On August 4, we released a staff draft of the 2016 omnibus legislation along with our environmental (SEPA) decision. The comment and appeal period runs until August 25. The legislation includes amendments to the Land Use Code (Title 23) and related land use regulations in Chapters 3.58, 22.202, and 25.11 to clarify and improve various regulations. Our proposed amendments generally include “clean-up” amendments that correct inadvertent clerical errors and incorrect cross-references, and clarifies existing code language.
On July 10, new legislation became effective that prohibits rent increases on units that fail to meet minimum rental housing standards and gives Seattle DCI enforcement authority over “prohibited acts by owners.”
Director’s Rule 7-2016, Small Efficiency Dwelling Units, which supersedes DR 25-2014, went into effect on June 24. This rule clarifies minimum and maximum room size and other technical requirements, and includes specific examples.
On July 10, the Carl Haglund Law becomes effective. The new legislation prohibits Seattle landlords from raising rent on units that fail to meet minimum rental housing standards. If a tenant believes their rent increase is not allowed under the new rules, the tenant must inform the landlord in writing (e-mail is allowed), after receiving notice of the rent increase, of any conditions that would fail the RRIO checklist. Tenants may then contact Seattle DCI through the general complaint line at (206) 615-0808.
For the past several months, we have been preparing to adopt the 2015 Seattle codes, including the Building, Residential, Mechanical, and Energy Conservation codes. While we don’t know what the legislative schedule will be, we are expecting to require compliance with the 2015 codes on January 1, 2017.
We are proposing updates to the Land Use Code to accommodate advances in two specific areas: internet service and federal licensing for use of the airwaves by low power radio station. Our proposal would change existing regulations to make it easier to place utility equipment boxes designed to improve internet, telephone, and video connections. Our proposal would also change regulations to make it easier for low power FM broadcasting facilities, licensed solely as non-profit entities and with a limited broadcasting reach, to put their antennas in suitable locations in all zones throughout the city.
Seattle’s location on the Puget Sound gives it a unique geography. There are about 200 miles of fresh and saltwater shorelines within Seattle’s city limits. The City of Seattle protects our shoreline ecosystems, encourages water-dependent uses, and maximizes the public’s enjoyment of our natural resources. The City ensures that residents follow the regulations in the 1972 Shoreline Management Act.
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.
All applications for Land Use and Construction permits need to be reviewed by staff with expertise in various Seattle codes. It is important for all staff to review each project using the same property boundaries, known as a “development site.” This is important to properly conform to code requirements, to provide consistency to applicants and the public, and to allow property records to be easily accessible.
Seattle DCI has recently clarified its interpretation of the Seattle Residential Code (SRC) requirements for accessory dwelling units (ADUs). (ADUs are separate living spaces within a house.). Our code requirements are different, depending on whether the ADU is in a new construction project, or it is a remodel of an existing space within a single-family residence.