Commission Initiatives & Resources

A hub for Planning Commission initiatives & resources

This page hosts independent initiatives of the Seattle Planning Commission, resources for Planning Commissioners, as well as a collection of relevant articles and case studies. 

Commission Resources

A Racially Equitable & Resilient Recovery

In the face of a global pandemic and ensuing economic collapse, both of which disproportionately harm Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), Seattle must plan for a "recovery" that does not simply restore and perpetuate our city's legacy of systemic racial inequity. Consistent with the City's commitment to lead with race, and the growing acknowledgment that racism has long been a public health crisis, the Seattle Planning Commission urges the City to radically shift its practices, programs and policies. By shifting to a new paradigm that prioritizes resources for achieving racial equity, Seattle can become a place where the color of someone's skin won't predict their lifeoutcomes, particularly in a time when the impacts of climate change will increase the risk of future shocks and stressors to our environment.

Read the full paper here

Evolving Seattle's Growth Strategy

As the City begins laying the groundwork for the next update of the Comprehensive Plan (due in 2024), the Planning Commission believes it is critical to evaluate the ways in which the current growth strategy should evolve to address persistent racial inequities. You can view the Commission's white paper, Evolving Seattle's Growth Strategy, here

Neighborhoods for All (2018)

Neighborhoods For All - Access the PDF here

A high quality of life, natural beauty and a growing economy continue to attract new residents to Seattle. Since 2010, the city has added more than 105,000 residents, surpassing 700,000 in 2017. One implication of this growth has been a rise in housing prices, creating an increase in the exclusivity of single-family neighborhoods. Allowing more housing in single-family zones, especially in high-cost areas, is critical to stemming the rapid increase of displacement in Seattle's most vulnerable communities.The Seattle Planning Commission advises the City Council and the Mayor on comprehensive planning issues, including land-use and housing. The strategies in the Commission's Neighborhoods For All report are a combination of short-term and long-term policy opportunities for elected officials and City staff to explore further with community involvement. 

The fundamental goal of the report is to increase housing choices by returning to the mix of housing and development patterns found in many of Seattle's older and most walkable neighborhoods. The Seattle Planning Commission has approached this work with the hope of continuing this necessary and urgent conversation about reexamining our land use policies.  Download the executive summary in English, or Español // 繁體中文 (Traditional) // 简体中文 (Simplified) // af Soomaali // Tagalog // Tiếng Việt // 한국어You can explore a short summary version of the report's information in this Story Map.

You can watch Planning Commissioners present the Neighborhoods for All Report at the August (2019) meeting of the Seattle City Council's Planning Land Use and Zoning Committee meeting. The Neighborhoods for All presentation begins at minute 1:44.  Click here to watch Seattle Planning Commission Chair, Michael Austin, speaking on a panel at the Building Opportunity For All event held by the Atlantic and Shared Prosperity Partnership in San Francisco. Click here to download the press release for the report's launch in 2018 (PDF)

The Seattle Planning Commission released Neighborhoods for All in December, 2018, and held an event at 12th Ave Arts as part of the Report's launch.

Commissioners spent several months preparing for two community discussions. The Commission sought to avoid any confusion of their report with the separate effort of the City Council to pass Mandatory Housing Affordability legislation, and waited until Council had voted before holding the Neighborhoods for All community discussions on April 27th, and May 4th.  The Seattle Planning Commission is continuing the conversation about Neighborhoods for All through a variety of community discussions in Seattle, visiting community based organizations and neighborhood based groups.

Below is a list of engagement efforts to date: November 4, 2019
Two Planning Commissioners attended a regularly scheduled meeting of the Renter's Commission to present and discuss the Neighborhoods for All report.

October 9, 2019
Two Commissioners presented the content and concepts from the Neighborhoods for All report at a meeting of the Whittier Heights Community Council.

September 17, 2019
Two Commissioners presented the content and concepts from the Neighborhoods for All report at a meeting of the Broadview Bitter Lake Community Council.

July 9, 2019
Two Commissioners presented the content and concepts from the Neighborhoods for All report at the Admiral Neighborhood Association monthly meeting.

May 20, 2019
Commission Chair, Michael Austin, presented on Neighborhoods for All to the Seattle Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) during the Housing Transformations: Density Done Right event. 

May 4, 2019
Commissioners host a community discussion in Columbia City. Click here to see a summary of what Commissioners heard at this event. (See materials here)

April 27, 2019
Commissioners host a community discussion at the North Seattle College. Click here to see a summary of what Commissioners heard at this event.  (See materials here)

April 25, 2019
Commissioners present the Neighborhoods for All report at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Seattle's Urban Design Forum. 

April 24, 2019
A group of Commissioners meet with the Capitol Hill Renter Initiative to discuss the contents of the Neighborhoods for All report over a potluck dinner.

December 3, 2018
Commissioners launch the Neighborhoods for All report at an event hosted by 12th Ave Arts. 

2020, January 21
Washington to consider re-legalizing duplexes and rowhouses statewide

2020, January 21
Historically racist housing policies exacerbating climate change effects in low-income Portland neighborhoods

2020, January 10
Proposed Affordable Housing Bill

2020, January 3
Denser Housing Is Gaining Traction on America's East Coast

2019, December 20
A Virginia delegate just proposed a state-wide upzoning bill

2019, July 1
Oregon Legislature Votes To Essentially Ban Single-Family Zoning

2019, June 30
Bill to eliminate single-family zoning in Oregon neighborhoods passes final legislative hurdle

2019, June 21
Is the End of the Single-Family Neighborhood Near?

