Conlin introduces bill to encourage mixed-use development

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City of Seattle

Councilmember Richard Conlin

Conlin introduces bill to encourage mixed-use development
Legislation to set minimum densities in pedestrian-oriented zones

SEATTLE – Councilmember Richard Conlin introduced interim controls legislation today that sets a minimum density requirement for new buildings in pedestrian-oriented Neighborhood Commercial zones in Seattle’s urban villages and urban centers. Councilmember Conlin developed the legislation in response to neighborhood concerns about one-story, suburban-style projects proposed in various Seattle urban villages.

The goal of the proposed legislation is to align the design of new projects with the character of designated pedestrian zones. “Neighbors affirmed the vision in our neighborhood plans that bulky low-scale development is out of context with their neighborhood. I introduced short-term legislation to ensure we aren’t missing opportunities in communities that have planned for and want a more vibrant streetscape,” said Councilmember Richard Conlin, chair of the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability (PLUS) Committee. “It’s great to hear so many people saying yes to mixed-use projects with ground floor retail and housing above.”

The legislation requires a minimum density for Neighborhood Commercial (NC) zones in urban centers, urban villages and station area overlay districts that have a pedestrian designation overlay. The minimum density level, measured by the Floor Area Ratio (FAR), would be based on the maximum allowable height in the NC zone. The requirement would only apply to new buildings or modifications to existing buildings that add or remove more than 1,000 square feet or 10 percent of the gross square footage currently existing on the lot, whichever is less.

“Our Comprehensive Plan targets job and housing growth in our urban villages and urban centers. P-zones in those areas are places where people like to walk, shop and hang out. Strip mall-type developments don’t invite that type of activity,” said Conlin. “The land use code is usually used to limit height and density, but we can also use it to encourage the right kind of growth in the right places.”

The Full Council is expected to vote on the interim controls on Monday, September 9. If adopted, the legislation would take effect immediately after the Mayor signs the bill. Permanent legislation will be developed with stakeholder input in the Council’s land use committee in 2014.

[View in Council Newsroom]