skip to main content

Sustainable building

Envision, then build

To offer a suggestion or report an error on the Natural Resources and Parks' website, please contact Fred Bentler, webmaster.

Transfer of Development Rights - TDR - in King County, Washington State

Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Program
King County, Washington


Transfer of Development Rights Program - TDR

The TDR program is a voluntary, incentive-based, and market-driven approach to preserve land and steer development growth away from rural and resource lands into King County’s Urban Area. The Program is based on free-market principles and prices that would motivate landowner and developer participation. Rural landowners realize economic return through the sale of development rights to private developers who are able to build more compactly in designated unincorporated urban areas and partner cities. To date the Program has protected 141,500 acres of rural/resource land.

This market in development rights allows rural landowners to receive financial compensation without having to sell or fully develop their land. Developers are financially motivated to purchase development rights from the TDR market as they are able to put additional dwelling units in their projects. TDRs have several non-density uses and benefits, as well.

You can also buy and sell TDRs on the TDR Exchange using information provided in the TDR market information section on this website.

For further information see the TDR Program overview, or for specific questions not answered on the website please contact the staff people listed below, or consult the TDR code.

Staff contacts:

Michael Murphy
TDR Program Manager                                        

Megan McNeil
TDR Project Manager                                        

King County TDR Program
201 S Jackson St, Suite 600
Seattle, WA 98104
206-296-0192 Fax

For questions about TDR Program please contact Michael Murphy, TDR Program Manager, or Megan McNeil, TDR Project Manager, King County WLRD Rural and Regional Services Section.

Related information

Related agencies

News and announcements

March 31, 2016
External article, Next City
Seattle Preserves Farmland, Funds Infrastructure by Building Taller Condos

November 10, 2015

King County’s innovative partnership with Seattle to fuel smart growth and save farmland wins ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ from state

Jul. 8, 2013

Innovative Transfer of Development Rights would move $18 million in density credits from rural farms and forests to South Lake Union and downtown Seattle

Jul. 24, 2012
Executive and Mayor announce innovative partnership for rural protections and urban densities
Incentive program provides new public benefits for development of South Lake Union while preserving rural farms and forests

May 14, 2012
External article, Sightline Daily
For Climate, Place Matters

Sept. 12, 2012
King County, PCC Farmland Trust partner to protect Snoqualmie Valley farmland

Aug. 19, 2011
County’s smart growth agreement protects open space ‘emerald necklace’ around Sammamish
Transfer of Development Rights agreement will protect 700-plus acres in the Patterson Creek watershed

Apr. 5, 2011
One mile of Puget Sound shoreline preserved with deal between Camp Fire USA and King County
Collaboration protects shoreline and open space from future development and focuses growth in urban areas

Jan. 31, 2011
External article, Crosscut
A new tool for fighting rural sprawl

Nov. 17, 2010
External article, Sammamish Review
Sammamish looks at program to import density from county

Sep. 4, 2010
External article, Seattle Times
New county strategy against sprawl: Help small growers stay on the land and supply urban farmers markets

Aug. 26, 2010
Snoqualmie Valley farmland protected by King County development rights program
Executive supports protection of more rural farmlands that provide fresh produce to urban farmers markets

Jun. 29, 2010
External  article, Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce
Constantine: Renew the TDR partnership

Jun. 25, 2010
Executive proposes renewal of innovative Transfer of Development Rights partnership
Density credits would be transferred to urban area from rural farms that supply urban farmers markets

Sep. 7, 2009
Bellevue has 'regional deal' in place for future Bel-Red development

Aug. 13, 2009
Proposed Bellevue - King County deal gives city smart growth, saves county open space

Apr. 28, 2009
External opinion, Seattle Times
Mountains to Sound, acre by green acre

Dec. 10, 2008, KOMO 4 the Earth Report
Major land deal between King County and Plum Creek Timber video

Dec. 12, 2008
External article, Seattle Times
Development Credits Preserve Green Future
"Extraordinary conservation deal...will be applauded as brilliant foresight by generations to come."

Dec. 10, 2008
External article, Seattle P-I
Timber, but no homes, on 45,500-acre swath
Deal aims to fight suburban sprawl

» Archived news and announcements