Seattle Rolls Out New Community Engagement Framework

Under the new guidelines, developers will need to implement specific community engagement strategies, at times based on a neighborhood's demographics.

July 7, 2018, 1:00 PM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


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Image courtesy of Dave Biggs / A typical community meeting.

Seattle wants to make it easier for residents to learn about developers' plans in their area. "Often in the design process," Stephen Fesler writes, "developments move to local design review boards where the proposals are seen for the first time and are well set in their direction having had little or no community feedback."

A new set of guidelines, in effect starting this month, "requires applicants with projects participating in the design review process to develop early community engagement plans and then execute them in their local neighborhoods."

The plans "must include a mix of printed, digital, and in-person mediums to obtain community feedback." On top of that, developers who want to build in certain census tracts, dubbed "equity areas," will need to work with the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON) to create custom engagement plans.

Fesler writes that "DON has tried to make the process for community engagement easy and cheap for applicants. A centralized, special website has been purpose built for the program, serving both community and applicants." Note that while developers must seek out community feedback, they aren't required to incorporate it into their intended designs prior to submitting for review.

See also: Seattle Planning Director Pursues Equity Amid a Pro-Growth Agenda

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