Plan and Policy Reviews

Use the dropdowns below to see the Planning Commission's recent reviews of city plans and policies. 

Recent Plan and Policy Reviews

2024 Seattle Housing Levy

Read the Seattle Planning Commission's comment letter in support of the 2024 Seattle Housing Levy.

Seattle Comprehensive Plan

A brief history of the Commissions work supporting the City's Comprehensive Plan.

Annual Amendment Process
Each year the City Council can consider amendments to the Comprehensive Plan. Amendments can be proposed by members of the public or City staff. The Planning Commission reviews every proposal and advises the City Council on which ones should be added to a docket of proposals that will be considered for adoption the following year. In that review, the Commission assesses whether the proposals meet a set of criteria that determine eligibility for being considered by Council. 

There is a separate review process where the Commission assesses the merits of the proposals that were placed on the docket the previous year, and gives their recommendations about which of the proposals should be adopted.

2022 - 2023
Docket setting letter for 2022 - 2023

Final Recommendations on the 2022-2023 Proposed Amendments - Industrial and Maritime Strategy Amendments

2021 - 2022
Docket setting letter for 2021 - 2022

Major Comprehensive Plan Update - Seattle 2044
Commission work on the major update to the Comprehensive Plan can be viewed on the page linked above.

2020 - 2021
Final recommendations on the 2020 proposed amendments

2019 - 2020
Docket setting letter for 2019 - 2020

Final recommendations on the 2019 proposed amendments

2018 - 2019
Docket setting letter for 2018 - 2019 amendment cycle

Final recommendations on the 2018 proposed amendments

2017 - 2018
Final recommendations on the 2017 proposed amendments

Docket setting letter for 2017 - 2018 amendment cycle

2016 - 2017
Final recommendations on the annual 2016 proposed amendments

Docket setting letter for 2016 - 2017 amendment cycle

2015 - Major Comprehensive Plan Update - Seattle 2035
Commission letter to the Chair of the City Council's Planning Land Use and Zoning Committee of the Seattle City Council on the Mayor's Recommended Plan 

Commission letter on the Public Draft of the Major Update to the Comprehensive Plan-Seattle 2035

Commission comment letter on the Seattle 2035 Equity Analysis

Commission letter to the Mayor on creating a more accessible and readable Comprehensive Plan document.

Commission letter on draft #4 of the major Comprehensive Plan update in preparation for the release of the public draft.

Commission letter expressing our support for elevating the prominence of Social Equity in the City of Seattle Comprehensive Plan.

To assist in our review of the update to the Citywide Comprehensive Plan, we requested a few clarifying documents and a commitment to the core values. Our letter can be read here.

Recommendations on the Major Update to the Comprehensive Plan Draft Alternatives for the Environmental Impact Statement. These alternatives will help in drafting the final Comprehensive Plan.

2014 - 2015
docket setting recommendations for 2014-2015 amendment cycle

2013 - 2014
Recommendations on the Stadium District amendment

Final Recommendations on the 2012 proposed amendments

Docket setting letter for 2013 - 2014 amendment cycle

2011 - 2012
Docket setting letter for 2010 -2011 amendment cycle

Final recommendations on the 2010 proposed amendments

We proposed several Comprehensive Plan Amendments in 2010 to advance and implement nine strategies of the Commission's 2008 Affordable Housing Action Agenda.

2009 - 2010
Docket setting letter for 2009 - 2010 annual amendment cycle

Final recommendations on the 2008 proposed amendments

2008 - 2009
Final recommendations on the 2007 proposed amendments

 Final recommendations on the 2006 proposed amendments

Letter on the 2007 threshold resolution

2006 - 2007
Final recommendations on the 2005 proposed amendments

2005 - 2006
Final recommendations on the 2004 proposed amendments 

Major Comprehensive Plan Update 2004 
November 2004 - Final Comments Letter to the Council

June 2004 - Letter to Department of Planning and Development staff on the proposed comprehensive plan update

June 2004 - A more detailed view of our comments on the Comprehensive Plan update

Seattle Transportation Plan

Click here to view the Planning Commission's comment letter on the Draft Seattle Transportation Plan. (October 2023)

Click here to view the Planning Commission's comment letter on the Seattle Transportation Plan Draft Environmental Impact Statement. (October 2023)

Click here to view the Planning Commission's comment letter on the Seattle Transportation Plan SEPA Scoping Process. (July 2022)

The Seattle Planning Commission has closely followed the process to develop the Industrial and Maritime Strategy.

In April of 2023 the Commission commented on the 2023 Comprehensive Plan Amendments related to the Industrial and Maritime Strategy. You can view and download the comments here.

