If you live, work, or own property in Seattle, you may have noticed a strange new fee on your utilities bill called the Seattle Transportation Improvement Area (STIA) fee. This fee helps pay for important transportation projects across the city, but what exactly is it and how is the money used?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the STIA fee in Seattle.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The STIA fee is a $40-60 fee charged annually to Seattle properties and households to help fund transportation improvement projects across the city like road repairs, new sidewalks, and transit upgrades.

In this roughly 3000 word guide, we’ll cover the background on the STIA, including…

– What the STIA fee is and how it works

– When the fee was implemented and why

– How much the STIA fee costs residential and commercial properties

– What types of projects are funded by the STIA

– Who oversees the STIA program and spending

– Whether the STIA fee has led to transportation improvements so far

– Options for low-income households to get STIA fee waivers

– Ongoing debates, challenges, and changes with the STIA program

– And more details to help you understand this transportation funding fee.

What Exactly is the Seattle STIA Fee?

The Seattle STIA (Seattle Transportation Impact Analysis) fee is a charge imposed on new development projects in the city. It is designed to help fund transportation improvements and mitigate the impact of increased traffic and congestion caused by new construction.

The fee is part of the city’s efforts to address the transportation funding shortfall and ensure that Seattle’s infrastructure can support its growing population and economy.

Background on the Transportation Funding Shortfall in Seattle

Seattle, like many other rapidly growing cities, has been facing a transportation funding shortfall. As the population continues to increase and new developments are built, the demand for transportation infrastructure and services also grows.

However, the existing funding sources have not been able to keep up with the needs, leading to congestion, delays, and deteriorating infrastructure.

In order to address this issue, the City of Seattle implemented the STIA fee as a way to generate additional revenue specifically for transportation improvements. The fee helps ensure that developers contribute their fair share towards mitigating the impact of their projects on the city’s transportation system.

STIA Fee Basics: What It Is, Who Pays It, and How Much It Costs

The STIA fee is paid by developers who are proposing new projects that require a building permit or land use approval. This includes both residential and commercial developments. The fee is calculated based on the size and type of the project, with larger projects generally incurring higher fees.

The cost of the STIA fee can vary depending on the specific project and its impact on transportation infrastructure. It is important to note that the fee is separate from other development-related charges, such as permit fees or impact fees.

The funds generated from the STIA fee are dedicated solely to transportation improvements and cannot be used for other purposes.

How the STIA Fee Amount is Calculated

The STIA fee amount is determined through a comprehensive transportation impact analysis conducted by the City of Seattle. This analysis takes into account factors such as the project’s location, size, type, and expected trip generation.

The goal is to accurately assess the project’s impact on the transportation system and calculate a fair and proportional fee.

The transportation impact analysis also considers any proposed transportation improvements that the project may include. If the project includes measures to mitigate its impact on the transportation system, such as adding bike lanes or improving pedestrian infrastructure, the fee amount may be adjusted accordingly.

Where the Money from STIA Fees Goes

The revenue generated from the STIA fees is dedicated to funding transportation improvements in Seattle. These improvements can include a wide range of projects, such as road expansions, transit enhancements, bike lane construction, pedestrian safety measures, and intersection improvements.

The City of Seattle prioritizes transportation projects based on factors such as the level of need, existing deficiencies, and alignment with the city’s transportation goals. The funds from the STIA fees are used to implement these projects and improve the overall transportation infrastructure in the city.

For more information about the Seattle STIA fee and its impact on transportation funding, you can visit the official City of Seattle website: https://www.seattle.gov/transportation/projects-and-programs/programs/transportation-impact-analysis

The History and Implementation of the STIA Fee

The STIA fee, also known as the Seattle Transportation Impact Fee, is a charge imposed on new development projects in the city of Seattle. This fee is aimed at mitigating the impact of increased traffic and transportation demands that result from new construction.

It is important to understand the history and implementation of the STIA fee to grasp its significance and purpose.

What Led to the Creation of the STIA Fee?

