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Small Project Waiver

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What Is It?

We restrict development in environmentally critical areas (ECAs) and areas around ECAs called buffers. Examples of ECAs include landslide-prone areas, wetlands, land next to rivers and streams (riparian corridors), and fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas.

A small project waiver allows you to do some ground disturbance for new small structures or additions to existing structures in ECAs and ECA buffers. Our waiver limits ground disturbance to:

  • Up to 150 square feet in riparian management areas (the land within 100 feet on either side of a water course) and wetland buffers
  • Up to 300 square feet in steep slope areas or buffers

These limits on the disturbance area include the excavation area needed for construction as well as the area of the proposed structure, including any eaves and overhangs. You must include any development since October 31, 1992 in the ground disturbance calculation for your proposed project. Once you reach the square footage maximum, you can’t develop in the ECA or buffer through the small project waiver process.

If we approve your small project waiver application, you may still need an ECA review.

You can’t get a small project waiver for:

  • Peat-settlement prone areas, which are sites containing peat and organic soils that may settle when the area is developed or the water table is lowered
  • Shoreline habitat buffers
  • Retaining walls and rockeries in landslide-prone areas
  • Utilities
  • Shoreline setback areas

You must meet these criteria to qualify for a small project waiver:

  1. Your lot was a legal building site, in existence, before October 31, 1992
  2. The only place you can build your addition or structure on your lot is in the ECA or buffer
  3. Your project minimizes the impact on the ECA or buffer

Note: In landslide-prone areas, we may require a geotechnical report showing it is safe to build on your site.

How Much Does It Cost?

Fees for most small project waivers are based on our hourly review rate.

Steps to Get Your Waiver

You must receive a small project waiver decision from us before you apply for a building permit or master use permit. Your application for a small project waiver needs to be part of a specific project. You need to complete a pre-application site visit before you submit your application. We determine if you qualify during the permit application review.

  1. Log into your Seattle DCI Project Portal
  2. Apply by clicking the "Request for Exemption" link on the left side of the portal
  3. Attach support documentation as needed (e.g. site plan, survey, geotechnical report, wetland report, and SDOT street grade profiles)

What Do You Want To Do?

Still Need Help?

 Ask Us

  • General Questions
    (206) 684-8850
  • Does Your Project Require a Shoreline Exemption?
    Ben Perkowski, Land Use Planner
    (206) 684-0347 
  • Visit the Public Resource Center
    700 5th Avenue, 20th floor
    M, W, F: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
    T, Th: 10:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.