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Regulatory Reforms adopted for Seattle

Regulatory Reforms adopted for Seattle
Reform package helps support local economy, part of Mayor’s Seattle Jobs Plan

SEATTLE – Today Mayor Mike McGinn signed legislation to reform development regulations in Seattle. The changes, adopted by Seattle City Council on July 23, are intended to support jobs in the city, with many of the changes applying to areas of the city where most growth is expected, including most major urban centers and areas along light rail.

“Today’s Council vote supports jobs, urban vitality and environmental sustainability by removing outdated and unneeded regulations,” said McGinn. “I thank the City Council for their due diligence and approval of these regulatory reforms, first announced last summer as part of my Jobs Plan. I especially thank Councilmember Richard Conlin, not only for his leadership on the Council in gaining approval for this package of reforms, but for his dedication to reforming city regulations in a way that helps protect and encourage what makes Seattle a great city.”

The reforms are expected to support a wide range of projects, from large development and institutions to neighborhood mixed use development to home occupations and accessory dwellings units. Historic buildings continue to require special review by the Historic Preservation Office.

“This legislation moves the land use code in the direction of more flexibility and less rigidity,” said Councilmember Richard Conlin, chair of the Land Use Committee. “These are fairly modest reforms but taken as a whole they show our commitment to fostering entrepreneurism, supporting small business, and creating vital, walkable neighborhoods.”

The changes include:

  • Limiting required street level commercial uses to pedestrian designated zones in certain business districts (letting the market decide for some commercial street fronts )
  • Eliminating required parking for all uses in urban villages within ¼ mile of good transit service ( letting the market determine the number of spaces provided)
  • Reducing by half parking requirements for all uses in most other areas when within ¼ mile of good transit service (except industrial zones)
  • Reducing the number of projects subject to environmental review in growth areas (urban center neighborhoods, like First Hill, and around light rail stations) to acknowledge existing regulations that address impacts, such as design review, noise, stormwater, and environmental critical areas
  • Relaxing home occupation rules to allow those running businesses at home to alter their structures, use accessory structures and advertise in the media, including internet
  • Creating greater flexibility for creating accessory dwelling units, including backyard cottages
  • Expanding time limits for certain temporary use permits by allowing them to be extended in six month increments when there are no impacts to neighbors.

Council Bill 117430 can be found at: http://bit.ly/T29Htd

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