2019, June 19
How to Bring Density to the Pacific Northwest's Booming Cities

2019, June 18
Cities Start to Question an American Ideal: A House With a Yard on Every Lot

2019, June 15
Americans Need More Neighbors

2019, May 30
In Rainier Beach, home owners hope to survive Seattle upzones

2019, May 1
The Push for Denser Zoning Is Here to Stay

2019, May 19
Housing crisis has Seattle weighing end of single-family zoning

2019, May 9
'Build More Housing' Is No Match for Inequality

2019, May 8
Liberal America's Single-Family Hypocrisy

2019, April 11
Charlotte leaders consider how to undo a 'legacy' of housing segregation

2019, April 5
The Political Battle Over California's Suburban Dream

2019, February 26
Berkeley officials push for zoning reform to boost 'missing middle' housing

2019, February 18
Seattle Planning Commission Remains Steadfast in Support of MHA

2019, January 11
"The Seattle Planning Commission had just released a powerful new report, 'Neighborhoods for All: Expanding Housing Opportunity in Seattle's Single-Family Zones,' calling for increasing density in all neighborhoods."

2018, December 31
2018: Seattle's Year of the Grassroots Pro-Housing Activists

2018, December 23
What Seattle can learn: Q&A with the Minneapolis politician who eliminated single-family zoning

2018, December 19
What L.A. can learn from Minneapolis' ban on single-family zoning

2018, December 17
The Organizers Who Want Single-Family Zoning Abolished in Minneapolis

2018, December 12
Rectifying Seattle's racist past requires a denser future, says report

2018, December 10
Seattle zoning's urban-suburban divide: Here's how the city's two halves are changing

2018, December 7
Seattle's Morning News With Dave Ross

2018, December 7
Seattle's Population Is Booming, Except for Where It's Shrinking

2018, December 4
It's Official: Single-Family Zoning Is Making Our City More White

2018, December 4
Is it Time to Ditch 1950's Era Single-Family Zoning?

2018, December 3
Zoning changes could improve affordable housing in Seattle, report says

2018, December 3
Changes to Seattle's single-family zoning could improve housing picture, city report says

2018, November 14
Why Cities Must Tackle Single-Family Zoning

2018, November 9
What Seattle's Redlining History Tells Us About Wealth Today

2018, November 5
When Millennials Battle Boomers Over Housing

2018, October 29
Morning Crank: Toward a Redefinition of "Single-Family"

2018, October 24
Climate Action and Housing Action Are One

2018, October 19
Morning Crank: Rethinking the Vaunted Neighborhood Plans of the '90s

2018, October 18
The J is for Judge: It Takes One to Know One

2018, October 8
Seattle's Backyard Cottage Plan Falls Short

2018, October 1
What's new in the new Minneapolis 2040 Plan?

2018, September 19
Here's What U.S. Cities Gain if Housing is Affordable

2018, September 17
Housing Advocates in Portland Just Did the Nearly Impossible

2018, September 8
Letter to the editor: Comprehensive plans already in place to accommodate the 'missing middle'

2018, August 31
Is This The End For Vancouver's 'Single-Family' Neighborhoods?

2018, July 31
We Can Have Affordable Housing and the Showbox, Too

2018, June 20
If You Lived Here You'd Be Home By Now: How Neighborhoods Can Kick Car Habits   

2018, June 7
Toward Dynamic Zoning Codes

2018, June 1
What is the Correct Percentage of Single-Family Zoning in Seattle?

2018, June 1
Some Seattle Neighborhoods are Untouched by Rapid Population Growth. Why?

2018, May 31
White Seattle Needs a Reality Check on the City's Growth

2018, May 24
Seattle's New Environmental Study on Accessory Dwellings Obliterates Obstructionists' Claims

2018, May 24
The Narrowing of a Neighborhood: Wallingford

2018, May 22
DEIS Shows Options and Urgency of Pending Backyard Cottage Reform

2018, May 21
The City Studied the Impact of Easing Rules on Garage Apartments. What They Uncovered Was an Indictment of Single-Family Zoning

2018, May 3
Rapidly Growing Seattle Constrains New Housing Through Widespread Single-Family Zoning

2018, April 17
Why Are Seattle-Area Home Prices So High?

2018, April 6
Seattle Median Home Price Hits Record $820k, Soaring $43k in a Month, Putting Buyers in a 'Pressure cooker'

2016, November 1
What Sort of Homes Might Portland Re-Legalize? Check It Out

Planning Commission staff have developed reference materials to support Planning Commissioners in their work. 

The Planning Commission's Short Guide to Planning in Seattle

Policy Development and Budgeting 101 - Coming soon

Past Commission Initiatives Library

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. 

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.

Housing Seattle Report Logo

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. 

A Guide to Building a Backyard Cottage (2010)

As Seattle adopted policies to allow accessory dwelling units (ADU), also known as backyard cottages. The Seattle Planning Commission worked with City staff to develop a guide for those residents interested building a backyard cottage. In 2019, the City is working to revise ADU policies to make it easier for property owners to build ADU's. Stay tuned for an updated version of the Backyard Cottage Guide. 

You can learn more about recent actions related to accessory dwelling unit legislation on the webpage by the Office of Planning and Community Development, or check out the Planning Commission's letters about ADU's here

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.

Affordable Housing Action Agenda Logo

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.

Housing Seattle Report Logo