NAIOPWA Requests Extension on Implementation of State Construction Code | MFTE Task Force

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In support of our 1,000+ association members, the commercial real estate business industry and the community at large, NAIOP Washington State has submitted an official request to Governor Jay Inslee and to the State Building Code Council requesting a 6-month delay in implementation of new building codes, to January 1, 2021.

Post-COVID-19 recovery will require agility and responsiveness from institutions, governments and businesses equally aggressive to the efforts we are now seeing in efforts to dampen the spread of the virus across our communities.

NAIOPWA members have noted that work-from-home efforts, which are rapidly growing to encompass as many workers as possible, include permit staff, those who review and approve permits for shovel-ready construction projects. Many of these projects are specifically targeted to alleviate the affordable housing shortage across the state and especially in the Puget Sound region.

Delayed implementation of the new code would:

Ensure predictability. It takes years to plan and permit projects. By the time a project reaches to building permit submittal, developers have invested thousands (if not millions) in design and entitlements in anticipation that a project will “vest” to a specific building code. Under normal circumstances, there is certainty that city staff can meet, review and accept these projects to vest. Under COVID-19 social distancing protocols, cities are prudently cancelling meetings and permit reviews appear to be slowing. This adds tremendous uncertainty and puts many projects at risk of stalling. A six-month delay in the implementation of the 2018 State Building Codes would ensure that pipeline projects that were designed to the current codes could still do so.

Support housing production. Our members estimate that additional costs associated with redesigning current projects to the new 2018 State Building Codes is 5-10% more than under current codes. A budget impact of that size can mean a project is no longer viable. One NAIOP member indicated that the cost impact for a multifamily project in Redmond that includes 10% affordable housing units would be more than $3500 per unit and would cause the project to be completely redesigned and potentially shelved. We’re hearing that same concern across the region from developers and architects. A six- month delay so that housing projects could proceed as planned under the current codes would provide critical relief now.

Support economic recovery. Washington will need the construction industry to remain strong to support a post-COVID-19 recovery. One way to do that is to ensure that shovel-ready projects can proceed as planned and designed without major redesigns. This will help housing production, support local construction jobs and support construction related sales tax revenue.

Currently, Washington State’s Building Code regulations are among the most progressive and innovative in the country; they applied to all new construction built in recent years. A six-month delay of the implementation of the 2018 State Building Code regulations will not change the current, rigorous standards or put the public at risk. It will simply provide much-needed relief and certainty to the commercial real estate industry and support the ability for shovel ready projects to proceed as planned in a post-COVID-19 recovery.

MFTE Property Tax Exemption: Task Force

The Washington State legislature passed HB 2950, which extends the current MFTE property tax exemption for properties currently receiving a 12-year exemption that is set to expire after the effective date of the bill, but prior to December 31, 2021, to the end of the year. In addition, a task force was created to meet in this interim (of the state legislature) to review and make recommendations on the program to the 2021 Washington State Legislature. Part of these recommendations will be regarding the cost-benefit analysis of the MFTE program and whether additional tenant protection measures may be necessary to ensure adequate public benefit. These recommendations will help shape the next iteration of the MFTE program – for better or worse. 

NAIOPWA has two positions on the task force, one slot for a NAIOP member who participates in the MFTE program in a city with the population is greater than 100,000, and a second position for those participating in the program in a city with a population less than 50,000.  


NAIOPWA is continuing to work with state and local officials to ensure protection of public health while ensuring that construction activities can proceed as feasible without interruption. For more information, contact [email protected].

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