Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan



Submit Your Comments to the City

Help Historic Seattle and other preservation advocates by weighing in on the City’s Comprehensive Plan update!

The City of Seattle recently released their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the city’s Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) update, known as Seattle 2035. The Comp Plan will serve as our roadmap to achieving the future vision we want over the next 20 years, while preserving and improving our neighborhoods. Seattle 2035 covers things like land use, transportation, housing, environment, neighborhood planning, economic development, and urban design.

You can visit the online open house to explore the elements of the DEIS.

The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is seeking public input on Seattle 2035. The public comment period will run until June 182015. Please send your comments on the Draft EIS to make sure that preservation plays a role in shaping the City’s future growth!

Send your comments via email by Thursday, June 18, 2015, to Gordon Clowers at

Contact DPD today! Here are some key points:

  • The Draft EIS proposal states that “All Comprehensive Plan elements will be reviewed and updated as part of the proposal.” The draft does not address Economic Development, Neighborhood Planning, Cultural Resource, and Urban Design.
  • The current plan includes preservation under the “Cultural Resource” element (CR11-CR16).  The new Comp Plan replaces “Cultural Resource” with an “Arts and Culture” element. This new element focuses on art (public art, cultural space, arts education, creative economy, creative placemaking) and seems to eliminate historic preservation and protection of cultural resources. How will preservation be included in the future Comp Plan? How are the city’s existing preservation policies and regulations being addressed?
  • The “Environment” element addresses environmental stewardship, one of the plan’s core values. Environmental stewardship is primarily defined within the context of the natural environment (air, land, and water resources) and not built environmentThe analysis should address the role of preservation vs demolition in terms of environmental stewardship.

Preservation Matters! Preserving historic places is important to community diversity and character, economic vitality, and environmental stewardship. Preservation and creative adaptive reuse of our existing building stock cuts across all four core values of the Comp PlanCommunity, Environmental Stewardship, Economic Opportunity, and Social Equity.

Preservation enhances community vibrancy and cultural identity. Historic buildings in older neighborhoods lend vibrancy to communities and help define the sense of place or personality of cities. It’s well documented: people are drawn to communities that retain their distinctive character and heritage. Restaurants, shops, and services follow preservation. They are a vital part of promoting healthy, complete communities.

Preservation is an economic driver. Investing in historic buildings sparks economic revitalization and acts as a linchpin in neighborhood development.

Preservation conserves resources. Rehab of existing structures reduces waste and saves energy. Approximately 25% of the material in landfills is demolition and construction waste. Building reuse almost always offers environmental savings over demolition and new construction. Recent research on the environmental impacts of new construction (in terms of energy, carbon, water, materials, toxicity, etc) shows that it takes decades for the greenest building to pay back these up-front costs. Additionally, life spans for new buildings are often 30-40 years vs. more than 100 years for most historic structures.

Preservation contributes to social equity. Rehab investment occurs in culturally and economically diverse communities. Reusing our historic building stock – whether it’s an old warehouse, school, or former church – provides much-needed, creative spaces for housing, arts, offices, and community centers.

Background on the DEIS, Comprehensive Plan Update and Process

Seattle is expected to grow by 120,000 new residents and 115,000 new jobs by 2035. This will require incorporating 70,000 housing units. How will this growth be distributed? How will we create dense, walkable, vibrant neighborhoods? How will we preserve open space and maintain our quality of life?

The Draft EIS is based on the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), a state policy that provides the framework for agencies to consider the likely environmental consequences of a proposal before taking action. An environmental impact statement, or EIS, is a document that provides an impartial discussion of significant environmental impacts, reasonable alternatives, and mitigation measures that would avoid or minimize adverse impacts. SEPA defines the elements of the environment to include both the natural and built environment.

For the Comp Plan update EIS, the City is proposing to address land use, plans and policies, transportation, population, housing and employment, public services, utilities, air quality, climate change and noise.

The 394-page DEIS analyzes 4 alternatives for growth, their potential impacts, and potential mitigation measures:

Alternative 1. Continue Current Trends (No Action)

Alternative 2. Guide Growth to Urban Centers

Alternative 3. Guide Growth to Urban Villages near Light Rail

Alternative 4. Guide Growth to Urban Villages near Transit

While all public comments will be considered in Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), it is best to provide DPD with comprehensive comments covering issues you think are important for the Department to analyze and why one alternative–or combination of alternatives–is best.

The DEIS sets out seven core objectives for the Comp Plan:

  1. Retaining the urban village strategy and achieving a development pattern in line with it;
  2. Leveraging growth to create housing choices and to promote healthy, complete communities;
  3. Creating jobs and economic opportunity for all Seattle residents;
  4. Building on regional transportation investments and balancing transportation investments;
  5. Supporting strategic public investment that addresses areas of need and maximizes public benefit;
  6. Becoming a more climate-friendly city; and
  7. Distributing the benefits of growth more equitably.

The same four core values of Community, Environmental Stewardship, Economic Opportunity, and Social Equity will be retained with one minor change. The last core value adds Race, Social Justice, and Social Equity as a foundational value “to encourage healthy growth and prosperity for all our diverse communities.”

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about Seattle 2035. Support historic preservation and make your voice heard at the City of Seattle!