Chapter 7.80


7.80.010    Legislative findings and policy.

7.80.020    Creation of storm drainage and surface water management utility.

7.80.030    Definitions.

7.80.040    Funding of storm drainage and surface water management utility.

7.80.050    Stormwater funds.

7.80.060    Operating budget.

7.80.070    Reserve account.

7.80.080    Stormwater user’s fees established.

7.80.090    Equivalent residential unit.

7.80.100    Property classification for stormwater user’s fee.

7.80.110    Base rate.

7.80.120    Adjustments to stormwater user’s fees.

7.80.130    Property tax payers to pay fees.

7.80.140    Billing procedures and penalties for late payment.

7.80.150    Appeals of fees.

7.80.160    Severability.

7.80.170    Effective date of service charge.

7.80.010 Legislative findings and policy.

The city council finds, determines and declares that the streams, rivers, lakes, waterways, groundwater, and functionally related natural and manmade stormwater control facilities constitute a stormwater control facility.

The city council finds, determines and declares that the public stormwater control facility including its administration, which provides for the collection, treatment, storage and disposal of stormwater, provides benefits and services to all developed property within the incorporated city limits. Such benefits include, but are not limited to: the provision of adequate systems of collection, conveyance, detention, treatment and release of stormwater; the reduction of hazards to property and life resulting from stormwater runoff; improvements in general health and welfare through reduction of undesirable stormwater conditions; and improvements to the water quality of the stormwater and its receiving waters. Federal and state laws mandate that operation of such systems requires the city of Yakima to implement regional water quality protection activities and programs to reduce and control the potential to pollute surface waters and groundwaters by storm drainage originating on both public and private properties.

The city council finds, determines and declares that development of lands alter both the amount of stormwater runoff and the amount of pollution contained in such runoff and that the variation in these two factors constitutes a fair way to determine the burdens imposed upon the system and the benefits of the services received by the customer from the pollution management and regulatory services and facilities provided by a utility for storm drainage and surface water management, and the customer’s charges for management of such burdens and provision of such services and facilities.

The city council finds, determines and declares that the amount of impervious surface, land use, and rainfall will determine the volume of runoff and the general level of pollution from a property has been well established in both engineering practice and water quality studies by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Ecology, the United States Geological Survey, the Soil Conservation Service, and others. While the relationships established by the above studies are adequate to assign charges, the city storm drainage and surface water management utility shall perform local studies and based upon the results of these may adjust rates and charges in the future to more accurately reflect the burdens imposed by customer classes within the city.

The city council finds, determines and declares that to fund the costs of storm drainage and surface water management in the city, it is necessary to adopt service charges for stormwater users, with rates varying according to the services furnished, the burdens imposed or benefits received, and the character, use and stormwater runoff characteristics of the land. (Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).

7.80.020 Creation of storm drainage and surface water management utility.

Pursuant to RCW 35.67.010 through 35.67.020 and 35.92.020, there is hereby created a city storm drainage and surface water management utility.

The storm drainage and surface water management utility, under the legislative policy, supervision and control of the governing body of the city, shall perform the following activities within the city:

(1)    Administer the acquisition, design, construction, maintenance and operation of the stormwater and surface water system, including capital improvements designated in the capital improvement program;

(2)    Administer and enforce this chapter and all regulations and procedures adopted thereto relating to the design, construction, maintenance, operation and alteration of the stormwater and surface water system, including, but not limited to, the quantity, quality and/or velocity of the stormwater conveyed thereby;

(3)    Advise the city’s governing body and other city departments on matters relating to the utility;

(4)    Prepare and periodically revise, as determined by state and federal law, a comprehensive stormwater management plan for adoption by the city’s governing body;

(5)    Develop standards and ordinances relating to stormwater drainage and treatment to apply to new development and redevelopment;

(6)    Enforce regulations to protect and maintain water quality and quantity within the stormwater and surface water system in compliance with water quality standards established by state, regional and/or federal agencies as now adopted or hereafter amended;

(7)    Analyze the cost of services and benefits provided to and burdens imposed by different classes of customers, and the system and structure of fees, charges, civil penalties and other revenues of the utility, and prepare budgets for adoption by the city’s governing body; and

(8)    Perform all other activities allowable by law and required to ensure compliance with state and federal stormwater and surface water quality laws. (Ord. 2022-007 § 23, 2022; Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).

7.80.030 Definitions.

Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter:

(1)    “Average single-family residence” means a single-family residence that has between one thousand eight hundred and five thousand four hundred square feet of impervious surface area.

