2013-2014 Amendments to Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan


City of Seattle Comprehensive Plan Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan is a constantly evolving policy document. Beyond the state-required update every 10 years, amendments to the Comprehensive Plan can be made annually through the Annual Docket process. Proposed amendments can be initiated by the public, City Council, or the Executive departments.

The Department of Planning and Development works with the Council and the Planning Commission to determine which proposals should move forward for further review. Once this happens, there is consultation through the process with other departments and Council as the proposals are drafted. Council ultimately reviews and approves a set of amendments to the Comprehensive Plan.

For the 2013-2014 amendment cycle, DPD has evaluated a number of proposed changes with two given the green light for Council consideration. The areas within the scope of the review are the Central Area and Interbay. The proposed amendments for the Central Area would involve revisions to policy text and a future land use map designation change. Meanwhile, the proposed amendment for Interbay consists a future land use map designation change for three parcels.

On Tuesday, the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability (PLUS) Committee held a public hearing on the proposed amendments. A follow-up meeting for PLUS is scheduled for April 18th, essentially the last step before a full Council vote can be held on the matter.

More after the jump.

Central Area

Central District Land Use Map ChangesThe proposed changes would update the Central Area’s neighborhood plan policies and goals. It would also revamp the the introduction and history of the neighborhood. For instance, the proposed changes would update goals for three community nodes along 23rd Ave. The goals would now go into greater depth to describe the quality and purpose of each node. The changes would also emphasize support infrastructure improvement, better connections to transit, encourage the creation of more affordable housing through incentives and publicly-owned property, and cultivating the diverse cultural character of the neighborhood.

The more significant element in the proposed changes are the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) amendments along 23rd Avenue between East Cherry Street and East Jefferson Street. The FLUM would see a land use designation change from Multi-Family to Commercial/Mixed-Use. The area affected by the changes is home to Garfield High School, a community center, and a mix of residential and commercial uses.

These properties are currently zoned LR2. While no rezone is associated with the FLUM amendment, contract rezones are anticipated in the future. In the vicinity (but outside of the proposed FLUM changes), a contract rezone is already underway at 2301 E Union St. The rezone is proposed to go from NC2-40/NC2P-40 to NC3P-65, something that may be in store for this 23rd Ave area.


Interbay Land Use Map ChangesThe Interbay future land use designation change affects three parcels which total about one acre. This change would involve two elements:

  1. The parcels would be removed from the Ballard-Interbay-Northend Manufacturing/Industrial Center, and
  2. They would convert from Industrial to Commercial/Mixed-Use land uses.

The purpose of the changes is to reflect actual uses on the ground. These three properties consist of a grocery store (QFC) and a fitness center. Commercial activities such as these have long existed on the parcels with a very low likelihood that industrial uses will ever return. From the perspective of DPD, it makes sense to simply recognize these land uses and enshrine them in the Comprehensive Plan. By doing so, the properties can continue their commercial uses and more easily redevelop in the future.

Upcoming Cycle

In a future article, I will cover the three proposed amendments that were tabled earlier on in this cycle. In brief, these amendments would address industrial policies, Stadium District policies and goals, and the University Community Urban Center Plan. Those amendments have been deferred until a future amendment cycle.

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Stephen is an urban planner with a passion for sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He is especially interested in how policies, regulations, and programs can promote positive outcomes for communities. Stephen lives in Kenmore and primarily covers land use and transportation issues for The Urbanist.

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Matt the Engineer

I haven’t been following the Comp Plan closely, but I’ve run into it in other areas. The small lot legislation, for instance, references some terrible language in the Comp Plan. Any chance these are being removed or fixed?

LUG8 Preserve and protect low‐density, single‐family neighborhoods that provide
opportunities for home‐ownership, that are attractive to households with children and
other residents, that provide residents with privacy and open spaces immediately
accessible to residents, and where the amount of impervious surface can be limited.

LUG9 Preserve the character of single‐family residential areas and discourage the
demolition of single‐family residences and displacement of residents, in a way that
encourages rehabilitation and provides housing opportunities throughout the city. The
character of single‐family areas includes use, development, and density characteristics.

LU66 Use minimum lot size requirements to maintain a low‐density residential environment while reflecting differences in development conditions and the densities and scale of housing in various single‐family residential areas.

Stephen Fesler

In short, the Annual Docket items will not address the small lot legislation since they’re different. The small lot legislation is a text amendment to the zoning code, so DPD will inevitably be relying on policies and goals like the above. You can see that actual Comp Plan text changes for this year here. I also don’t see any clean up coming forward for the future to the above policies. Although, now’s the time to suggest topics for review under the next amendment cycle!