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

New Approved Legislation and Amendments

The City Council approved an amendment to the 2015 Seattle Building Code allowing Art Gallery spaces less than 3000 square feet in size to remain or be classified as an Mercantile occupancy from an Assembly-3 occupancy. We collaborated with the Office of Arts and Culture and the Construction Codes Advisory Board to modify the code language of three key areas that would allow Art Galleries of maximum size to be classified as a Mercantile Occupancy instead of an Assembly-3 Occupancy, while maintaining the protections of life safety as intended. We wanted to make it easier for businesses, like art galleries, to utilize their existing spaces.

The City Council also approved legislation for Seattle’s Technical Codes to clarify regulations, adopt amendments consistent with Washington State regulations, and make technical corrections from omissions and errors.

Additionally, City Council approved legislation adopting the 2017 Seattle Electrical Code that provides alignment with the Washington Administrative Code, while incorporating innovative Seattle amendments like setting aside infrastructure space for future electrical vehicle charging stations.

Environmentally Critical Areas Public Hearing

The Seattle City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning (PLUZ) Committee has scheduled a public hearing to take comments on the proposed Environmentally Critical Areas (ECA) updated regulations. The public hearing will be held on Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at the PLUZ committee meeting that begins at 9:30 a.m. in the City Council Chambers located on the 2nd Floor of City Hall at 600 Fourth Avenue.

To find out the time of the ECA public meeting the Council’s PLUZ Committee agenda will be posted a few days prior to December 6, 2016.

The Mayor’s recommended updates to the ECA regulations, including a report by our Director explaining the changes, are available on our ECA Code Update website.

We provided a briefing to the PLUZ committee on November 29, 2016. Check out the PowerPoint presentation and the briefing memo to find out more about what we talked about.

Additionally, the briefing can be viewed on the City Council PLUZ Committee webpage.


Denny Substation Project Nears Final Design Milestone: Public Hearing to be Held

The final design of the Denny Substation is almost complete. We need to take just a few more steps before we can move ahead with construction. 


The City Council’s Transportation Committee will hold a public hearing July 30 on two topics related to the Denny Substation Project.



Oral comments will be taken on the petition by Seattle City Light to vacate (to acquire the public right-of-way) Pontius Avenue North between Denny Way and John Street in the South Lake Union Urban Center area of Seattle. The vacation is proposed to support the development of the Denny Substation.



Oral comments will be taken on the Master Use Permit, which would allow for the construction of the Denny Substation in a Seattle Mixed Use Zone.

The final design of the Denny Substation is almost complete. We need to take just a few more steps before we can move ahead with construction. 


Please refer to the attached Public Hearing Notice for details.

When: July 30, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Belltown Community Center 415 Bell St.


Written comments must be submitted by 4:30 p.m., July 30. They can be sent to:


Councilmember Tom Rasmussen

Legislative Department

600 Fourth Avenue, Floor 2

PO Box 34025

Seattle, WA 98124-4025

or by email to


After the public hearing, the project requires final approval by the Seattle City Council. A special meeting of the Transportation Committee has been scheduled for August 13 at 9:30 a.m., with a possible full council vote on August 17. These meetings will be held in Council Chambers at City Hall.  Meetings are open to the public and include opportunities for public comment. As these meetings are subject to change, please check the Denny Substation calendar for dates and times.


For more information, please visit the Denny Substation Project website, and follow along with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular project updates.

Amy Yee Tennis Center Orchard unveils new sign to honor namesake

On Saturday, Oct. 18, Seattle City Councilmembers Sally Clark and Tom Rasmussen joined City Fruit, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound and other community volunteers for a harvest celebration at Amy Yee Tennis Center Orchard to unveil a new sign that honors Amy Yee and provides a detailed map of the orchard’s fruit trees.

The site was named for Amy Yee, who taught tennis in the Beacon Hill and South Seattle Communities for more than 30 years and had a passion for gardening. Yee offered free tennis clinics in Seattle schools and public parks. She taught people of all ages, including two future mayors.

The indoor and outdoor tennis center shares its site with more than 30 fruit trees, mostly apple with some pear trees and a quince graft. For the celebration, 33 volunteers endured the rain to help harvest apples for food banks, meal programs and homeless shelters and cleaned up fallen apples and invasive species.

The new sign was made possible by funding from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and by support from Seattle Parks and Recreation.