Backyard Cottage Lunch & Learn

Expanding the construction of backyard cottages could provide thousands of new housing units throughout Seattle and give homeowners an opportunity to earn stable, extra income and remain in their homes. On December 9, from noon to 1:00 p.m., Councilmember Mike O’Brien is hosting a Lunch & Learn with the Department of Planning and Development to explore opportunities to increase production of backyard cottages. The event, at City Hall’s Council Chambers (600 4th Ave), will feature backyard cottage owners discussing their experiences permitting and constructing their cottages. DPD staff will discuss policy options to address some of the common difficulties property owners face in building a cottage, in anticipation of legislation to be drafted early next year.

Hundreds of Comments on the Seattle 2035 Draft Plan

Thank you Seattle for offering over 2,100 comments, opinions, letters, and surveys about the Seattle 2035 Draft Comprehensive Plan. Staff is now organizing and reviewing your feedback. We will post verbatim comments and summaries at in the coming month.  

The Draft Plan went live for public review in July 2015. We received online comments on the plan throughout the summer and fall. In October and November, DPD organized five citywide community open houses in Capitol Hill, Ballard, Othello, the West Seattle Junction and at the North Seattle College. Over 400 people attended the meetings, browsed displays, posed questions to city staff and listened to a presentation. Displays included an overview of the Plan, description of 10 Key Proposals, plus information about the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). Up to 18 city staff attended each event to answer questions, listen and document comments on large easel pads.

Although the comment period on the Draft Plan is now closed, the conversation with the community will continue next year after City Council receives the Mayor’s Final Plan, and as community meetings about urban village boundaries and HALA begin. Look for the release of the Mayor’s Plan, Final EIS, and Final Equity Analysis in March 2016.

November Publication Updates




Director’s Rules


Members Sought for Seattle’s Design Review Boards

Mayor Ed Murray is looking for qualified candidates to fill five upcoming openings on the City of Seattle’s Design Review Boards. The volunteer positions will be available April 4, 2016, when retiring board members’ terms expire.

Ideal candidates are professionals in the design and development fields who have proven skills and established careers. We are also seeking community and business leaders with an interest in shaping new development in their neighborhoods and a passion for keeping Seattle a vibrant city.

Applications will be accepted for the following board positions:

Northwest Design Review Board:

·         Community representative

Southeast Design Review Board:

·         Development profession representative

Northeast Design Review Board:

·         Local business representative

Downtown Review Board:

·         Design profession representative

·         Community representative


You may download an application or email to receive a copy.To be considered for appointment, please send an application, cover letter and resume by December 14, 2015 to Lisa Rutzick at

Email applications are preferred, as electronic documents facilitate file sharing among the selection committee. If emailing is not an option, applicants can send their applications via U.S. mail to:        

Lisa Rutzick, Design Review Program Manager
Department of Planning and Development
City of Seattle
700 – 5th Ave, Suite 1800
P.O. Box 34019
Seattle, Washington  98124-4019

Applications will be accepted for positions other than those listed above and kept on file for consideration for future openings.

Applicants should have:

  • Knowledge of, or interest in architecture, urban design and the development process
  • The ability to evaluate projects based on the City’s design guidelines
  • The ability to listen and communicate effectively at public meetings
  • A passion for design and community development, and
  • The ability to work well with others under pressure. Prior experience with community or neighborhood groups is a plus.


Board members must live in the city. Following appointment, the local residential interests’ representative must act as an ambassador to at least one community group or association (e.g. community council) that operates within the board district. Similarly, following appointment, the local business interests’ representative must act as an ambassador to at least one business group or association (e.g. chamber of commerce) that operates within the board district. Acting as an ambassador is often facilitated if the board member lives or works within the district he or she is serving, but residency in a district is not a requirement to serve as a local business representative.

Board members should expect to work 12-15 hours a month attending and preparing for board meetings, which are held twice a month in the evenings. Board members are expected to attend at least 90 percent of the meetings.


Board members are appointed by the Mayor and City Council and serve two-year terms. Members serve on one of seven boards that review projects in the city’s major geographic districts. Each board is composed of five members who represent:

  • Design profession
  • Development interests
  • General community interests
  • Local business interests
  • Local residential interests


The Design Review Program was established in 1994 to provide an alternative to prescriptive zoning requirements and foster new development that better responds to the character of its surroundings. Boards evaluate the design of development projects based on citywide and neighborhood-specific design guidelines. The boards review mixed-use developments, multifamily housing, and commercial projects above a certain size threshold. For more information on the Design Review Board and the City’s Design Review Program, visit

For other information, please contact:

Lisa Rutzick
Design Review Program Manager
(206) 386-9049

Reminder: New Environmental (SEPA) Review Requirements

Environmental review thresholds under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) will change on Monday, November 16, 2015,. The change will affect the following Urban Centers and Villages: Northgate, South Lake Union, North Rainier, Rainier Beach and North Beacon Hill.

The new thresholds will generally be 20 dwelling units and 12,000 square feet for non-residential uses in most zones in these areas. Projects that exceed these thresholds will be required to undergo SEPA environmental review. Specific changes by zone are included in Ordinance 124885. Enter the ordinance number in the “Ordinance No.” search box.

State rules required Seattle to update its citywide residential growth projections this year in its Comprehensive Plan. This was completed in October, but other updates will not be completed until 2016. We anticipate that SEPA thresholds for specific urban centers and villages will be restored to pre-existing, higher levels in 2016 following adoption of the Seattle 2035 update to the Comprehensive Plan.

For more information, view our FAQ or contact Gordon Clowers at (206) 684-8375 or