In February of 2022 the Commission commented on the Draft EIS for the Industrial and Maritime Strategy. You can view and download the comments here.

In July of 2021 the Commission provided a letter with recommendations to help inform the adoption of policies identified in the strategy. You can view and download the letter here.

You can also learn more about the development of the strategy, and next steps on the City's website:

The Seattle Planning Commission released a letter of support for the Permenent Suportive Housing legislation developed by Councilmember Lewis. 

Sound Transit 3

Click here to view the Planning Commission's comment letter on the Draft EIS for the West Seattle Ballard Link Extension from April 2022. 

Click here to view the Planning Commission's letter on the Level III alternatives for ST3. The letter provides recommendations for the evaluation of alternatives in the alignment of the West Seattle to Ballard line. 

Click here to view the Planning Commission's letter on the future Chinatown/International District & Delridge stations for Sound Transit 3. 

Click here to view the Planning Commission's letter to Sound Transit. The letter contains recommendations for the scoping of West Seattle Ballard Link Extensions Environmental Impact Statement. 

Click here to view the Planning Commission's letter from September 2018, on the Level II alternatives for ST3. The letter provides recommendations for the evaluation of alternatives in the alignment of the West Seattle to Ballard line. 

ST3 Project Timeline:
Sound Transit is currently completing Phase 2 of their alternatives evaluation, which will determine which alternatives move forward into Level 3 screening, which is the final round of evaluation for the Alternatives Development phase. Level 3 concludes in March 2019 with final recommendations. The Sound Transit Board will make a final decision on which alternatives to study in the EIS in April or May 2019. Environmental analysis will take about three years, and a Record of Decision (ROD) is expected in 2022. West Seattle stations expected in 2030, and the Ballard to CID stations expected in 2035


Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA)

As Seattle continues to grow, it is more important than ever to take advantage of this growth to achieve a net gain in affordable housing units as soon as possible. MHA is a significant and critical tool in building a more affordable, inclusive, and equitable Seattle for all.

In 2019, the Commission provided testimony on MHA. You can read the prepared testimony here

Click here to view the Commission's recommendations for implementing MHA (2017).

The Commission shared comments with the Director of the Office of Planning and Community Development regarding the development of the MHA policy in (2016). You can view that comment letter here


Accessory Dwelling Unit EIS

In 2018, The Planning Commission reviewed the Office of Planning and Community Development's Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed changes for land use regulations pertaining to Accessory Dwelling Units in Seattle. You can view our letter here. Visit the OPCD Website for updates on the legislative process. 

Equitable Development Initiative

The Planning Commission is engaging with the Office of Planning and Community Development during the design of indicators to monitor displacement. The release of the selected indicators is anticipated in 2020. Check back for the Planning Commission's forthcoming recommendations for City departments and elected officials based on the findings in the monitoring report. 

Work Archive

Climate Change Preparedness Strategy

Climate change is an inherently complex issue, and the Planning Commission supports the Climate Change Preparedness Strategy as a necessary and critical step in proactively addressing the myriad impacts of climate change on the environment, infrastructure, public health, and our communities. 

Read the Commissions full letter here

One Center City Near Term Mobility Strategies

After the Near Term Mobility Strategies were developed for One Center City, the planning effort evolved into the development of the Imagine Greater Downtown plan, available here.

An ad-hoc committee made up of members from the Planning Commission and Design Commission reviewed the draft near-term mobility strategies, and provided comments in 2017, in this letter

2017 - Pedestrian Master Plan Letter

the Planning Commission has been a consistent supporter of proactive planning that considers the inter-relationship between land use and transportation. The Commission applauds the leadership of the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) for developing a vision, goals, and priority investment network that reflect this proactive approach. We also commend the Department for engaging with the public meaningfully and allowing their guidance to inform the plan.

Click here for the Commission's comment letter on the Pedestrian Master Plan.

Freight Master Plan

The efficient movement of goods through the local, regional, and international freight network is more important than ever given increasing pressures on the street network from our growing population and vibrant economy. This plan recognizes and addresses the unique characteristics, needs, and impacts of freight mobility as Seattle continues to grow.

Click here to see the Planning Commission's full letter. 

Seattle Housing Levy

The Planning Commission believes that renewal and expansion of the Seattle Housing Levy is instrumental to addressing our ongoing need for affordable housing and implementing the equitable growth strategies outlined in the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan.

Click here to view the Commissioner full letter. 


We believe Microhousing fills an important niche in Seattle and should be embraced and encouraged in appropriately zoned parts of the city. While we are supportive of Microhousing, we continue to work with City planners to improve the final proposal.

