Changes to the Department of Planning and Development

New planning office takes effect January 1, 2016

2016 brings some significant changes to the leadership and organizational structure of the Department of Planning and Development (DPD). After 38 years with the City and 14 as director of DPD, Diane Sugimura will be retiring. At the same time, the department will become two – the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections and a new Office of Planning and Community Development. Current staff and services within DPD will remain in place for most of 2016. Staff in both departments will continue to work closely together to help ensure coordination as we move forward.

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (Seattle DCI)
The new department will be led by Nathan Torgelson, current DPD deputy director. Seattle DCI will primarily include regulatory functions such as: permitting, construction inspections, code compliance, tenant protections, rental housing registration and inspections, but will also include a smaller unit for code development.

The Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD)
In June 2015, the Mayor issued an Executive Order 2015-04, announcing the creation of OPCD. Council approved the creation of the new Office as part of the 2016 Budget. This group will be primarily composed of staff from the City Planning division of DPD. As the Mayor stated, “I’m creating a new office to integrate all of our priorities and to better coordinate how we grow and invest.” The office will take our planning efforts and look at them through a lens of race, social justice and economic equity for all Seattle communities.

The search process for a new OPCD director is underway.  During that process, Diane will serve as interim director until the new director arrives. Major work items for the new office in 2016 include the update of the City’s Comprehensive Plan Seattle 2035, and assistance with implementation of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), which will include approval and implementation of plans such as the University District, and 23rd Ave. at Union/Cherry/Jackson.

This new Executive Office will be working closely with many departments, particularly the capital departments.  Departments are already starting to align their work more closely.

What Will Our Customers and Stakeholders See?

  • The department/office names will change on January 4, 2016
  • For the first part of the year, staff will continue to be in their same offices in the Seattle Municipal Tower (SMT), with the same phone numbers and email addresses
  • Around August, OPCD will be moving to the 5th floor of City Hall, and SDCI will use the City Planning space on the 19th floor of SMT for a much needed expansion


For more information read the Mayor’s frequently asked questions.

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.

Backyard Cottage Lunch & Learn

Expanding the construction of backyard cottages could provide thousands of new housing units throughout Seattle and give homeowners an opportunity to earn stable, extra income and remain in their homes. On December 9, from noon to 1:00 p.m., Councilmember Mike O’Brien is hosting a Lunch & Learn with the Department of Planning and Development to explore opportunities to increase production of backyard cottages. The event, at City Hall’s Council Chambers (600 4th Ave), will feature backyard cottage owners discussing their experiences permitting and constructing their cottages. DPD staff will discuss policy options to address some of the common difficulties property owners face in building a cottage, in anticipation of legislation to be drafted early next year.

Hundreds of Comments on the Seattle 2035 Draft Plan

Thank you Seattle for offering over 2,100 comments, opinions, letters, and surveys about the Seattle 2035 Draft Comprehensive Plan. Staff is now organizing and reviewing your feedback. We will post verbatim comments and summaries at in the coming month.  

The Draft Plan went live for public review in July 2015. We received online comments on the plan throughout the summer and fall. In October and November, DPD organized five citywide community open houses in Capitol Hill, Ballard, Othello, the West Seattle Junction and at the North Seattle College. Over 400 people attended the meetings, browsed displays, posed questions to city staff and listened to a presentation. Displays included an overview of the Plan, description of 10 Key Proposals, plus information about the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). Up to 18 city staff attended each event to answer questions, listen and document comments on large easel pads.

Although the comment period on the Draft Plan is now closed, the conversation with the community will continue next year after City Council receives the Mayor’s Final Plan, and as community meetings about urban village boundaries and HALA begin. Look for the release of the Mayor’s Plan, Final EIS, and Final Equity Analysis in March 2016.

Four More Chances to Weigh-In on the Draft Comprehensive Plan

-We invite you to attend our Seattle 2035 community meetings!

DPD is planning four meetings in November to gather community feedback before finalizing the Mayor’s Final Recommended Seattle Comprehensive Plan.  DPD is extending comments on the Draft Plan through Friday, November 20. The Plan will be finalized and transmitted to the City Council in early 2016.

Seattle is expected to grow by 120,000 residents and 115,000 jobs in the coming twenty years. The Draft Plan identifies proposed goals and policies to help achieve our vision for Seattle’s future. Your feedback will help DPD evaluate strategies for a city that grows according to four core values:  community, economic opportunity, environmental stewardship, and social equity.

The Draft Plan also includes a new Future Land Use Map, with new proposed boundaries in 12 urban villages to accommodate expected growth near our region’s transit investments.

Upcoming Open Houses

Please join us to discuss the Draft Plan at one of these upcoming open houses.

  • Thursday, November 5
    6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
    Leif Ericson Hall, Ballard
    2245 NW 57th St.
  • Saturday, November 7
    9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
    Filipino Community Center
    5740 MLK Jr Way S
    Childcare provided for ages 3-10
  • Thursday, November 12
    6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
    West Seattle Senior Center*
    4217 SW Oregon St.
  • Saturday, November 14
    9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
    North Seattle Community College—Old Cafeteria
    9600 College Way N.

Can’t make one of the meetings?

  • Find information about the Plan and our public process at the project website.
  • Join our Online Community Conversation at On this site you can share your opinions and see what others are saying.
  • Follow Seattle 2035 on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Email comments to
  • Mail comments to the City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development, Attn: Seattle 2035, 700 5th Avenue, Suite 2000, PO Box 34019, Seattle WA 98124-4019.


* We have rented the facilities of the Senior Center of West Seattle for this event. The Senior Center of West Seattle and Senior Services of Seattle/King County does not either endorse nor disapprove of this event.