Join for Permitting Impediments Forum on April 26
HomeHome > Blog > Join for Permitting Impediments Forum on April 26

Join for Permitting Impediments Forum on April 26

Jun 16, 2023

It is time to take action to prevent Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and and other agencies from mandating egregious and non-code-supported project-crushing exactions. Those seeking to acquire development permits must become aware of the limits of authority within permitting agencies, including but not limited to the City of Seattle. It is time for those using the permitting process to understand and assert our rights and expect permitting departments to adhere to the required code to ensure fair, reasonable, consistent, and predictable permitting outcomes.

To address this challenging concern, Donna Breske & Associates is proud to announce a Permitting Impediments Presentation Forum to take place both virtually and in-person at Seattle University Campus, Casey Commons Building Room 530 on Wednesday April 26, 2023 from 10:30am to 2:30pm. Registration and payment at

Don’t miss this opportunity to be on the forefront of the shift to swing the pendulum to require permitting agencies to review and issue building and development permits within the limits of authority per code. SPU and other agencies are not properly adhering to state law as they set fees. The presentation will dig into how this code drift has happened and what you can do to protect your projects.

Fees for connection to new water service are limited to that allowed per Washington State RCW (Revised Code of Washington). Accordingly, fees must be established via ordinance by local jurisdictions. Those fees, whether direct or indirect, are limited to an equitable share of the impact of the development.

For a current 2-lot short plat development in the City of Seattle, the additional water service required is one new 1-inch water meter. The applicable fee that the City can charge to mitigate for the impact of the new service is the fee of $7,980 that was established per City ordinance.

Despite the fact that an existing water main is available for the new connection, the City of Seattle issued a WAC (Water Availability Certificate) requiring 270 feet of new water main to provide a desired gridding connection between two existing parallel water mains.

The anticipated cost is $500,000 to install the 270 feet of water main. This is considered an indirect fee since the applicant bears the cost of the installation, however the City benefits from the new water main gridding. It is also a duplicate fee in addition to the $7,980 connection fee.

SPU asserts verbiage created in their Director’s Rule DR 440-WTR provides the authority to required upgrades: “VIII. Distribution Water Main Extensions – The cost of the water main extension is borne by the applicant.“

However, a Director’s Rule is an administrative document, not code. Administrative documents cannot overstep the authority allowed per codes, including the overarching code of Washington State.

There are four significant limitations for the collection of fees per our Washington State RCWs. The city of Seattle and the agency of SPU therein, have limited authority to charge new water service connection fees per Washington State Law:

SPU is an agency within the executive branch of the government. The mandates within Director’s Rule DR 440-WTR overstep the limits of authority. The only method allowed for establishing fees for new water connection is via the City ordinance process which includes opportunities for public input and vetting by the legislature (i.e., the Seattle City Council). Ordinance process ensures the fee is consistent with the applicable RCWs to ensure the fees are equitable and are not duplicated via an indirect fee.

Obtain tickets to the April 26 presentation at

Donna Breske is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Washington. She owns Donna Breske & Associates and with her staff provides land use consulting and civil engineering design for numerous infill projects within multiple jurisdictions in the Puget Sound Area. She has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Washington and an MBA from Seattle University. She is married to her husband Fred with whom they share two adult children. She grew up in Seattle and is passionate about eliminating absurd impediments from permitting departments and ensuring consistent and predictable outcomes.

The Urbanist is planning an in-person meetup for Saturday September 16, featuring a special guest. Details coming shortly.

Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm was our Urbanist Meetup guest on May 9. Watch the video.

Seattle Councilmember Andrew Lewis was our guest April 11th. Watch the video.

Seattle Councilmember Tammy Morales was our guest on March 14. We talked road safety, social housing, zoning, and more. Watch the video.

SDOT Director Greg Spotts was our guest on February 15. Watch the video.

Tiffani McCoy was our January guest to talk Initiative 135. McCoy is advocacy director of Real Change and leads the House Our Neighbors campaign that crafted the Seattle social housing initiative. Ballots are due February 14. Watch the video.

Primary Election results are coming in. Get ready for the General Election: Check out The Urbanist’s endorsements. 35.02.025RCW 82.02.050(1)(c)RCW 82.02.020RCW 82.02.050(1)(b).