Parking and Business Improvement Areas
This page provides an overview of parking and business improvement areas (PBIAs) in Washington State, including their legal authority, formation process, and examples of existing PBIAs.
A parking and business improvement area (PBIA) is designed to aid general economic development and to facilitate merchant and business cooperation. It is a local self-help funding mechanism that allows business owners within a defined area to establish a special assessment district. Funds raised can be used to provide management, services, facilities, and programs to the district. In Washington PBIAs are authorized by statute. Several cities have code provisions for PBIAs, but many appear not to be active.
- Ch. 35.87A RCW authorizes counties, cities, and towns to establish, after a petition submitted by businesses within the area, or by resolution adopted by the legislative body, a parking and business improvement area for the purposes set forth in RCW 35.87A.010.
- Establishment of business improvement areas in some Washington cities has been controversial. The authority of a city to utilize the statutory authority in Ch. 35.87A RCW to establish a PBIA has been upheld in Seattle v. Rogers Clothing for Men, Inc., 114 Wn.2d 213 (1990).
What Can a Parking and Business Improvement Area Do?
The activities in a parking and business improvement area are financed through a special assessment that is imposed on businesses, multifamily residential developments, and mixed-use developments located within the geographic boundaries of the area. The assessments can be used to finance: construction, acquisition, or maintenance of parking facilities in the area; decoration of public areas; promotion of public events in public places in the area; furnishing of music in any public place in the area; provision of maintenance and security of common public areas; or management, planning, and promotion of the area, including the promotion of retail trade activities in the area.
How Is a PBIA Formed?
Initiative or Resolution
A parking and business improvement area may be established by either having:
- The owners of businesses located within the geographic boundaries of the proposed parking and business improvement submit an initiation petition to the legislative authority of the local government having jurisdiction over the area; or
- The legislative authority of the local government passes an initiation resolution to create the parking and business improvement area.
Contents of Initiative or Resolution for PBIA
- A description of the boundaries of the proposed area;
- The proposed uses and projects to which the proposed special assessment revenues shall be put and total estimated cost; and
- The estimated rate of levy of special assessment with a proposed breakdown by class of business and multifamily residential or mixed-use project if such classification is to be used.
- Under RCW 35.87A.010(1), the petition must be signed by the operators responsible for 60 percent of the assessments by businesses and multifamily residential or mixed-use projects within the area.
Note: There is an apparent discrepancy/inconsistency between the 60 percent requirement for petitions under RCW 35.87A.010(1) and the 50 percent requirement under RCW 35.87A.030. MRSC legal consultants advise that the 60 percent requirement in RCW 35.87A.010 be used because that requirement is contained within the more recently amended section and is arguably in the more specific provision. Since there is some uncertainty in trying to reconcile these statutory provisions, the safer course is to go with the higher 60 percent threshold to avoid a challenge.
Hearing on Creating a PBIA
The legislative authority of the local government, after receiving a valid initiation petition from the business owners or after passage of an initiation resolution, must adopt a resolution of intention to establish a parking and business improvement area.
- During the public hearing process for the establishment of a parking and business improvement area, the legislative authority of the local government may change the geographic boundaries of the proposed area.
- The legislative authority of the local government must provide notice and give the public at least 15 days, after the proposed boundary change, for the public input.
- Proceedings shall terminate if protest is made by businesses and residential operators in the proposed area which would pay a majority of the proposed special assessments.
Ordinance Establishing PBIA
If the legislative authority, following the hearing, decides to establish the proposed area, it adopts an ordinance to that effect. The ordinance is to contain the following information:
- The number, date and title of the resolution of intention pursuant to which it was adopted;
- The time and place the hearing was held concerning the formation of such area;
- The description of the boundaries of such area;
- A statement that the businesses and multifamily residential or mixed-use projects in the area established by the ordinance shall be subject to the provisions of the special assessments authorized by RCW 35.87A.010;
- The initial or additional rate or levy of special assessment to be imposed with a breakdown by classification of business and multifamily residential or mixed-use project, if such classification is used; and
- A statement that a parking and business improvement area has been established.
- The uses to which the special assessment revenue shall be put. Uses must conform to the uses as declared in the initiation petition presented pursuant to RCW 35.87A.030.
Administration of PBIAs
- The legislative authority has sole discretion as to how the revenue derived from the special assessments is to be used.
- The legislative authority may appoint existing advisory boards or commissions to make recommendations as to its use, or a new advisory board or commission may be created for the purpose
- The legislative authority may contract with a chamber of commerce or other similar business association operating primarily within the boundaries of the legislative authority to administer the operation of a parking and business improvement area,.
Examples of PBIAs
- Aberdeen Municipal Code Ch. 3.100 – Downtown Parking and Business Improvement District
- Ordinance No. 6375 (2005) – Establishes a Parking and Business Improvement Area; levies special assessments on the businesses within the area; provides for the deposit of revenues in a special account; and provides for administration agreements
- Parking & Business Improvement Area Board
- RFP for PBIA Marketing Campaign Proposal (2008)
- Poulsbo Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association
- Ordinance No. 89-04 (1989) – Forms downtown business improvement area
- Downtown Parking Advisory Committee
- Seattle Business Improvement Areas – Provides links to Seattle BIAs and ordinances
- Only in Seattle Initiative – Support for Business Districts
- Tools & Funding for Business Districts
- Business Improvement Area Handbook (2012) – Resources for current and potential BIAs, including formation procedures and operational issues
- Spokane Downtown Spokane
- About the Business Improvement District
- Municipal Code Ch. 4.31 – Parking and Business Improvement District
- Tacoma Downtown Tacoma Partnership – Administered by the Local Development Council
- Wenatchee Municipal Code Ch. 5.98 – Parking and Business Improvement Area
- Yakima Downtown Yakima
- Downtown Yakima Business Improvement District Advisory Board (scroll down page)
- Resolution No. R-2008-114 (2008) – Provides for dissolution of previously established Parking and Business Improvement Area Number One with intent of considering a petition to create a new Downtown BIA
- (2001) – Initiates re-formation of parking and business improvement area in downtown Yakima and establishing special assessments for certain uses and projects within the parking and business improvement area
- Resolution No. R-2009-171 (2009) – Authorizes city manager to execute Committee for Downtown Yakima agreement for professional and ambassador services to provide maintenance, management and safety ambassador services in the Downtown Yakima Public Improvement District; includes contract