2024 Parks and Open Space Plan

Updated: July 11, 2024

What is the Parks and Open Space Plan?

Every six years, Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) updates its Parks and Open Space Plan (POSP) to maintain the City’s eligibility for state grants through the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO). The POSP guides where park development, improvements, and asset maintenance projects should occur; and where open space should be prioritized for acquisition. The plan serves as an opportunity for Seattle Parks and Recreation to align its acquisition and capital development program with the department’s strategic and funding priorities. Our intention is that this plan will build off the engagement and strategic planning that Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) engaged in since 2019.

On May 8, 2024, the Seattle City Council approved the 2024 Parks and Open Space Plan (POSP) which allowed SPR to submit it to the Washington State RCO.

Please see this story map for more details, showing city-wide access to parks, walkability, gaps in walkability, equity & health, income & poverty, and population density.

2024 Parks and Open Space Plan

To improve alignment with Seattle Park District financial planning and the One Seattle Comprehensive Plan update, SPR will launch a more robust update of the POSP in late 2025. Knowing that an update to the POSP will begin in 2025, the draft 2024 POSP has very minor changes from the 2017 POSP. The 2024 draft plan contains goals and policies developed in 2017 to be consistent with the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan. The 2024 PSOP outlines why these goals are important, how they relate to the specific policies, and action steps and capital projects to implement those goals and policies. 

The POSP recommends a citywide “Level of Service” (LOS) standard to identify where future recreation facilities should be located which in turn informs asset improvements and property acquisition priorities. Rather than an acres per 1,000 residents guideline, the 2024 POSP outlines a level of service standard based on walkability. This is consistent with the direction of the City’s Comprehensive Plan. The two walkability distances are:

  • 5-minute walkability guideline to be applied within the Urban Center boundary
  • 10-minute walkability guideline to be applied outside of the Urban Center boundary

This change recognizes walkability is a better measure of how well our spaces are servicing the needs of the community because they are based on an individual’s ability to access open spaces within a reasonable walking distance. This change will also help SPR align with the capital planning approach of other City departments. 

 As in the 2017 Plan, walking with or without a pet, jogging, and visiting playgrounds, natural areas, beaches, neighborhoods, and community parks remain consistently the top-tier activities for people in the city. The use of athletic fields, community centers, pools and picnic shelters also show high participation levels. 

Based on updated GIS analysis, 95% of housing units in the city are within a 10-minute walk to a park. As in 2017, it is understood that the city and Urban Centers will continue to grow and become more densely populated. Since Urban Centers are higher-density locations where most growth is expected to occur, closer proximity (5-minute walkability) and access to park facilities are important. 

For SPR to plan equitably for future recreational facilities and programming the 2024 Plan reviewed the demographics of the city, recreation participation and needs. While property acquisition is primarily opportunity-driven, analysis of gap areas for walkability informed by demographics helps define SPR’s priorities and needs for future acquisition and development projects. 

Public Engagement

From November 2022 through January 2023 SPR collected public input at five One Seattle Comprehensive Plan meetings. An online public meeting was held on May 18, 2023 and six in-person open houses were held in May and June 2023 at locations throughout Seattle. 
More than 60 key themes were heard in more than a dozen categories such as: 

  • Provide more athletic fields without synthetic turf;
  • Consider community centers as shelters during winter months and as cooling centers, climate resiliency hubs during summer months;
  • Plant more trees, native plants in parks to combat climate change, especially in downtown and south Seattle. 
  • Convert underutilized golf courses near frequent transit into affordable housing and truly public parks that are free to access.
  • Provide more dog parks, off-leash areas to protect parks, sports fields, and other open areas from damage and overuse by unleashed dogs.
  • Develop more dedicated pickleball courts. 
    Retrofit the park restrooms so they can stay open all year, better lighting and security. 

The Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) was issued on February 1, 2024, under 197-11-340(2). The lead agency, Seattle Parks and Recreation, will not act on this proposal for 14 days from the date of issuance (February 1, 2024). Written comments must be submitted by February 15, 2024, to David Graves at david.graves@seattle.gov

Download the DNS document for additional information

Next Steps and Timeline

To submit the POSP to RCO, it must be adopted by the City Council. 

  • January 25: Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners (BPRC) briefing
  • February 9: Public release of draft Plan (public comment period begins)
  • February 22: BPRC Public Hearing
  • March 9: Public comment period closes for the draft plan
  • March 14: BPRC discussion and recommendations 
  • March 22: Transmit legislation to City Council pending Superintendent approval
  • April 24: Vote Parks, Public Utilities & Technology Committee
  • April 29: Vote Full City Council
  • May: Submit to Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) pending Council approval

Parks and Recreation

AP Diaz, Superintendent
Mailing Address: 100 Dexter Ave N, Seattle, WA, 98109
Phone: (206) 684-4075
Fax: (206) 615-1813

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