Environmentally Critical Areas Update

In January 2017, City Council approved updated environmentally critical areas (ECA) regulations. Those updates, including a report by our Director explaining the changes, are available on our ECA Code Update website.

The Seattle City Council will be amending the Environmentally Critical Areas Ordinance to correct the effective date of the regulations. The original ordinance incorrectly required the Department of Ecology’s approval of the entire ordinance. The Department of Ecology approval is only needed for the sections of the ordinance that amend the Shoreline Master Program. City Council is expected to approve this amendment in the middle of March and the effective date of the new Environmentally Critical Areas is expected to be the middle of April.

We provided a briefing to the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning (PLUZ) committee on November 29, 2016, the public hearing was held on December 6, 2016 and the PLUZ committee voted on the Ordinance on January 19, 2017. Check out the PowerPoint presentation and the briefing memo to find out more about what we talked about.

Additionally, the briefing, public hearing, and committee discussion and vote can be viewed on the City Council PLUZ Committee webpage.

Effective Date for Seattle’s Shoreline Master Program

The Washington Department of Ecology approved Seattle’s updated Shoreline Master Program on June 1. It will take effect on June 15. Local shoreline master programs are a cornerstone of the state’s Shoreline Management Act, approved by voters in 1971.

Seattle’s shoreline program will result in the balanced management of nearly 100 miles of marine, lake, and estuarine shorelines throughout the city. The program is designed to minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses, and protect the public’s right to enjoy shorelines areas.

The Seattle program supports the use of the shorelines by maritime businesses. It accomplishes this by allowing reduced buffers in urban shoreline environments to accommodate water-dependent and water-related uses, and by providing special standards for maritime industrial properties intended to facilitate the operation of water-dependent and water-related businesses.

The Seattle program improves stewardship of shorelines by encouraging property owners to incorporate environmental restoration when re-developing shoreline properties. It accomplishes this by limiting the overall footprint of new and replaced residential docks and piers to the minimum necessary to serve moorage needs, encouraging soft-bank erosion control methods, and limiting construction of new shoreline armoring.

Seattle’s update also satisfies the state’s general requirements for local shoreline programs and the 2014 amendments to the Shoreline Management Act addressing floating on-water residences as follows:

  • Establish policies and regulations intended to ensure no net loss of existing shoreline ecological functions
  • Provide shoreline regulations that are integrated with the City’s comprehensive plan, zoning, and environmental critical areas ordinances
  • Provide specific regulations established through 11 shoreline designations that are designed to fit Seattle’s varied shorelines
  • Accommodate established floating-on-water residences, floating homes and house-barges through specific development standards applicable to repair, replacement, or expansion of these existing over-water residential uses
  • Establish protective buffers and shoreline setbacks consistent with the City’s environmental critical areas ordinance
  • Establish best management practices to protect water-quality
  • Helps support the broader initiative to protect and restore Puget Sound

The city’s final response and Ecology’s decision materials for the updated shoreline program can be reviewed at Ecology’s website.

Updated Director’s Rules and Tips related to the shoreline program will be on DPD’s website this month.

For more information, contact:

Maggie Glowacki
(206) 386-4036

Public Meeting: 2016 Stormwater Code and Manual Update

DPD and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) are hosting a public meeting on June 10, 2015 about the 2016 Stormwater Code and Manual Update. The meeting is from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. in Seattle Municipal Tower, room 4080. The draft documents of the 2016 Stormwater Code and other project applicability code changes are available for your review on our website.

You can provide comments by attending our public meeting on June 10, 2015.  You can also provide written comments on the draft 2016 Stormwater Code update by sending them to StormwaterCode@Seattle.gov or by mailing to the address below:

Sherell Ehlers
Seattle Public Utilities
700 Fifth Ave, Suite 4900
PO Box 34018
Seattle, WA  98124-4018

Our official public comment period on the draft 2016 Stormwater Code ends on June 30, 2015. We will continue to take comments until we send final recommendations to the Mayor for transmittal to the City Council. Email correspondence is preferred.

If you’re suggesting a code change, include as much of the following information as you can:

  • Number and title of the code section (for example:  22.805.070.D.a)
  • Specific code language you’re suggesting
  • Explanation of why the code should be changed

We may not be able to respond to individual comments, but we will take all comments into consideration.

There will also be opportunities this summer to provide public comment on the draft 2016 Stormwater Manual.  A public meeting related to the 2016 Stormwater Manual will be held in late summer or early fall of 2015.


Stormwater Code and Stormwater Manual Update

In May 2014, DPD published the Draft 2015 City of Seattle Stormwater Code and Stormwater Manual, Volumes 1 through 5, and the appendices. They are available for review on our Stormwater Codes & Rules Update website.

Originally, we anticipated making all the code changes at one time in 2015, as we had stated in handouts and at various public meetings throughout 2014. However, the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) was delayed in sending their comments to us on our draft proposal. We received over 150 separate comments from Ecology in February 2015 that we are still addressing. Therefore, we are postponing most of our proposed Stormwater Code changes until January 2016.

In the meantime, we are proposing legislation to revise three sections of the 2009 Stormwater Code (SMC 22.800-22.808) proposed to be effective by May 25, 2015. These changes are not the focus of Ecology’s review and are also available on our website’s project documents page. The changes are:

  • Changing water quality thresholds for roadway projects
  • Exempting Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) water utility projects from flow control, water quality treatment, and green stormwater requirements
  • Granting the Director of SPU discretion to not require flow control requirements for certain combined sewer basins through Director’s Rule.

SEPA and legislative package documents related to this legislation will be posted on our website in early March.

We will incorporate all other changes into our proposed 2016 Stormwater Code and Manual update, which will be effective in January 2016. Those changes are based on the feedback we received during our informal comment period that ended August 15, 2014 and comments we received from Ecology. Our new rules will replace the current Stormwater code and Directors’ Rules, which are administered jointly by DPD and Seattle Pubic Utilities. Visit our website for more information and to see an updated timeline.

You can submit comments about the proposed changes, and join the Stormwater Code listserv, by sending an email to stormwatercode@seattle.gov. Please reference the volume number, section number, and page number when providing comments.

Seattle Electrical Code Update

Our draft ordinance is currently under departmental review. We have posted our draft legislation on our electrical code web page: http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/codesrules/codes/electrical/default.htm.

Our draft ordinance must pass a Council vote and then be signed by the Mayor before we will know the effective date of the new Seattle Electrical Code. If we are unable to present the draft Seattle Electrical Code to Council before the budget session begins in October, our new code will not go into effect until 2015. We are making every effort to ensure that the effective date of our code is as close as possible to the effective date of the State Electrical Code (WAC 296-46B).

The date we accept your building permit application determines which edition of the Electrical Code applies to your project. If there is not a building permit associated with your electrical work, then you need to comply with the code in effect when you apply. We will post the effective date of the new Seattle Electrical Code on the web page as soon as the Mayor signs the legislation.