In January 2009, the Mayor sent to the City Council, proposed amendments to update the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) environmental review thresholds contained in Seattle Municipal Code 25.05.800. The proposal would adjust environmental review thresholds throughout the city to eliminate unnecessary reviews where environmental impacts are unlikely to occur.
The amendments complement Ordinance 122670 that was passed by the City Council in 2008. Ordinance 122670 raised review thresholds for new development in areas designated as Urban Centers as part of the City’s Comprehensive Plan and as light rail station areas (within the Station Area Overlay District). This new proposal would align review thresholds for the remainder of the city, and support affordable housing production and small business growth in Seattle. Help for housing and business growth is especially important in today’s economy.
Since environmental review thresholds were last comprehensively evaluated, approximately twenty years ago, Seattle has transformed its growth and development review processes. The City’s Comprehensive Plan, with its Urban Centers and Villages theme, has encouraged smart growth patterns that aid neighborhood vitality, and the Design Review program and neighborhood design guidelines have led to improved compatibility of new buildings within Seattle’s neighborhoods. In addition, the City has significantly improved its protection of environmentally critical areas and stormwater and grading controls. All of these improvements have diminished the need for environmental review, particularly when it comes to small-scale development. Further improvements to regulations promoting compatible development are included in the proposal for updates to the Multifamily Chapter of the Land Use Code.
For more information, visit the SEPA Environmental Review website.