Land Use / Master Use - Rezone

See also: 

What Is It?

A land use rezone permit allows you to change your property’s land use zone, which changes the size of what you can build and how you can use your property.

A rezone of your property leads to one of these changes:

  • Upzoning - bigger buildings and more options for how to use your property. For example, when you change your property’s land use zone from multifamily to commercial you can build a structure with both commercial and residential uses.
  • Downzoning - smaller buildings and fewer options for how to use your property. For example, when you change your property’s zone from multifamily to single-family you can only build a single-family house and other structures we allow in your single-family zone.

Your proposed rezone must meet our rules for development in land use zones. For example, in our Neighborhood Commercial One (NC1) zone, we encourage development of a variety of small businesses that people can walk to from the neighborhood. Therefore, our rules restrict the size of commercial businesses and require stores to be at ground level facing the street. See our development standards by land use zone on our zoning page.

We also review how your proposed rezone supports or impacts:

  • Seattle's Comprehensive Plan
  • Council adopted neighborhood plans
  • Surrounding property uses and land use zones
  • Housing, public services, pedestrians, shoreline, transit service, and street capacity, and water and sewer capacity

We usually require State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review at the same time you apply for a rezone. If you decide to apply for a specific project associated with a review, you may also need Design Review.

Sometimes, the Seattle City Council or Mayor ask us to study an area or neighborhood for possible rezoning to attract or limit development as outlined in the Seattle Comprehensive Plan. Our review process for this type of area-wide rezone is different from the process for a more limited site proposal.

Examples of area-wide rezones include:

  • South Lake Union Rezone
  • Yesler Terrace Rezone
  • Station Area Overlay Incentive Zoning

How Much Does It Cost?

We charge an hourly review fee based on our Fee Subtitle. You need to pay a minimum fee when you submit your land use application. After we accept your application, we will send you a monthly invoice for all review time completed in that billing cycle. If you do not pay your invoice, we will stop reviewing your project.

How Long Does It Take?

How long it takes us to complete our review of your proposal depends on several factors, including the:

  • Complexity of your proposal
  • Whether environmental review is required
  • Whether Design Review is required
  • Quality of your plans and project documentation
  • Timely response to correction letters and requests for further information
  • Public interest

Steps to Get Your Permit

 

1. Research

Find your property information. Research your site to help you plan your project.

Determine restrictions to your project. Research the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) to determine standards that will apply to your proposal.

Attend a coaching session. We offer 20 minutes of free coaching in the Applicant Services Center to answer drainage, land use, geotechnical, or construction permit questions. If you need a longer coaching session, we offer paid one-hour sessions.

2. Start Permit Application

Apply for a project number. Get a project number by starting your preliminary application online through your Project Portal. You will need to upload a site plan and a complete legal description for your site. You'll receive an email once we have added the pre-application site visit (PASV) fees to your project. (Most projects require a PASV.) After you have paid the fee, we will preform the inspection. Your preliminary application materials will be sent to other departments for their review and comment as part of this process.

Review your preliminary application report. You will receive a preliminary application report that will include critical information about whether you need Design Review, SEPA, or street improvements. Our report will include information from the utilities about your specific site and proposal. Our report will also identify potential project stoppers.

Attend a pre-submittal conference. We require pre-submittal conferences for all proposed rezone applications. At a pre-submittal conference you will discuss our rezone requirements and our application process. One-hour pre-submittal conference fees vary based on the type of conference you need and the number of Seattle DCI staff attending.

Apply for exemptions. You may be eligible for exemptions from code or permitting requirements if your project is located in an environmentally critical area or near the shoreline.You need to apply for and resolve any exemption requests during the preliminary application process.

Coordinate with other agencies. You may need permits or approvals from other agencies. These are the most common agencies you may need to work with for your permit type:

Prepare your plans and technical documents. Your plans should be to scale. You may need to upload technical documents including a survey, geotechnical and wetland reports, and other types of reports. Our Tips and code standards provide additional detail on the type of plans and reports we require to review your proposal.

3. Submit Plans

Schedule an intake appointment. Schedule an electronic intake appointment through your Project Portal. You must upload all application documents well in advance of your appointment. We may contact you for more information during your appointment time.

Pay fees. You must pay a minimum fee for your review, any accrued land use hourly fees, and noticing fees at intake. You will receive an email once we have added fees to your project. You must pay your fees before any public notice or reviews can occur. We will invoice you monthly for additional fees during the review process. We will stop reviewing your project if you do not pay your monthly invoice.

Wait for public notice. We will issue a public notice for your project as required by SMC 23.76.012. If required, you are responsible for building and installing a large environmental public notice sign. (This sign must remain in place until the end of the appeal period or the Hearing Examiner decision, if applicable.) Once you've installed the sign, let us know and we'll begin our public notice process.

We'll consider all public comments we receive during the 2 - 4 week public comment period.

Make corrections and resubmit your plans. Once all of our reviews are done, you will receive an email telling you that corrected and/or additional documents can be uploaded into your portal. Your project may require multiple correction rounds before our reviews are complete.

Pay outstanding fees. Once our review is complete, you will get an email for any outstanding fees. You must pay these fees before we publish our decision.

Read our recommendation. We will publish our recommendation on your project in our Land Use Information Bulletin. We will also send a notice of our recommendation and of the required public hearing to you and everybody that submitted a public comment on your project. Our decision will include any required conditions of approval, some that you must meet before we issue your permit.

Submit an appeal. If you or a member of the public disagree with our decision, you may file an appeal with the Seattle Hearing Examiner within 14 days from when we publish our decision.

Attend the public hearing(s). The Seattle Hearing Examiner will hold a public hearing on our rezone recommendation, along with any appeals on your project. The Hearing Examiner will also issue a recommendation to the City Council. The council will vote on your rezone request based on the information provided during the public hearing process.

Note the expiration date. The expiration date of your permit is based on the date of the end of the appeal or the City Hearing Examiner decision. Your permit may expire without having a permit issued.

4. Get Permit

Pay final fees. We will notify you if you need to pay any final fees before we issue your permit.

Print your permit. Once City Council has approved your rezone, we will notify you when we have issued your permit and the documents are available in our electronic document library.

5. Apply for Construction Permit

You may apply for a construction permit at any time once you submit a land use application. However, the project can change and evolve through the land use application review process. Corrections required by our decision may require building plan changes that can result in costly design changes.

What Do You Want To Do?


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