Types of Commonly Requested Records

In the interest of transparency and responsibility to all residents, taxpayers and other constituents, the City of Seattle aims to make the process of obtaining public records as easy as possible. Many public records are readily available on Seattle.gov. Some records are not automatically posted online for many reasons, including that they may not be of widespread interest, they are simply too large or they contain confidential information. Many of these records may be obtained through a public disclosure request, though there are some exemptions to disclosure as determined by state law.

To assist you with your search for records, we've collected the following list of commonly requested record types, which includes links to where you can obtain them online, if available. If the record is not available online, please note the department that holds the record, as this will be helpful if you submit a public disclosure request through the Public Records Request Center. You may also be interested in searching the wealth of information the City posts on data.seattle.gov or the Seattle Municipal Archives.

Note: the information included here focuses mainly on information related to City construction projects, including project plans, schedules, status, impacts, etc. If you are looking specifically for records related to contracts, bids, certified payrolls, etc., on City construction projects, see also the Construction / Bid Documents category below on this page.

Type

Description

Department

Electrical work
Construction projects related to installation of electrical cable, conduits and vaults, streetlights, utility poles, etc.

Available Online
Visit Seattle City Light's Current Projects page.
City Light

Parks Learn about projects under way in Seattle's parks, explore information on how to get involved and to learn the best way to provide input or participate in public processes.

Available Online
Visit Seattle Parks & Recreation's Current Projects page.
Parks & Recreation

Roadway and street improvements, multi-modal transportation infrastructure
Construction projects include street and sidewalk maintenance, traffic-calming measures, bike lanes, bridge improvements, streetcars, infrastructure to support a regional multi-modal transportation system.

Available Online
Visit the Seattle Department of Transportation's pages:
Transportation

Water, drainage, solid waste construction projects Information and documents on water, wastewater, drainage and solid waste projects.

Available Online
Visit Seattle Public Utilities' Projects page.
Public Utilities

Type

Description

Department

Building/Land Use codes & rules Includes Building Code, Land Use Code, Electrical Code, Energy Code, Housing & Building Maintenance Code, etc.

Available Online
See full list on the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspection's Codes & Rules page.
Construction & Inspections
GIS - Geographic information system maps and data The City of Seattle's GIS data is an important resource for engineers, land planners, architects, utility designers and others who consult or provide technical services to City departments.

Available Online
Visit Seattle Public Utilities' GIS information page.
Public Utilities

Public Utilities:
surveys/maps/aerial photos/plans
The Seattle Public Utilities Engineering Records Vault is an archive of City infrastructure information.

Available Online
Visit the SPU Records Vault.
Public Utilities


Street/transportation maps Bike maps, parking maps, pothole repair maps, traffic flow maps, construction maps, etc.

Available Online
See full list on the Seattle Department of Transportation's SDOT Maps page.
Transportation

Utility business plans and reports
Includes comprehensive, management and business plans, program and performance reports, report cards, engineering and development project resources, client-assistance memos, policies, rules and other.

Available Online
Visit Seattle Public Utilities' Documents page.
Public Utilities
Zoning Find zoning maps, read the Zoning Code.

Available Online
Visit the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspection's Tools & Resources page.
Construction & Inspections

Type

Description

Department

Animal Complaints regarding the laws and codes involving animals within the city of Seattle, including animal cruelty, dangerous or menacing animals, scoop and leash laws, unreasonable animal noise. Seattle Animal Shelter

Damage claims A damage claim is a request for payment for a loss, injury or damages incurred in an incident/accident. Finance & Administrative Services (Risk Management)

Discrimination The City investigates claims of discrimination of protected classes in employment, housing, public accommodations, fair contracting. See full details. Civil Rights

Ethics violations
An independent committee interprets, administers and enforces the Seattle ethics, elections and election pamphlets, lobbying and whistleblower protection codes. Ethics & Elections Commission

Fire code The City investigates violations of the Seattle Fire Code, such as a fire alarm out of service or storage of hazardous materials without a permit or in violation of permit conditions. Fire Department

Labor standards The City investigates violations of labor standard laws, including minimum wage, paid sick and safe time, fair chance employment and wage theft. Labor Standards

Noise/nightlife The City's Joint Enforcement Team responds to complaints related to the nightlife economy, including noise, indoor smoking, maximum occupancy, illegal vending, etc. Economic Development,
Finance & Administrative Services
(Regulatory Compliance & Consumer Protection)
Nuisance property Property owners and operators violate the law when they allow a chronic nuisance property to exist. Law Department
(City Attorney's Office)

Property/building The City investigates complaints from the public to identify potential violations of our housing, land use, construction, noise (construction) and other codes. See Codes enforced.

Available Online
Track the investigation and findings of a complaint using the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspection's Property & Building Activity tool.
Construction & Inspections
Taxi, for-hire or transportation network companies/limos/towing The City regulates certain types of businesses and enforces those regulations to ensure customers get what they pay for and pay a fair fee for services. Finance & Administrative Services (Regulatory Compliance & Consumer Protection)

Note: the information included here focuses mainly on records related to contracts, bids, certified payrolls, etc. If you are looking for information related to City construction projects, including project plans, schedules, status, impacts, etc., see also the City Construction Projects category above on this page.

