Policies & Plans

Seattle Parks and Recreation, in partnership with Seattle communities, develops plans  and policies in response to park development needs, changing technology, increasing population, and other changes our city experiences. Plans and policies can be specific to a park or citywide, and include  goals intended to keep Seattle livable. According to the American Planning Association, "Planning enables civic leaders, businesses, and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives. Good planning helps create communities that offer better choices for where and how people live. Planning helps communities to envision their future. It helps them find the right balance of new development and essential services, environmental protection, and innovative change." 

Our Strategic Plan includes information on the services, programs, and spaces available to the community, guided by the three pillars of our vision of Healthy People, a Healthy Environment, and Strong Communities. It also includes information on our department-wide commitment to dismantling systemic racism and achieving racial equity through our new Pathway to Equity. Finally, the plan describes where we are going based on the feedback received from the community.
Vegetation Management Plans (VMPs) are written to guide the development and stewardship of parks. Each VMP is designed to bring together the diverse interests in a park, referencing overarching policy and planning documents while also capturing current vegetation conditions and public use.
The purpose of the Off-Leash Areas Strategic plan is to identify a long term plan for the City’s existing 14 Off-Leash Areas, as well as for maintenance, acquisition, and expansion of Off-Leash Areas projects.
The Community Center Strategic Plan will lay the foundation for both operational and facility decision-making for the community center system in the future.
The 2017 Parks and Open Space Plan is a six-year plan that documents and describes SPR’s facilities and lands, looks at Seattle’s changing demographics, and lays out a vision for the future. The 2017 Plan is required by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) to maintain the City of Seattle’s eligibility for state grants and funding programs that will help realize outdoor recreation development and open space acquisition projects. This plan also guides SPR in addressing the future needs of the community and progress towards achieving our mission. The 2017 Parks and Open Space Plan works together with and is informed by other planning documents, including: Seattle 2035 – the City of Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan, 2014 Parks Legacy Plan, the 2016 Seattle Recreation Demand Study, the 2015 Community Center Strategic Plan and other city plans.
Parks performed an analysis of national, regional and local recreation trends and conducted a citywide survey that gathered information on how our park system is used, frequency of use and park user's concerns. Phase three was a look to the future that provided a framework for a sustainable parks and recreation system. Download the final report for the complete results of the Legacy Plan development.
The City’s municipal courses are a historic legacy that require on-going investment to preserve and maintain them for the next 100 years. The City needs to align its policy priorities to balance the objectives of public access, outdoor recreational opportunities, racial equity and social justice, environmental and habitat protection, open space, and financial management.
As a department we plan for the future by integrating an environmental ethic into our everyday activities. We know that small steps can have a big impact. This work does not happen on its own; it takes the care and commitment of parks professionals to select each tree that gets planted, develop a fieldtrip curriculum, operate a maintenance building thoughtfully and efficiently, and coordinate volunteers.
Are you a neighbor of City park land? City park lands include developed parks, playgrounds and trails, undeveloped greenspaces, and streets that have been designated as park boulevards. These park lands are Seattle's natural treasures and home to many native species of plants, birds and animals. To help preserve and protect these valuable areas, the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation wants to work with neighbors and others who enjoy our parks to clarify boundaries and promote the proper use of park lands.
We're always working to conserve our natural resources and preserve our watershed.
The purpose of the tree management policy is to maintain, preserve and enhance the urban forest within parks. To increase the overall tree canopy, tree health and tree longevity within parks and to ensure that parks trees are managed in a manner that is consistent with other departmental and municipal policies.
The Horticulture Program has a long history in Seattle Parks and Recreation. Its heritage goes back to the beginning of 20th century when the Park Commission invited the Olmsted Brothers to plan and design the framework for the park system for the City of Seattle.
While most plants and wildlife co-exist peacefully within Seattle’s parks and open spaces, these urban habitats also include non-native pest species which negatively impact native species. Pests can be insects, plant diseases, invasive weeds, animals or birds. They disrupt the natural ecology of a habitat and landscape, creating an unhealthy environment for plants and sometimes for humans and pets.
In accordance with the requirements of Title II of the American Disabilities Act of 1990 Seattle Parks and Recreation has a policy of non-discrimination against persons with disabilities in its programs, services, and activities.
This page contains some of our most requested policies and planning documents. Please contact us if you have questions or need specific documents.
Seattle Parks and Recreation manages many areas to support pollinators and other animals in our urban ecosystems. From meadows and pollinator gardens to grassy edges and microclover in turf, SPR seeks to amplify the ecological benefit of our parklands. New efforts include the creation of pollinator corridors and consideration of pollinator habitat in our urban forest restoration.