(2)    “Base rate” means the stormwater user’s fee for an equivalent residential unit (ERU).

(3)    “City” means the city of Yakima, Washington, a municipal corporation created and existing under the laws of the state of Washington.

(4)    “Credit” means the extent to which utility customers meeting specified criteria are billed at a reduced fee, such reduction representing a fee credit. The fee credit is provided in recognition that those utility customers who meet the specified criteria provide an in-kind service or contribution that offsets a portion of the burdens on the stormwater system imposed by the credited parcel.

(5)    “Developed property” means real property that has been altered from its natural state by the creation or addition of impervious surface areas, such as buildings, structures, pavement or other improvements.

(6)    “Duplex, triplex, and fourplex” mean buildings designed and arranged exclusively for occupancy by two, three, and four families, respectively, living independently of each other in separate dwelling units.

(7)    “Dwelling unit” means a single unit providing complete, independent living facilities for one family including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation.

(8)    “Engineer” means the duly appointed city engineer for the city of Yakima or his or her designee.

(9)    “Equivalent residential unit” or “ERU” means, and is equal to, three thousand six hundred square feet of impervious groundcover, which constitutes the average impervious surface area contained on single-family residential parcels within the city. An ERU is the unit of impervious groundcover to be used by the utility in calculating service charges for each parcel of property.

(10)    “Fee” or “stormwater fee” means the charge established under this chapter for parcels or pieces of real property to fund the costs of stormwater management and of operating, maintaining, and improving the stormwater system in the city.

(11)    “Impervious surface” means a surface which is covered with material that is resistant to infiltration by water, including, but not limited to, most conventionally surfaced streets, roofs, sidewalks, patios, driveways, parking lots, and any other oiled, graveled, graded, compacted, or any other surface which impedes the natural infiltration of surface water.

(12)    “Impervious surface area” means the number of square feet of horizontal surface covered by buildings and other impervious surfaces.

(13)    “Large single-family residence” means a single-family residence that has greater than five thousand four hundred square feet of impervious surface area.

(14)    “Multiple-family dwelling unit” means a building or portion thereof designed for, or occupied by, five or more families living independently in separate dwelling units.

(15)    “National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System” or “NPDES” refers to the federal permit system under the Clean Water Act for discharges of pollutants to surface waters of the United States. Congress amended the Clean Water Act in 1987 to regulate stormwater. Under the revisions, NPDES Phase II permits are required for municipal stormwater discharges to surface waters.

(16)    “Nonresidential parcel” means a parcel of real property which has been developed for any purpose other than a single-family residence, duplex, triplex, or fourplex and includes, but is not limited to, commercial parcels, industrial parcels, parking lots, hospitals, schools, hotels, offices, churches, governmental parcels and multiple-family dwelling units.

(17)    “Small single-family residence” means a single-family residence that has less than one thousand eight hundred square feet of impervious surface area.

(18)    “Stormwater” means that portion of precipitation that does not naturally percolate into the ground or evaporate, but flows via overland flow, interflow, pipes and other features of a stormwater and surface water system into a defined surface waterbody, or a constructed infiltration facility.

(19)    “Stormwater control facility” means the streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, waterways, groundwater, and functionally related natural and manmade facilities that combined provide stormwater management services within the city.

(20)    “Stormwater management fund” or “fund” means the fund created by this chapter to operate, maintain, and improve the city’s stormwater system.

(21)    “Storm drainage and surface water management” means the planning, design, construction, regulation, improvement, repair, maintenance, and operation of facilities and programs relating to stormwater.

(22)    “Stormwater and surface water system,” “stormwater system” or “system” means all properties, interest, physical and intangible rights of every kind or nature owned, held or operated by the city, however acquired, insofar as they contribute to the management of storm or surface water. It shall further include, without limitation, all such properties, interests and rights acquired by adverse possession or by prescription, directly or through another; in and to the drainage or storage, or both of storm or surface waters, or both; and through, under, or over lands, landforms, watercourses, sloughs, streams, ponds, lake and swamps. In each case or instance, their inclusion begins at a point where storm or surface waters first enter the stormwater control facility of the city within the city limits, and ends where storm or surface waters exit from the stormwater control facility of the city, and in width to the full extent of inundation caused by the largest storm or flood condition.

(23)    “Storm drainage and surface water management utility” or “stormwater utility” or “utility” means the storm drainage and surface water management utility created by this chapter as it may be amended from time to time.

(24)    “Waiver” means that determination by the engineer that a utility customer’s property has met the criteria specified in YMC 7.80.120 to receive a waiver from paying stormwater fees. Any waiver will require a showing that parcels that meet the specified criteria provide an in-kind service or contribution that offsets the burdens on the stormwater system imposed by the parcels subject to the waiver. (Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).