April 2014 - Read our most recent comments on the final legislation.  Commission Support and Recommendations. 

August 2013 -  Commission Comments.

Our initial comments on Microhousing can be found here. June 2013 comment letter.

Incentive Zoning

The Commission continues to be involved in the discussions around housing affordability and incentive zoning. 

October 2014 - We weighed in on the Linkage Fee draft resolution, read our comments here.

February 2007 - We provided recommendations that we believe can serve as a good starting point from which future discussions can occur.  We hope to spark debate and greater awareness about the opportunities that incentive zoning programs offer Seattle.  Incentive Zoning White Paper can be found here.

Incentive Zoning Recommendations Photo

Pedestrian Zone Project

May 2014 - We are supportive of the Pedestrian Zone Project and have included our support and few recommendations in our letter

Family Sized Housing

The Planning Commission is releasing this white paper to further illuminate the need for more housing that is suitably sized and affordable for families with children and to encourage City leaders to establish and fund an action plan to address this need. This white paper also provides an action agenda with specific recommendations to aid the City in developing such a plan.

Click here to view the PDF. 

University District

The University District is a vibrant and fun neighborhood. Currently underway at the Department of Planning is a 20 year planning effort for the future of that neighborhood. Here are our comments on the plan.

Multifamily Tax Exempt Program

April 2013 - In April 2013, the Commission wrote this letter about MFTE to the City Council's committee on housing matters, saying that the program is an important tool to retain in Seattle's toolbox, but needs some recalibrating.

January 2011 - The Multifamily Tax Exemption program has proven successful over the years in meeting housing goals and providing equitable housing throughout the City.  We support the renewal of this effective program.

June 2007 - Our recommendations on proposed changes to the Multifamily Tax Exemption.

Multifamily Housing

Since 2005 we have worked collaboratively with the City on their important efforts to update the Multifamily Housing code

Seattle will welcome 100,000 more residents in the next 20 years. Multifamily housing will be an important component in how we make this reality into a city that is thriving, vibrant and sustainable.

Response to a Request from Council to Review Low Rise 3 Code Modifications
We took an in-depth look at the recommendations proposed by the Department of Planning and Development and had specific recommendations on how the code might be modified. (Released April, 2013)

Response to a Request from Council to Review Large Lot development in Low Rise 1 and 2
We support a full review of Design Review requirements in Low Rise 1 and 2 and ask that Department of Planning and Development investigate how Design Review may help neighborhoods weigh in on new large lot projects. - (Released April, 2013)

Proposed update to lowrise zones
We support the Committee on the Built Environment's proposed changes to the lowrise zones that are part of the Multifamily Code Update. The proposed direction of the code update is a big step in the right direction to encourage well designed multifamily neighborhoods. Our recommendations - (Released March 22, 2010)

Revised legislation for midrise and highrise zones
We support Planning, Land Use & Neighborhoods Committee's (PLUNC) revisions to the midrise and highrise zones that provide more flexibility for highrise buildings, parking, sustainable development standards and the Green Factor. Our recommendations - (Released November 30, 2009)

Proposed changes to the multifamily code
We support the proposed legislation as a step in the right direction but suggest that more could be done related to parking, height, high rise zones, sustainable design and the Green Factor. Our Report - (Released October 2009)

City Council must be bolder and revise specific details of the proposed legislation before adopting it
Multifamily housing by its very nature creates denser and more compact neighborhoods that add significantly to sustainability and a reduced carbon footprint. Evidence abounds that this land use pattern positively affects personal transportation choices, supports public transit, and generally requires less energy per unit to build and maintain than a single family dwelling. Our comments - (Released July 7, 2009)

City Council must go further on midrise and highrise Code Changes
The high densities permitted in Seattle's Mid and High Rise zones can help make them lively and sustainable places to live. It is our belief that by simplifying regulations, reducing parking requirements, and encouraging affordable housing, the inherent qualities of these zones can be built upon. Our letter - (Released September 10, 2009)

Seattle Bike Master Plan

Commission Responds to Bicycle Master Plan Draft, July 2013

New vision "Riding a bicycle is a comfortable and integral part of daily life in Seattle for people of all ages and abilities."

We are pleased to see many of the elements of the plan and share the new vision for bicycling in Seattle. We have evaluated each part of the plan and have several recommendations that will make the plan stronger. Read our recommendations!


We have a long history in working in the Northgate neighborhood. The Commission took some of the first steps to engage the Northgate community in developing a "town center" vision for the Northgate urban center core through the Town Center Charrette in 2000, and the 5th Avenue NE Street Design project in 2002. Since then, the Commission has been actively working with the Mayor, Seattle City Council and City staff in developing and implementing the Northgate Action Plan which is beginning to transform the community. 

