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Public Will Speak About Changes To Zoning Ordinance

Kate Elston

The Seattle City Council will hold a public hearing Monday about a rule that allows developers to get around certain zoning laws.


The Living Building Challenge is a national program that recognizes and promotes sustainable buildings. When Seattle joined the program in 2010, it decided to give developers rewards for constructing environmentally friendly buildings. If developers met "green" requirements, like using solar energy, they could be rewarded with exemptions from certain zoning laws, like height restrictions.

Now the City Council is considering an ordinance that would make those rewards even greater. For instance, under the proposed ordinance, if developers promise to capture enough storm water on site and meet other green standards too, they could build up to 20 feet higher than the law allows.

The city says providing these incentives will encourage builders to design greener buildings. Opponents say it's an easy way for big developers to get around the rules, and that it's not in the spirit of the Living Building Challenge.

Lee Raaen: "The intent of the program is not being followed and it's being used as a pretext to get special land use."

Lee Raaen is president of the Wallingford Community Council. He says the standards are too lax and that the buildings that take advantage of the rules won't actually be green.

He and other neighborhood groups plan to speak to the council tonight against the proposed changes. The public hearing will take place at 5:30 at City Hall.

I'm Kate Elston, KUOW News.

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