7.80.040 Funding of storm drainage and surface water management utility.

Funding for the storm drainage and surface water management utility’s services and facilities may include, but not be limited to, the following:

(1)    Stormwater user’s fees;

(2)    Civil penalties and damage assessments imposed for or arising from the violation of this chapter;

(3)    Stormwater permit and inspection fees;

(4)    Revenue bonds and/or general obligation bonds; and

(5)    Other funds or income obtained from federal, state, local or private grants and/or loans. (Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).

7.80.050 Stormwater funds.

All revenues generated by, or on behalf of, the stormwater utility shall be deposited in the following stormwater utility funds and used in accordance with state law:

(1)    Fund 441 (for operating funds); or

(2)    Fund 442 (for capital funds).

The revenue deposited into these funds shall be used only for the purposes of constructing, acquiring, adding to, maintaining, conducting, operating, managing, regulating, and controlling the stormwater system, or to secure the payment of all or any portion of any issue of general obligation bond or revenue bond issued for such purposes, or for other legal purposes consistent with this chapter. (Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).

7.80.060 Operating budget.

The city council shall adopt an operating budget for the stormwater utility each fiscal year. The operating budget shall set forth for such fiscal year the estimated revenues and the established costs for operations and maintenance, capital improvement projects, and debt service. (Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).

7.80.070 Reserve account.

An operating and emergency reserve account shall be maintained to provide for cash flow, emergencies and capital improvement project needs. (Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).

7.80.080 Stormwater user’s fees established.

Except with respect to those parcels that are waived from paying fees as described in YMC 7.80.120, the city shall charge and collect from the owner of each and every developed property in the city a stormwater user’s fee, which shall be set in the manner and amount prescribed by this chapter. The purpose of this fee is to fund the storm drainage and surface water utility.

Prior to establishing or amending user’s fees, the city shall advertise its intent to do so by publishing notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the city. The publication date of such advertisement shall meet public notice requirements of local and state laws. (Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).

7.80.090 Equivalent residential unit.

(1)    Establishment. The equivalent residential unit (ERU) is hereby established for purposes of calculating the stormwater user’s fee.

The ERU is the approximate average square footage of impervious surface area on a single-family residential parcel.

(2)    Setting the ERU. The ERU shall be set by the city council from time to time by ordinance or resolution. Until such time that there is a change in conditions requiring an adjustment to the ERU, it is set as three thousand six hundred square feet. This value was determined through the measurements of impervious surface on single-family home residential parcels.

(3)    Source of ERU. The city council shall have the discretion to determine the impervious surface area of developed property through property tax assessor’s rolls or site examination, mapping information, aerial photographs, and other reliable information. (Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).

7.80.100 Property classification for stormwater user’s fee.

As authorized by RCW Chapters 35.67 and 35.92, the city council finds that variations in the amount of impervious surface area contained on single-family residential parcels result in differences in the cost to serve such parcels and the burdens imposed on the system by such parcels. Therefore, residential customers of the stormwater system shall be divided into three classifications based upon the amount of impervious surfaces of their parcels: average single-family residences; large single-family residences; and small single-family residences.

(1)    Customer Classification. For purposes of determining the stormwater user fees, owners of all developed parcels in the city are classified into one of the following classes:

(a)    Average single-family residence;

(b)    Large single-family residence;

(c)    Small single-family residence;

(d)    Duplex, triplex and fourplex; and

(e)    Nonresidential parcel.

(2)    Average Single-Family Residence Fee. The stormwater fee for an average single-family residence shall equal the base rate.

(3)    Large Single-Family Residence Fee. The stormwater fee for a large single-family residence shall equal twice the base rate.

(4)    Small Single-Family Residence Fee. The stormwater fee for a small single-family residence shall equal one-half of the base rate.

(5)    Duplex, Triplex, and Fourplex Fee. The stormwater fee for a duplex, triplex and fourplex shall be determined using the same methodology as single-family residences, with the same designation and rate for average, large and small.

(6)    Nonresidential Fee. Owners of nonresidential parcels shall pay a stormwater fee equal to the base rate multiplied by the numerical factor obtained by dividing the total impervious surface area of the parcel by one ERU. The minimum stormwater fee for developed nonresidential parcels shall equal the base rate for average single-family residential property. (Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).

7.80.110 Base rate.

The base rate shall be calculated to provide adequate revenues to cover all costs allowable under applicable law that are incurred by the utility. The base rates shall be set forth in the city of Yakima master fee schedule adopted by city council via resolution.

