Form-Based Code project
King County's Department of Permitting and Environmental Review is conducting a project to examine the feasibility of replacing the current conventional land use code with a Form-Based Code (see draft). Using a prescriptive ("what is wanted") approach to regulating development, the new code will focus on the public space while encouraging important public policy objectives.
In the Urban Area, the code's goal is to allow greater flexibility to developers and land owners while encouraging the development of vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods. For Rural Area residents and land owners, the code's simplified and flexible land use regulations will provide increased predictability in the development process and create more opportunities for rural businesses.
To assist in the development of the new Form-Based Code, King County has selected three demonstration areas, two for the Urban area and one Rural.
The Urban demonstration areas are East Renton, located on the plateau above the Cedar River and May Valley east of the City of Renton, and MLK, located west of Renton along Martin Luther King Jr. Way in unincorporated King County. The Rural demonstration area is located in the northern part of the Bear Creek community planning area, centered on the Cottage Lake Rural Neighborhood, east of the City of Woodinville.
Initial workshops introducing the project and providing information on the Form-Based Code and its potential benefits were held in the East Renton and Bear Creek demonstration areas in early February 2009 and in the MLK demonstration area in March 2009.
Residents will have an opportunity to provide input in the development and drafting of the new code. The draft of the Form-Based Code will be presented at an additional meeting in each demonstration area for comment and review.
As part of the 2010 King County Comprehensive Plan update, an Area Zoning Study for each demonstration area will be conducted to examine if the new code should be implemented.
The Comprehensive Plan
The King County Comprehensive Plan (KCCP) is the guiding policy document for all land use and development regulations in unincorporated King County. The 2008 KCCP update, adopted October 6, 2008 by the King County Council, is the current KCCP. The update for 2009, which can address technical updates and revisions that do not require substantive policy changes, is currently under way.
The KCCP provides the policy objectives and requirements for the Form-Based Code. Some policies provide an overarching framework for the code while others address specific regulatory requirements. The new code must be consistent with policies in the KCCP.
The process for implementing the new zoning code on the demonstration areas is also part of the KCCP update process. Once the new code is drafted, an Area Zoning Study will be conducted in each of the demonstration areas as part of the 2010 KCCP update. The Area Zoning Study will be used to determine if the new code should be implemented in these specific areas. Additional meetings as part of the public process for the KCCP update will also be held. Any final decision to adopt the new zoning code for the demonstration areas will be made by the King County Council.