One Portland in Portland, Oregon.
One Portland in Portland, Oregon.

The City of Seattle is beginning a process to enhance the city’s Design Review Program, which dates back to 1994. The basic structure of the program has remained largely the same since then, despite small modifications occurring over the past two decades–the most recent of which was rolled out in 2014. Originally, the program was developed in order to engage local communities during the design process of development proposals. The overarching purpose was to collect community and professional feedback to inform and enhance project proposals before final approval. The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) now wants to engage stakeholders (like you) to determine what type of improvements should be made in a big program revamp. DPD Senior Planner, Aly Pennucci, explains why:

Currently, DPD is observing calls for evaluating Design Review from varied user groups. Some in the development community are requesting cost reductions and more predictability.  Simultaneously, some community groups are requesting that the program address concerns about growth more holistically. Given markedly changed conditions and strong interest from numerous stakeholders, it is appropriate to explore improvements and updates to the program.  Building off of the recent work led by the Seattle Chamber and previous reviews of the Design Review Program, DPD will identify, evaluate and implement organizational, structural and procedural changes to revamp and refresh the Design Review Program.

DPD has laid out a few overall project goals the design review revamp which include identifying solutions that:

  • Make design review more efficient and accessible;
  • Bolster the quality of community dialogue through design review; and
  • Capitalize on innovative technologies which engage with community effectively.

brief survey has been put out by DPD that focuses on a series of questions on the Design Review Program. The Department wants to know what people like about the program, what could be improved, how they are engaging with the program now, and how they would like to engage in the future. A follow-up survey will be published later this year that focuses exclusively on areas for improvement. If you have a few minutes on hand, provide your feed back or contact Aly Pennucci directly.

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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.