2016 brings some significant changes to the leadership and organizational structure of the former Department of Planning and Development (DPD). After 38 years with the City and 14 as director of DPD, Diane Sugimura has retired. At the same time, the department became two – the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (Seattle DCI) and a new Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD). We hope the changes happen smoothly and without significant impact to our customers and stakeholders.
I am honored to lead the new Seattle DCI. Our department will primarily include the regulatory functions: permitting, construction inspections, code compliance, and tenant protections, and rental housing registration and inspections. It will also include a small unit for code development.
Major 2016 Initiatives
One of our major initiatives this year will be to launch the Permitting, Regulation, Enforcement and Property Project (PREP). In late 2016 PREP will implement a new system—Accela—that will replace our current permit tracking system (Hansen) and many of the department’s existing web applications. The system will track all permitting, code compliance, and property management processes. This is a huge and important undertaking for the department and will improve the efficiency in which you can track permits.
2016 will also see the completion of the registration phase of the Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance (RRIO) program and implementation of new tenant protections. We are now a city of more renters than homeowners. Our goal is that these initiatives will improve the conditions in Seattle’s rental stock.
Finally, as a new department and with a new director, it’s time for us to reset the mission, vision, and core values of our organization. This year we will complete a new strategic plan for the department. We will continue to work on some code development issues, and we anticipate proposals sometime this year that improve our existing design review program. We also anticipate proposed changes to our parking regulations.
The Office of Planning and Community Development
The long range planning unit of DPD is now a new Executive Office—the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD), which was approved as part of the 2016 budget. This group will be primarily composed of staff from the City Planning division of DPD. As the Mayor stated, “I’m creating a new office to integrate all of our priorities and to better coordinate how we grow and invest.” The office will take the City’s planning efforts and look at them through a lens of race, social justice, and economic equity for all Seattle communities.
The search process for a new OPCD director is underway. During that process, Diane Sugimura will serve as interim director until the new director arrives. Major work items for the new office in 2016 include the update of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, Seattle 2035, and implementation of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), which will include approval and implementation of plans such as the University District, and 23rd Ave at Union / Cherry / Jackson.
What Will Our Customers and Stakeholders See?
Thanks all, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Nathan Torgelson, Director
Building a Dynamic and Sustainable Seattle!
We partner with the community to build and preserve a great city – safe and sustainable, diverse and healthy, energizing and supportive.
In our work with our customers and colleagues –
Our 2014 Annual Report covers our City Planning successes, permiting activity, and department highlights.