Do Not Use Director’s Rule 29-2015 for SEPA Exemption Information

Please don’t use the SEPA exemption levels information in Director’s Rule 29-2015 to plan your project. Recent code updates have modified the exemption levels in SMC 25.05 to align with growth estimates for infill development within Urban Centers.  We anticipate having an updated Rule by the end of the year. Until then, please rely on the code, SMC 25.05, to determine if your project is exempt from SEPA review. If you have questions, please visit the Applicant Services Center to speak to a Land Use Planner or submit a question through the Land Use Q & A service.

Proposed Updates to Design Review Program Are Now Available

Draft legislation to modify the design review program is available for public review and comment on our Design Review Program Improvements webpage and in the Land Use Information Bulletin. Comments will be open through Thursday, June 22.

Our proposed amendments to the Land Use Code (Title 23) are intended to improve the overall function of the program to enhance the efficiency and predictability of project reviews, improve dialogue among project stakeholders, and make the program more transparent and accessible to the public and project applicants. In addition, the changes would focus Design Review on the development projects most likely to influence the character of a neighborhood, and reduce the costs of building housing.  They build upon the recommendations in a report we released in March 2016.  This update is also a recommendation from the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.

Key proposals in the legislation include:

  1. Simplify and raise the thresholds for projects subject to design review, switching from a variety of thresholds based on use, units, and zoning to simple square footage thresholds that respond to the complexity of a site and type of project.
  2. Create a new “hybrid” process that allows one phase of design review to be handled administratively and the remainder by the design review board.
  3. Require that all applicants for projects going through design review conduct outreach to the communities near their projects before they begin design review.

The legislation would also modify the composition of design review boards, eliminate the streamlined administrative design review process, modify the review process for exceptional trees in Title 25, and update and clarify other provisions related to design review.

We anticipate making final recommendations to the Mayor later in 2017.

An environmental (SEPA) decision on the draft legislation is also available.  This decision is subject to a comment and appeal period that runs until June 29.  Please submit comments on the proposal and the environmental decision to:

City of Seattle, SDCI
Attn: William Mills
P.O. Box 94788
Seattle, WA 98124-7088
william.mills@seattle.gov

If you have questions regarding the proposed code amendments please contact:

Christina Ghan
(206) 233-3749
christina.ghan@seattle.gov

Lisa Rutzick
(206) 386-9049
lisa.rutzick@seattle.gov

City Light Asks for Feedback on Proposed Technical Training Center

Seattle City Light will be hosting a community meeting to explain the details of a proposed technical training center located north of the Duwamish Substation. As part of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process, City Light will also be taking public comments from the community on the proposed project.

The proposed project has three components. The technical training center would consist of a classroom building and outdoor training yard. On-site wetland mitigation will provide approximately 4 acres of habitats similar to historic conditions on the Lower Duwamish River.  The project would also include a walking trail and educational amenities.

A community meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 14 from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave. S, Seattle, WA 98108) to discuss the project and take comments. Light refreshments and snacks will be provided.

The SEPA comment period starts on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 and ends at 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, September 20, 2016. The public is invited to submit comments at any time during this period. Comments can be sent to Margaret Duncan, SEPA Coordinator at margaret.duncan@seattle.gov or by mail at the following address:

Seattle City Light
Environment, Land and Licensing Business Unit
ATTN: Margaret Duncan
700 5th Avenue, Suite 3200
Seattle, WA 98104

Reminder: New Environmental (SEPA) Review Requirements

Environmental review thresholds under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) will change on Monday, November 16, 2015,. The change will affect the following Urban Centers and Villages: Northgate, South Lake Union, North Rainier, Rainier Beach and North Beacon Hill.

The new thresholds will generally be 20 dwelling units and 12,000 square feet for non-residential uses in most zones in these areas. Projects that exceed these thresholds will be required to undergo SEPA environmental review. Specific changes by zone are included in Ordinance 124885. Enter the ordinance number in the “Ordinance No.” search box.

State rules required Seattle to update its citywide residential growth projections this year in its Comprehensive Plan. This was completed in October, but other updates will not be completed until 2016. We anticipate that SEPA thresholds for specific urban centers and villages will be restored to pre-existing, higher levels in 2016 following adoption of the Seattle 2035 update to the Comprehensive Plan.

For more information, view our FAQ or contact Gordon Clowers at (206) 684-8375 or gordon.clowers@seattle.gov.

New Environmental (SEPA) Review Requirements

Environmental review thresholds (under the State Environmental Policy Act – SEPA) will change on Monday, November 16, 2015, affecting the following Urban Centers and Villages: Northgate, South Lake Union, North Rainier, Rainier Beach and North Beacon Hill.

The new thresholds will generally be 20 dwelling units and 12,000 square feet for non-residential uses in most zones in these areas. Projects that exceed these thresholds will be required to undergo SEPA environmental review. Specific changes by zone are included in Ordinance 124885. Enter the ordinance number in the “Ordinance No.” search box.

State rules required Seattle to update its citywide residential growth projections this year in its Comprehensive Plan. This was completed in October, but other Plan updates that are also required will not be completed until 2016. We anticipate that SEPA thresholds for specific urban centers and villages will be restored to pre-existing, higher levels in these and other urban centers and villages in 2016, after adoption of the Seattle 2035 update to the Comprehensive Plan.

For more information, view our FAQ or contact Gordon Clowers at (206) 684-8375 or gordon.clowers@seattle.gov.