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Noise Variances

See also: Noise Code

What Is It?

A noise variance allows you to vary from the limits of the noise control code under specific circumstances, usually for a limited period of time.

There are four kinds of noise variances:

Temporary. We may grant a temporary variance for up to 14 days for an activity, use, process, or equipment that does not annoy a substantial number of people or endanger public health or safety.

Technical. We may grant a technical variance for a specified period of time in situations where noise 1) is unavoidable, 2) can’t be practically prevented or controlled, and 3) does not endanger public health or safety. We determine the period of time when we review your variance application.

Economic. We may grant an economic variance where measures to reduce noisy activities must be spread over a period of time because of their extent or cost. We will only grant economic variances if we conclude that the noise will not endanger public health or safety.

Major public project construction. We may grant these variances for projects that meet all of the following criteria:

  • Project is for a public facility as defined in the Land Use Code
  • Project will last at least six months
  • Project will improve access to public services (such as transportation) and public health, safety, and welfare

In deciding whether a proposal is eligible for this variance, we consider:

  • Expected size, length, and complexity or cost of construction
  • Size of expected impacts on traffic and transportation
  • Degree of impact on access to public services during construction

How Much Does It Cost?

The application fee for a noise variance is the DPD base fee. We may charge additional hourly review fees for technical, economic, and major public project construction variances. Please see our Fee Subtitle for current rates.

How Long Does It Take?

Temporary variance. You must tell neighboring, affected properties that you are applying for a noise variance 72 hours before your start date.

Major project variance. We may need several months to process your major project noise variance. How long it takes us to process your variance depends on the quality of your application. Major project variances can be appealed.

Steps to Get

Temporary variances. If you need relief from nighttime noise restrictions, you need to submit a temporary noise variance application. Be sure to answer all questions and provide detailed information about your project, including your key contact information (phone, email, and mailing address).

There are two ways you can submit your application:

  • Send it as an email attachment to one of our noise reviewers (listed at upper right)
  • Print a copy and send by mail to Noise Abatement Coordinator, City of Seattle, DPD, 700 5th Ave, P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA 98124-4019

Economic, technical, or major public project construction variances. For application requirements for these variances, review Director’s Rule 3-2009, Variances from the Standards of the Noise or contact a Noise Abatement Coordinator.

What Do You Want To Do?