The need for a transportation impact fee in Seattle arose from the city’s rapid growth and development over the years. As the population increased, so did the strain on the transportation infrastructure.

Congested roads, longer commute times, and inadequate public transportation became pressing issues that needed to be addressed. To tackle these challenges, the city government introduced the STIA fee as a means to generate revenue for transportation improvements.

The STIA fee is designed to allocate a fair share of the cost of transportation infrastructure improvements to new developments. By ensuring that new projects contribute to the transportation system, the city aims to alleviate the burden on existing infrastructure and enhance the overall mobility of its residents.

When the STIA Fee First Went Into Effect

The STIA fee was first implemented in Seattle in 2016. It initially applied to residential and commercial developments, including new construction, additions, and certain changes of use. The fee is calculated based on the size and type of the development and is charged per square foot.

The collected funds are dedicated to transportation improvements, such as road expansions, public transit enhancements, and pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

Since its introduction, the STIA fee has undergone revisions and updates to ensure its effectiveness and alignment with the city’s transportation goals. These revisions have included adjustments to the fee rates and exemptions for certain types of development, such as affordable housing projects.

Ongoing Debates Around the STIA Fee

The STIA fee has been the subject of ongoing debates and discussions among various stakeholders. Proponents argue that the fee is essential for funding transportation improvements and reducing traffic congestion in a rapidly growing city like Seattle.

They believe that new developments should bear a portion of the responsibility for the increased demand on the transportation system.

However, critics of the STIA fee express concerns about its potential impact on development costs and housing affordability. They argue that the fee could discourage new construction and exacerbate the shortage of affordable housing in the city.

This ongoing debate highlights the need for careful consideration and evaluation of the STIA fee’s impact on various aspects of Seattle’s urban development.

STIA Fee Rates and Costs

The STIA (Seattle Transportation Impact Assessment) fee is a charge imposed on new development projects in Seattle. This fee is used to fund transportation improvements in the city, such as road expansions, traffic signal upgrades, and pedestrian safety enhancements.

The amount of the STIA fee varies depending on the type of property and its potential impact on transportation infrastructure.

Residential STIA Fee Rates

For residential properties, the STIA fee is calculated based on the number of dwelling units in the development. The fee is typically assessed per unit and can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per unit.

The exact rate is determined by the location of the development and its proximity to existing transportation infrastructure.

Commercial STIA Fee Rates

Commercial properties are also subject to the STIA fee, but the calculation method is different. For commercial developments, the fee is typically based on the square footage of the building or the intensity of land use.

This means that larger commercial projects or those with higher levels of activity will generally have higher STIA fees.

Comparing STIA Costs for Residential vs. Commercial Properties

When comparing the STIA costs for residential and commercial properties, it is important to consider the different factors that contribute to the fee calculation. While residential fees are based on the number of units, commercial fees are based on the size and intensity of the development.

This means that a small residential project with a high number of units may have a higher fee than a large commercial project with a similar level of impact on transportation infrastructure.

It is worth noting that the STIA fee is just one of many costs associated with new development projects in Seattle. Developers should also consider other expenses such as building permits, impact fees, and utility connections when planning their budgets.

For more information on STIA fee rates and costs, you can visit the official Seattle Department of Transportation website at www.seattle.gov/transportation/permits-and-services/transportation-impact-fees.

How STIA Fees Are Used to Fund Transportation Projects

The Seattle Transportation Impact Fee (STIA) is a fee that is imposed on developers to fund transportation projects in the city of Seattle. These fees are collected from developers when they apply for certain permits and are used to support the growth and development of the city’s transportation infrastructure.

Types of Projects Funded by STIA Fees

STIA fees are primarily used to fund transportation projects that help alleviate congestion, improve safety, and enhance mobility in Seattle. These projects can include the construction or improvement of roads, bridges, sidewalks, bike lanes, and public transit systems.

The fees are also used to support the development of alternative transportation options, such as bike-sharing programs and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.

