Aug 10, 2017
Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections
Land Use Information Bulletin
A Twice-Weekly Bulletin Announcing Land Use Applications, Decisions, Hearings, and Appeals

Area:     Address:
Project:     Zone: Notice Date: 08/10/2017

The Seattle City Council is considering proposed legislation to Seattle’s land use code to modify the design review process. The legislation would:


·         Require early community outreach by the project applicant before starting the design review process.

·         Change the thresholds that determine if design review is required to apply uniformly based on the total square footage in a building instead of dwelling unit counts, use and zone.

·         Establish new thresholds to determine the type of design review required based on site and project characteristics.

·         Require design review for all multifamily and commercial projects in commercial zones (C1 and C2) and commercial and institutional development in Industrial Buffer and Industrial Commercial zones.

·         Eliminate the streamlined design review process and add a new hybrid design review process.  The new hybrid process would allow the early design guidance phase of design review to be handled administratively and the recommendation phase by the design review board. In addition, the proposal includes a pilot program that would allow up to 25 projects subject to the hybrid process to choose to have the early design phase reviewed by the design review board and the recommendation phase reviewed administratively.

·         Allow affordable housing projects that receive public funding or an allocation of federal low-income housing tax credits to go through an administrative design review process.

·         Limit the number of design review board meetings for projects that are not pursuing departures, are not located across from a single-family zone, and do not include a Type IV or V land use decision.

·         Make changes to the composition of design review boards to replace the general community interest seat with a second local residential/community interest seat and allow more than one Get Engaged members to participate on the boards.

·         Remove the design review submittal requirements from the Land Use Code and give the Director the authority to determine requirements by rule.

·         Modify the procedure for allowing additional height for minor communication facilities Downtown, shifting from a departure approved through design review to an administrative (Type I) decision.

·         Allow the Director to determine, by rule, the process to revise an approved Master Use Permit (MUP) that went through design review. This includes determining if the change is a minor or major modification.

·         Establish a minor modification to an approved MUP as a Type I decision and a major modification as a Type II decision.

·         Remove the option of waiving the pre-submittal meeting for design review projects.

·         Reorganize the list of development standards that may not be modified through a departure. Remove a few items and reorder the list for added clarity.

·         Clarify the way that a project’s guideline priorities are shared with applicants and the public.

·         Update and clarify other provisions related to design review.


In addition to the changes described above, the Council may consider the following amendments to the legislation, and is also seeking public comment on these potential changes:


·         Changes to incentivize projects choosing the performance option for the Mandatory Housing Affordability program, or who meet a deep green building standard.

·         Modifications the list of development standards that cannot be granted a departure through the design review process.

·         Adjust the size thresholds that determine if design review is required and consider changes to the site and project characteristics that establish the type of design review required.

·         Allow special review district boards and landmark preservation boards the authority to grant development standard departures. 


The City Council’s Planning, Land Use and Zoning (PLUZ) Committee will hold a public hearing to take comments on the proposed changes to the design review program on Monday, September 11, 2017, at 7:00 p.m.  The hearing will be held at: 

SIFF Cinema Uptown, Auditorium 3
511 Queen Anne Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109

For those who wish to testify, sign-up sheets will be available starting at 5:00 p.m. For more information on the hearing, please check the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee agenda a few days prior to the meeting at

The SIFF Cinema Uptown is accessible.  Directions to the SIFF Cinema Uptown, and information about transit access and parking are available at


Childcare will be provided.

Print and communications access is provided on prior request. Please contact Spencer Williams at
684-8808 or via e-mail at: as soon as possible to request accommodations for a disability.


Questions concerning the public hearing may be directed to Spencer Williams in Councilmember Rob Johnson’s office, by calling (206) 684-8808 or via e-mail at:



Written comments on the proposal and potential amendments will be accepted through 5:00 p.m. on September 11.  Please send comments to Spencer Williams in Councilmember Rob Johnson’s office via e-mail at: or by mail to:


Councilmember Rob Johnson

Seattle City Council

600 4th Avenue, 2nd Floor

PO Box 34025

Seattle, WA  98124-4025



Information regarding the proposed changes to the Design Review program are available at or may be obtained at the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections Public Resource Center, 700 5th Avenue, Suite 2000 in the Seattle Municipal Tower. The Public Resource Center is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.


Questions regarding the proposal may be directed to Christina Ghan of the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections at (206) 233-3749 or via email at or to Aly Pennucci of the City Council Central Staff at (206) 684-8148 or via email at