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Chapter 6
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Streetscape Design Guidelines
6.1 Street Design Concept Plans

6.1.1 Overview
6.1.2 Proposal Must Meet City Street Design Standards
6.1.3 Implementation is Voluntary
6.1.4 Templates for Street Design Concept Plan Submittals

  6.1.5 Approval Process
6.1.6 Summary of Approval Conditions
6.1.7 Key SDOT Considerations In Review of Street Design Concept Plans
6.1.8 List of Approved Street Design Concept Plans

6.1.1 Overview

Streetscape features, such as street lights, trees and landscaping, and street furniture can contribute to the unique character of a block or entire neighborhood. This chapter describes the process for developing a Street Design Concept Plan (Concept Plan) and the process for getting such a plan approved by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Department of Planning and Development (DPD). Refer to Figure 6-1: Street Design Concept Plan Process.

Seattle has a growing number of areas where community groups, developers or property owners are interested in developing a design concept for a street or series of streets. Concept Plans solidify a vision for the street or streets included and can tie that vision back to other planning and design documents that the neighborhood or City may have developed. Concept Plans are also useful as a vehicle for discussion between the proponent and the City about appropriate streetscape elements given the adjacent land use and the street’s operational characteristics. Refer to Figure 6-2: Street Design Concept Plan Template-Plan for a sample plan and to Figure 6-3: Street Design Concept Plan Template-Context for a sample plan within context.

Concept Plans are proposed by a project proponent, typically a property owner or developer seeking to create an enhanced streetscape treatment for their project. The proponent may also be a community group that is interested in enhancing or preserving certain street features that are unique to their neighborhood. The proponent will then work in consultation with SDOT and DPD to develop the Concept Plan.

Typically, the Concept Plan provisions are implemented over time by multiple property owners as parcels on the block re-develop. In order to make the submittal process as straightforward as possible for the proponent, and expedite the City review process, this chapter also includes a template for a Concept Plan submittal that can be adapted to suit the specific proposal.


6.1.2 Proposal Must Meet City Street Design Standards
Any project that is constructed in an area that has an adopted Concept Plan must still meet the currently adopted minimum requirements for the streetscape and roadway outlined in the Land Use Code, the design criteria in Chapter 4 Design Criteria of the Right-of-Way Improvements Manual, and any applicable City of Seattle Standard Plans and Specifications.
6.1.3 Implementation is Voluntary
The provisions in a Concept Plan are voluntary. However, property owners are encouraged to follow them in order to achieve their intent. Street Use Permit submittals that follow the provisions of the Concept Plan can be assured that the major design elements contained in their plans meet and exceed the requirements described in this Manual. The City strongly encourages that the Concept Plan be followed especially for any proposals for curb alignment grade and utility locations.
6.1.4 Templates for Street Design Concept Plan Submittals

In order to simplify the process of preparing a Concept Plan for both the proponent and the City, the following template shall be used for submittals. Items in bold are required for all submittals:

6.1.4a Context

The context information should include the following:

  • Vision statement: one or two paragraphs that describe the vision the proponent is trying to achieve through the Concept Plan. This should be supplemented with photos of existing conditions and illustrative sketches of the proposal.
  • Site map: the purpose of this map is to locate the project and define its geographic scope.
  • Existing street section: develop a scaled (1 inch=20 feet) is suggested), dimensioned street section that defines the existing street (e.g., number, width and typical purpose of travel lanes, location and width of sidewalks and planting strips).
Refer to Figure 6-3: Street Design Concept Plan Template-Context.

6.1.4b Dimensioned Street Section of Proposal

Develop a scaled (1 inch=10 feet is suggested), dimensioned street section that defines the proposed street elements. This section should be accompanied by a short description of the features that are proposed to change if the Concept Plan is approved and implemented. Refer to Figure 6-4: Street Design Concept Plan Template: Dimensioned Street Section for an example. A plan section may be necessary to present the full concept. Scale for both the existing and proposal may change depending on the geographic size of the proposal.

6.1.4c Detailed Evaluation of Traffic Operations

Describe the proposed operations of the street(s) for traffic. Include, at a minimum, the following:

  • One way or two way operations;
  • Presence and configuration of parking;
  • Sidewalk location and width;
  • Presence of signals, regulatory signs or other roadway markings;
  • Presence of traffic calming devices;
  • Analysis of existing capacity, volumes and level of service on arterials and impact of proposal on future traffic operations along the street and adjacent arterial system;
  • Impacts on non-motorized modes of travel (pedestrian, bicycle, people with mobility impairments); and
  • Evaluation of freight mobility and local service deliveries.

