Legislation & Research

Research City Laws


Records of City Council are provided to the public by the Office of the City Clerk, which offers two systems for searching records: one contains records from February 9, 2015 to the present; and the second contains records prior to February 9, 2015. Records include Appointments, Agendas, Clerk Files, Council Bills/Ordinances, Minutes, and Resolutions.


Record Descriptions

  1. Ordinances are items of legislation that have the force of law; before they are approved by Council they are known as Council Bills. The Seattle City Council has authority to create City policies and adopt budgets in the form of Ordinances. Ordinances must comply with terms of the U.S. and Washington State constitutions, the general laws of the City and State, and the City Charter. 
  2. The City Council may also offer its collective opinion on matters in the form of Resolutions. Resolutions are items of legislation that are advisory or policy-oriented in nature. Sometimes Resolutions are used to approve grant applications, set hearing dates or take actions that do not commit the City to expenditures. 
  3. Clerk Files (prior to 1983, called Comptroller Files) are documents filed with the Clerk that in some cases Council considers and takes action on. They can be reports, supporting information for legislation, or many other types of documents. Appointments to a specific body made prior to February 9, 2015 are Clerk Files.  
  4. Appointments are appointments to a specific department or office, board, commission, public development authority, or other body. This file type starts from February 9, 2015 to present.
  5. Agendas announce the items (Council Bills, Resolutions and Clerk Files) that will be considered at each Council or Committee meeting.
  6. Minutes report the actions taken by Council on items considered at meetings.

Other Resources from the City Clerk

The City Clerk's website also provides access to the Seattle Municipal Code, and to historic City records maintained by the Seattle Municipal Archives, including Councilmember records, department records, maps, photographs and other audiovisual items. We invite you to explore what our office has to offer and to contact us with any questions you might have about our resources or services.