On August 14, 2023, the City Council amended the land use code to make two important changes to the design review program aimed at encouraging additional low income housing. The first change permanently exempts low income housing projects from the Design Review program while still allowing design departures that would result in additional housing. The second change to the land use code provides a new Design Review exemption for projects that meet Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) requirements by providing units on site (the performance option under the Land Use Code). The same set of departures available to low income housing projects are available to these performance projects.
Seattle has made considerable progress in planning for housing growth in both its comprehensive plan and land use codes. In recognition of that progress, the Washington State Legislature has amended (Senate Bill 5412) the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) to help reach those goals by expediting the review of development that includes housing. As of July 23, 2023, most projects proposing additional housing units will be exempt from SEPA review, including several types of residential and mixed-use developments that would have previously undergone SEPA review. This SEPA change does not affect other SDCI discretionary approvals, such as Design Review, that may be required for specific proposals. This SEPA amendment will be in effect until September 30, 2025, when the Seattle Comprehensive Plan Update provides new housing growth targets and updated SEPA thresholds.
SDCI is reminding residents that if they need to make any repair over water they need to check with the City of Seattle first. Two common shoreline violations are unauthorized pier repair and the use of pressure-treated wood for pier surfaces.
July 28, a change to the Washington State SEPA regulations went into effect related to permits for telecommunication devices. Although Seattle’s SEPA Ordinance and SEPA Director’s Rules have not yet been updated, the state regulations apply to relevant permits in Seattle. Generally, the typical telecommunications applications for permit at DPD will no longer require SEPA.
There are some common misconceptions about working in the Shoreline District and how a project may be exempted from the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit (SSDP) process.