City Council legislates temporary changes to City’s Historic Preservation Program due to impacts of COVID-19

All of us have experienced quite a bit of change over these past weeks of COVID-19 as we navigate this rapidly developing crisis – for the City and our residents. In response to COVID-19, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON), along with all City departments, have shifted and refocused our efforts toward supporting the needs of our community, especially our most vulnerable residents.   

Following Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, Seattle City Council approved emergency legislation on April 27 to keep projects that go before the Historic Preservation Boards and Commissions safely moving forward during the pandemic. This legislation allows minor project applications such as changes to signage, awnings, and storefronts be reviewed administratively by Historic Preservation Program staff until October. New construction, demolition, and major redevelopment proposals are not eligible for administrative (staff) approval, so review of these projects will be postponed until late June or until the Historic Preservation Boards or Commissions are able to convene their meetings either in person or virtually through video conferencing.

The legislation includes a meeting exception for the International Special Review District (ISRD). It expressly prohibits virtual meetings for ISRD projects. So projects not eligible for administrative review within the ISRD will be postponed until late June or until in-person meetings can be safely convened.

The current Certificate of Approval application submittal process will remain in place for all proposed changes to individual landmarks and properties within the city’s eight historic districts.  You will find links to the Certificate of Approval application forms on the Historic Preservation Program web page

To determine whether your proposal can be reviewed administratively by Historic Preservation Program staff, please contact the relevant Coordinator:

Erin Doherty
Landmarks Coordinator for all neighborhoods (except Downtown, South Lake Union, First Hill, and Pike/Pine); and the Sand Point Naval Air Station District
Phone:(206) 684-0380
Email: erin.doherty@seattle.gov

Rebecca Frestedt
Coordinator for Columbia City Landmark District and International Special Review District
Phone:(206) 684-0226
Email: rebecca.frestedt@seattle.gov

Minh Chau Le
Coordinator for Pike Place Market Historical District and Ballard Avenue Landmark District
Phone:(206) 684-0229
Email: minhchau.le@seattle.gov

Genna Nashem
Coordinator for Pioneer Square Preservation District, Harvard Belmont District and Fort Lawton Historic District
Phone:(206) 684-0227
Email: genna.nashem@seattle.gov

Sarah Sodt
City Historic Preservation Officer, Coordinator for Downtown, South Lake Union, First Hill, and Pike/Pine
Phone:(206) 615-1786
Email: sarah.sodt@seattle.gov

DON has and will continue to study video conferencing platforms to use for meetings that meet the following criteria:  (1) provide immediate translation of meeting proceedings in multiple languages; (2) satisfy the City’s online security standards; (3) enable applicants, board and commission members, and community members to participate in meetings without having to purchase software or subscribe to a fee-for-service online meeting platform; (4) provide for a telephone call-in line so as to not require access to the internet; and (5) allow for easy uploading and review of large, high-resolution presentation materials.  

We will continue to update the DON event calendar and provide email updates to our Landmarks Preservation Board and Historic District Boards/Commission email lists. To get on an email list, contact Melinda Bloom at melinda.bloom@seattle.gov.