SPC Work Archive

Please use the dropdowns below to see the archived items of the Planning Commission's work.  

Work Archive

Microhousing

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.

Respons 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 Mid Rise and High Rise zones
We support Planning, Land Use & Neighborhoods Committee's (PLUNC) revisions to the Mid Rise and High Rise 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 Mid Rise and High Rise 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!

Northgate

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.

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

Yesler Terrace 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.

Housing Seattle Report Logo

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.

Seattle Transit Communities

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 transit community is a place where a neighborhood is integrated with transit, where coordinated public and private investments improve neighborhood quality, and where proactively planning for change can create or enhance a place where people of all ages and income levels can live in a complete community and access frequent, reliable transit. If you are interested in learning more about our Seattle Transit Communities work.

Since 2010 we have worked with City Council and the Mayor to incorporate this language and values into the Comprehensive Plan, our guiding growth document, and our work is chronicled below.

Planning Commission Chair David Cutler spoke about Transit Communities at March 14th, 2013 Public Hearing. Written notes of Chair Cutler's comments

Seattle Transit Communities - A Citywide Strategy to Integrate Neighborhoods with Transit - A report to Seattle City Council. Our March 4, 2013 report explains what a transit community is, why a citywide strategy is important, and details the initial proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment.  It also records the outreach and engagement that has informed the proposed strategy and summarizes feedback the Commission has received about the proposed transit communities Comprehensive Plan amendment.

Our February 7th, 2013 comments and recommendations on the proposed 2012-2013 Comprehensive Plan amendments include proposed revisions to Transit Communities proposal DPD submitted to Council.

On November 29th, 2012 the Executive released its report with analysis and recommendations on the Commission transit communities' proposal.   DPD included significant changes to the Commissions original proposal in their Director's report.  DPD's proposal became the Mayor's proposed recommendation for final adoption.

On September 24, 2012 we offered a proposal to DPD that defines a strong framework in the Comprehensive Plan as a first step in implementing a citywide transit community strategy.

Tools and Policies for Promoting Social Equity in Seattle Transit Communities. In 2012 we commissioned research that resulted in a report that recommends tools and policies that can help promote social equity in Seattle transit communities.

June 2011 - we called for a Citywide Transit Communities Policy to maximize transit investment

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 

Backyard Cottage Report Logo

 "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)

Guide to Neighborhood Stewardship (PDF)

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

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.

Future of Seattle Industrial Lands

December 2013 - We recommend Mayor and City Council defer "Stadium Amendment" in this year's Comprehensive Plan update.  Our recommendations.

July 2012 - We were asked to weigh in on the SODO arena proposal.  We urged caution in moving forward.  Our recommendations.

In an effot to address the increasing pressure to convert industrial land in the city to other uses, we played an active role in the development of an Industrial Lands Strategy. Co-hosting four public events to engage the public, reviewing the City's current policies regarding industrial lands, and developing recommendations for how the City should move forward with an industrial lands policy.

July 2007 - The Future of Seattle's Industrial Lands is the culmination of that work.  Industrial zoned land is a vital civic asset and because Seattle's industrial businesses are critical to our City's overall economic health and global competitiveness the City should strengthen its industrial policies.

The retention of industrial land contributes significantly to Seattle's family wage job base, provides significant tax revenue to the city and is essential in providing stability to our economy.

 

Northbay/Interbay

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".
Sound Transit ST2  - Commission weighs in on Sound Transit 2 - the next set of investments in regional transit - 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).

For additional information on the project you can also see - WSDOT SR 520 Bridge Replacement Project Homepage

Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement

For the past several years, we have participated in reviewing plans for replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and redevelopment of the Central Waterfront. During various stages of the planning process we provided recommendations to City Council, the Mayor, and the Governor.  These recommendations can be viewed below.


July 21, 2004 - Recommendations on the alternatives for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Project.

June 2004 - Planning Commission and Design Commission Joint letter on our shared position on the Alaskan Way Viaduct Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).

Plus an abbreviated list of joint principles regarding the Alaskan Way Viaduct Project, and a detailed list of both Commissions' comments.

Also see -  WSDOT Viaduct Project Homepage  and Seattle Department of Transportation - Planning Homepage