The Department of Design, Construction and Land Use(DCLU)
is facing a unique opportunity and challenge: the consolidation
and integration of the City's comprehensive and physical planning
into one department.
As a result of Mayor Nickels' decision to reorganize the Strategic
Planning Office (SPO), DCLU is in the process of melding long-range
policy development, comprehensive planning, and physical planning
with its current planning, urban design and development functions.
In April, City Council approved the creation of a small Office
of Policy and Management, which will serve the Mayor and City
Council. A few of SPO's functions and staff were transferred
to the Office of Economic Development, the Department of Finance,
the Department of Executive Administration, and the Department
of Neighborhoods. However, the majority of the planning functions
were split between Seattle Transportation and DCLU.
Adding these new responsibilities marks a fundamental change
in DCLUs overall mission, moving from being primarily
a regulatory agency working with current land use and construction
plans and projects, to an agency that also focuses on designing
and building the City's future, its desired character, and its
function. Roles and responsibilities that have been scattered
among departments will be consolidated. The planning division
within DCLU will also be able to connect with the regulatory
side, learning from and informing each other.
Long-range planning involves more than land use; it also includes
transportation, housing, and the environment. Close working
relationships with other City departments will be neededparticularly
with Seattle Transportationto ensure consistency with
and implementation of the City's Comprehensive Plan. These relationships
will also be critical to addressing issues of citywide and regional
importance. One of the keys to making planning work, will be
continuing to build the strong relationships among departments
that are starting to emerge under the direction of Mayor Nickels.
At this time the Planning Division will be organized around
three loosely configured units. The first two units listed below
include links to the new DCLU Planning
Services minisite on our website, which contains information
previously located on the SPO website.
- Comprehensive Planning:
Primarily responsible for oversight, monitoring and updating
of the City's Comprehensive Plan; the collection of Buildable
Lands data; and regional growth management and growth targets
issues. The Comprehensive Plan's goals and policies provide
the broad framework for how the City will manage growth and
maintain the quality of life in our community; keeping these
goals and policies visible and relevant is a key role for
- Area Planning and Urban
Design: Responsible for helping to shape the vision
of the Comprehensive Plan through functional and sub-area
plans such as the Central Waterfront planning and urban design
study, and the Center City Open Space Strategy. The focus
of geographic-specific or sub-area plans will be on physical
planning and urban design issuesbuilding scale, open
space, relationships between land uses, and how it all affects
businesses, transportation, housing, the environment, etc.
- Code and Policy Analysis: Takes the broad Comprehensive
Plan policies and the more specific neighborhood and sub-area
concepts and develops them into more specific strategies and
regulatory tools for implementation.
As the Planning Division charts its course for the years ahead
and the planning functions evolve within the department, we
anticipate that the team will be working as a single planning
unit rather than the current three units. Already, it is clear
that it will be necessary and appropriate to have staff in the
various units work collaboratively.
A fourth and very significant element of this change is the
Commission. This Commission is composed of 15 citizens,
including professionals in planning, architecture and design,
development, housing, transportation, and other people who are
active in and reflect the diversity of the community. Commissioners
are appointed by the Mayor, confirmed by Council, and serve
in an advisory capacity on a variety of City planning policies
and projects. The Planning Commission staff will be an integral
part of the department, while the Commission itself will continue
to maintain its independent, objective advisory role to the
Mayor, City Council and other departments, helping to guide
policy across the City.
We are working with the Planning Commission as it clarifies
an important role as the "stewards" of the Comprehensive
Plan. The Planning division and the Planning Commission will
help ensure that City departments plan and prioritize work consistent
with the Comprehensive Plan, and will review the Plan to make
sure it continues to reflect appropriate goals for the City.
A more detailed work plan and organizational structure
will be developing in the months ahead. We are to report
back to Council on this by the end of August. Further
discussions within the department, with other City departments,
and with the community members will be an important part
of developing that plan.
|To submit a comment
or ask a question about the planning changes, please contact:
Acting Director, DCLU