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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? 

The City Council passed the Design Review legislation (Council Bill 119057) on October 2, 2017.

The amendments to the Land Use Code (Title 23) 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 focus Design Review on the development projects most likely to influence the character of a neighborhood, and reduce the costs of building housing. Check out a summary of the changes we've made to the Design Review program. 

As we prepare for the new rules to go into effect, we’ve developed a proposed joint Director’s Rule with Department of Neighborhoods. The rule expands upon the new requirements for Early Community Outreach for projects going through Design Review that were adopted as part of the recent legislation. The rule is posted in the Seattle Services Portal (previously the Land Use Information Bulletin) for review and public comment until Monday, May 21. We’ve also put together some Examples of Community Outreach Plans for Design Review as a resource to help applicants understand the requirements in the proposed Rule.

Project Goals

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

The End Result

The City Council passed the Design Review legislation (Council Bill 119057) on October 2, 2017. Most of the changes will go into effect in July 2018.

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