The ongoing revenue requirements for the stormwater utility shall be reviewed and the annual base rates shall be adjusted or maintained as needed. The frequency of adjustments to base rates thereafter shall be as required to ensure fair and full funding of the program. (Ord. 2022-040 § 48, 2022; Ord. 2018-049 § 1, 2018: Ord. 2016-037 § 1, 2016: Ord. 2012-43 § 1, 2012: Ord. 2011-55 § 1, 2011: Ord. 2009-53 § 1, 2009: Ord. 2008-54 § 1, 2008: Ord. 2007-55 § 1, 2007: Ord. 2006-55 § 1 (part), 2006: Ord. 2005-62 § 1 (part), 2005: Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).

7.80.120 Adjustments to stormwater user’s fees.

Credits allowed under this section shall not be cumulative. Except for the first- and second-year credits that will be given to all commercial, industrial, and institutional parcels, credits or waivers must be granted by the engineer by October 15th of a given year in order for the credit or waiver to be in effect for the following billing year. Credits or waivers are not retroactive to current or prior billings and are only in effect for the next billing year. Credits or waivers may be in effect for multiple future billing years; provided, that ongoing qualifying criteria are met. The engineer will take such time as necessary to process requests for credits or waivers in an orderly fashion.

(A)    Credits for Qualified Stormwater Facilities. The city council recognizes that some parcel owners have constructed or will construct private on-site stormwater quality and quantity mitigation facilities, which when properly operated and maintained will aid the city in controlling the overall effects of stormwater pollution. Parcels or portions of parcels with facilities that meet one of the criteria listed below, to the engineer’s satisfaction, shall receive a reduction of twenty percent from the annual fee charged for that portion of the site draining to such facilities:

(1)    Any commercial/industrial/institutional parcel with a properly constructed and maintained stormwater facility that meets or exceeds the design requirements of the 2004 Department of Ecology Stormwater Management Manual for Eastern Washington or an equivalent design manual adopted by the city. Owners of subsurface stormwater infiltration systems shall provide evidence of compliance with the Washington State Underground Injection Control Program in order to receive the credit.

(2)    Any parcel that has an active and valid NPDES Industrial Stormwater Permit. A copy of the permit and the stormwater pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) shall be provided to the engineer.

The property owner is responsible for providing all documentation necessary to demonstrate compliance with the above requirements. Documentation shall be by a licensed civil engineer with the state of Washington. In the event facilities or control measures address only a portion of the total parcel, the credit will be applied to only that affected portion. The customer must maintain any water quantity and/or quality control facility in accordance with Department of Ecology maintenance guidelines and appropriate practices to ensure proper function and effectiveness of the facility. Commercial/industrial/institutional parcel owners receiving credits shall agree to allow the city to periodically inspect the subject stormwater facilities. The city may request documentation from facility owners to verify that proper maintenance has been performed. The city may notify owners in writing of maintenance needs or deficiencies. Failure to maintain the facilities within thirty days after written notice may be cause for termination of the adjustment authorized by this section.

(B)    Credit for Rainwater Harvesting Systems. Upon review and approval by the engineer, owners of new or newly constructed commercial/industrial class buildings that utilize a properly constructed and maintained permissive rainwater harvesting system shall be eligible for a ten percent credit applied toward that portion of their stormwater charge arising from the building upon which the system is used. Customers desiring this credit shall apply to the engineer and shall submit engineering design and operational information as deemed necessary by the engineer to make their evaluation and decision. Rainwater harvesting and beneficial reuse of the runoff is found by the city council to both reduce the burden imposed upon the system by the building by reducing runoff and to also have other beneficial water quality effects such as reduced consumption of potable water.

(C)    Waiver of Utility Fees for Certain Property. The engineer shall waive stormwater and surface water utility fees for a parcel falling within the following special categories of property upon a showing that the parcel meets the following applicable criteria for so long as the criteria are met:

(1)    Fees shall be waived for city streets and street rights-of-way, since they act as stormwater conveyance facilities during large floods. The city streets fund also contributes to the proper operation, maintenance, repair, improvement, and construction of the street drainage system.

(2)    Fees shall be waived for state of Washington highway rights-of-way, so long as the state of Washington cooperates with the utility in the provision of services and maintains, constructs and improves all drainage facilities contained within such rights-of-way as required by the utility in conformance with all utility standards for maintenance, construction and improvement hereafter established by the utility and so far as such maintenance, construction and improvements shall be achieved at no cost to the utility or to the city.

