Comprehensive Plan map, 1950

Comprehensive Plan map, 1950

On Monday, May 13th, the Council unanimously adopted the 2012-2013 Comprehensive Plan Amendments. Under State law, the Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) can only be amended once a year (with a few specific exceptions), and the process involves a lengthy and thorough review of proposed amendments. The Comp Plan is not taken lightly by the City, and we are cautious about changing it.

State law also calls for a periodic full update of the Comp Plan, which the City is required to complete by 2015. This process began last year, and is now moving into high gear. Our goal is to reduce complexity and make the Comp Plan simpler and easier for people to understand, and easier for the City to implement. Even as this full update is underway, the City will also continue the annual amendment cycle in 2013-2014, which will begin with a call for proposals in the near future.

The current group of amendments includes some new policies that are intended to help shape the full update. The most significant addition are the new “Transit Communities Policies”. These policies augment the City’s Urban Village strategy by adding new sets of criteria to ensure that transit investments and housing development are more closely linked. The set of policies approved this year focus on creating the conceptual framework for transit communities, and on integrating the transit community concept built on walksheds surrounding areas that have frequent transit service with the urban village strategy generally built on existing commercial and residential nodes. We anticipate that making a closer linkage between transit service and development opportunities may lead to revised boundaries for urban villages and centers, and clearer priorities for future investments.

The transit communities policies were developed by the Seattle Planning Commission, and have been extensively reviewed and refined to create a clear path to making them useful parts of the Comp Plan. The revisions made by the Council defined the walkshed, emphasized the relationship to the urban village strategy, and added criteria for community engagement in working on specific changes in affected communities.

The Comprehensive Plan amendments include the following other important additions or modifications:

  • Extensive reworking of the policies around climate change to reflect the new goal of carbon neutrality and the specific strategies that are included in the update of the Climate Action Plan.
  • Revisions to the Urban Design element to emphasize and define the connections between the built environment and the natural features of Seattle, and to emphasize the importance of public space and parks.
  • A new Healthy Food Policies element that creates the policy framework for the Seattle Food Action Plan, approved by the Council on April 29.
  • Updates to the Broadview/Bitter Lake/Haller Lake and Rainier Beach Neighborhood Plan policies, the most recent neighborhood plans to go through a major review.

For details on the amendments, please see website.