6.1.4d Dimensioned, Plan View Sketch of Proposal

Develop a plan view sketch of the proposed street right-of-way features. The Concept Plan should define or illustrate all of the streetscape features proposed, as well as basic information about traffic operations and typical travel behaviors on the street or streets. Include, at a minimum, the following street right-of-way features:

  • Curbline (including curb bulbs if proposed) or roadway edge;
  • Special curb space zones (e.g., loading zones, bus layover zones);
  • Parking, on-street location and configuration;
  • Traffic operations (as defined above);
  • Transit routes (bus, light rail or streetcar);
  • Service access and delivery needs; and
  • Street classifications within a quarter mile of the proposed site (refer to Chapter 4.2 Street Classifications and Types).


  • Sidewalks, walkways or other pedestrian space (location and dimensions);
  • Bicycle parking;
  • Paving material design;
  • Trees and landscaping design, location and specimen type;
  • Street furniture (e.g., benches, planters, waste receptacles), description and location;
  • Weather protection (e.g., awnings);
  • Signage, especially any non-standard or special signs;
  • Public art or other unique features; and
  • Transit stops or stations.


  • Lighting (roadway, pedestrian scaled or other);
  • Utilities, type and location of water, power and drainage both above and below grade;
  • Natural drainage proposals; (refer to Figure 6-5: City of Seattle Creek Basin map to determine if the location of your project is within a creek basin) and
  • Private utility locations (refer to Chapter 2 - Navigating the City of Seattle Permit Process, Chapter 2.10.11 Coordination Activities).
6.1.4e Other Considerations or Unique Features Proposed

Include a description of streetscape features that are considered unique (e.g., special paving treatments or landscaping, special street and/or pedestrian lighting, standard and non-standard stormwater or natural drainage treatments).

6.1.5 Approval Process

Concept Plans can be formally approved through a DPD/SDOT Joint Director’s Rule. The Proponent develops a Street Design Concept Plan using the guidance provided in Section 6.1.4.

6.1.5a Proposal of Preliminary Concept Plan

The Proponent proposes the preliminary concept to City.

6.1.5b Pre-Application Conference

Proponent attends a pre-application conference with staff from SDOT, DPD, Seattle Public Utilities and Dept of Neighborhoods (if appropriate) to describe the vision for the Concept Plan and get input as to whether the proposal is feasible. In some cases, staff from other departments may need to be involved in making the final decision as to whether the concept proposed is feasible. In these instances, a final determination of whether the applicant should develop the Concept Plan will be made in writing within 30 days of the pre-application conference.

6.1.5c Develop Concept Plan

The Proponent develops Street Design Concept Plan using the guidance provided in Section 6.1.4.

6.1.5d City Review of Concept Plan

SDOT, in consultation with DPD, reviews the Concept Plan and describes the modifications or conditions that need to be met for City approval.

6.1.5e Proponent Revises Concept Plan as Requested by City

The Proponent modifies Concept Plan and re-submits to SDOT for final review and approval. SDOT will consult with DPD before a decision is made.

6.1.5f Approval by DPD/SDOT Joint Director’s Rule

SDOT and DPD approve the Concept Plan by Joint Director’s Rule. The Joint Director’s Rule process has requirements for completion including listing the proposed design concept Rule in the Daily Journal of Commerce (DJC) and providing a 14 day appeal period prior to approval. The Rule must also be approved by the DPD and SDOT Directors. Once approved, the Concept Plan is appended to this Manual and listed in Section 6.1.8: List of Approved Street Design Concept Plans.

6.1.6 Summary of Approval Conditions

If a Concept Plan is approved by the City through a Joint DPD/SDOT Director’s Rule, then the following applies:

  • SDOT has agreed that the proposals described are appropriate for the street or streets defined.
  • SDOT and DPD have determined the vision for the streetscape and features described in the Concept Plan are consistent with a recognized community or City sponsored plan for the area.
  • The Concept Plan has had an appropriate level of review by SDOT and DPD and by other interested stakeholders.
  • Once approved, the Concept Plan will be appended to this Manual and made available through this website. These actions will maintain a record of the proposed improvements, so that as new development proposals come forward within an area covered by a Concept Plan, the City can strongly encourage that the plan be followed.
  • Improvements on streets that have an adopted Concept Plan may be implemented at one time, or over a longer period of time by multiple development or street right-of-way improvement projects.
  • Preparation of a Concept Plan is encouraged for projects that are located on a designated Green Street or Neighborhood Green Street (refer to Chapter 6.2 Green Streets).
  • Maintenance of any street right-of-way improvements that are beyond City standards is the responsibility of the property owners unless otherwise negotiated with SDOT. View more information about maintenance agreements related to streetscape improvements in 6.2.6f Maintenance.
6.1.7 Key SDOT Considerations In Review of Street Design Concept Plans

Enhancements to the streetscape such as special paving treatments and street furnishings can contribute to the experience for pedestrians and help define neighborhood character. Well-designed streetscapes can support activities in neighborhood business districts, and make walking an attractive choice for getting around the city. SDOT recognizes and supports the range of benefits a well-designed streetscape provides for all pedestrians, including people with disabilities. For these reasons, SDOT reviews streetscape design elements very carefully to ensure that all of the materials, dimensions and design elements meet safety and accessibility requirements.