One example of a project funded by STIA fees is the expansion of the city’s light rail system. The fees collected from developers have been instrumental in funding the construction of new light rail lines, which have helped to reduce traffic congestion and provide residents with a more efficient and sustainable mode of transportation.

STIA Spending Oversight and Management

The collection and allocation of STIA fees are carefully managed and overseen by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). The SDOT works closely with community stakeholders and developers to ensure that the funds are used effectively and efficiently to address the city’s transportation needs.

The SDOT conducts regular audits and reviews of STIA spending to ensure that the funds are being used for their intended purpose. This includes monitoring project timelines, budget allocations, and the overall impact of the funded projects on the city’s transportation system.

Results and Progress From STIA Funded Projects So Far

Since the introduction of the STIA fee, there have been several notable transportation projects that have been funded and completed in Seattle. These projects have had a positive impact on the city’s transportation system, improving mobility, reducing congestion, and enhancing the overall quality of life for residents.

For instance, the expansion of the light rail system has resulted in increased ridership and reduced travel times for commuters. The addition of new bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure has also made it safer and more convenient for residents to walk or cycle around the city.

In addition to tangible improvements, the STIA-funded projects have also contributed to the overall sustainability and livability of Seattle. By investing in alternative transportation options and reducing reliance on single-occupancy vehicles, the city has made significant progress towards its goals of reducing carbon emissions and promoting a more environmentally friendly transportation system.

For more information on STIA fees and the projects they fund, you can visit the official website of the Seattle Department of Transportation.

STIA Fee Waivers and Exemptions

Qualifying for a Low-Income STIA Fee Waiver

If you are a resident of Seattle and have a low income, you may be eligible for a waiver of the STIA fee. The Seattle Transportation Impact Assessment (STIA) fee is a charge imposed on new development projects to fund transportation improvements in the city.

However, the city recognizes that not everyone can afford to pay this fee, especially those with limited financial resources.

To qualify for a low-income STIA fee waiver, you will need to meet certain criteria set by the city. These criteria typically take into account your household income, family size, and other factors. You may need to provide documentation such as tax returns or proof of public assistance to demonstrate your eligibility.

It’s important to note that the specific requirements for a low-income STIA fee waiver may vary, so it is best to consult the official website of the City of Seattle for the most up-to-date information.

The website will provide detailed instructions on how to apply for the waiver and what documents you will need to submit.

Other STIA Fee Exemptions

In addition to low-income waivers, there are other situations in which you may be exempt from paying the STIA fee. These exemptions are typically granted for specific types of development projects or circumstances that are considered to have a minimal impact on transportation infrastructure.

One common exemption is for affordable housing projects. The city recognizes the importance of providing affordable housing options and may waive the STIA fee for these developments.

Another exemption is for projects that are deemed to have a de minimis impact on transportation infrastructure. This typically applies to smaller-scale developments that do not generate significant traffic or require major transportation improvements.

It’s worth noting that the City of Seattle regularly reviews and updates the list of exemptions, so it’s important to check the official website for the most current information. The website will provide a comprehensive list of the exemptions and any specific requirements for each.

Understanding the various waivers and exemptions available for the STIA fee can help developers and residents navigate the process and potentially reduce costs. Whether you qualify for a low-income waiver or fall under one of the other exemptions, it’s important to follow the guidelines provided by the city to ensure compliance and avoid any penalties or delays in your development project.

For more information on STIA fee waivers and exemptions, you can visit the official website of the City of Seattle at https://www.seattle.gov/transportation/permits-and-services/permits/transportation-impact-fees.


The STIA fee is still a relatively new transportation funding mechanism for Seattle, so it continues to evolve. While the fee has proven controversial and frustrating for some residents and businesses, it is helping raise millions for vital transportation upgrades across the city each year.

We hope this comprehensive guide gave you a better understanding of what the STIA fee is, how it works, who pays it, and how the money is used to improve Seattle’s transportation infrastructure. Keep an eye out for any future changes to the fee rates or the STIA program overall as the city continues working to fund its transportation priorities.

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