Type

Description

Department

Consultants The City uses consultants to perform analysis, advise, make recommendations, prepare reports, develop designs and provide other specialized services. 

Available Online
Use the Consultant Contract Search tool to find consultant contracts.
Each City department manages its own consultant contracts.

Public works/City projects Public works is construction or reconstruction, alteration, repair or improvements to roadways, buildings and major fixed assets. This is managed centrally.

Available Online
Public works projects are advertised in the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce and online at eBid (login required, but it is free to sign up). See also a list of upcoming City construction projects.
Finance & Administrative Services
(City Purchasing & Contracting Services)
Solid Waste
The City contracts with various companies in collecting, processing and long-haul disposal of waste

Available Online
See SPU's Contracts page.
Public Utilities
Vendors The City uses blanket contracts for City products, supplies and equipment, and routine, on-going or highly repetitive, ordinary services.

Available Online
Use the Purchasing Contract Search tool to find blanket contracts.
Finance & Administrative Services
(City Purchasing & Contracting Services)

Type

Description

Department

Bills

A Council bill is a draft ordinance which the City Clerk processes for formal introduction to the City Council. If the legislation is passed by the Council and signed by the Mayor, it becomes a City ordinance. If it is not passed by the Council, or if a Mayoral veto is not overridden by Council vote, it remains a council bill and is filed in the City Clerk's office.

Available Online
Search Bills on the City Clerk's website.
City Clerk's Office



Ordinances

Ordinances constitute the laws of the City. They must be passed by the City Council and signed by the Mayor, or passed by the Council over the Mayor's veto. Ordinances also are required to authorize certain actions, as designated in the City Charter.

Available Online
Search Ordinances on the City Clerk's website.
City Clerk's Office


Resolutions

A resolution is City legislation which is administrative or temporary, or which expresses policy. Resolutions are passed by the City Council only, but the Council may request the Mayor's signature as endorsement of the policies contained within them.

Available Online
Search Resolutions on the City Clerk's website.
City Clerk's Office


Seattle Municipal Code

The Seattle Municipal Code codifies all general ordinances currently in effect, arranged by subject.

Available Online
Search the online Seattle Municipal Code.
City Clerk's Office

Charter of the City of Seattle

The City Charter embodies the fundamental principles of the City, defines the City's powers, duties and boundaries, and guarantees certain rights to the people.

Available Online
Search the online Charter of the City of Seattle.
City Clerk's Office

Type

Description

Department

Budget proposals
Current and archived budgets, capital improvement programs, economic updates and other related information.

Available Online
Search the Budget Archives for adopted and proposed budget documents.
City Budget Office

Employee pay rates General wage rates for City of Seattle positions.

Available Online
The City's Salary Schedule and Pay Titles & Rates documents are available online.
Human Resources

Invoices/payments Records showing invoices the City receives for products or services and payments made for those products or services. Finance & Administrative Services
(Citywide Accounting & Payroll)

Type

Description

Department

Arts
Full grant list: Arts Mean Business, Civic Partners, CityArtist Projects, Cultural Facilities, Neighborhood & Community Arts, smART Ventures, Youth Arts and Work Readiness Arts Program. Arts & Culture

Economic development Only in Seattle program. Economic Development
Human services
Various funding opportunities through 450 contracts to nearly 200 agencies that support Seattle's most vulnerable residents. Human Services Department


Neighborhood Full grant list: Neighborhood Matching Fund, Duwamish River Opportunity Fund, Community Crosswalks, Neighborhood Park and Street Fund, Summer Opportunity Fund. Neighborhoods

Parks Major Projects Challenge Fund. Parks & Recreation
Race and social justice Racial Equity Fund. Civil Rights
Sustainability Community Climate Project Fund. Sustainability & the Environment
Technology Technology Matching Fund. Seattle Information Technology
Transportation Safe Routes to School: student safety patrol, pedestrian education campaigns, pedestrian crossing flags, bicycle safety skills building events, traffic circulation changes on school property, etc. Transportation

Type

Description

Department

Animal
All cats, dogs, miniature goats and potbellied pigs living within the city limits must have a Seattle pet license. Seattle Animal Shelter

Business Anyone doing business in Seattle must have a Seattle business license tax certificate.

Available Online
To get basic business license information, search the Find a Business database.
Finance & Administrative Services
(Business Licensing & Tax)
Business regulatory The City regulates some business activities and requires a separate endorsement. This includes the taxi/for-hire and transportation network company industry, marijuana businesses, tow companies, adult entertainment, amusement devices, pawnshops, etc. See full list.

Available Online
To get basic business license information, including status of a regulatory endorsement, search the Find a Business database.
Finance & Administrative Services
(Business Licensing & Tax, Regulatory Compliance & Consumer Protection)
Trade Trade licenses are required for tradespeople who operate boilers, conduct gas piping installations, operate and install refrigeration or AC equipment.