November 2013 - We weighed in on the Draft Urban Design Framework.  Our recommendations.

May 2003 - We responded to a request for review of Northgate Planning first to the Full Council.  Our response.  Then a more detailed response to Councilmember Steinbrueck's specific questions here.

June 2000 - We collaborated on a planning charette and here are the outcomes of that process.

Seattle Transit Communities (2010)

Starting with the release of our Seattle Transit Communities Report in 2010 we have promoted a citywide transit communities strategy.  This strategy would support more inclusive, affordable, and diverse neighborhoods and help maximize investment in major transit projects by locating housing, jobs, and services close enough to transit so that more people will have a faster and more convenient way to travel. 

Future of Seattle's Industrial Lands

In 2005 the Seattle City Council allocated funds for an industrial lands study. The Planning Commission assisted the planning department in developing the Future of Seattle's Industrial Lands report.

Yesler Terrace

The Seattle Housing Authority plans to redevelop Yesler Terrace, and convened a Yesler Terrace Citizen Review Committee to direct this process. We have a representative serving on this Committee, and will continue to review the redevelopment process.

On June 30, 2012 we provided comments to City Council in support of the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace. Yesler Terrace redevelopment presents a tremendous opportunity to benefit current and future residents, as well Seattle as a whole. We applaud the extraordinary work that City and SHA staff have done to craft a financially feasible proposal that incorporates many essential components of livability for a transit community that is uniquely Seattle. Read the rest of the letter here. Find out more about the project at City Council's Yesler Terrace Redevelopment page.

Publications and information available:

Seattle Housing Authority Homepage

Roosevelt Neighborhood and Rezone

Commission supports Roosevelt rezone Option 2

On December 13, 2011 we provided comments to City Council in support of rezone Option 2 in the Roosevelt light rail station area. The Commission has been closely tracking this project for many years. Our Seattle Transit Communities report identified this area as one of the city's 14 transit communities with the most urgent near-term planning needs; we further identified the 'high school blocks' as some of the key potential redevelopment sites. Read our recommendations here.

Housing Seattle Report

We believe that Seattle is a stronger, more prosperous city when we have a diversity of people able to live and work here.  To that end we developed an action agenda for housing in the City.  It outlines strategies to address important gaps in the housing market and disparities that exist among certain segments of the population. Report Available Here.

West Seattle Rezone

Our support for the West Seattle Triangle Rezone

On November 8, 2011 we provided comments to City Council in support the of zoning proposal by DPD for the West Seattle Triangle. While the Commission proposes a few modest changes we feel the rezone is a well-conceived, thoughtful proposal and along with the Urban Design Framework and Streetscape Concept Plan, does an impressive job of equitably accommodating new households and businesses while taking into consideration preserving and enhancing important community assets. Read our recommendations here.

Maintenance and Improvements of Transportation Systems

August 2011 - we supported new revenues to maintain City streets, add important safety measures, optimize existing transit service and construct the important downtown Rapid Streetcar connection and high capacity transit for the Ballard or Eastlake corridors.  Read our August 10, 2011 recommendations.

July 2006 - Our letter of support for the King County Transit Now proposal -  Transit Now!

Parking Policies

Commuter Parking Near Light Rail Stations -

February 2010 - Our advice regarding commuter parking near Seattle's light rail station.

Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) Legislation -

May 2009 - We provided recommendations to the City Council on proposed changes to the RPZ policy.

June 2008 - Our comments to SDOT on the department's draft recommendations of the Residential Parking Zone policy.

We support backyard cottages because they generally provide lower cost rental housing options, an opportunity for homeowners to offset the cost of their homeownership, and housing options for extended family members. 

Backyard Cottage Guide 

"A Guide to Building a Backyard Cottage" helps a homeowner successfully design and build a backyard cottage.   

Subjects in the guide include:

  • site planning;
  • designing for privacy;
  • green design ideas;  and
  • sample designs and construction and permitting information. Download the full Guide here.

October 2009 - We followed up on our original letter to ensure that units would be available to more than just single occupants.  You can view our comments here.

September 2009 - We urged the City Council to support Backyard Cottage legislation as an important form of affordable housing.  You can view these comments here.

February 2006 - We supported the Southeast Seattle Detached Accessory Unit Pilot Project.  You can view our comments here.

In our initial efforts to understand the strengths and weaknesses of Detached Accessory Dwelling Units and Backyard Cottages we undertook a community process that culminated in the Housing Choices report.

