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Start, Grow, or Green Your Business Stephen H. Johnson, Director
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How to Use This Guide
Abbreviations Used in This Guide
Hints for Successful Business District Improvements
Beautification Projects
Flower Planters
Holiday Lighting
Metro Bus Shelters
Public Art
Street Trees
Clean and Green Seattle Initiative
Enhancement Projects
Street Furniture
Pedestrian Lighting
Bicycle Racks
Newspaper Boxes
Only in Seattle Initiative grants
Forming a Business Improvement Area
City of Seattle Grants and Funding
Litter Cans
Sidewalk Cleaning
Spring Clean
Street Cleaning
Street Paving
Building/Fire Code Violations
Managing Parking
Public Safety
Street Light & Power Line Repair
Alley & Security Lighting
Crime Prevention
Emergency Preparedness
District Identification Signs
Traffic Controls
Use of Public Areas
City Parks
Sidewalk Cafes
Street Vendors
Additional Information

Create a Thriving Business District


Lighting street trees or stringing lights along buildings is one way for business districts to market their area to holiday shoppers. In Seattle’s dark winter months, outdoor lights are an attractive way to brighten up shopping districts.

Before getting started, answer the following questions:
  • Are there any overhead wires or power lines? If so, are they trolley wires, telephone, cable, TV or power lines? Know your wires as well as clearance requirements and remember to be extremely careful around all wires and power lines.
  • Is there an accessible power supply near the area where lights will be strung? How will you connect the power source to the lights? If you plan to use power from City Light’s poles, you must verify existence of festoon outlets on the poles (call City Light at the numbers below). If the poles do not have these outlets, arrange to have them installed well in advance. Call Seattle City Light for current installation fees. If the lights are north of Denny Way call 206-615-0600, if they are south of Denny Way call 206-386-4200.
  • Will the light strings or power cords interfere with pedestrians?
  • Does your organization have financial or volunteer resources to spend on the initial purchase, installation and fees to City Light?
  • Have you obtained a street use permit and paid Seattle Department of Transportation ’s required deposit for the installation of the lights? (Call Seattle Department of Transportation at 206-684-5284.)
Frequently asked questions:

What does City Light charge for outdoor lighting?

City Light will work out a flat “seasonal” charge depending on how much power you will use.

Are there any requirements or permits needed for holiday lighting?

The Seattle Department of Transportation requires a $101 street use permit plus $150 for inspection fees for the installation of lights on street trees. A certificate of insurance must also be provided. An additional fee of $75 for a Traffic Control Plan may be assessed if you plan to block vehicle or pedestrian mobility during installation. The City allows lighting to be affixed to trees only between November 1 and January 30. All lighting and attachments must be removed from trees by February 1.

How do we install the lighting?

Installation will probably be the biggest budget item.

  • Contact City Light to ensure that any repairs scheduled for your area will be completed before the installation dates, especially if you are using City Light poles with festoon outlets.
  • Consult the City Arborist before installation of lighting strands and attachments to prevent costly damage to trees. The City does not allow the use of wire, duct tape or masking tape to affix lighting to street trees. Plastic connectors, florist tape or other flexible tapes are permissible fixatives.
  • Try to get a cherry picker donated for installation and take down if possible. This will increase safety and save lots of (expensive) time.
  • Hire professional lighting designers for actual installation.
  • Maintain safe working practices around any overhead wires. Check all power sources.
Benefits and challenges of holiday lighting :
  • Enhances the shopping experience in your district - shoppers love to see outdoor lighting during the holidays.
  • Provides a distinctive element for your district.
  • No control over timing of lights if power is drawn from street poles - the lights will be on when the power in the poles is turned on.




  • Seattle City Light
    North of Denny Way---------------------------------- 206-615-0600
    South of Denny Way---------------------------------- 206-386-4200
    General City Light website: