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A Little Light Reading

Say you’re a developer in Seattle who is rebuilding the sidewalk in front of your new building.  You want to leave plenty of room so one of your future tenants can open up a sidewalk café; you’re interested in public art and want to leave room for that in the planting strip; maybe you even want to put an awning on your building to provide shelter for passengers at the bus stop right outside.  You take a deep breath and start digging through the Seattle Municipal Code to find the requirements that would apply to each of these improvements.  Stop right there!

Seattle is setting the standard for a handful of cities throughout the country (New York, San Francisco and LA are the others) that have consolidated all the information needed to make improvements to City “right of way” (usually city streets and sidewalks) into one easy-to-use online document.  Called the Right-of-Way Improvements Manual, the document gives step-by-step, illustrated instructions for things like permitting and understanding design guidelines.  Seattle’s streets and sidewalks are one of its most valuable public assets.  Clear information about how to make improvements to them is critical to maintaining that value.


So, while it’s unlikely that anyone brought it to the beach for a little light reading this summer, we still like to think that Seattle’s Right-of-Way Improvements Manual is making best seller lists among local architects, engineers and developers.  Happy reading!