Updated industrial land use concepts evaluated in Draft Environmental Impact Statement
The Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) has completed its environmental study of land use changes recommended by Mayor Jenny A. Durkan’s Industrial and Maritime Strategy Council.
The City’s new industrial land use concepts seek to provide stronger protections for core industrial and maritime areas, while encouraging modern, innovative high-density industrial development in walkable areas near light rail stations. The proposal seeks to create affordable opportunities for small-scale light-industrial businesses, makers, and creative arts, and improve environmental health of communities in and near industrial areas.
The proposals also seek to create improved transitions between industrial areas and residential or mixed-use areas and provide new flexibility for industry-supportive housing to allow workers and entrepreneurs to live near their place of work.
Ultimately, the City aims to grow thousands of new living-wage jobs, while providing equitable access to those opportunities for Black, Indigenous, people of color, and women.
The City’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) features four alternatives: a “no action” alternative and three action alternatives with increasing levels of change from existing land use rules and greater magnitudes of projected employment growth and housing allowances.
In the DEIS, the City studied policies and zoning regulations that would update the land use approach for industrial areas, creating three new zones:
- Maritime, Manufacturing and Logistics (MML) – This zone would focus on strengthening land use protections for core and legacy industrial and maritime areas to better prevent the encroachment of development that is incompatible with industrial and maritime uses. This zone is particularly applicable near the shoreline or deep-water port, rail and freight infrastructure, and around existing clusters of industrial or maritime suppliers and services.
- Industry and Innovation (II) – This zone would encourage new development in multi-story buildings that accommodate industrial businesses mixed with other dense employment uses such as research, design, offices, and technology through a system of density bonuses. Modern industrial development would support high-density employment near transit stations and commercial areas.
- Urban Industrial (UI) This zone would aim to increase employment and entrepreneurship opportunities with a vibrant mix of affordable, small-scale places for light industry, makers, and creative arts, as well as industry-supporting ancillary retail or housing spaces to create better, integrated, and healthier transitions along the edges between industrial areas and neighboring urban villages, residential, and mixed-use areas.
“The City of Seattle is committed to advancing the recommendations of dozens of stakeholders formulated through years of collaborative conversation,” said Rico Quirindongo, interim director of OPCD. “We continue to invest in our industrial maritime strategy because it is an opportunity to engage proactively in the future of our city and industrial lands, and how they relate to economic recovery and investment for all of our communities – including folks who work at the Port, in organized labor, and our communities of color. We will lean into a vision for the future of our City, and this is a great opportunity to continue that work in 2022.”
Washington’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) requires environmental review when a city makes changes to land use policies or zoning. The DEIS analyzes how the proposed changes could affect the built and natural environment in industrial areas and adjacent communities.
This process allows thoughtful implementation of strategies to mitigate any adverse impacts and provides information to the public and policy makers before any decisions are made.
The DEIS considers how the alternatives advance the City’s Equity and Environment Agenda and the City’s Duwamish Valley Program by screening whether alternatives would increase, exacerbate, or impede mitigation of environmental justice in four screening criteria:
- Residents’ and workers’ exposures to environmental hazards
- Achieving a safe, connected, and accessible neighborhood
- Displacement risk for Equity and Environmental Initiative (EEI) populations
- Access to education or pathways out of poverty through jobs and careers
The City is accepting comments on the draft for an extended 45 day comment period. Written comments may be submitted until January 31, 2022 in multiple formats on the OPCD website. The City will also hold two virtual public hearings through the OPCD website to take spoken comments:
In November 2019, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan gathered more than 60 stakeholders, comprised of representatives from traditional and emerging industrial and maritime businesses, labor, developers, workforce development professionals, and community representatives from neighborhoods near industrial areas, to consider the future of Seattle’s Manufacturing Industrial Centers. The Industrial and Maritime Strategy Council released 11 strategies to support the next generation of industrial and maritime jobs on June 30.
Maritime and manufacturing activities have long benefitted Seattle by contributing to the city’s identity, supporting living-wage jobs, and promoting economic diversity. Seattle contains approximately 7,000 acres of industrial lands (11% of the city’s area) that generate nearly 100,000 critical living-wage jobs, of which two-thirds are accessible without a traditional four-year degree. Seattle’s maritime industrial economy is supported by the Port of Seattle’s cargo terminals and connecting infrastructure; manufacturing facilities in the Duwamish Valley, Elliott Bay, Lake Union, and Ballard; and the nation’s largest fishing fleet, which is sewn into the fabric of Seattle culture.