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Ever wanted to serve on the Design Review Board? Now’s your chance

The volunteer board members review designs of new private development


Seattle’s design review boards are the aesthetic gatekeepers between a building and a neighborhood. While the exact process varies depending on the project, the basic idea is this: developers submit design plans to the city, and the design review board provides feedback and, in some cases, sends the project back for revisions.

The city is currently seeking 15 volunteers for various positions on design review boards, including representatives from the design profession, residential representatives, and business representatives.

Ideal candidates, the city says, are design and development professionals, but they’re also looking for community and business leaders. These positions would provide feedback on issues like design and building materials—not things like traffic and environmental impacts, which are considered as part of the Master Use Permit process.

The board is split into seven regions across the city. At least one position is open on each of them.

The open positions come as Seattle seeks to change design review to speed up building process for some projects, ideally making the process more efficient. But Seattle’s complicated relationship with the boards goes deeper.

Some, including Sightline Institute, have raised concerns that the design review boards have specifically slowed affordable housing development. Sightline specifically pointed to the east board, which recently delayed an already long-delayed affordable housing project near the Capitol Hill light rail station over, among other things, building color.

Whether you want to bring a different perspective or just want to have a say, applications are open until December 15.