Opinion Letters

What Is It?

An opinion letter describes our analysis of an issue relating to how the standards of the Land Use Code or related codes apply to a particular site, use of land, or development proposal. Our opinion letters are intended to provide helpful information about how we believe particular code standards would apply. You cannot appeal an opinion letter.

You may request several different opinion letters:

  • Legal Building Site Letter (addresses whether a particular parcel qualifies for separate development) 
  • Development Potential Letter
  • Transfer of Development Rights Letter
  • Reasonable Accommodation Request
  • Special Accommodation Request
  • Detailed Zoning Analysis Opinion Letter
  • Preliminary Zoning Opinion Letter

Preliminary Zoning Opinion Letters are on a single development standard and need to be requested before you submit your project application. You cannot get these letters on projects that require a Type II Master Use Permit, which are subject to appeal.

How Much Does It Cost?

Our fee for most opinion letters is a minimum of 4 hours for research and analysis. In many cases the initial fee is sufficient. You may need to pay additional fees for more review if the issue is complex or requires a lot of research. If we do conduct more than 4 hours of review and analysis, you need to pay the balance before we will issue the letter. See our Fee Subtitle, Table C-1, for current hourly rates. 

Exceptions to the 4-hour minimum are:

  • Reasonable Accommodation Request: no charge
  • Special Accommodation Request: minimum is the first 2 hours
  • Preliminary Zoning Opinion Letter: minimum is the first hour 

How Long Does It Take?


Opinion letters typically take four to five weeks. We may need additional time in cases requiring complex research or analysis, or in cases where we need additional information from you. If we are aware of a particular need for a quicker letter, for example due to an impending closing or contractual deadline, we do our best to meet your needs. 

Steps to Get

  • You must submit a Land Use Analysis request (under Permits - Trade, Construction & Land Use) through the Seattle Services Portal. You will need to complete and upload the Statement of Financial Responsibility form as part of your application.
  • You will need to pay all fees before we issue our Opinion Letter.