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Guide to the Archives of the City of Seattle

Record Group 3400
Office of the Hearing Examiner

The Office of the Hearing Examiner is an independent office of the City that conducts administrative hearings, when authorized by the Seattle Municipal Code, to review the actions of various City departments. The office was created in 1973 and was part of the Municipal Courts until 1977 when it became an independent office. The Hearing Examiner is appointed by the City Council to serve an initial term of one year and subsequent terms of four years.

The Municipal Code grants the Hearing Examiner jurisdiction in more than 75 different types of matters. The majority of cases are appeals of decisions made by other City agencies, such as the Department of Planning and Development (Master Use Permits, SEPA determinations, Code Interpretations, Land Use and Noise Enforcement Citations and decisions on tenant relocation assistance); the Department of Finance (tax assessments); the Landmarks Preservation Board and Special Purpose District Commissions (decisions on certificates of approval for alterations); the Department of Executive Administration (licensing decisions); and the Department of Transportation (right-of-way use).

The Hearing Examiner has original jurisdiction and makes the initial decision in cases related to subdivision applications processed by the Department of Planning and Development; complaints of discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation, or public contracts filed by the Office for Civil Rights and the City Attorney's Office; complaints for third party utility billing violations; petitions for review of floating home moorage fee increases; and others.

The Hearing Examiner's decision in a case is usually the City's final decision. However, the City Council has retained jurisdiction over certain land use actions, including Council Conditional Uses, rezone proposals, major institution master plans, planned unit developments, and landmark controls and incentives. For these cases, the Hearing Examiner holds a public hearing for the Council, gathers information to establish the record, and forwards the record and a detailed written recommendation to the Council for its use in making the decision.

Only those cases designated archival are described below.


3400-01
Hearing Examiner Correspondence

1974-1981
0.4 cubic foot

Correspondence and memoranda of the Hearing Examiner, including comments on proposed legislation and policies and procedures concerning areas of the agency's jurisdiction. The records are arranged chronologically.

SMA
Finding Aid


3400-02
Subject Files

1974-1987
0.6 cubic foot

Correspondence, memoranda, rules, and policies related to the administrative hearings function of the Hearing Examiner. This series includes materials about the development of certain codes, especially the building and zoning codes, and the various appeals procedures.

SMA
Folder List
Finding Aid


3402-01
Cable Television Subscriber Rate Increases Hearings

1974-2002
1.0 cubic foot

Correspondence, memoranda, exhibits, reports, and other materials introduced in hearings related to proposed rate changes for cable television providers. The Hearing Examiner decides whether a rate change is reasonable and the decision is the final administrative determination for the City.

SMA
Folder List
Finding Aid


3402-03
Civil Rights Discrimination Complaints Cases

1974-2002
4.8 cubic feet

Complaints alleging discrimination in employment, housing, business practices, or public accommodations that have been certified for hearing by the Office of Civil Rights or, prior to 1996, the Human Rights Commission. The Hearing Examiner holds a public hearing and prepares the final decision for the City. Records include testimony, depositions, exhibits, correspondence, the Hearing Examiner's written proposed decisions, and final tribunal decisions. A large portion of the series relates to Clara Fraser's gender and ideology discrimination case against City Light.

SMA
Folder List
Finding Aid


3403-01
Environmentally Critical Areas Reasonable Use Exceptions Appeals

1991-1994
0.4 cubic foot

Appeals of decisions of the director of the Department of Planning and Development (formerly the superintendent of the Department of Construction and Land Use) regarding applications for particular land uses in areas designated environmentally critical. Records include correspondence, memoranda, reports, findings of fact, and Hearing Examiner decisions.

SMA
Folder List
Finding Aid


3403-03
Disadvantaged Business/WMBE Decertification Appeals

1985-1988
0.2 cubic foot

Correspondence, memoranda, reports, findings of fact, and other documents related to the appeal of decertification of Women and/or Minority Business Enterprise or disadvantaged business status for local businesses. The Hearing Examiner issues a final administrative decision.

SMA
Folder List
Finding Aid


3403-04
Downtown Housing Maintenance Ordinance Appeals

1986-1991
0.2 cubic foot

Correspondence, memoranda, findings of fact, and other hearing materials related to appeals of orders from the Department of Planning and Development (formerly the Department of Construction and Land Use) regarding code violations of the Downtown Housing Maintenance Ordinance and the responsibility of developers toward maintenance of low-income housing in downtown Seattle.

SMA
Folder List
Finding Aid


3403-08
Appeals of Landmarks Preservation Board Decisions

1979-2001
2.8 cubic feet

Correspondence, notices, affidavits, findings of fact, decisions and recommendations, Certificates of Approval, denials of Certificates, and court records related to appeals of Landmarks Preservation Board decisions on controls, economic incentives, and proposed property modifications to landmark sites. Records primarily concern appeals from decisions on Certificates of Approval for significant alterations or changes to controlled features of designated landmarks. The Hearing Examiner makes recommendations to the City Council regarding controls and economic incentives and has jurisdiction for final decisions related to Certificates of Approval. Any interested party can appeal a decision to the Hearing Examiner.

SMA
Folder List
Finding Aid


3403-12
Appeals of Market Historical Commission Decisions

1977-1987
1.6 cubic feet

Appeals to the Hearing Examiner of Market Historical Commission decisions regarding applications for certificates of approval. Applications include requests by Market tenants to renovate or alter premises, to erect signs, or to change merchandise offerings. Records include correspondence, memoranda, findings of fact, Commission documentation, and other administrative hearing materials.

SMA
Folder List
Finding Aid


3403-13
Planned Unit Development Appeals

1986-1988
0.2 cubic foot

Correspondence, memoranda, and administrative hearing materials related to citizen appeals of City approval for planned unit developments. The City Council retains jurisdiction for final decisions.

SMA
Folder List
Finding Aid


3403-14
Minimum Maintenance Ordinance Appeals

1978-1992
0.2 cubic foot

Records relate to appeals of orders from the Director of the Department of Construction and Land Use for correction of substandard conditions in historic buildings, primarily in Pioneer Square. Records include correspondence, findings of fact, orders, and other administrative hearing materials.

SMA
Folder List
Finding Aid


3403-15
Appeals of Special Review District Decisions

1980-2001
2.0 cubic feet

Correspondence, memoranda, findings of fact, and other administrative hearing materials documenting appeals to the Hearing Examiner of Special Review District board decisions regarding Certificates of Approval for construction, alterations, or use changes within a district. The bulk of records relate to property within the Pioneer Square Preservation District and the International Special Review District.

SMA
Folder List
Finding Aid


3403-17
Appeals of School Reuse Decisions

1990-1993
0.2 cubic foot

Correspondence, memoranda, findings of fact, and other administrative hearing materials documenting appeals to the Hearing Examiner of decisions of the Department of Neighborhoods regarding reuse of closed school properties. Original decisions are made within the City's Master Use Permit process.

SMA
Folder List
Finding Aid


3403-18
Short Subdivision Appeals

1976-1981
1.6 cubic feet

Appeals of the decisions of the Director of the Department of Community Development regarding proposed short subdivisions. The Hearing Examiner recommendation and the hearing record were forwarded to the City Council for a final decision. Records include correspondence, findings of fact, recommendations, testimony and other hearing-related documents.

SMA
Folder List
Finding Aid