(3)    Fees shall be waived for municipal, county, state and federal parks, fishing areas, wildlife reserves, public trails and bike paths so long as their owners cooperate with the utility in the provision of educational services and water quality control efforts. Fees shall be waived to the degree that such property owners offset the costs of the utility to manage the burdens imposed by such parcels. Parks, trails and bike paths have minimal intensity of impervious development and provide opportunities for natural resource education and development of an appreciation for water quality.

(4)    Fees shall be waived for all vacant/undeveloped parcels. The city council finds that such parcels generally have no improvements built on them, generate little to no traffic, utilize no chemicals, and generally are in a natural state, thereby imposing no burden upon the system and receiving no benefit from the utility’s services and facilities. Information that a property categorized as vacant or undeveloped is being used otherwise may result in a loss of this waiver. (Ord. 2008-54 § 2, 2008: Ord. 2007-55 § 2, 2007: Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).

7.80.130 Property tax payers to pay fees.

The property tax payer of each nonexempt parcel shall pay the stormwater user’s fee and charges as provided in this chapter. Property tax payers seeking adjustments or exemptions shall pay the full fee until such time that the adjustment or exemption is granted by the city. (Ord. 2007-55 § 3, 2007: Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).

7.80.140 Billing procedures and penalties for late payment.

The charges as herein provided for shall be billed annually. Annual stormwater charges totaling less than fifty dollars shall be due and payable on or before the thirtieth day of April of the billing year. For annual stormwater charges totaling fifty dollars or greater, the first half of the total charge shall be due and payable on or before the thirtieth day of April of the billing year and the second half of the total charge shall be due and payable on the thirty-first day of October of the billing year. Charges shall become delinquent thereafter if not paid. Finance charges and late payment penalties for delinquent accounts shall not begin to accrue until January 1st of the following year. The owner of contiguous parcels having a single land use within the categories designated in YMC 7.80.100 may receive a single billing for such parcels.

Collection of delinquencies, interest, penalty, and costs of collection for delinquent utility service charges provided for herein shall be charged interest on the delinquent balance at the rate of five percent per annum, computed on a monthly basis. In addition to any other remedies permitted by law, the city shall have a lien pursuant to RCW Chapter 35.67, as currently enacted or hereinafter amended, for all delinquent service charges, including interest thereon, against the real property for which the service charges are calculated. Said lien shall have the superiority, and may be foreclosed upon, as described in RCW Chapter 35.67, as currently enacted or hereinafter amended, or other applicable law. The engineer may excuse delinquencies of less than thirty days.

The city treasurer may use the services of a collection agency to collect delinquent service charges in the manner and to the extent provided in RCW 19.16.500 as currently enacted or hereinafter amended. The collection agency fee shall be added to the amount of the delinquent service charge.

Costs associated with the foreclosure of the lien, including but not limited to advertising, title report, and personnel costs, shall be added to the lien upon filing of the foreclosure action. In addition to the costs and disbursements provided by statute, the court may allow the city reasonable attorney’s fees. (Ord. 2007-55 § 4, 2007: Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).

7.80.150 Appeals of fees.

(A)    Appeal to the Engineer. If an owner of a parcel subject to this chapter, or other responsible party, believes the stormwater user’s fee is incorrect, the owner may appeal the correctness of the fee to the engineer within thirty calendar days of the mailing of the billing for the fee. Such appeal shall be in writing and shall specify the grounds of the appeal and the requested remedy. The engineer may make an adjustment to the charges consistent with the criteria provided in YMC 7.80.100 and 7.80.120. Decisions of the engineer regarding such appeals shall be final unless appealed to the city council in a timely manner in accordance with subsection B of this section.

(B)    Appeal to the City Council. The decision of the engineer of an appeal filed in accordance with subsection A of this section may be appealed to the city council. Such appeal must be in writing and filed with the city clerk within thirty calendar days of the date of the decision of the engineer. The written appeal must specify the grounds of the appeal and request a hearing before the city council. The city clerk shall set a time and place for the appeal hearing. At the hearing, the city council shall make a final determination regarding the appeal based upon the criteria provided in YMC 7.80.100 and 7.80.120. (Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).

7.80.160 Severability.

If any section, subsection, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this chapter is declared invalid or unconstitutional for any reason, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this chapter. (Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).

7.80.170 Effective date of service charge.

The stormwater fee shall go into effect within the city of Yakima on January 1, 2008. (Ord. 2006-55 § 1 (part), 2006: Ord. 2005-62 § 1 (part), 2005: Ord. 2004-73 § 1 (part), 2004).