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.
The Seattle City Council passed the Environmentally Critical Areas Ordinance on April 14, 2017. The effective date of the updated Environmentally Critical Areas regulations will be May 15, 2017. The updated regulations include:
- Revised Administrative Conditional Use criteria for clustering houses near steep slopes;
- Removal of SEPA review for projects that required SEPA only because the development was in an environmentally critical area.
- Increase in buffer size for Category III wetlands; and
- Updated TIPs and Director’ Rules to include information regarding the updated regulations.
A report explaining the changes and the legislation is available on our ECA Code Update website.
We provided a briefing to the 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.
The Seattle City Council recently adopted the 2017-18 budget, including legislation that implements Seattle DCI fee changes in 2017 to cover wage increases in order to reflect our cost of doing business.
On January 1, 2017, these service fees go into effect. As in past years, we are making inflationary adjustments to most fees. Unlike past years, when our inflationary changes were made to account for cost increases that occurred since our last fee ordinance (usually every two years), this year our inflationary changes also include Council-adopted inflation changes already approved for 2017. As a result, most fees will increase by approximately 10.5%, representing three years’ worth of known cost increases (2015-2017). As an example, our Base Hourly Fee will increase from $190 to $210. The Land Use Hourly fee, which was revised from $250 to $280 last year after a 15-year freeze, is increased 12.5% to $315.
We are also making additional changes to two of our fee tables: Table D-1– Calculation of the Development Fee Index; and Table D-14 – Electrical Permit Fees (when plans are reviewed). The minimum building permit fee in the Development Fee Index (Table D-1) has not changed since 2003. These tables have been expanded to include a greater number of discrete bands of project valuation upon which to base fees. In addition, the marginal rates applied to most bands are updated.
In 2017 we are implementing a new fee schedule for permanent signs. Table D-16 – Permanent Sign Fees sets fees for signs based on a graduating scale of square footage and applies a marginally increasing rate to each band of the scale. Currently the fee for a sign permit is charged at a flat rate for the first 100 square feet of the sign display area with an additional charge as the display area increases in size. We have found that this methodology for generating fees is outdated and inadequate for cost recovery for the permitting/review process and field inspections of signs installed in the city.
As in past years, we have adopted, by Director’s Rule, the latest building valuation data (BVD) table. The table establishes construction cost values by occupancy and construction type, which are then used to assess permit fees.
Finally, we are increasing the Rental Housing Unit Inspection Fees related to the Rental Registration & Inspection Ordinance. The 2017 fee for us to serve as qualified rental housing inspector for a property including the first housing unit is $160. The 2017 fee for us to inspect each additional housing unit on the same property is $30.
New Director’s Rules, the BVD table and other fee-related information will be available to you on our website early next year.
On July 25 Seattle City Council adopted legislation to amend the Land Use Code to rezones sites in the Bitter Lake Village Hub Urban Village and to amend development standards. The zoning proposals are based on an inclusive planning process that led to the Broadview – Bitter Lake – Haller Lake Neighborhood Plan update and the Bitter Lake Urban Design Framework (UDF) that document the community’s development vision for the Bitter Lake Village Center. The UDF defines the land use regulations, streetscape design, and open space recommendations that will guide future development while ensuring Bitter Lake Village becomes a lively center for the community. In particular, it will encourage the development of a walkable business district along Linden Ave. N between N 130th and N 135th streets. The legislation will:
- Rezone some Commercial 2 (C2) to Commercial 1 (C1) along Linden Ave. N.
- Add a Pedestrian designation (P) to sites on the east side of Linden Ave. N, between N 135th St. and N 130th St.
- Rezone sites on N 130th St. Between Linden Ave. N and Aurora Ave. N from C1 to Neighborhood Commercial 3 (NC3)
- Rezone 2 sites on Aurora Ave. N from C1 to C2
The Mayor is expected to sign the legislation in early August.
David W. Goldberg
DPD is responsible for the development and routine maintenance of the Land Use Code and related regulations. We periodically propose legislation to amend the Land Use Code (Title 23) and related land use regulations in the Seattle Municipal Code (in this case, Chapters 3.58, 25.05, 25.06, and 25.08) to clarify and improve the function of various provisions. Our proposed amendments are called “omnibus” amendments because we package a collection of amendments that are small scale, with a limited scope of impact.
On January 12 we released a public review draft of proposed omnibus legislation and a Director’s Report to make corrections to the Seattle Municipal Code. We also completed an environment review of the proposed legislation per the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) on the same day. The amendments have been requested by community members, elected officials, and City staff.
The proposed legislation would:
- Clarify regulations to be consistent with the City Council’s original intent
- Provide consistency and predictability for neighbors and permit applicants
- Correct inadvertent clerical errors and incorrect cross-references, and clarify existing Code language
We are taking public comments on our draft legislation until January 29. After that we will continue to take comments until we send final recommendations to the Mayor for transmittal to the City Council. We anticipate that the legislation will be ready for City Council’s consideration this spring or summer.
Questions regarding the proposed amendments may be directed to:
Bill Mills, DPD