Design Review - Streamlined

What Is It?

Streamlined Design Review is required for most townhouse development projects. We will review your proposal and consider written public comments received during the comment period. You may request “adjustments” from the Land Use Code as part of your design proposal. Following the early design guidance (EDG) phase, your project may proceed directly to the building permit application.

Design Review considers multiple aspects of a building and site such as:

  • The overall appearance of the building
  • How the proposal relates to adjacent sites and the overall street frontage
  • How the proposal relates to unusual aspects of the site, like views or slopes
  • Pedestrian and vehicular access to the site
  • Quality of materials, open space, and landscaping

To find the design guidelines that apply to your project, go to our Design Review Guidelines page. There you can find the citywide (multifamily and commercial buildings), downtown, and neighborhood-specific design guidelines.

If your project does not qualify for Streamlined Design Review, it may qualify for Full Design Review or Administrative Design Review.

How Much Does It Cost?

Our review fee is the hourly rate for Land Use review. Current fees, including an additional technology fee, are listed in the Fee Subtitle. You need to pay up front for the first 10 hours of review when you submit your application. After we accept your application, we will send you a monthly invoice for all review time completed in that billing cycle. If you do not pay your invoice, we will stop reviewing your project.

How Long Does It Take?

Our review process depends on several factors:

  • The quality of your plans and project documentation
  • Your response time to correction letters and requests for further information
  • Public interest

Steps to Get Your Permit

Get your property information. Find property information to help you plan your project.

Learn about Design Review. 

Coordinate with other agencies. You may need permits or approvals from other agencies. These are the most common agencies you may need to work with for your permit type:

Learn about street improvement permits. Consult these documents to understand the required SDOT Street Improvement Permitting (SIP) Process:

Find incentive programs and zoning for your project. Research the City's different incentives that might apply to your project.

Start your application. Complete the Building & Land Use Pre-Application online using the Seattle Services Portal. You will also need to upload a site plan and a complete legal description for your site. You'll receive an email once we have added the pre-application site visit (PASV) fees to your project. A project number will be assigned to you. After you have paid the fee, we will perform the inspection. Your preliminary application materials will be sent to other departments for their review and comment.

Read our pre-application report. You will receive a preliminary application report that will include critical information based on preliminary reviews by our site inspector, land use planner, and drainage reviewer. This report will also include preliminary reviews by the Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle City Light. Our report will highlight the required street or alley improvements for your project and may include other relevant project or code issues. You will also receive an email from the Department of Neighborhoods (DON) regarding the community outreach requirement associated with Design Review. 

Conduct your community outreach. Visit DON's Early Community Outreach for Design Review webpage for information and resources about planning, conducting, and documenting your community outreach. The DON staff contact listed on that webpage is responsible for reviewing and approving your outreach documentation and is available to answer any questions you have about your outreach. You may begin your outreach at any time, however it must be completed before we will begin any review of your application.

Apply for a pre-submittal conference. Submit the following forms to the Applicant Services Center and pay fees in order to schedule your pre-submittal conference. At the pre-submittal conference we will go over the Design Review process, project issues and your questions.

We highly encourage you to upload your draft Early Design Guidance (EDG) packet along with your pre-submittal materials. This will allow staff to begin review of your packet and provide feedback at the pre-submittal conference, which will likely save review time after you submit your application. We also recommend that you use the SDR Packet Checklist Worksheet to document where you provided the information. Please provide a copy of this worksheet in your draft packet that you submit to your planner.

Once we have finalized the pre-submittal notes and the SDCI planner has approved and uploaded them to the project file, you may schedule your intake appointment for EDG application.

Submit EDG application. All EDG applications are accepted on a rolling basis, based on when a complete application is submitted through your Seattle Services Portal. You do not need to schedule an intake appointment for EDG applications. You do, however, need to follow the steps in How to Submit Your EDG Application. We may contact you for more information when we screen your materials.

To submit your EDG application, the following documents will be required:

  • Draft digital EDG packet (referred to as Design Review Proposal in the portal) developed using the SDR Packet Checklist. In the Seattle Services Portal Description field, write: "draft EDG packet."
  • Original Statement of Financial Responsibility Form / Agent Authorization signed by the property owner (this form is only required when the financially responsible party or agent has changed for the project since the pre-submittal).

Also upload your EDG packet here following these instructions for preparing and sending your packet.

Pay fees. EDG fees are listed on the back of the Land Use Application Fee Requirements.

Prepare for your EDG review. We will give you our comments and feedback on your draft SDR packet developed using the SDR Packet Checklist.

Wait for public notice and public comments. We will publish a public notice about your application in the public notice section of the Seattle Services Portal, post it at the project site, and mail it to people within 300 feet of your site. If you have Full Design Review, we will require you to post a large notice sign after EDG.

Submit final EDG packet. Upload the following to your portal:

  • Final 11” x 17" SDR packet (referred to as Design Review Proposal in the portal) developed using the SDR Packet Checklist. In the Description field in the Seattle Services Portal write: “Final EDG.”
  • Digital image of massing concepts (referred to as Design Review Proposal cover page in the portal)

Please also upload these documents to Hightail following these instructions for preparing and sending your packet and digital image.

Meet with planner prior to SDR report. Expect to meet with your assigned planner to review your packet, respond to staff comments, and/or discuss project-related issues. If you submitted your draft packet as part of the pre-submittal application, and have received staff comments and responded accordingly, it is likely to save review time.

Your SDR must be complete before you apply for a construction permit. If you have a related land use application, such as SEPA, and a Master Use Permit is required, you may apply for a construction permit at any time once you submit a land use application. However, the project design is likely to change and evolve though the streamlined design review process. Corrections required by our decision may require building plan changes that can result in costly design changes.

Construction and Inspections

Nathan Torgelson, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA, 98124-4019
Phone: (206) 684-8600
Phone Alt: Violation Complaint Line: (206) 615-0808
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SDCI issues land use, construction, and trade permits, conducts construction and housing-related inspections, ensures compliance with our codes, and regulates rental rules. SDCI is committed to an antiracist workplace and to addressing racism through our work in the community.