Chapter 2.116
RELOCATION ASSISTANCE – REAL PROPERTY ACQUISITION POLICY Revised 3/18

Sections:

2.116.010    Adopted. Revised 3/18

2.116.020    Policy Statement. Revised 3/18

2.116.030    County Engineer. Revised 3/18

2.116.040    Appraisal Coordinator.

2.116.050    Relocation Agent.

2.116.060    Real Property Agent.

2.116.070    Procedures.

2.116.080    Guidelines for Administering Relocation Assistance Program.

2.116.090    Relocation Assistance Advisory Program.

2.116.100    Relocation Assistance Program.

2.116.010 Adopted. Revised 3/18

The Pierce County right-of-way acquisition procedure is adopted. A copy of the procedure shall be kept on file in the County Planning and Public Works Department. (Ord. 2017-12s § 2 (part), 2017; Ord. 85-42 § 2 (part), 1985; prior Code § 2.68.010)

2.116.020 Policy Statement. Revised 3/18

Pierce County, desiring to acquire real property in accordance with the State Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act (Chapter 8.26 RCW) and State regulations (Chapter 365-24 WAC), adopts the following procedure to implement said statute and Washington Administrative Code. The Planning and Public Works Department of Pierce County is responsible for real property acquisition and relocation activities on road funded projects administered by the County. To fulfill the property acquisition-relocations assistance role in development and implementation, the Planning and Public Works Department has the expertise and personnel capabilities set out in PCC 2.116.030 through 2.116.060 and accomplishes these functions under the procedure set out in PCC 2.116.070. (Ord. 2017-12s § 2 (part), 2017; Ord. 85-42 § 2 (part), 1985; prior Code § 2.68.020)

2.116.030 County Engineer. Revised 3/18

The County Engineer administers all activities of the County Right-of-way Division, including support to the Prosecuting Attorney in matters related to litigation, environmental law compliance and the property acquisition programs for the Planning and Public Works Department. The County Engineer assures compliance with appropriate County ordinances and resolutions, State statutes, rules and regulations which pertain to real property acquisition and relocation assistance. (Ord. 2017-12s § 2 (part), 2017; Ord. 85-42 § 2 (part), 1985; prior Code § 2.68.021(1))

2.116.040 Appraisal Coordinator.

The Appraisal Coordinator administers all appraisal activities, including estimates of right-of-way costs and appraisals of fair market value to assure that the County appraisal process complies with appropriate County and State statutes, laws, rules and regulations. He coordinates and assigns all appraisal work, hires contract (fee) appraisers, maintains permanent files on all appraisals, and prepares appraisals when appropriate. He reviews all appraisals to determine the adequacy and reliability of supporting data and to approve an adequately supported appraisal report which represents fair market value. The Appraisal Coordinator researches market data to assure up to date information on the real estate market and provides court testimony regarding the appraisal process in eminent domain proceedings. (Ord. 85-42 § 2 (part), 1985; prior Code § 2.68.021(2))

2.116.050 Relocation Agent.

The Relocation Agent, in compliance with County, State law, appropriate rules and regulations, gives notice of relocation assistance at the time of or subsequent to initiation of negotiations according to time limits determined by the funding agency. He prepares letters to property owners explaining entitlements and prepares appropriate relocation claims. The Relocation Agent is knowledgeable in State guidelines for relocation assistance and real property acquisition policies. If the project does not require relocation, he prepares a letter disclaiming the necessity to prepare a relocation plan. He prepares the relocation assistance program plan for projects requiring relocation assistance and carries out the same. He makes field inspections of available substitute housing to ensure decent, safe and sanitary qualifications and meets with and interviews all displaces as to their needs, offering services and advice on a continuing basis. (Ord. 85-42 § 2 (part), 1985; prior Code § 2.68.021(3))

2.116.060 Real Property Agent.

The Real Property Agent advises owners of the need for the project, of the impact upon their property and of their rights under Public Law RCW Chapter 8.26. He reviews the project plans, appraisals and instruments for adequacy as to real property considerations. He actively negotiates with owners to acquire real property in conformation with all laws, rules and regulations and requests commencement of eminent domain proceedings when necessary. He sets up escrows and instructions when necessary. (Ord. 85-42 § 2 (part), 1985; prior Code § 2.68.021(4))

2.116.070 Procedures.

A.    Property acquired by the County for public works projects will be appraised by a qualified staff or fee appraiser with appropriate appraisal review before initiation of negotiations with the owner.

