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Design Review Program Improvements

An example of a building design that considered the site characteristics.
Partnering with the community to improve the design review program.

What’s Happening Now? 

On June 8, 2017, we released draft recommendations and an environmental (SEPA) decision for changes to the Design Review program for public review and comment through July 10, 2017. Read our recommendations on our Project Documents webpage. We are now reviewing the comments we received and preparing to submit our recommendations to the Mayor and City Council.

Our proposed amendments to the Land Use Code (Title 23) are intended to improve the overall function of the program by enhancing the efficiency and predictability of project reviews, improving dialogue among project stakeholders, and making the program more transparent and accessible to the public and project applicants. In addition, the changes would focus Design Review on the development projects most likely to influence the character of a neighborhood, and reduce the costs of building housing. They build upon the recommendations in the report we released in March 2016. 

Project Goals

Develop recommendations that:

  • Cultivate the program’s purpose of encouraging better design
  • Improve the level of consistency, efficiency, and predictability in how the City administers the program
  • Increase accessibility to encourage better dialogue between the boards, applicants, and community
  • Use communication strategies and tools (both traditional and emerging technologies) to improve how information is presented, shared, and reviewed throughout the entire design review process
  • Carry out a key recommendation to update the Design Review program from the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.

The End Result

We anticipate submitting final recommendations to improve and refresh our Design Review Program to the Mayor later in 2017.

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