What is the Douglas County Open Space Plan?

The Open Space Taxation Act, enacted by the Washington State Legislature in 1970, allows property owners to have open space, farm and agricultural, and timber lands valued at the land’s current use rates rather than at the usual valuation principal of highest and best use. The Act states that it is in the best interest of the state to maintain, preserve, conserve and otherwise continue in existence adequate open space lands for the production of food, fiber and forest crops and to assure the use and enjoyment of natural resources and scenic beauty for the economic and social well-being of the state and its citizens. Additionally, it is in the county’s interest to provide incentives that encourage the retention of open space. 

The Public Benefit Rating System (PBRS)

As permitted by Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 84.34, Douglas County has adopted a Douglas County Shoreline Public Benefit Rating System (PBRS) through Ordinance TLS 13-07-25B, codified as Douglas County Code Chapter 3.52. This rating system was created to provide greater clarity and predictability to property owners seeking open space classification. In the past, there were very few objective criteria to help property owners and decision makers evaluate the merits of open space classification.

The PBRS rating system prioritizes a series of open space resources and assigns each a numerical point value. Parcels can have more than one resource generating value. The score from the sum of the values is then applied to an assessment schedule approved by the County Assessor. Higher scoring parcels will be granted a greater reduction in market value assessment. A determination will be made based on the following resource conditions:

  • Conserve or enhance natural, cultural or scenic resources
  • Protect streams, stream corridors, wetlands, natural shorelines and aquifers
  • Protect soil resources and unique or critical wildlife and native plant habitat
  • Promote conservation principles by example or by offering educational opportunities
  • Enhance the value of abutting or neighboring parks, forests, wildlife preserves, nature reservations or sanctuaries or other open spaces
  • Enhance recreation opportunities
  • Preserve historic and archeological sites
  • Preserve visual quality along highway, road and street corridors or scenic vistas
  • Affect any other factors relevant in weighing benefits to the general welfare of preserving the current use of the property
The Public Process

Applications can be made for classification at any time during the year from January 1st through December 31st. Valuation assessment begins on January 1st in the year following the year the application was filed. Taxes upon classified land shall be due and payable in the year following the year the land was valued at its current use and placed on the assessment rolls.

Who

Provides Information

Accepts Applications

Makes a Recommendation to the Board of Commissioners

Makes Final Decision

Assessor's Office

Farm & Agricultural
Current Use

Farm & Agricultural
Current Use

 

Farm & Agricultural
Current Use

Transportation and Land Services

Open Space,
Farm & Agriculture Conservation

Open Space,
Farm & Agriculture Conservation

 

 

Hearing Examiner

 

 

Open Space,
Farm & Agriculture Conservation
(public hearing)

 

Board of Commissioners

 

 

 

Open Space,
Farm & Agriculture Conservation
(public meeting)

The reduction in property taxes appears the second year after the application is submitted.

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Application Submitted
(any time during the year)

Tax Rolls Changed
for Following Year

Taxes Reduced

How to apply

Abandoned Structure Each open space classification type has its own eligibility criteria. The idea of reduced taxes is an ever-popular one and the County's Open Space Plan and PBRS reserve eligibility for those properties which have the best qualities for achieving the goals of the program. Applications for open space classification are available and processed through Douglas County Transportation and Land Services (TLS). Interested parties should contact TLS to set up a meeting to discuss options and for assistance with filling out the application. Farm and agricultural current use and timber land applications are filed with the County Assessor’s Office. Farm and agriculture current use applications must be accompanied by a farm management plan, prepared by a qualified agronomist. Timber land applications must be accompanied by a timber management plan, prepared by a qualified forester.

Rural Douglas County
Contact Us:

Douglas County Assessor
203 S. Rainier St
Waterville, WA 98858
(509) 745-8521

Transportation and Land Services
140 19th Street NW, Suite A
East Wenatchee, WA 98802
(509) 884-7173

Department of Revenue, Property Tax Division
P.O. Box 47471
Olympia, WA 98504-7471
(360) 534-1400