Available Online
Find a trade license holder by last name.
Construction & Inspections

Type

Description

Department

Building/land use Construction, demolition, land use, mechanical, electrical, sewer, boiler, elevator/escalator, etc. See full list.

Available Online
Many Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections permits and property records are available on Seattle.gov. Use the Permit and Property Records search tool.
Construction & Inspections

Film Required for filming on public property, and for staging vehicles or equipment on public property while filming on private property. Economic Development
(Office of Film + Music)

Fire Required for special events, public assembly occupancies and a wide variety of other activities where a fire or life safety hazard may exist (e.g., storage of hazardous materials). See full list.

Available Online
You can check the status of a permit on the Seattle Fire Department's website, but must request full records.
Fire Department

Park use Required to reserve a Parks playfield, facility, stage or performing arts area, or to use a park for a gathering. Also required for non-park use of a Parks property. Parks & Recreation


Special events Required for public or private event activity on public or private property that has impact to surrounding neighborhood or requires substantial public services. Economic Development
(Special Events Office)

Street use
Required for activity in the public right of way. There are four main categories: construction use & simple utility, public space, major improvements, urban forestry.

Follow above links for more information on specific permit types within each category.
Transportation
Underground storage tank removal

Required for decommissioning and removal of underground storage tanks. Most residential records are available online (see below). Commercial underground storage tank permit records can be requested through the Public Records Request Center.

Available Online
Records of Seattle Fire Department permits related to decommissioning of a residential heating oil tank, permit code 6103, since 1996 are available on data.seattle.gov.

Fire Department

Type

Description

Department

911 call records - Fire Fire Department dispatches to 911 calls in the city.

Available Online
Search Seattle Real Time Fire 911 Calls on data.seattle.gov.
Fire Department
911 call records - Police Police responses to 911 calls in the city.

Available Online
Search Seattle Police Department 911 Incident Response on data.seattle.gov.
Police Department
Civil case files Case files on City lawsuits. Law Department
(City Attorney's Office)
Criminal case files Case files on traffic infractions, misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors, including DUIs, domestic violence, theft and trespassing. Law Department
(City Attorney's Office)
Court case files Records pertaining to a particular case, including docket, judgment and sentence, motion, etc. Municipal Court

Fire reports Reports including medical incidents, fire responses, fire investigations, etc.  Fire Department
Infraction filings Data on parking, speeding, camera tickets, etc.

Available Online
See Seattle Municipal Court data reports for several frequently requested topics.
Municipal Court
Police reports Initial police reports, collision reports, incident reports, video/audio, calls for service, photographs, witness statements, etc.

Available Online
Initial police reports, collision reports or a clearance letter can be requested through SPD's Front Counter Services.

More detailed reports can be requested using the Seattle Police Records Request Center.
Police Department

Street light/traffic cameras While the Seattle Department of Transportation has and maintains traffic cameras throughout the city for real-time viewing, it does not store, archive, maintain or record any images from those traffic cameras. SDOT does not maintain records relating to red light camera violations (see below).

Available Online
View live traffic conditions online.
Transportation
Red light cameras Information about the City of Seattle's Automated Photo Enforcement program (red light cameras) is available on the Seattle Police Department's website.

Available Online
If you received a notice of infraction in the mail for running a red light, you can view the images and video of your vehicle at ViolationInfo.com. You must use the Notice # and PIN printed on the front of the notice you received to log in.
 
See the Seattle Municipal Court data reports website for data on traffic camera citations.
Municipal Court

Type

Description

Department

Landscaping requirements
Landscaping is required on private property for many developments to mitigate adverse impacts (e.g., for screening of parking, blocking headlight glare from a neighboring property or visually reducing the bulk of a project).

Available Online
See more:
Construction & Inspections

Parks Seattle Parks & Recreation maintains a 6,200-acre park system of 400+ parks and extensive natural areas. SPR is responsible for all of the trees in the urban forest park lands, including developed parks, natural areas, green belts and boulevards.

Available Online
Visit Parks & Recreation's Tree Health and Management page for more details on tree management, maintenance, pruning and/or removal.
Parks & Recreation

Planting strips in public right of way The Seattle Department of Transportation is responsible for activity in the public right of way, including planting strips. A Street Use Permit is required both to pave a planting strip and to plant, prune or remove street trees, which are intended to enhance downtown and neighborhood roadways.

Available Online
Visit SDOT's Urban Forestry website for more details, including procedures, guides and applications for tree pruning and removal permits.
Transportation

Power line maintenance
Seattle City Light's Vegetation Management program is committed to ensuring safe and reliable power delivery through the comprehensive and environmentally responsible management of the vegetation our lines and infrastructure impact.

Available Online
City Light's Vegetation Management Program lays the groundwork for City policy on tree removal and replacement. City Light has also published "The Right Tree Book" to help residents choose appropriate trees near power lines.
City Light

Tree protection regulations
Trees are valued in Seattle and legally protected in a variety of ways.

Available Online
See more:
Construction & Inspections