On August 13 the Council unanimously approved a resolution that advances possible Comprehensive Plan amendments for analysis and review by the Seattle Planning Commission and the Department of Planning and Development. These amendments will be considered for adoption in the spring of 2013 (state law limits the City to making general amendments to the Comprehensive Plan once a year).
The amendments proposed for review were culled from those submitted by City Departments, Councilmembers, and members of the public, both in written form and at a public hearing held in June. Another public hearing will be held prior to making a final decision on what amendments should be adopted.
A major Comprehensive Plan update is scheduled for 2015, and some of the amendments scheduled for review will add new policies in advance of that update, or expand on current policies in preparation for it. The new policy areas include:
- Policies relating to the City’s climate action program and progress towards carbon neutrality. Recommendations are being developed by the Office of Sustainability and Environment.
- Policies that support the production and distribution of healthy food. Recommendations are being developed by the Regional Food Policy Council under a contract with the City.
- A Transit Communities Policy intended to make neighborhoods complete, compact, connected communities that are well-served by transit. Recommendations are being developed by the Planning Commission.
- Urban design policies will be amended to improve the design of public spaces and connections among them. Recommendations are being developed by the Department of Planning and Development.
- New policies will be added to the Broadview — Bitter Lake — Haller Lake Neighborhood Plan and Rainier Beach Neighborhood Plan sections of the Comprehensive Plan. These communities are in the final stages of neighborhood plan updates.
One other plan update is proposed to bring Seattle into conformance with state policies by clarifying the Container Port Element of the Plan.
In addition to these seven, which are all likely to result in new adopted Plan amendments, there are four policies that were recommended by the public which will be advanced for further review. These are new policies that may or may not be deemed appropriate for the Plan.
- The recreational boating industry has proposed to amend the Economic Development Element to recognize the importance of the recreational boating industry and include marinas, boat yards and boat sales as water-dependent and related businesses.
- The maritime unions have proposed to amend the Land Use element to prohibit the development of spectator sports facilities in industrial zones if they would significantly restrict or disrupt existing industrial uses.
- Community groups have proposed an amendment that would amend the Neighborhood Planning Element to state that the City is receptive to funding neighborhood organizations to conduct neighborhood planning processes.
- And community groups have proposed to amend the Transportation Element to discourage pedestrian grade separations in urban centers.
The Council chose not to proceed with analysis of several amendments relating to possible rezones in the Interbay area, pending the outcome of a corridor study of 15th Avenue NW which will provide guidelines on the level of development that can be sustained in this area.
The Council also adopted a companion resolution consolidating several resolutions that defined the process for amending the Comprehensive Plan, and adding a criteria that amendments should be “likely to make a material difference in a future city regulatory or funding decision”. The City and Council take the Comprehensive Plan and the process for amending and revising it very seriously. It is intended to be a living document that guides City practices, as well as including the mandatory elements specified by the Growth Management Act. The annual amendment process is an important step in defining the kind of City we will aspire to.