Land Use Code Update
The Land Use Code update is a citywide effort aimed at improving the regulations that guide growth and development in Issaquah. This project will help us better preserve, strengthen and protect the patterns of development that define the character of the City.
The land use code is broken up into six different topic groups. Visit each page to learn more and view dates for upcoming meetings related to that topic::
- Natural Environment: Aquatic critical areas, geo hazard critical areas, lighting, shoreline setbacks and dock lighting, and sustainability
- Landscape & Open Space: Community space standards, green necklace, public, institutional, open space standards, landscape and tree density
- Zoning & Uses: Zoning and permitted uses, land use standards, subdivision, parking, circulation facilities, form and intensity
- Building & Design: Design and development standards, neighborhood overlays, Olde Town, single family and townhouse design standards, and building design
- Zoning & Development Standards: Affordable housing, transfer of development rights, landmarks and archaeology, miscellaneous development standards, site planning and urban design, and terrain management
- Procedures & Administrations: General provisions, procedures including public notice, SEPA rules, and wire
Title 18, the City’s Land Use Code adopted in 1996, has been modified annually to become a patchwork of ordinances. The Land Use Code update will generate an updated set of zoning and land use regulations that will replace the existing code.
The goals of this project are to provide:
- Improved clarity & predictability
- Enhanced organization & usability
- Integrating neighborhood-specific standards into the overall code
- Improved environmental sustainability
- Improved consistency with adopted plans and recent court decisions; and,
- New requirements to better manage growth into the future.
The Land Use Code update is expected to last approximately 18 months; public engagement for this work is organized into four phases spanning from May 2021 through September 2022.
May – July 2021
- Project kick-off with Planning Policy Commission
- Identify key stakeholders who should be involved
- Determine how and when to best engage those stakeholders and other identified communities with vested interests in the Land Use Code update
June 2021 – March 2022
- Share information and gather input early in the process to inform code drafting:
- Planning Policy Commission: gap analysis and policy guidance (6 meetings, by topic)
- Affinity Group sessions
- Council study sessions: critical areas and code analysis
- Community Open house
- Begin drafting code revisions; share updates with stakeholders and continue gathering feedback
August 2021 – May 2022
- Share updates to revisions based on feedback heard in phase 2:
- Planning Policy Commission: public hearings on discussion drafts (6 meetings, by topic)
- Planning Policy Commission: final draft meetings (6 meetings, by topic)
- Council study session: code development and community inputs
July – September 2022
- Share final draft of code revisions for adoption
- Final draft public hearing
- Council review and adoption of code revisions
Public engagement to inform the City’s work in this effort is critical to developing a Land Use Code that aligns with the community’s values and needs for the future. The City is sharing information and gathering feedback through a variety of activities. This timeline was produced to assist with the complex project timeframe.
The City’s consultant team will engage organized stakeholder groups who have a vested interest in the code update to share information, gain a better understanding of their interests and gather feedback that can inform the code update process. These “affinity groups” will be organized around topic-specific sessions most relevant to the invited groups’ interest.
Sessions will be held virtually in summer and fall 2021. Each session will have a notetaker present to prepare a summary of what was discussed. Once all sessions are complete, a brief summary (memo) of all sessions will be shared with the Planning Policy Commission.
The City is engaging with the Planning Policy Commission (PPC) on the Land Use Code update in order to better understand what may be missing from the current Land Use Code and gain their feedback on the draft code. Upon completion of a final draft of the updated code, the PPC will hold a public hearing, deliberate and make a formal recommendation on adoption to the City Council.
Over the course of the drafting and revision phase, the staff and consultant team will meet at least monthly with the PPC to introduce the key code concepts and present results of the gaps analysis. These meetings will be held virtually and are open to the public. At each meeting there will be an opportunity for public comment.
The City encourages members of the public to attend these public hearings and provide their comments on the proposed draft of the code. Following further refinement of the code draft into a final draft, the PPC will host an additional public hearing to receive comment on the combined final draft.
The City will host a public open house to share information about the land use code update process and gather additional feedback from the community, especially those who have not been engaged in the Planning Policy Commission process or Affinity Group sessions. Feedback shared will help inform the next phase of code revision drafting; attendees will be encouraged to stay engaged and share feedback as the draft updates move forward. The open house may be held virtually or in-person; this is to be determined.
The code update team will facilitate three study sessions with the Issaquah City Council to hold high level discussions of the gap analysis and key areas of the update. The first study session will focus on critical areas topics, the second on the overall code update and the final study session will provide an opportunity to receive any last direction or input from Council before the final draft is completed and adoption process commences.
In addition to formal study sessions, the code update team will establish open lines of communication with councilmembers to understand concerns and to answer questions throughout the process. We will provide status updates on the progress of certain code sections, as requested, and provide a bridge between staff work and council priorities.