As I head into my second year as Director of SDCI, I wanted to thank everyone for their support and patience during what was probably the busiest year in City permitting and code enforcement history. We set an all-time annual record of $6.7 billion in building permit application valuations in 2016. This is not just an increase from 2015, but a huge increase. In 2015 we took in about $4 billion in building permit applications.
2016 presented our Department with numerous challenges and opportunities. To name a few:
As part of our strategic planning process, we adopted a new purpose statement and values, as outlined below. We disbanded the operations division and created three new divisions: land use, engineering services, and inspection services. The new Directors of these divisions, Roberta Baker, Andy Higgins, and Dick Alford, joined Faith Lumsden, head of Code Compliance, Evan Chinn, head of Administrative Services, and me, to form our new SDCI Executive Team.
In 2016 we adopted new legislation to protect our tenants and to create more affordable housing, and adopted important and innovative changes to our technical codes. We completed our rental registration process, and took bold steps to address vacant buildings.
Also in 2016, the City adopted a new Comprehensive Plan, Seattle 2035, which lays out a blueprint for how we will grow. And we began implementation of the Equitable Development Initiative, looking at how we grow while minimizing displacement. In 2017 we will begin the phased implementation of the affordable housing requirements of the Mandatory Affordable Housing (MHA) program that will come with increased capacity in the City’s commercial and multifamily zones.
Also in 2017, we will finally launch Accela, which 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
Finally, we will forward new legislation to Council this year addressing the City’s design review process, neighborhood parking, and vacant buildings.
Our purpose statement is our commitment to you: As stewards and regulators of land and buildings, we preserve and enhance equity, livability, safety, and health of our communities.
Our Values are respect, quality of work, effectiveness, integrity, and service.
Please let us know how we are doing. We welcome and value your input.
Nathan Torgelson, Director
Our 2015 Annual Report covers our permitting activity, code compliance work, and department highlights.