In addition to the aesthetic and practical benefits of a well-designed streetscape, SDOT must meet state and national safety and access standards for streetscape design. It should be possible to carry out the creative intent of a design proposal and meet the safety and accessibility requirements. SDOT and the Department of Planning & Development (DPD) are working together to better coordinate SDOT’s early involvement and guidance with the design review process. The information below describes the key issues that SDOT street use permit reviewers and engineers must consider when reviewing streetscape designs:
6.1.7a Use of Materials

Pavement materials that result in a slippery or uneven pavement surface will not comply with standards established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and therefore should be avoided.

6.1.7b Minimum Sidewalk Width, Areas Free of Obstructions

ADA requires a minimum of five feet of clear sidewalk space for two wheel chair uses to pass one another. SDOT prefers six feet of unobstructed, linear sidewalk space that is free of street furniture, street trees, planters, and other vertical elements. These minimum widths are required to provide access to people with mobility impairments.

6.1.7c Curbside Management

Curb space to accommodate bike lanes, parking, loading zones, transit zones, and other street elements is in very high demand in Seattle neighborhoods. While wide sidewalks and planting strips may meet many City and neighborhood goals, on-street parking spaces in business districts may also meet multiple policies and goals. Trade-offs are often necessary among the numerous uses competing for limited amounts of curb space. Removing parking to add other street elements is possible in many locations and always requires careful consideration of business and neighborhood parking needs. Transit system needs, including bus zones, must be accommodated to support quick and reliable transit service throughout the city. Get more information about curb space uses. Refer to the City of Seattle's Comprehensive Plan priorities for curb space uses.

6.1.8 List of Approved Street Design Concept Plans
Title Streets Included Special Designation Reference Number

South Lake Union Street Concept Plans

8th Avenue North between Denny Park and Republican Street; Republican Street, Harrison Street, Thomas Street, and John Street between Dexter Avenue and 8th Avenue North


Joint Director’s Rule

Roosevelt Neighborhood Streetscape Concept Plan

Roosevelt Residential Urban Village streets, including NE 66th Street, Brooklyn Avenue NE, and 14th Avenue NE


Joint Director’s Rule

Thomas Green Street Concept Plan

Thomas Street and West Thomas Street between Eastlake Avenue and the West Thomas Street overpass


Joint Director’s Rule

Denny Way Streetscape Concept Plan

Denny Way from Melrose Avenue to Elliott Avenue


Joint Director’s Rule

10th & 11th Avenue Street Concept Plan

10th and 11th Avenue linking Pike and Pine Streets


Joint Director’s Rule

The Street Element of the Ballard Municipal Center Plan 20th and 22nd Avenues NW
NW Market Street
NW 56th-58th Streets
None Joint Director's Rule 30-90 & 91-4
Terry Avenue N. Street Design Guidelines Terry Avenue North between Denny Way and Mercer Street None SDOT DR 2002-04
DPD DR 15-2002
Pike/Pine Streetscape concept plan Pike and Pine Streets between First and Fourth Avenues None Joint Director�s Rule SDOT DR 03-08
DPD DR 20-2008
SPU DR 06-2008
Queen Anne Avenue North Streetscape Concept plan Queen Anne Avenue North from West McGraw to West Galer None

Joint Director’s Rule DPD 11-2009
SDOT 7-2009

Maynard + Lane Green Streets Streetscape Concept Lane

Maynard Ave South and South Lane Street None Joint Director’s Rule DPD 12-2010
SDOT 4-2010
West Seattle Concept Plan Fauntleroy Ave SW, SW Alaska and 40th Ave SW None Joint Director’s Rule
Westlake & 7th Streetscape Concept Plan Westlake and 7th Ave   Joint Director’s Rule
DPD 4-2013
SDOT 01-2013
University District Alley Activation Alley corridor between NE 41st St and NE 45th St between University Way and  15 Ave NE None

Joint Director's Rule DPD 7-2015
SDOT 05-2015

University District Green Streets Brooklyn Ave NE, NE 43rd and NE 42nd St None

Joint Director's Rule DPD 13-2015
SDOT 06-2015

Pontius Ave N Pontius between John St and Republican St None

Joint Director's Rule DPD 9-2015
SDOT 02-2015

First Hill Public Realm Action Plan University Street, 8th Ave, Terrace Street and Terry Ave None

Joint Director's Rule DPD 10-2015

continue to section 6.2 »   
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Detailed Table of Contents
Chapter 6
Streetscape Design Guidelines
6.1 Street Design Concept Plans
6.2 Green Streets
6.3 Neighborhood Based Plans
6.5 Traffic Calming
6.6 Contact Information
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