Council Approves Changes to Design Review Program

On October 2, the City Council adopted legislation to change the City’s Design Review program. The changes will 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 will focus Design Review on the development projects most likely to influence the character of a neighborhood, and reduce the costs of building housing.

Key changes will:

  • Require early community outreach by the project applicant before starting the design review process
  • Simplify the thresholds that determine if design review is required
  • Raise the thresholds that determine if full board review is required
  • Apply lower thresholds in areas rezoned from single-family to a higher density zone over the next few years
  • Allow affordable housing projects to go through an administrative design review process

Most of the changes will go into effect on July 1, 2018, to allow for adequate time to prepare for implementation.

Read the details of the legislation on the City Clerk’s webpage for Council Bill 119057. Learn more about the project on our project webpage.

For questions about how the changes to the program may impact a specific project, please contact Lisa Rutzick at 206-386-9049 or For general questions about the changes, you may also contact Christina Ghan at 206-233-3749 or