(1) The legislature finds that current concern over the rapid and increasing loss of rural, agricultural, and forested land has led to the exploration of creative approaches to preserving these important lands, and that the creation of a regional transfer of development rights marketplace will assist in conserving these lands.
(2) A transfer of development rights is a market-based exchange mechanism that encourages the voluntary transfer of development rights from sending areas with lower population densities to receiving areas with higher population densities. When development rights are transferred through a transfer of development rights exchange, permanent deed restrictions are placed on the sending area properties to ensure that the land will be used only for approved activities, activities that may include farming, forest management, conservation, or passive recreation. Additionally, in a transfer of development rights exchange, the costs of purchasing the recorded development restrictions are borne by the developers who receive the transferred right in the form of a building credit or bonus.
(3) The legislature further finds that a successful transfer of development rights program must consider housing affordable to all economic segments of the population, and economic development programs and policies in designated receiving areas. Counties, cities, and towns that decide to participate in the regional transfer of development rights program for central Puget Sound are encouraged to adopt comprehensive plan policies and development regulations to implement the program that do not compete or conflict with comprehensive plan policies and development regulations that require or encourage affordable housing. Participating cities and towns are also encouraged to use the development of receiving areas to maximize opportunities for economic development that supports the creation or retention of jobs.
(4) Participation in a regional transfer of development rights program by counties, cities, and towns should be as simple as possible.
(5) Accordingly, the legislature has determined that it is good public policy to build upon existing transfer of development rights programs, pilot projects, and private initiatives that foster effective use of transferred development rights through the creation of a market-based program that focuses on the central Puget Sound region. A regional transfer of development rights program in the central Puget Sound should be voluntary, incentive-driven, and separate, but compatible with existing local transfer of development rights programs.