B.    The County Appraiser will contact the owner and extend an invitation for the owner to accompany the Appraiser during his inspection of the property.

C.    The County will establish just compensation from the Review Appraiser's estimate of value before negotiation with any owner. Any amounts paid over just compensation for the property will be an administrative settlement and will be so documented in the acquisition file as to the justification used in arriving at the amount of the settlement. However, in an administrative or stipulated settlement, payment will not be made by the person who determined the settlement.

D.    During the appraisal process, the County will not consider any factors of the project that would influence the valuation of the property except physical deterioration wherever appropriate.

E.    The County will not consider relocation assistance benefits in its appraisal process in establishing fair market value for the property to be acquired.

F.    Pursuant to RCW 8.26.180, paragraph 9, the County will not leave an uneconomic remnant without offering to acquire said remnant from the owner.

G.    The County will give to the owner at the initiation of negotiation a written statement known as the "firm offer letter." That statement will be the amount of just compensation based on a review and analysis of an appraisal(s) made by a qualified appraiser with a summary thereof, showing the basis for just compensation. Included in the firm offer letter will be identification of the real property to be acquired, including the estate or interest being acquired. There will be, when appropriate, the identification of the improvements and fixtures considered to be part of the real property to be acquired. The firm offer letter will show what portion, if any, of the just compensation is considered the amount of damages to the remaining property. At the initiation of negotiation with the owner the County will give to the owner an acquisition brochure.

H.    The County will not require the owner or tenant to surrender possession of the property before 90 days after the agreed purchase price has been paid or the approved amount of compensation has been paid into court. The 90-day period may be reduced only in the event the property being acquired is unimproved, contains no personal property and is not being utilized by the owner or tenant.

I.    1.    The County will provide relocation assistance to an owner or tenant or contract with a qualified organization to perform relocation services.

2.    The County will provide full information where relocation assistance may be obtained.

3.    A displaced person who makes proper application for a payment authorized for such person by RCW Chapter 8.26 and these regulations shall be paid promptly after a move, or, in hardship cases, be paid in advance.

4.    Application for benefits under the Act are to be made within 18 months of the date on which the displaced person moves from the real property acquired or to be acquired; or the date on which the acquiring entity makes final payment of all costs of that real property, whichever is the later date. The head of the state agency or local public body may extend this period upon a proper showing of good cause.

J.    Rental amounts charged to owners and tenants occupying the property subsequent to acquisition will not be in excess of the fair rental amount of a short-term occupant.

K.    Every reasonable effort will be made to expeditiously acquire real property by negotiations without exercising the right of eminent domain. No action will be taken to advance eminent domain proceedings, defer negotiations of such proceedings or take any other action coercive in nature in order to compel an agreement on the price to be paid for the property.

L.    When any interest in real property is acquired, at least an equal interest will be acquired in all buildings, structures or other improvements located upon the real property so acquired and which is required to be removed from such real property or which will be adversely affected by the use to which such real property will be put.

M.    The County will comply with RCW 8.26.200 and will pay direct or reimburse the owner for expenses necessarily incurred in the acquisition for:

1.    Recording fees, transfer taxes and similar expenses incidental to conveying such real property to the acquiring County;

2.    Penalty costs for full or partial prepayment of any preexisting recorded mortgage entered into in good faith encumbering such real property;

3.    The pro-rata portion of real property taxes paid which are allocable to a period subsequent to the date of vesting title in the acquiring County, or the effective date of possession of such real property by the acquiring County, whichever is earlier.

N.    The County will comply with RCW 8.25.020 and will pay direct or reimburse the owner for expenses actually and reasonably incurred in the process of evaluating the County's offer to acquire an interest in real property, but not to exceed a total of $200.00.

O.    A donation or gift of real property will be accepted only after the owner has been fully informed of his right to receive just compensation.

P.    If rodent control should become necessary in the project, the County will make provisions to maintain control or eradicate the rodents.

Q.    No owner will be intentionally required to institute legal proceedings to prove the fact of the taking of his real property.

R.    The County, to promote more convenient administration of federal aid projects, will require that right-of-way plans, contracts, deeds, appraisals, options, vouchers, correspondence and all other documents and papers to which the Federal Highway Administration needs to refer will carry the federal aid project number for ready identification.

