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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Washington State Land Lease (3-WA-d)

This flowchart illustrates the process used to lease state lands in Washington. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WSDNR) oversees the land leasing process through the Commissioner of Public Lands (“commissioner”). The WSDNR may lease state lands for purposes it deems advisable, including commercial, industrial, residential, agricultural, and recreational purposes. This process is directed at developers requiring "use" of the surface of state lands as opposed to mere "access" across state land.

State Land Lease Process

3-WA-d.1 – Application to Lease

Any person seeking to lease any state lands for a legal purpose may submit an application to DNR. RCW 79.13.020. A developer may submit an application to lease state lands when it is shown to be available for lease in WSDNR records or when an existing lease will expire within 120 days or leases which can be considered for conversion to a higher and better use. WAC 332-22-030(1). The application to lease must be in the form provided by the department and must include any necessary fees. The commissioner may withhold from leasing any state land either before or after an application to lease is made. WAC 332-22-030(4).

Developers may lease land owned by other governmental entities if they are managed by WSDNR. WAC 332-22-030(2).

Application to Lease State Lands

3-WA-d.2 – Will the Land be Offered for Public Lease Auction?

WSDNR may lease by public auction either through oral or sealed bid. RCW 79.13.140(1).

WSDNR determines which parcels of state land will be offered for public auction from:

  • Applications received;
  • Evaluation of land not presently leased; and
  • Land with a lease expiring, and on which it is in the best interest of the state to offer at auction for the same or different uses. WAC 332-22-040(1).

3-WA-d.3 – Provide Notice of Public Auction, if Necessary

If the land has a lease that is expiring, then the WSDNR must notify any existing lessees that the state intends to offer the leased land at public auction. WAC 332-22-090. WSDNR must give 30 days’ written notice to the existing lessee stating that the auction will take place. WAC 332-22-040(1)(c).

3-WA-d.4 – Submit Sealed or Oral Bid

The developer must have all the minimum qualifications established by the department in order to place a bid at public auction. WAC 332-22-040(2).

Sealed bids will be accepted up to the time set and at the location specified in the notice of leasing. The successful bidder will be the person with the most acceptable proposal which complies with the criteria set forth in the notice of public auction. WAC 332-22-040(3).

WSDNR may reject any bids if rejection is in the best interest of the state. WAC 332-22-040(5). If the developer’s bid is accepted, then any money held on deposit will be credited to the lease. If the bid is not accepted, then any deposit paid will be refunded to the developer. WAC 332-22-040(6).

3-WA-d.5 – Is the Bid Accepted?

If WSDNR accepts the bid, then it must issue a lease to the successful bidder. RCW 79.13.140(6).

3-WA-d.6 – Consider Different Project Location

If the bid is rejected, then the developer should consider different project locations.

3-WA-d.7 – Land Lease

Any lease issued by WSDNR must contain:

  • The specific use or uses to which the land is to be employed;
  • The improvements, if any;
  • Provisions providing that the rent is payable in advance in quarterly, semiannual, or annual payments as determined by WSDNR, or as agreed on by the lessee and WSDNR; and
  • Other terms and conditions as WSDNR deems advisable. RCW 79.13.030.

WSDNR may enter into a lease, or use an agent. Any lease entered into through an agent of WSDNR must comply with the following requirements:

  • The agent must not rent the property for a period longer than one year;
  • No tenant is entitled to compensation for any improvement that he or she makes on the property;
  • The agent must cause repairs to be made to the property as the department directs; and
  • Rent must be transmitted monthly to the department. RCW 79.13.150(3).

3-WA-d.8 – Provide Notice of Intent to Lease

WSDNR must publish notice of intent to lease. The notice must contain the legal description and zoning of the property, the office to which applications to lease can be made, and the final date to submit a written request to lease. WAC 332-22-105. The notice must be published not more than 30 days nor less than 20 days immediately preceding commencement of negotiation in two newspapers of general circulation in the locality of the state land, one of which must be in the county where the land is located. WAC 332-22-105(1)(c).

3-WA-d.9 – Negotiate Land Lease Agreement

WSDNR may negotiate initial leases to authorize commercial, industrial, or residential uses on state land provided:

  • Not more than one application is received by WSDNR to lease the property;
  • WSDNR determines that a rent of at least fair market rental can be obtained through negotiation;
  • WSDNR publishes a notice of intent to lease; and
  • WSDNR must report to the board of natural resources on each initial lease entered into by negotiation.

WAC 332-22-105(1).

3-WA-d.10 – Has a Lease been Negotiated?

If the developer is unable to negotiate a lease for the property, then they should consider different project locations.

3-WA-d.11 – Land Lease

Each negotiated lease must contain the following terms:

  • The use or uses to which the land is to be employed;
  • Improvements which exist on the land at the time lease negotiation is completed or public auction is held must be specifically described and, unless otherwise designated must be considered as a part of the value of the land;
  • Any lease with a term of more than ten years must require a plan of development which includes scheduled completion dates for all required activities, improvements, or other actions. WAC 332-22-110.

3-WA-d.12 – Report on Initial Lease

WSDNR must report to the board of natural resources on each initial lease entered into by negotiation. The report must include the fair market value of the property, rental, and lease terms. WAC 332-22-105(1)(d).

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