Seattle Comprehensive Plan, March 5, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: Thanks to more than two years of hard work by the Seattle Precautionary Principle Working Group, the Seattle Comprehensive Plan has now been amended to include reference to the precautionary principle.]

[Here is the new language of the Introduction to the Environment Element of the Seattle Comprehensive Plan. Its origins can be found in a white paper on precaution by the Seattle Precautionary Principle Working Group.]

Environment Element of Seattle's Comprehensive Plan


Environmental stewardship is a core value of this Plan, and it plays an integral role in guiding how the City accommodates growth and provides services.

There are many ways the City can protect and improve the environment while acting in its roles as a large employer, builder, land owner and regulator. For example, the City can lead by its own behavior in delivering services, operating its facilities and managing its land in an environmentally sustainable manner.

When environmental goals compete with other City goals, such as those related to economic development, the City is committed to giving just consideration to the environmental goals to protect the functions that natural systems can perform and to prevent harmful effects on human health. The City will continue to engage the community about ways in which the City can give consideration to the "precautionary principle," which generally provides:

"Where threats of serious or irreversible harm to people or nature exist, anticipatory action will be taken to prevent damages to human and environmental health, even when full scientific certainty about cause and effect is not available, with the intent of safeguarding the quality of life of current and future generations."

This element of the Plan contains broad environmental goals and policies. Some of the Plan's other elements include goals and policies addressing how environmental values specifically relate to the topics covered in those elements. For instance, the Land Use Element includes policies governing development near environmentally critical areas such as wetlands and stream corridors, and the Transportation Element addresses possible environmental impacts and improvements associated with transportation choices.