Design Review Program Improvement Recommendations Available for Public Comment

Seattle DCI and OPCD released draft Design Review Program Improvement recommendations on March 9, 2016. Our recommendations identify and evaluate organizational, structural, and procedural changes to enhance the design review program’s efficiency and enable it to better achieve its purpose. You can comment on our recommendations through April 8.

Over the last year, we worked with a 16-member stakeholder advisory group as well as the general public to develop specific recommendations about how to improve the Design Review program. We gathered input through stakeholder and focus group interviews, an online survey, and two community open houses held in September and October 2015.

The Design Review Program began in 1994. Since then, the Design Review Board has improved over a thousand development projects! The program and its boards review multiple aspects of private development projects in Seattle, including:

  • The overall appearance of the building
  • How the proposal relates to adjacent sites
  • Pedestrian and vehicular access
  • The unusual aspects of the site, like views or slopes
  • Quality of materials, open space, and landscaping

Even though it’s a very successful program, the process hasn’t changed significantly. Concerns regarding the program’s effectiveness and efficiency prompted us to identify opportunities for improvement.

Goals of the Design Review Program Improvements Project include:

Develop recommendations that:

  • Cultivate the program’s purpose of encouraging better design
  • Improve the level of consistency, efficiency, and predictability in how the City administers the program
  • Increase accessibility to encourage better dialogue between the boards, applicants, and community
  • Use communication strategies and tools (both traditional and emerging technologies) to improve how information is presented, shared, and reviewed throughout the entire design review process

Our general approach to identifying methods to improve the program focused on:

  • What people like about the program
  • What could be improved
  • How people currently engage with the program
  • How people prefer to engage with the program in the future

For more information, visit the Design Review Program Improvement website.