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Minimum Density

Example of a building that would meet minimum density requirements.
We are proposing rules to require a minimum size (floor area) of structures in our neighborhood commercial areas.

What's Happening Now?

The minimum density ordinance (Ordiance 124566) was adopted by the City Council on September 8, 2014, and signed by the Mayor on September 15. The minimum density ordinance went into effect on October 16, 2014.

Our legislation establishes a permanent minimum floor area ratio (FAR) requirement for all lots with a pedestrian designation in Urban Villages, Urban Centers, and the Station Area Overlay Districts. The requirement also applies to lots within the Northgate Overlay District (along designated Major Pedestrian Streets) and lots zoned as Seattle Mixed if they are in a Station Area Overlay District and abut a Class 1 or Class 2 pedestrian street.

Minimum density specifies a minimum size (floor area ratio) for new development. Floor area ratio (FAR) is the amount of floor space developed on a parcel compared to the size of the property. For example, a lot of 10,000 square feet with a minimum FAR of 2 would require a building size of at least 20,000 square feet (i.e. a 2 story building that covers the full lot or a 4 story building that covers half the lot).

Why Are We Doing This?

The purpose of this legislation is to limit new low-density, suburban-style development that conflicts with the desired urban design and pedestrian-orientation goals of these areas by:

  • Substantially under-developing sites
  • Reducing activity adjacent to the sidewalk
  • Encouraging substantial parking
  • Limiting development opportunities on sites near transit and services

Project Benefits

A minimum density standard in certain areas will help to ensure that new development supports the goals of the Comprehensive Plan to foster vibrant, pedestrian-oriented neighborhood centers that serve the needs of local residents.

The End Result

The minimum density ordinance went into effect on October 16, 2014.

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