The city of Port Orchard is looking to dramatically increase the impact fees it charges homebuilders and developers to help pay for existing parks and develop new parks in the city.
The city currently charges builders $811 per single-family home and $584 per multi-family unit. The city is proposing raising fees to $6,658 per single-family home and $4,689 per multifamily unit in a building with five or more units.
The fees have not been adjusted since 2011, said Nick Bond, community development director. Any changes would have to be approved by a vote of the Port Orchard City Council.
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City leaders say Port Orchard is facing a historic level of residential building. A recent presentation to school district leaders by Bond projects 2,103 new housing units between April 2021 and March 2025. Projected growth for 2026 and beyond is nearly 3,000 housing units.
“We’re seeing unprecedented growth in our community,” said Mayor Rob Putaansuu.
State law requires the city to plan for the growth in cities so that rural land can be preserved. The fees are needed because growth is causing impacts in the community, Putaansuu said. More parks and open spaces are needed, and 70% of the capital costs of the city’s park system are funded by impact fees, according to a recent City Council presentation.
Other impact fees can go to schools, transportation or fire service. The city of Port Orchard currently collects all but the fire impact fees.
Port Orchard isn’t the only jurisdiction that has pondered fee increases on developers in a period of rapid home construction. The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners last year approved raising the county transportation impact fee on developers from $700 to $4,300 per new unit of development, the first increase since the fee was created in 1992.
Randall King, executive officer of the Kitsap Building Association, said he has concerns over the dramatic fee hike. He said other fees have also been increasing on builders, to include a water connection fee that increased in 2021. The sewer is adjusted annually for the cost of living. These fees and their increases then get passed onto the homebuyer, King said.
“It’s very expensive to do business there. So much so that we have builders and engineers that will not do business in Port Orchard,” King alleged. “We try to get as many houses as we can do at an affordable rate, but if you keep increasing fees, it drives people out of the market.”
King said total fees have been around $52,000, but this change could bring them up to $58,000 before ground is even broken.
The city parks plan was just updated, Bond said, and has a much more expansive list than in 2011 when the impact fees were last adjusted. Plans include additions to the downtown waterfront area. Part of the proposed South Kitsap Community Center on Bay Street will be paid for by impact fees. McCormick Village Park will also be expanded.
There are also plans to build a new park in the Ruby Creek neighborhood and another off of Sherman Avenue and Sydney Avenue. Etta Turner Park could be expanded, as well as Marina Park. Existing parks could receive improvements and added facilities.
King said he understood the importance of amenities.
“People deserve a park, we agree, but they also deserve to buy a home,” King said.
Bond said that If a builder assists in building a park in Port Orchard, they can receive credit to lower the cost of the impact fees.
The Port Orchard City Council will take action on updates to its comprehensive plan and parks open space plan this summer ahead of voting on the impact fees.