(Ord. 85-42 § 2 (part), 1985; prior Code § 2.68.022)

2.116.080 Guidelines for Administering Relocation Assistance Program.

The County, to promote uniform and effective administration of relocation assistance programs, will utilize the Washington State Department of Transportation publication fiM26-01 (HW) Chapter 12, "Right-of-Way Agents' Manual" as a guideline in conducting the County relocation programs in federal aid projects. (Ord. 2003-65 § 1, 2003; Ord. 85-42 § 2 (part), 1985; prior Code § 2.68.030)

2.116.090 Relocation Assistance Advisory Program.

A.    Relocation assistance advisory services will be provided for persons displaced or for any person occupying property immediately adjacent to real property acquired if such person is caused substantial economic injury because of the acquisition.

B.    Specific definitions for concept of terms used in the following paragraphs will be the same as Chapter 365-24-110, Washington Administrative Code.

C.    Advisory services will include such measures, facilities or services necessary or appropriate in order to:

1.    By personal interview, determine the need, if any, of eligible persons for relocation assistance. The displaced person will receive a Relocation Brochure furnished or approved by the Washington State Department of Transportation;

2.    Provide current and continuing information on the availability, prices and rental of comparable decent, safe and sanitary sales and rental housing, and of comparable commercial properties and locations for eligible businesses;

3.    Assure that prior to displacement, there will be available, in areas not generally less desirable in regard to public utilities and public and commercial facilities and at rents or prices within the financial means of the families and individuals displaced, decent, safe and sanitary dwellings, equal in number to the numbers of such displaced persons who require such dwellings and reasonable access to their places of employment;

4.    Assist an eligible person displaced from his business or farm operation in obtaining and becoming established in a suitable replacement location;

5.    Provide other advisory services to eligible persons such as counseling and referrals with regard to housing, financing, employment, training, health, welfare and any other assistance which will minimize hardship to such persons in adjusting to relocation.

D.    Relocation assistance advisory services by the County will be provided to the public. There will be available to the public full information, including a Relocation Brochure, concerning the County relocation program concerning the project. When appropriate, a Relocation Assistance Office will be located in the vicinity of the project and will be open during hours convenient to persons to be relocated. The County will ensure that all interested parties and persons to be displaced are fully informed, at the earliest possible time, of the specific plans and procedures for assuring that comparable replacement housing will be available for home owners and tenants in advance of displacement; available relocation payments and assistance; the eligibility requirements and procedures for obtaining such payments and assistance; and the right of administrative review by the head of the local public body concerned, as provided by RCW 8.26.130.

(Ord. 85-42 § 2 (part), 1985; prior Code § 2.68.031)

2.116.100 Relocation Assistance Program.

A.    The County will not proceed with any phase of property acquisition of the project until there is a relocation plan approved by the Washington State Department of Transportation and relocation payments with proper relocation services can be provided in conformance with RCW Chapter 8.26 and WAC Chapter 365-24.

B.    The County will give a written notice of the initiation of negotiation with the owner of the property to be acquired to tenants and other persons occupying such property, advising:

1.    Eligibility for relocation assistance and benefits which could become available after acquisition of the property by the County can be lost if the owner or any tenant moves either before the property is acquired prior to receiving written notice to vacate from the County for its program or project, or otherwise fails to meet the legal requirements for such assistance or benefits;

2.    The County land purchase intentions and plans are subject to change and even cancellation until the acquisition is closed;

3.    Neither the owner nor any tenant will be required to move, or make any financial commitment for replacement housing or facilities, until he has received the following:

a.    A determination from the County concerning his eligibility and the amounts of relocation benefits,

b.    A determination of the requirements which must be satisfied before such amounts can be paid by the County,

c.    A written authorization or notice from the County to vacate the premises;

4.    Where he can obtain full information concerning relocation assistance, eligibility for relocation payments and the requirements which must be satisfied before such payments can be made.

C.    A written notice to vacate will be given to each individual, family, business or farm operation to be displaced; and all notices will be served personally or delivered by certified or registered first-class mail.

1.    A displaced person who makes proper application for a payment authorized for such displacement will be paid promptly after a move, or, in hardship cases, be paid in advance.

2.    Application for benefits is to be made within 18 months of the date on which the displaced person moves from the real property acquired or to be acquired; or the date on which the County makes final payment of all costs of that real property, whichever is the later date. The County may extend this period upon proper showing of good cause.

D.    The County, if it deems necessary, may contract with any state agency, local public body, individual, firm, association or corporation for services in performing a relocation assistance program. All personal service contracts concerning phases of right-of-way acquisition relocation assistance will be forwarded to the Washington State Department of Transportation for prior approval before execution by the County.

