The Price of Planning


The Roosevelt discussion from a couple weeks ago got me thinking about how Seattle funds planning work. Seems like this slow down in development should give Seattle a much needed opportunity to catch its breath and plan for future growth, maybe put something smart in place, or at least something more streamlined than the behemoth of a land use code that we currently have. Something more innovative than this. Look what Denver has done. Now that is cool.

Oh, but wait, DPD is funded primarily through permitting fees…so when projects slow down, revenues drop, and DPD lays off staff. And they won’t have more capacity until permits pick up again, but by then development starts happening too quickly and there is no time to plan.

So that leaves us at the mercy of privately funded planning, like with the Roosevelt Development Group. Even in the case of South Lake Union, an area that comprises about 2% of the city’s land base and is expected to accommodate nearly 20% of the city’s growth in the next dozen years, the city has no money to move forward with the necessary EIS to consider upzones. So until Vulcan and others pony up, looks like planning will stand still there too.

There has to be a better way. How about it, Sally? Diane? Ray? Are any of you lurking out there? Do I have my facts right? If so, any ideas for more sustainable funding for DPD? Anyone know what other cities do?