Seattle City Council Passes Industrial and Maritime Zoning Legislation Updating the City’s Land Use Code and Buoying the Local Economy 

Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6 – Northwest Seattle) Chair of the Land Use Committee, celebrated the unanimous passage of a series of council bills known as the “Industrial and Maritime Strategy” legislation by the full council today. This legislation will update the City’s land use code to increase flexibility for maritime and industrial businesses while creating an estimated 35,000 new jobs over the next 20 years.  

Seattle’s current maritime and industrial policies are more than 35 years old, so these updates will modernize the City’s code and future land use maps as outlined in the Comprehensive Plan Update. Additionally, this legislation will strengthen land use protections for existing industries, promote more sustainable environmental practices, and plans for the expansion of light rail. It also creates healthier transitions between industrial and nonindustrial areas. Maritime and Industrial businesses are the backbone of Seattle’s economy, and these updates will ensure that they can be successful for decades to come.  

This legislation creates three new industrial zones:  

Maritime, Manufacturing, and Logistics:

This zone will enhance protections for both core and legacy industrial or maritime areas and help prevent big box retailers or mini-storage facilities from being built in these zones. This is particularly important for areas on or near the shoreline, as well as for locations near port and rail infrastructure.  

Industry and Innovation:

This zone aims to promote the construction of multi-story buildings that combine industrial businesses with other employment opportunities such as office space, research facilities, or technology businesses. It would achieve this by encouraging the development of modern industrial facilities near light rail stations and commercial areas. The goal is to foster high-density employment opportunities in these locations. 

Urban Industrial:

This zone was created to significantly increase entrepreneurship and employment opportunities while also adding vibrancy to the area by supporting facilities for the creative arts or other small-scale industries. This is in addition to housing or retail space that can be built in this zone. This type of zone will create healthier transitions to residential spaces and mixed-use areas like Ballard or in South Park.  

Councilmember Strauss and the Office of Community Planning and Development began this process by engaging stakeholders from both the maritime and industrial sectors to learn more about their specific needs, and how conditions could be improved. This group highlighted the need for more living-wage jobs, creating more career pathways for women and the BIPOC community, as well as stronger land use protections for industrial and maritime locations.  


“The Maritime and Industrial Strategy has been deliberated for many years, creating consensus within a group of stakeholders who often hold opposite opinions. Mayor Harrell and his team crafted a balanced proposal that protects both our maritime and industrial lands while supporting the flexibility needed to keep up with emerging industrial needs,” says Councilmember Strauss, District 6. “Our maritime and industrial businesses buoy our economy in downturns and remain a vital part of our city’s fabric. When looking at Fisherman’s Terminal, every fishing vessel you see is a small business directly employing hundreds of people., and indirectly thousands in our community.. I am thankful for the additional protections this bill provides to the lands that support these workers and many other family-wage industries.” 

“I’m extremely pleased thatCity Council has adopted the Maritime and Industrial Strategy proposal put forward by my office, representing the first major update to this critical policy in decades,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “Seattle has thrived with strong maritime and industrial sectors, and this meaningful update to the industrial lands policy ensures we are protecting the thousands of living-wage union jobs in these sectors while also taking advantage of new opportunities for thoughtful growth. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with the Council on strategies to support the next generation of industrial and maritime workers in our city.” 

“In passing Mayor Harrell’s industrial lands package, the City Council and Mayor have not only protected living wage jobs but have also protected neighboring communities by creating separation from heavy industries and associated truck traffic,” said Fred Felleman, Port of Seattle Commissioner.  “Thank you to our city officials for finding a mutually beneficial way forward with the passage of this long-awaited legislation.” 

“With a ten-year plan to protect maritime industrial zones, businesses will have the certainty they need to plan and build,” said Ryan Calkins, Port of Seattle Commissioner.  “This legislation provides that framework for economic diversity and resiliency for the next generation. Thank you to Mayor Harrell, the Seattle City Council, and the unprecedented number of businesses, labor unions, and advocates for industry from all over Washington who made this progress today.” 

“On behalf of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA), representing shipping lines, marine terminal operators, and others in the trade community, I want to express my gratitude to Mayor Harrell and the City Council for passing this important piece of legislation,” said Jordan Royer, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association. “This package will result in greater protections for key industrial lands where private companies, state, federal, and local governments have invested billions in infrastructure over time in order to keep Washington State competitive and thriving economically. And thank you to Chairman Dan Strauss for his early engagement and leadership in guiding the package through the legislative and community process.” 

“The upcoming investment in transit infrastructure presents a massive opportunity to create employment-dense industrial and commercial uses near transit. This approach is good for employees, good for employers, and good for the planet,” said Dr. Gregory Vaughn, Managing Partner of PP&G Properties, LLC, says. “It’s also critical to think about how industrial uses are changing and make sure Seattle stays at the cutting edge of innovation. We’re especially excited to be part of reimagining how Interbay could be a place for Seattleites to work and play.” 

“The property owners in the SODO near the Lander Light Rail Station, support this legislation and appreciate the hard work OPCD, City Council, and the Mayor’s Office have put into finding a compromise solution around zoning in the industrial lands,” said Ted Lehmann, Stack Family Properties. “We believe this is an important first step in attracting new and long overdue investment into the area, which is critical for the success of our Light Rail system.”  

“Local 19 applauds the efforts of Mayor Harrell, the Land Use Committee and the full council in passing Industrial Lands legislation, not everyone got what they wanted in this package including us but that is how compromise works,” said International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 19 President Herald Ugles. “However overall this package is good for industrial lands and the City of Seattle.”