Another Example of How We Add Value to Projects

Whether you are a community, economic development organization, real estate developer or expanding business, our land use and economic development expertise can add significant value to your projects.  Here’s an example of value we’re adding to a project by changing the land use and zoning.

On a 6-1 vote Wednesday night, the Auburn Planning Commission recommended the City Council approve a comprehensive plan map amendment and rezone for 1.89 acres that our firm has been pushing through the City’s annual docket cycle on behalf of a client.  If approved by the City Council, the resulting zoning would increase the density of the site by as many as 29 additional housing units.

This project is a perfect example of how our company can help land owners and developers add value to their properties and projects,” said David Toyer, founder of Toyer Strategic Consulting.  “With land supply inside urban growth areas becoming more constrained, our experience changing zoning and permitted uses can add significant benefits clients looking to achieve a higher and better use.”

In another example earlier this year Toyer Strategic successfully amended the matrix of permitted uses in the City of Pacific, Washington to allow a client to move forward an industrial warehousing in an office park zone – a obvious win for the project developer, but also a key win for a city which hadn’t seen much new development in that zone.

Rhodora Annexation Clears State Board

Lake Stevens, Washington.  The Washington State Boundary Review Board (BRB) for Snohomish County issued its written decision Tuesday, denying an appeal brought by landowners in the area.  The decision clears the way for approval of the Rhodora Annexation by the Lake Stevens City Council subject to expiration of the 30 day appeal period on BRB decisions.

Our firm has managed the annexation process for the initiating landowners (initiators), including circulation of the 10% and 60% annexation petitions, developing and distributing information about the annexation to residents, and representing initiators in the annexation proceedings.

If final approval is granted by the Lake Stevens City Council, the annexation would bring approximately 103 acres into the City at the southeast end of the lake.  More information

A Bubble or some Bubbly?

A Bubble or some Bubbly?  That is a fair question going through the minds of some in Washington State right now.

Bubbly – Like Champagne is a Good Thing

The popping of the cork on a bottle of champagne followed by those fizzy bubbles are symbolic representations of celebration and success!

And Washington State’s economy appears to be raising a big glass of the bubbly these days.  In 2016 wages in Washington State rose 4.8%, accounting for the largest year over year increase since 2007.  The State’s unemployment figures for May 2017 dropped to 4.5% from 5.6% just a year ago.  And for the second year in a row, Seattle leads the country in the number of cranes (58 cranes – 60% more than any other US city) – a sign that typically points to a booming economy.  Add to this, WalletHub.com has ranked Washington’s economy #1 in the US based on an assessment of 27 economic factors.  And CNBC concurs, ranking Washington as the best state for business in the US.

Is there a Bubble?  (that ol’ Bearer of Bad News)

But despite all to celebrate in Washington’s economy, there is room to take pause.  Some data indicates some very negative trends and recent company announcements point to some small earthquakes within key industries that are drivers of the state’s economy.

For example, state data should that wage growth has primarily been limited to to King (Seattle) and Snohomish (Everett) counties, leaving the balance of the state flat or dropping.  Moreover, nearly 1/5th of Washington’s counties (7 out of 39) have unemployment rates over 7% with six more hoovering just shy of that mark.  And even in the prosperous Seattle metro, a count in late May found more than 11,000 homeless in the area – a significant number of which that are employed.  In four years, the median cost of housing in the state has jumped 37% to over $300,000 (driven by price pressures in the metro counties) – a great thing if you own a house, but bad if you don’t.

Recently announced layoffs and moves at Boeing and Microsoft – including 125 engineers tied to production of Microsoft’s surface and hundreds of Boeing’s shared services group being relocated to a Mesa, AZ facility – are just some of the more visible ‘adjustments’ happening in the market.

Conclusion

Nothing is definitive at this time, but if you’re investing and developing in the Northwest (especially Seattle), you should give caution to whether the next pop you hear is the opening of another bottle of the bubbly or the air releasing from booming growth adjusting to underlying market factors.

If Growth Management is Chess. . .

What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” – Sir John Lubbock

In chess the opportunity to trade moves is often a terrible strategy that will lead to playing into an opponent’s trap. Hence why chess draws comparisons to military strategy, focusing less on winning battles and more on winning wars.

Similarly, in dealing with Growth Management, the strategies of those developing projects need to be focused on their immediate moves, but to be truly successful they have to have a long game for how to win.

So what’s your next move?

Now that the development industry as a whole has suffered some major legal setbacks (see Snohomish County, et al v. Pollution Control Hearings Bd., et al, 92805-3) and residential developers/builders continue to cope with an ever shrinking building lands supply, as well as complex and changing regulation, businesses have to ask themselves some strategic questions:

  1. What’s the next fight for your business and how hard are you willing to fight to move a project forward?
  2. And, if you fight, what resources do you truly need?
  3. Are their opportunities in the coming years to stake out a claim to land that may be added to urban growth areas (UGAs) and then work within the forthcoming processes to play this to your favor?
  4. What gambles might your business be willing to take to maintain a pipeline of lot supply?

This is where we can help.

Toyer Strategic Consulting has been working on the battlefield where growth management policy and real estate development clash for the past 15 years.  We’ve helped companies (and a few communities) successfully address each of these key questions and implement a plan of action to accomplish the end goal(s).

From identifying opportunities in long range planning where companies may be able to move land into the UGAs to nuancing the politics and processes that shape local land use policy, we understand the positioning and preparation real estate businesses need to complete and win should they wish to get aggressive to sustain success.

Contact us for a free consultation today

 

Are Local Regulations a Threat to Your Business?

The majority of businesses today realize how critical it is to pay attention to legislative policy.  They join industry/trade associations, local chambers of commerce and other membership groups that staff government relations programs with professional lobbyist who are looking out for their memberships when it comes to key business concerns.  But in most cases, all of their attention expended is at the state and federal levels.

Having started my career as a lobbyist for the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties – the largest local home builders association in the country at the time –  I saw first hand how city and county ordinances could have significant impacts on many small businesses.  Decisions were made frequently on everything from sign regulations to parking restrictions and from zoning changes to ‘bulk use standards’ like lot widths and build heights.  But often its these little tweaks and changes that frequently have big, direct impact on small business.  And what’s worse is these changes are often considered and passed with little to no public comment.  Why?  Because most individuals and businesses don’t understand the processes, the changes or the likely impacts.

An example of this kind of local action is a current ordinance awaiting a public hearing before the Snohomish County Council (Washington State) on March 8, 2017:

Ordinance 16-013, relating to growth management, revising regulations for commercial and industrial development; amending Chapters 30.22, 30.26, 30.28, 30.31A, and 30.91B-30.91W of the Snohomish County Code.

For the average business owner or individual the title of the ordinance is rather innocuous.  But if you click on the link you’ll see that it’s an 83 page omnibus package that proposes changes to everything from the uses allowed in certain zones to the definitions of the permitted uses to the required amount of parking each use must have.

Who’s monitoring these issues and looking out for your interest?

We’re pretty sure the answer is . . . no one.

In that case, you’re in luck.  Our company provides local government relations for small business.  We monitor the agendas of planning commissions, city councils, county councils and other local regulatory bodies in areas where our clients have business interests (current or future) and ensure that when changes are proposed that impact your bottom line you’ve got representation.

Contact us today to talk about our government relations service retainer.