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Ian S. Morrison


Land Use Law

Primary Focus & Experience

Ian’s practice focuses on land use entitlements for multifamily residential, office and commercial projects, with an emphasis on working in Puget Sound jurisdictions. Ian works with developers, property owners and investors to identify and execute strategies that provide predictable, cost-effective pathways to secure entitlements. Prior to joining McCullough Hill Leary, he served in Governor Gregoire's administration as a liaison to local government, civic and business interests throughout the South Puget Sound and as a lobbyist for cities. Ian uses his legislative and policy background to help clients navigate political issues arising in the land use process.

Recent Significant Engagements

Puget Sound urban development. Obtained entitlements for numerous mixed-use residential, office, hotel, retail, religious and educational developments in Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond.

Landmarks and historic districts.  

  • Obtained entitlements for 165,000 sf. mixed-use development in Pioneer Square, including historic district approval for demolition of existing structure and design approval for a 115’ tall, office building that integrated an adjacent historic, contributing structure. Defended entitlements on appeal; matter settled on favorable terms.
  •  Navigated the Landmark Preservation Board process, including obtaining Certificates of Approval for adaptive reuse of landmark buildings, denials of landmark nominations submitted by third-party nominees and securing transfer of development rights (TDR).
  • Obtained entitlements for 321-unit residential project in the International District, including historic district approval for demolition of existing buildings and design approval. 

Legislative and quasi-judicial actions. 

  • Secured Comprehensive Plan amendments and site-specific rezones throughout the Puget Sound, including Seattle, Bellevue and Lynnwood.
  • Obtained Seattle code amendment to allow University District landowner to qualify property as a “sending” site for purposes of selling TDR for a potential landmark building.
  • Negotiated development agreement and master plan approval for 1350 residential units and over 850,000 sf. of office and retail use adjacent to future Sound Transit station in Lynnwood to be phased over the next 25 years.
  • Secured Medina code amendment to allow private school to develop a gym and theatre.

Recognition & Community Involvement

  • Chambers USA, Listed as “Up and Coming” in Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Washington), 2020
  • Washington Super Lawyers, Listed as a Rising Star, 2019-2020
  • NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Association, Volunteer of the Year, 2019
  • NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Association, Governmental Affairs Committee Co-Chair, 2018-present
  • Growth Management Policy Board, Puget Sound Regional Council, 2018-present
  • Urban Land Institute, Young Leaders Group Board member, 2014-2018
  • City of Tacoma Planning Commissioner, 2010-2012

Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, “Legislative Update from Olympia, Seattle and Bellevue,” ULI-Northwest, Multifamily Product Council, December 19, 2019.
  • Speaker, “Land Use, Permits and Politics,” Washington State Bar – Environmental and Land Use Law Section 2019 Midyear Conference, May 2, 2019.
  • Speaker, “City of Seattle Policy & Regulation Update,” ULI-Northwest, Multifamily Product Council, September 11, 2018.
  • Moderator, “Seattle Housing Affordability and Livability: The Path(s) Forward” with Seattle Councilmember Rob Johnson, Gabe Grant from Spectrum Development and Jill Fleming from Capitol Hill Housing, NAIOP Washington and Urban Land Institute co-hosted discussion, September 6, 2016.


  • University of Washington, Certificate in Commercial Real Estate, 2014
  • University of Washington School of Law, J.D., concentration in environmental law, 2012
    • American Planning Association, Daniel J. Curtain Planning & Law Fellowship
  • Washington State University, B.A., Political Science, magna cum laude, 2006
  • Washington State University, B.A., History, magna cum laude, 2006