received preliminary approval on or after Jan.1, 2004.

“In a time of economic downturn, financing for construction projects is difficult to obtain and easy to lose,” said Council Chair Dow Constantine, a co-sponsor of the ordinance. “This ordinance gives property owners who have met all the rules the chance to reconsider projects delayed for economic reasons as the market recovers, without forcing them back into the permit process.”

“Extending these permits means less red tape and lower costs for homebuilders as the economy starts to recover, and those savings will be passed on to homebuyers,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, co-sponsor of the ordinance. “These are the types of common-sense actions King County can take to help our region’s economy get back on track.”

“King County is beginning to think in a new way – about how to be more efficient and pass those efficiencies on to our constituents, said ordinance co-sponsor Councilmember Julia Patterson. “This is just one of many measures in the coming months and years that will demonstrate to King County residents that we have their money, their time, and their interest in mind when we make decisions.”

Currently when plats and permits expire, a builder must repeat the permitting process, which can take from six to eight months. With many approved projects put on hold due to the recession, granting extensions of time allows builders to restart projects as soon as the economy picks up, cutting the time in which the construction could create new jobs, add to the housing supply, and provide an overall stimulation to the regional economy.


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