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OPCD has grown and accomplished many things since its inception 12 months ago. We are ready to share this news with you through our first monthly newsletter. Our features include HALA updates, Equitable Development Initiative (EDI) updates, calendar events and more. Sign up by visiting our home page and submit your email in the “Stay Connected” section on the right-hand side. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and our Daily Plan It blog.

The Equitable Development Initiative

Earlier in 2016, OPCD created the Equitable Development Initiative (EDI), a set of strategies that emerged from our Growth and Equity Report, part of the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan update. The EDI involves many different City departments coordinating to address equity in our underserved communities and displacement as Seattle grows. Various EDI strategies will:

  • Advance economic mobility and opportunity
  • Prevent residential, commercial, and cultural displacement
  • Build on local cultural assets
  • Promote transportation mobility and connectivity
  • Develop healthy and safe neighborhoods

City department directors are working together to make decisions around the EDI. Here are some updates.

The EDI Fund: Mayor Murray announced in October that the City has signed an agreement on the pending transfer of the Civic Square project next to City Hall, with $16 million in proceeds to establish the new EDI Fund. The Mayor’s EDI budget also includes an additional $200,000 in General Fund in 2017 and thereafter, and $430,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in 2018 and thereafter, to support organizational capacity building, feasibility studies, etc.

The City has created a committee of the Capital Cabinet composed of the directors of the Office of Planning and Community Development, Office of Economic Development, Office of Civil Rights, Office of Housing and Department of Neighborhoods to help manage the overall initiative and fund, including developing funding criteria and community engagement process. The directors are reviewing how to best leverage City dollars to support EDI communities and projects. Expect to hear more about the EDI Fund and decision-making processes in early 2017.

OPCD EDI Staffing: OPCD is pleased to announce that Ubax Gardheere will join us as manager of the OPCD EDI staff team in late November. Ubax comes to us from Puget Sound Sage, and she brings experience in both policy development and community organizing around a diversity of issues. Our current EDI team is already engaged with communities throughout the City including the Central Area, Rainier Beach, Chinatown/ID, Delridge and Duwamish, to name a few.

Click on these links for more information about the Growth and Equity Report and related documents.

Encouraging Backyard Cottages

At the Office of Planning and Community Development, we are continuing our work with City Council to explore land use code changes that could encourage greater production of backyard cottages (also known as detached accessory dwelling units or DADUs). Expanding construction of backyard cottages could provide thousands of new housing units throughout Seattle and give homeowners an opportunity to earn stable, extra income that can help them remain in their neighborhoods.

In 2014, the City Council adopted Resolution 31547 directing us to explore changes that would increase the number of accessory dwelling units in Seattle. Since then, we have spoken with homeowners who have built backyard cottages to learn about their experience. We’ve also heard from many people who are eager, but unable, to build a cottage due to restrictions in the land use code. In December 2015, we hosted a Lunch & Learn event at City Council to hear from four homeowners who have built backyard cottages. If you missed it, check out the presentation or watch the archived video of the meeting on the Seattle Channel.

We are considering a range of changes that would make it easier to build a backyard cottage or allow them on more lots. Now we want to hear from you. Join us and Councilmember Mike O’Brien at two public meetings in early 2016 to learn more and discuss policy options for encouraging more backyard cottages. Please note that we have rescheduled the second meeting.

January 19, 2016, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Filipino Community Center
5740 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way

February 3, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. (New Date)
Wallingford Senior Center
4649 Sunnyside Ave N

For more information, visit our project website or contact:

Nick Welch
(206) 684-8203

What’s Happening to the Public Feedback on the Seattle 2035 Draft Plan?

For the past month, City staff have been sorting and organizing feedback we received about the Seattle 2035 Draft Plan. During the five-month comment period, people had many options to share their thoughts. Online options included email, website comment box, Facebook, Twitter, and Consider IT online community conversation and survey. The 430 attendees at open houses in October and November completed surveys, recorded comments on easel pads or sticky notes, or used one of our iPads to log comments online. All that input is being gathered and organized in a single database.

While staff is reviewing all of that input, you can see what others have said about the Draft Plan on our website ( Documents recently posted include a printout of 600+ verbatim comments in the database, a packet of letters received from 41 stakeholder organizations, and results of the survey on the 10 key proposals. Although closed to new comments, the Consider IT online community conversation is archived and still available for viewing. A Community Engagement Progress Report summarizing all the activities and feedback for 2015 will be coming later this month. Look for the release of the Mayor’s Plan and the Final Environmental Impact Statement, and Final Equity Analysis in March or April of 2016.

For more information about Seattle 2035, contact:

Patrice Carroll
Office of Planning and Community Development
(206) 684-0946

Torgelson sworn in as director of the new Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections

After the Seattle City Council confirmed Mayor Ed Murray’s nominee to lead the newly created Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, Nathan Torgelson was sworn as the department’s first director.  Previously, Torgelson was deputy director of the Department of Planning and Development.

“As a proven leader with a strong track record at the City, Nathan is the right person to launch our new agency,” said Murray. “I look forward to his continued leadership on the regulatory issues governing housing and construction. Seattle’s current building boom and our expanding inspection efforts to support the quality of rental housing will certainly keep him busy.”

Torgelson has 25 years’ experience in land use, planning and economic development in various roles at the City of Seattle and Kent. He has dedicated his career in the public sector to improving communities and the built environment.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to serve as the director of the new Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections,” said Torgelson. “We will continue our work to improve rental housing conditions and reach out to our community leaders on how decisions can be shaped through positive community engagement.”

As coordinated planning is elevated to the new Office of Planning and Community Development, the existing regulatory functions of the Department of Planning and Development – permits, code enforcement and inspections – will be housed in the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections.