Final Design Review Changes Approved by the Seattle City Council

On Oct. 2 the Seattle City Council unanimously approved final changes to the city’s Design Review program. Thank you to those of you who offered your comments on the Design Review process to the City and to AIA Seattle during the review process. The following amendments were made to the most recent version by the full Council:

  • New requirements for early community outreach;
  • Reforming the approach to setting thresholds for design review;
  • Adding site characteristics as an element in determining the type of design review process required;
  • Expanding design review to include more development types and zones;
  • Revising the composition of design review boards and encouraging the participation of youth on them through the Get Engaged program; and
  • Limiting the number of design review meetings for projects.

 

Earlier changes made by the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee include:

  • Delaying the effective date of the design review changes to July 1, 2018 instead of 60 days from adoption.
  • Allowing an additional 0.5 floor area ratio or 10 feet in building height for protection and retention of an exceptional tree as part of development standard departures.
  • Giving more authority over Design Review to special review and landmark preservation district boards, eliminating the need to go to two bodies for review.
  • Streamlining the design review process for projects outside of downtown and industrial zones that would ordinarily go through Full Design Review to instead be processed through
  • Administrative Design Review if the applicant elects to construct mandatory affordable housing on-site. Additionally, projects providing mandatory affordable housing on-site would be eligible for an absolute maximum number of Design Review meetings where meetings caps otherwise would not apply.
  • Revising thresholds for Design Review and eliminating Hybrid Design Review in favor of Administrative Design Review and Streamlined Design Review.
  • Adding a number of other technical amendments largely adding more specificity and clarification.
  • Adding a provision to mandate that lower thresholds could trigger Design Review if a lot is rezoned on or before December 31, 2023 according to the following schedule:
    • Any development that is 5,000 to 8,000 square feet and located on a property that was rezoned from single-family residential to Lowrise 1 (LR1) or Lowrise 2 (LR2); or
    • Any development that is 5,000 to 8,000 square feet and located on a property that was rezoned from single-family residential to Lowrise 3 (LR3), Midrise (MR), Highrise (HR), or any Commercial (C) or Neighborhood Commercial (NC) zone.
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