Seattle developer James Potter makes a good point in an op-ed that appeared last week in the Daily Journal of Commerce (subscription required):
The existing Seattle Land Use Code was created in various stages from 1979 through the 1980s – and amended so many times that it is confusing and difficult to understand.
Current zoning codes in Seatte, epic in length and complexity, make it difficult for developers like Potter to develop dense multi-use neighborhoods in parts of the city designated "Urban Centers" under the Growth Management Act.
A new code would allow the creative architects and developers in our city to seek new ways to accomplish the goals of growth management. Design review and design guidelines would still be available to help projects fit in with the context of each center and create dialog with our neighborhoods.
Without this change to a new code, urban centers will continue to struggle with outdated codes that were created during a different era.
We agree. A byzantine legal structure can only hamper thoughtful and innovative development of dense, vibrant, and diverse urban neighborhoods.