Design Review Program Improvements - Accomplishments

Project Outcomes

The City Council passed the Design Review legislation (Council Bill 119057) on October 2, 2017. The new rules went into effect on July 1, 2018.

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. To help implement the new rules, we developed a Director's Rule with Department of Neighborhoods (DON). 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. We've also put together some sample Community Outreach Plans as a resource to help applicants understand the requirements in the proposed Rule. Find more information on DON's new website for early Community Outreach. Goals of the legislation include:

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

Key Milestones

  • 2015
    Conducted extensive community engagement to get input and ideas from community members and stakeholders including two community open houses, interviews with community stakeholders, online surveys, focus groups, advisory group of 16 diverse stakeholders
  • March 2016
    Released draft Design Review Improvement recommendations
  • 2017
    Attended HALA Community Open House meetings and released a public draft of the legislation as part of our environment review
  • Summer 2017
    The Mayor's recommendations were sent to City Council
  • October 2017
    City Council adopted the legislation and the bill was signed into law by the Mayor
  • July 1, 2018
    The new rules went into effect

Project Purpose

The purpose of this legislation was to 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.

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