Here is the Executive Summary of Full Report


Neighborhood Planning

We play an active role in neighborhood planning.  In 1999, the City Council finished the approval process for 38 neighborhood plans created by nearly 20,000 citizens.  The plans identify actions needed to ensure that each neighborhood will thrive.  In the years since approval, much progress has been made on implementing the projects identified in the neighborhood plans. 

Policy positions, reports, white papers, and other information related to Neighborhood Planning

Seattle Neighborhood Planning Outreach and Engagement Earns Governor's Smart Communities Award.  Read the entire June 7, 2010 Press Release to see the full award submission.

Recommendations on future Neighborhood Plan Updates - After a yearlong effort in 2009 to assess 24 of the 38 adopted neighborhood plans we present advice on whether or how to update neighborhood plans now and in the future.

Updating Neighborhood Plans - Responding to a request from Councilmember Sally Clark, we completed a review of the recently altered proposal to update neighborhood plans. Read the Commission's June 2008 letter to Council.

Seattle's Neighborhood Planning Program, 1995-1999: Documenting the Process (November 2001)
Neighborhood Plan Stewardship Survey (May 2001)

Citizen Participation Evaluation Final Report(Released March 2010)

2008 - Affordable Housing Action Agenda

The Planning Commission believes that housing affordability is an integral part of good planning policies and essential to creating vibrant and livable neighborhoods. 

We recognize the large scale of the City's lack of affordable housing.  This report does not represent a complete solution for solving the problem, but instead presents specific strategies that would be substantial steps forward.  

Download the Affordable Housing Action Agenda here.

As a follow up piece we also released the Action Agenda Addendum which you can find here.

Dravus Site Rezone

Prompted by concerns over the revisions to the proposed Dravus rezone recently passed by the Council's planning, land use and neighborhoods committee, we urged Council to reconsider elements of the original proposal. Read their statement here.

W. Dravus (Interbay) Rezone Proposal
Councilmember Clark requested recommendations and comments regarding the proposed rezone of the Dravus Area. Read the Commission's letter here.


The Port of Seattle's 57-acre North Bay site was part of the Port's acquisition of the larger Terminal 91 complex from the federal government in 1976. The site has seen numerous changes over the years. Until 2001, it was used as a holding area for hundreds of Nissan cars off-loaded from the piers. With that use now permanently gone, and the jobs associated with it, the Port is committed to bring jobs back to the site. There is an enormous opportunity - and responsibility to the public - to transform this underused, publicly owned property into a valuable asset for the city and region.

August 2007 - we undertook a detailed review of the Port of Seattle's proposal for creating an Interbay Overlay District. The review was requested by Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck. The overlay proposed changes to zoning restrictions on a large parcel of land located in the Ballard-Interbay Northend Manufacturing Industrial Center (BINMIC). View the Commission's letter to Council documenting the findings of their review here.

May 2005 - Our Comments on the Port of Seattle's North Bay DEIS

Seattle Waterfront

Since 2001 we have been working to help create a waterfront that will meet Seattle's challenging needs. Along with the Design Commission, we sponsored the first public forums to ask Seattleites for their vision of the waterfront. We continued to follow the process by assisting in the development of the plans and advising on the public process.

March 1, 2006 - Our letter to City Council's recommendations regarding Seattle's proposed Waterfront Concept Plan.

View the Planning Commission and Design Commission's joint report highlighting findings and recommendations from the Central Waterfront public forums.

Sound Transit

Since the passage of Sound Move, we have been monitoring and reviewing Sound Transit's progress in building regional transit. As well as actively assisting the City of Seattle with station area planning and reviewing the design and planning elements of the Central Link Rail.

Beginning in 2005, we started tracking the long range planning efforts known as Phase 2 of Regional Transit or "ST2". Here is the Commission's letter weighing in on Sound Transit 2

March 2006
The American Planning Association Station Area Workshops (1999) (PDF)

SR520 Replacement

Washington State is planning to replace the State Route 520 Bridge extending from Seattle to the eastside of the county. This corridor is critical to the region and the City of Seattle. We undertook an extensive review of the SR 520 Bridge Replacement Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) providing comments to both Washington State Department of Transportation and the City Council.
November 2006 - Our recommended preferred alternative for the 520 Replacement.

October 2006 - Here are the results of our extensive review of the SR 520 Bridge Replacement Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).

Seattle Planning Commission

Vanessa Murdock, Executive Director
Address: 600 4th Ave, 5th floor, Seattle, WA, 98124-4019
Mailing Address: PO Box 94788, Seattle, WA, 98124-7088
Phone: (206) 684-8694
Fax: (206) 233-0085

The Seattle Planning Commission advises the Mayor, City Council and City departments on broad planning goals, policies and plans for the physical development of the City.