Six months ago, Mayor Murray announced he was breaking up the Department of Planning and Development. Now, the two-way split is about to become official. If you’re interested in land use/development/construction/related issues, here’s what the city says you need to know:
2016 brings some significant changes to the leadership and organizational structure of the Department of Planning and Development (DPD). After 38 years with the City and 14 as director of DPD, Diane Sugimura will be retiring. At the same time, the department will become two – the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections and a new Office of Planning and Community Development. Current staff and services within DPD will remain in place for most of 2016. Staff in both departments will continue to work closely together to help ensure coordination as we move forward.
The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (Seattle DCI)
The new department will be led by Nathan Torgelson, current DPD deputy director. Seattle DCI will primarily include regulatory functions such as: permitting, construction inspections, code compliance, tenant protections, rental housing registration and inspections, but will also include a smaller unit for code development.
The Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD)
In June 2015, the Mayor issued an Executive Order 2015-04, announcing the creation of OPCD. Council approved the creation of the new Office as part of the 2016 Budget. This group will be primarily composed of staff from the City Planning division of DPD. As the Mayor stated, “I’m creating a new office to integrate all of our priorities and to better coordinate how we grow and invest.” The office will take our planning efforts and look at them through a lens of race, social justice and economic equity for all Seattle communities.
The search process for a new director is underway. During that process, Diane will serve as interim director until the new director arrives. Major work items for the new office in 2016 include the update of the City’s Comprehensive Plan Seattle 2035, and assistance with implementation of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), which will include approval and implementation of plans such as the University District, and 23rd Ave. at Union/Cherry/Jackson.
This new Executive Office will be working closely with many departments, particularly the capital departments. Departments are already starting to align their work more closely.
What Will Our Customers and Stakeholders See?
*The department/office names will change on January 4, 2016
*For the first part of the year, staff will continue to be in their same offices in the Seattle Municipal Tower (SMT), with the same phone numbers and email addresses
*Around August, OPCD will be moving to the 5th floor of City Hall, and SDCI will use the City Planning space on the 19th floor of SMT for a much needed expansion.