Mayor proposes land use changes to Seattle’s maritime and industrial areas

There would be protections for companies, some housing, and work spaces for artists.

A large shipping vessel that says "Pacific Basin" on its side passes through the Seattle port with mountains in the background.

The industrial zone guidelines in Seattle haven’t been updated in decades.

Photo via Port of Seattle

Ahoy there — big changes may be coming to Seattle’s maritime and industrial regions. Mayor Bruce Harrell recently proposed updating sections of the city’s land use policy for the parts of the city that are used by shipping companies and manufacturers.

In doing so, the new plan aims to:

  • Create 35,000 jobs over the next two decades
  • Build 3,000 new homes in that same time frame
  • Protect local companies

Here’s how a change to something like a zoning code can do all of that.

Zoning out

The mayor’s proposal would establish three new zones that refine how to use Seattle’s 7,000 acres of industrial land. Dividing things up like this hopes to make it easier for developers and local companies to plan for the future.

  • Maritime, Manufacturing, and Logistics: This zone near ports and other large open swaths would prevent mini-storage and big-box stores from moving in — sorry, Costco. The idea here is to help local companies add more jobs knowing their space is secured.
  • Industry and Innovation: Construction in this zone would include multi-story office buildings for research, design, and tech endeavor. The proposal encourages such development near light rail stations, restaurants, and retail businesses.
  • Urban Industrial: This is a fancy term for smaller sites that would have lighter industrial uses like textile manufacturing. It would also have some spaces for artists to create.

The Urban Industrial zone looks to boost housing development near the area.

Photo via the Office of the Mayor

As a part of the proposal, the city aims to build 3,000 homes on the edges of the Urban Industrial zone and in neighboring areas like Georgetown, South Park, and Ballard. Some of those homes would be planned for artists working in the zone, with hundreds of units in the affordable range.

What’s next

The city council will take up the mayor’s proposal next month, with several council members already signaling their support. If a bill passes, the new zones would be applied to an updated code 90 days after the vote.

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