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Chapter 2
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Procedures, Permitting Process and Approvals for Right-of-Way Improvements
2.1 Navigating the City of Seattle Permit Process

There are numerous permits that the City of Seattle may be required for private development projects. A number of City departments oversee permitting, including:

  • Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has authority over permits related to any work being performed in Seattle’s street right-of-way.  SDOT coordinates the review and inspection of drainage, wastewater and water infrastructure with Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and electrical infrastructure with Seattle City Light (SCL).
  • Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is responsible for and leads the review and approval of Construction and Master Use Permits (MUPs).
  • Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation (SPR) permits work proposed on land that they own or on designated park boulevards.
  • Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON) reviews and approves projects within the seven historic districts.  Their review ensures the historical integrity of structures and public spaces in the City’s seven historic districts.  DON is also responsible for the legal process of nominating, designating and protecting landmark structures and sites.
  • In addition to City required permits, many projects may require permits or approvals by County, State or Federal agencies.

This section of the Right-of-Way Improvement Manual provides a high-level overview of typical permits that may be needed for work in the street right-of-way.

2.1.1 Overview of DPD Permitting

The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) issues two types of permits, Master Use Permits (MUPs) and Construction Permits. 

In general Master Use Permits assure that structures meet zoning requirements and comply with environmental regulations, such as the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and the Seattle Shoreline Master Program.  Components of a MUP may also include use approvals, variances, administrative conditional uses, design review, special exceptions, shoreline district approvals, short plats, and certain street uses.

Construction Permits assure that the structural and fire/life safety elements of your project are in compliance with the latest adopted code.

DPD has several Client Assistance Memos (CAMs) available to help guide applicants through the permitting process.

2.1.2 Preliminary Assessment of Private Development

In the initial stages of the DPD permitting process, DPD Land Use, DPD Drainage, SDOT, SPU and SCL review the proposed project.  Following the review the applicant will receive a Preliminary Application Report (PAR) with all of the reviewers’ comments and requirements combined into the report.  The SDOT portion of the report contains SDOT permitting requirements based on the requirements from the different review groups. 

The requirements are based on the information provided by the applicant in the Preliminary Application Package.  As with all permitting requirements, it is the sole responsibility of the applicant to obtain the necessary permits for their project prior to project construction.  Problems or delays that occur during construction due to the lack of a permit or due to the lack of coordination with SDOT are the responsibility of the applicant.


2.1.3 Right-of-Way Improvement Requirements

Right-of-way improvement requirements for private development can be triggered through several different review processes.  Some of the more common ways that street improvements are triggered are:

When right–of-way improvements are required a street use permit is required for those improvements.  The type of street use permit depends on the type and extent of the improvements required.


continue to section 2.2 »   
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Detailed Table of Contents
Chapter 2
Procedures, Permitting Process and Approvals for Right-of-Way Improvements
2.1 Navigating the City of Seattle Permit Process
2.2 Street Right-of-Way Permits
2.3 Street Improvement Permits Group 3 permits
2.4 Other Street Use Construction Permits Groups 1 and 2
2.5 Right-of-Way Use Permits
2.6 Shoring and Excavation Permits
2.7 Utility Permits
2.8 Non-Construction Permits
2.9 Street Trees and Landscaping Permits
2.10 Other Street Right-of-Way Improvement Activities
2.11 Deviation Request Process for Street Right-of-Way Improvements
2.12 Environmental Review and Approvals
2.13 King County Permits and Approvals
2.14 State and Federal Permits and Approvals
2.15 Contact Information
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