E.    Any displaced person (including one who conducts a business or farm operation) will be eligible to receive a relocation payment for moving expenses. A person who lives on his business or farm property may be eligible for payments for both moving and related expenses as a dwelling occupant, as well as for payments for displacement from a business or farm operation. Payments will be made in accordance with WAC 365-24-410 to WAC 365-24-540, inclusive.

F.    A displaced owner/occupant will be eligible for a replacement housing payment as authorized by RCW 8.26.050 in an amount determined by computation if he meets both of the following requirements:

1.    The displaced owner/occupant actually owned and occupied the acquired dwelling from which he was displaced, for not less than 180 days prior to the initiation of negotiation for the property; or owned and occupied an acquired dwelling covered or qualified under RCW 8.26.160 from which he was displaced, for not less than 180 days prior to displacement; and

2.    Purchases and occupies a comparable replacement dwelling which is decent, safe and sanitary, as defined in WAC 365-24-210(2) and (3), not later than the end of the one-year period beginning on the latest of the following dates:

a.    Date on which he received from the County the final payment of all costs of the acquired dwelling,

b.    The date on which he is required to move by the County written notice to vacate,

c.    Or, the date on which he moves from the acquired dwelling if earlier than the date he is required to move by the County.

Computation of replacement housing payment for an owner-occupant will be made in accordance with WAC 365-24-620.

G.    A displaced tenant, or an owner/occupant of a dwelling for less than 180 days, will be eligible for a replacement housing payment as authorized by RCW 8.26.060 if he actually and lawfully occupied the dwelling for not less than 90 days prior to the initiation of negotiations for acquisition of the property, or actually occupied the property covered or qualified under RCW 8.26.160 for not less than 90 days prior to displacement.

H.    An owner/occupant of a dwelling for not less than 180 days prior to the initiation of negotiations will be eligible for replacement housing payments as a tenant as authorized by RCW 8.26.060 when he rents a decent, safe and sanitary comparable replacement dwelling (instead of purchasing and occupying such a dwelling) not later than the end of the one-year period beginning on either of dates noted in subsection F.2. of this Section. Computation of replacement housing payments for displaced tenants or an owner/ occupant of a dwelling for less than 180 days will be in accordance with WAC 365-24-720; except that the County shall determine the amount necessary to acquire a comparable replacement dwelling by analyzing the probable prices or rents of three or more comparable replacement properties.

I.    Computation of replacement housing payment for certain others:

1.    Replacement rental housing payments for displaced owner/occupants who do not qualify for replacement housing payments under WAC 365-24-610 because of the 180-day occupancy requirement and who elect to rent will be computed in the manner provided in WAC 365-24-720(1); except that the County shall determine the amount necessary to rent a comparable property by analyzing the probable rental rates of three or more comparable replacement properties.

2.    Replacement housing payments for displaced owner/occupants who do not qualify for replacement housing payments under WAC 365-24-610 because of the 180-day occupancy requirements but who have actually and lawfully occupied for a period of 90 days or more the dwelling unit to be acquired and who elect to purchase a replacement dwelling shall be computed in the manner provided in WAC 365-24-720(2); except that the County shall determine the amount necessary to rent a comparable replacement property by analyzing the probable rental rates of three or more comparable replacement properties.

J.    Any person aggrieved by a determination as to his eligibility for, method of determination, or the amount of payment authorized by RCW Chapter 8.26 or appropriate WAC Chapter 365-24 may have such determination reviewed and reconsidered by the head of the County having authority over the applicable program or project.

K.    Any person aggrieved by determination as to his eligibility for, method of determination, or the amount of payment authorized by RCW 8.26 or appropriate WAC Chapter 365-24 will be allowed to invoke an appeal; provided, that within 30 days following receipt of notification of the rejection of his claim by the County, he submits to the head of the County a notice of appeal. This will be a written statement of the facts pertinent to the case and including the decision that is in dispute.

L.    In order to ensure consistent and uniform administration of the relocation assistance program, the County will, if necessary, establish an administrative review board for preliminary review of appeals. In the event the matter cannot be resolved by the administrative review board, the County will appoint a qualified hearing officer under terms of WAC 365-34-850. His duties will be to administer the appeal of the aggrieved in an impartial and orderly manner in accordance with WAC Chapter 365-24.

(Ord. 85-42 § 2 (part), 1985; prior Code § 2.68.032)