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Chapter 2
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Procedures, Permitting Process and Approvals for Right-of-Way Improvements
2.2 SDOT Street Right-of-Way Permits

The City of Seattle requires an SDOT permit for work in or use of a street right-of-way.

There are five basic types of SDOT permits with varying requirements, some of which are considered to be Street Improvement Permits.

Construction Permits include the construction or repair of improvements to the right of way such as street paving, curbs, or sidewalks.  Street Improvement permits are further broken down into three groups depending on the extent of work to be completed. Further explanation is available on Client Assistance Memo 2209.

Group 1 – Over-the-Counter (OTC) permits that can be obtained any time prior to construction or installation of the improvement.  Some examples include plantings, or clearing vegetation on the right-of-way and/or construction of a driveway apron on a street with an existing curb.

Group 2 – OTC permits which should be obtained concurrently with a building permit.  These permits generally include items that may impact your building design.  Some project examples include: constructing or rebuilding walls, rockeries, new asphalt driveway. This category of permits typically requires a field review to determine whether the conditions on the site are suitable for the type of improvement desired. SDOT must review and approve the permit prior to commencing work. 
If the project falls into the type of improvements in Group 2 and are not reviewed and/or permitted by SDOT at the time the applicant is obtaining the construction permit, the applicant may be required to make significant changes to their private property development plans to construct their project to the appropriate grade, consistent with SDOT standards and SMC Title 15.

Group 3 – Street Improvement permits (SIP).  Street Improvement permits are required for new or realigned city owned infrastructure and significant repair projects.  When street improvement permits are required in conjunction with private development, the 60% SIP must be approved by Street Use prior to the construction permit intake.  A Group 3 permit may need to include a Group 1 or Group 2 permit as a part of the project’s permitting requirements. 

Use Permits are issued for temporary use of the right-of-way during construction such as material storage, scaffolding, crane placement or crossing the curb and sidewalk with heavy equipment.

Shoring and Excavation Permits are issued for excavations in the public right-of-way that could by the nature of the excavation affect the integrity of a right-of-way or utilities in a right-of-way.  Permits for excavations on private property that may impact the right of way are issued by DPD, but SDOT reviews the plans to insure the right of way is not affected.

Utility Permits are issued for the installation of underground and overhead utility mains and services in the public rights-of-way. They include power, communication, gas, steam, water, sewer, drainage, and privately owned facilities such as oil pipelines.

Non-Construction Permits are issued for private uses of the right of way.  These permits include both short and long term uses.  Short term uses include street closures for block parties and farmers markets.  Long term uses of the right-of-way include signs, private retaining walls, structural overhangs and sidewalk cafes. Permits for uses over one year generally require an annual fee and in some cases liability insurance or a public place indemnification agreement. Although these permits are issued for uses that may seem permanent they are considered temporary in nature and are revocable within 30 days.

The types of permits that are of most interest to those engaged in private development are explained in this chapter. For more information on the various kinds of SDOT permits, contact the SDOT Street Use Permit Counter or refer to the SDOT CAM 2100: List of Street Use Permits. SDOT Street Use also allows customers to apply for certain types of permits online. Visit the Online Permitting web site for more information on submitting an online application for a street right-of-way permit. Refer to the SDOT CAM 2105: What You Will Need to Apply for a Permit Online for specific instructions.

Applicants will need to carefully review the right-of-way improvements required for their project. 

With all of the permitting requirements, it is the sole responsibility of the applicant to obtain the necessary building permits for their building project.  It will also be important to obtain and coordinate the required (if any) SDOT permits – prior to construction.  It is also the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all required permits are obtained prior to project construction.  Problems that occur during construction that are due to the lack of coordination with SDOT are the responsibility of the Permittee.

The permitting fees and the cost of services provided by the City of Seattle vary based on the type of permit, duration and amount construction within the right of way. Permit and inspection fees are based on the number of hours required to complete the work.  The current Street Use Fee Schedule can be found here.

continue to section 2.3 »   
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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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