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Council News Release

4/25/2011  3:51:00 PM
David Yeaworth, Councilmember Clarks Office, 206-684-8802
Dana Robinson Slote, (206) 615-0061

Council President Richard Conlin
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw
Councilmember Tim Burgess
Councilmember Sally J. Clark
Councilmember Jean Godden
Councilmember Bruce Harrell
Councilmember Nick Licata
Councilmember Mike OBrien
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen

New zoning legislation approved by Seattle City Council
Legislation will improve livability in five South Downtown neighborhoods

SEATTLE - The Seattle City Council today unanimously approved C.B. 117140 to spur increased development of housing and to support livability throughout the unique neighborhoods Pioneer Square, Chinatown, Japantown, Little Saigon, and the Stadium District that make up South Downtown.

Councilmember Sally J. Clark chairs the Committee on the Built Environment and led the Council's review and refinement of the new zoning heights, street standards, and community benefits. "This has been some of the hardest work my committee has done," Clark said. "These are neighborhoods people from all around the region visit regularly because they love the look, feel, smells, tastes and sounds. However, we need more people to live here and call it home in for these neighborhoods to be truly successful. The trick is to entice new development without pushing out what makes these neighborhoods great."

The legislation allows additional height for new buildings if developers include workforce-priced housing and use development credits from existing, lower-scale historic buildings. The new rules also change parking requirements, designate new "green streets," encourage breaking up mega-blocks (in Little Saigon), create new development credits for historic buildings to sell to fund renovation, and allows for increased commercial and office space (in the South of Charles St. area).

A companion resolution passed by the Council lays out priorities for further work around small business support, rehabilitation of vacant space in historic buildings, public safety, open space, transit through the neighborhood and pedestrian connections.

"I am pleased we found a balance with this legislation allowing us to preserve historic South Downtown neighborhoods while also working to bring new economic activity there," stated Councilmember Mike O'Brien.

While the package of changes encompassed more than rises in heights for new buildings, much of the committee's time was spent reviewing the proposed heights and talking with neighborhood advocates about the possible effects of new buildings at higher heights. Councilmembers went on walking tours, consulted neighborhood groups and historic preservation advocates, and studied maps and building studies that showed the scale of new buildings relative to the existing surroundings.

"I am appreciative of the countless hours so many have invested in this issue. The neighborhoods that comprise South Downtown are special and we worked hard to balance the historic past with potential future development, said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. "We want and need these neighborhoods to succeed."

"There is wide agreement on the desire to encourage residential growth, facilitate economic activity and preserve the unique historic character in South Downtown," said Councilmember Tim Burgess. "We have had a lively and informed discussion about how best to achieve our shared goals and the result is today's strong legislation."

For more information on the new zoning legislation, visit our frequently asked questions.

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