Chapter 23.04 Applicability

From what I have been able to gather through my travels in the code, there was a big change that happened around 1982. Whatever was Title 24 of the code was replaced or merged with the content of Title 23, which is our current land use code. This explains why there is no Title 24.

What the Applicability section is all about is tying up some loose ends about to make the “transition to the land use code” which followed the repeal of the material in Title 24. This is mostly a technical chapter that explains what happens next. The first part makes it clear that all permits and approvals granted under Title 24 remain in effect for 2 years. The next part clarifies that contract rezones (we’ll talk contract rezones later) will remain in effect until the previous agreed dates, and the last part makes provisions for Planned Unit Developments.

I have to say I’m not sure what a “planned unit development” is. But from what I gather this is what we might call a “subdivision.” A PUD feels to me like mixed use but at the neighborhood level rather than the building level. I suspect that in the early days of the city, PUDs were common when developers were building big plats of single family housing. A PUD would permit, for example, 25 units with some retail and commercial use all clustered together including right of way and maybe even open space.

I could be wrong about this but I can’t find a mention of PUDs anywhere else in the code. My intuition tells me that PUDs were phased out in the early 80s as opportunities to develop single family with adjacent retail and commercial became increasingly scarce. PUDs seemed–again from trolling the internet searching for the term–to provide something similar to form or performance based codes: the ability to move things around within a big envelope of development capacity.

Hang on with me for a second while I draw an analogy with Habitat Conservation Plans or HCPs. The HCP concept was something I learned about in the 90s when I was working on State Trust Land issues with school people. The State Trust Lands are supposed to generate revenue for school construction through the harvest of timber and minerals. But the listing of the spotted owl made that a real problem. So the state, at that time, was implementing an HCP which would allow trust lands and other owners of timber lands “incidental takings” of an owl here and there as long as they managed all the land in such a way that it protected all the owls.

This seems like sensible land and resource management. Obviously it becomes very controversial when it comes time to implement. But the PUD idea, and all land use in general, seems to rely heavily on a balance between the worry that private and/or special interests will max out the economic potential of its land at the expense of the greater good, and against the desire to sustainably manage and utilize land in a way that would benefit the wider economy.

But as for this section, I would recommend repeal. It’s been a lot longer than two years and it would seem that all this stuff expired a long time ago.

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One Response to Chapter 23.04 Applicability

  1. Pingback: The director rules! | Seattle's Land Use Code

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