MONDAY NIGHT: Big changes to Design Review? City Council hearing – with last-minute changes

We were already planning to publish a reminder about a City Council committee hearing Monday night that’s of citywide importance to everyone interested in development – the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee‘s hearing on proposed changes to the Design Review process. Then, just now, a local community group that closely watches development-related issues sent an alert with new last-minute information. From the Morgan Community Association:

The city has proposed some major changes to the existing Design Review Program. MoCA President (and past Design Review member) Deb Barker was on the stakeholders group who worked with the city on possible changes earlier this year. The city just released their final proposed version in a package sent to the City Council in August. Several MoCA board members have been reviewing those changes to see how they would impact our neighborhood and if we wanted to make additional comments at the Public Hearing tomorrow, Sept 11. But to our dismay, on Friday (Sept. 8th), the City Council Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee proposed 9 additional amendments of modifications, some of which have multiple new options. In their discussion, staff was not able to actually describe what the full changes are and admit it is confusing and more information is needed.

In a nutshell, we don’t know what’s on the table any more!

The PLUZ committee has said they plan to vote this out of committee on Sept 19. We are asking anyone who has an interest in good design happening in our neighborhoods to write to the PLUZ committee and request more time for Council to solidify their amendments and have time for the public to review and comment on the final package. Please send a short note to city council by 7:00 pm Monday, Sept 11.

Email addresses for the PLUZ committee

Link to the Mayor’s proposed changes to Design Review (Director’s Report summary)

Link to the City Council proposed amendments (as of last Friday)

The council committee has been discussing the potential changes (pre-amendments) in recent months; we wrote about one of the discussions in mid-August. In general, reasons cited for changing the program include shortening the time it takes to get projects through city vetting, and also an alleged overload/backlog for the city’s Design Review Boards (although right now, for example, the Southwest Design Review Board has zero projects on its upcoming calendar).

MONDAY NIGHT’S HEARING: If you’d like to comment in person at the committee’s hearing on the Design Review changes, the Monday night hearing is on Lower Queen Anne, at SIFF Cinema Uptown, in Auditorium 3, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N. The meeting starts at 5:30 pm with an hour and a half scheduled for the Uptown rezoning proposal, not related to the Design Review proposal, which is then scheduled to come up at 7 pm. The meeting’s full agenda, with document links, is here.

6 Replies to "MONDAY NIGHT: Big changes to Design Review? City Council hearing - with last-minute changes"

  • Bill Bradburd September 10, 2017 (11:36 pm)

    If you cannot attend, please call or email Lisa Herbold to make comment.

    You can also sign this petition:

  • Brian September 11, 2017 (9:54 am)

    I appreciate the efforts of MoCa members but isn’t it glaringly obvious that the city does not care about input from neighborhood advocacy groups? Isn’t that why they dissolved the neighborhood councils unilaterally?
    This whole release is written like it must be some big misunderstanding and that, surely, the city didn’t really mean to exclude any input from its own citizens in favor of letting developers figure out the best way to densify the neighborhoods they don’t care about.
    Pull your heads out of wherever you’ve shoved them. Leaders in Seattle government do not care what you think.   

    • WSB September 11, 2017 (10:33 am)

      If you don’t speak up, you have zero chance of being heard. In my 10 years of closely covering such things, I can say that if you do speak up, you DO have a chance. Meantime, one important correction: The city did NOT “dissolve the neighborhood councils.” Nor did it dissolve the neighborhood DISTRICT councils, which is what last year’s big mayoral move affected. The mayor dissolved the formal *ties* with neighborhood district councils and ended the city’s small funding support for them – which amounted to about $500 a year, which most groups spent on room rental for monthly meetings. Most if not all district councils have continued on despite being dissed by the city – including both in West Seattle, the Southwest District Council and Delridge Neighborhoods District Council. The city has even backtracked a bit on cutting of all ties and is providing some staff support for these groups, though not at the same level as before, which in turn was a lower level than before the Department of Neighborhoods cut its ranks of “neighborhood district coordinators” several years earlier. Anyway, I have since heard that at least one other local group will have a rep commenting at tonight’s meeting, and despite it being way across town in the wilds of lower Queen Anne, I have long been planning to cover it, so whoever else is going, see you there … TR

    • Diane September 11, 2017 (12:19 pm)

      I’ve been participating in Design Review meetings, community meetings all over WS, District Council meetings, nearly every city sponsored meeting related to WS issues, hearings at city council, written many times to CC, all for nearly 10 yrs, and sorry to say I am now also just as cynical as you Brian; I have pretty much lost any trust that anyone at city hall cares at all what we the citizens think or want; it’s a very sad conclusion for me

      • Captin September 11, 2017 (7:35 pm)

        Have you considered the content of other feedback?

  • WS Guy September 11, 2017 (11:41 am)

    These changes are ridiculous.

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