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Incentive Zoning Update

Public open space is one of the benefits that are encouraged by incentive zoning.
Incentive zoning requires property owners to provide public benefits, such as affordable housing, open space, or historic preservation, to achieve their site's full building potential.

What’s Happening Now?

Incentive zoning is a set of requirements that property owners in certain zones must meet to achieve the full potential of their building site. Property owners are required to provide public benefits, such as affordable housing, historic preservation, and open space, in exchange for larger buildings.

We are undertaking a comprehensive, city-wide update of the incentive zoning requirements for the first time since they were created. Our update will combine several zone-specific programs into a consistent city-wide approach. Our update will also address issues relating to the requirements for specific public benefits and overall program benefits and costs. We are also considering whether to convert the affordable housing and child care incentives to linkage fees. Linkage fees are charges, on a per square foot basis, on new development to mitigate some portion of its impact. Linkage fees could be applied to development regardless of whether the project takes advantage of incentives that allow additional floor area.

We have been working with two stakeholder groups, one focusing on affordable housing and one focusing on historic preservation, open space, and other amenities. Both stakeholder groups have recently completed discussions about potential approaches to improve our current program.

This effort has been integrated into the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda which will be developed during the first half of 2015. We expect legislation implementing the final vision will be available in mid 2015 or early 2016, potentially in two phases.

Project Benefits

  • More public benefits, such as affordable housing or open space, throughout Seattle
  • Increased number of developers that use the incentive zoning program
  • More consistent regulations that are easier to understand

The End Result

Our update is intended to create consistent, city-wide incentive zoning rules that encourages developers to use the program and to provide substantial public benefits.

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