Environmentally Critical Areas Exemptions

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What Is It?

We restrict development in environmentally critical areas (ECAs). ECAs may include:

  • Landslide-prone areas (including steep slopes and potential and known landslide areas)
  • Peat-settlement-prone areas (sites containing peat and organic soils that may settle when the area is developed or the water table is lowered)
  • Liquefaction-prone areas (sites with loose, saturated soil that lose the strength needed to support a building during earthquakes)
  • Abandoned landfills
  • Flood-prone areas
  • Wetlands
  • Riparian corridors (a river, stream, or body of water and the land within 100 feet on each side)
  • Fish and wildlife habitat

In some cases, we will give you an exemption from the ECA regulations for your development. The types of projects that may qualify for an ECA exemption are:

  • Routine repair and maintenance of your buildings
  • Stabilizing an emergency situation so that you have time to obtain a permit
  • Replacing buildings destroyed by an act of nature (with limitations)
See section 25.09.045 of our Seattle Municipal Code for a more complete list of project types that may be exempted from the ECA requirements.

How Much Does It Cost?

The fee for your ECA exemption application is based on the how long it takes us to complete the review.

  • We charge an hourly rate to review your application
  • You must pay for one half hour of review when you submit your application for an ECA exemption
  • You pay the remaining review fee before receiving our ECA exemption decision

How Long Does It Take?

We try to finish the review of your ECA exemption application within 1 to 2 weeks.

Steps to Get an Exemption

You must receive an ECA Exemption decision from us before you apply for a building permit or master use permit. Your exemption application must be part of a specific project. You must complete a pre-application site visit prior to submitting an ECA exemption request.

  • Fill out the “Request for an ECA Exemption” form in Tip 327A, Environmentally Critical Areas Exemptions
  • Attach any supporting documentation as needed (e.g. site plan, geotechnical report, wetland report)
  • Turn in your application at the Public Resource Center, located on the 20th floor of the Seattle Municipal Tower; you do not need an appointment

What Do You Want To Do?

Still Need Help?

 Ask Us

  • Call us at (206) 684-8850
  • 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.