Affordable Housing Design Review Amendments - What & Why

Two examples of housing projects.

What’s Happening Now?

This temporary legislation was passed and is now in effect until August 13, 2025.  It benefits development projects that include housing by:

  • Exempting housing projects from Design Review if they include affordable housing that meets the Mandatory Housing Affordability requirements with at least one qualifying housing unit
  • Allowing any housing project required to go through Full Design Review to opt into Administrative Design Review

SDCI would study the results from this legislation to inform a proposal for permanent code changes.

This legislation was passed as Ordinance 126854 and went into effect on August 13, 2023. For more information, go to the Seattle City Council's legislation website and enter the council bill number 120581 or ordinance number 126854 in the search box. 

Project Benefits

This legislation accomplishes the following:

  1. Provides an exemption from Design Review for development projects that elect to meet the City’s Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) requirement with on-site performance 
  2. Provides an option for any housing development proposal to be reviewed under Administrative Design Review rather than by the Design Review Board under Full Design Review
  3. Allows the SDCI Director to waive or modify certain development standards for the MHA performance projects
  4. Allows applicants who opt for the Administrative Design Review process to return to Full Design Review process at their discretion
  5. Is effective for an interim period of 24 months while the City studies permanent proposals to update the Design Review process

The End Result

This legislation allows more efficient permit review of development to address urgent housing needs, including for low-income people, for a period of two years while the City studies a permanent proposal to be considered by the City Council.

The proposed legislation continues the City’s ongoing efforts to help produce housing by exempting certain projects from Design Review and allowing, at the applicant’s option, different review processes. 

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.