Public Space Permits

What are public space permits for?

To help keep our shared spaces accessible and in good repair, permits are required for any work in, or occupation of, the public right of way. A public space permit is a type of permit that enables individuals, organizations, and businesses to enhance neighborhoods and strengthen communities by enlivening public spaces in ways that encourage social activity, help local businesses thrive, and create safer, more attractive streets.

How do I get a permit?

To get a public space permit, find the specific use of public space you are interested in below and follow the instructions provided. As noted in each section, some types of public space permits may require the submission of additional documents. Depending on your specific project type and location, these additional documents may include materials not listed on this page.

Apply for a permit on the Seattle Services Portal. Use the button on the right to sign in! 

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Short Term Use" and "Block Party" record type.  

Please visit the Block Parties and Play Streets permit page for additional information.  

Related program: Community Activation 

This permit allows for the placement of event-related banners on City-owned utility poles. 

You can apply for this permit on the Seattle Services Portal. Use the button on the right to login! 

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Short Term Use" and "Temporary Activation" record type.  

When you apply, you'll need to upload the following documents: 

  • Pole map with pole numbers (11"x17" preferred) 
  • Design proof(s) complete with size and colors.  
  • If you're installing brackets, submit specifications for your installation system. 
  • Certificate of insurance and endorsements (CAM 2102
  • Historic/Landmark District Certificate of Approval if in Historic District  

When creating a diagram or map of the specific poles to be used for banner installation, include the vertical pole numbers located on the street-side of the pole, and the streets where the poles are located. Provide a photo or other way to identify the pole if no pole number is available. Please see our pole map installation diagram to learn more. 

Apply at least 4-6 weeks before you need to install your banners. Spring and summer are busy seasons for banner requests, so get your application in as early as possible! 

For more information on banner design and technical specifications, check out our Pole Banner program page. 

Related Program: Pole banners 

Organizers are required to apply for a permit through the Seattle Services Portal. Use the button to the right to login! 

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Short Term Use" and "Temporary Activation" record type.  

Please visit the Street and Sidewalk Activities permits page for additional information on how to apply. 

Related program: Community Activation 

 

This permit allows for the siting of retaining walls and rockeries, fences, stairs, steps and railings in the public right-of-way.

Please note:  this type of use of the right-of-way is typically discouraged, but may be considered in some cases when necessity is demonstrated

All fences, walls, and stairways located fully or partially in the right-of-way require a public space permit.

For existing structures (no construction)

Apply online using the Seattle Services Portal. Use the button to the right to login!

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Long Term Use" and "Private Structures/Uses" record type.  

You'll need to upload the following documents:

  • Site plan, including an elevation and cross section (11"x17" preferred). Check out CAM 2800 for more information, just click the thumbnail below!

CAM2800

  • An engineer's report may be required at the discretion of the permit reviewer 

For structures where construction activity is proposed

Apply to Permit Services using our new Combined Application. Your public space and construction use permits will be issued together.

If approved, an indemnity agreement will be drafted and you will need to record against the title of the property at King County Records prior to your permit issuance.

Permit for structure on private property

If your proposed fence, wall, stairway, etc. will be located entirely on private property, you will need to obtain permit(s) issued by the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections (SDCI).

PLEASE NOTE: a project located completely on private property still requires a Street Use construction use permit if some of the associated work (such as material storage, equipment crossing the sidewalk) will take place in the public right-of-way. 

There are different requirements for permitting structures on private property as opposed to in public right-of-way. For example, SDCI does not require a permit for fences or walls constructed under a certain height, but any fence or wall in the right-of-way requires a permit, regardless of height. 

Festival Streets are designated portions of road intended for frequent community events. Depending upon the scale of your proposed event, you may be eligible for a simple and free permit!

Activities Allowed Under Festival Street Permit

Events must be free and open to the general public. They are intended for community gatherings that provide a broad public benefit or cultural activity. The following activities are allowed under a free permit:

  • Event occurs between 9:00 AM - 10:00 PM (including setup/cleanup)
  • Up to 500 people at a given time

If your event is a private event such as a wedding or you want to have food vending, you will need to apply for a Street/Sidewalk Activation permit instead. If your event will have more than 500 people (unenclosed) or more than 99 people (enclosed within a fence), you will need a Special Events Office permit.

Ready to apply?

If you qualify for the free Festival Street permit, you can apply online on the Seattle Services Portal. Click on the button to the right to login!

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Short Term Use" and "Block Party" record type.

Visit the Street and Sidewalk Activation Permit page if you need that permit type.

Designated Festival Streets

Currently, Seattle's designated festival streets are:

  • Canton Alley in the Chinatown-International District
  • South Roberto Maestas Festival Street in Beacon Hill
  • Nord Alley in Pioneer Square
  • Triangle Festival Street in West Seattle
  • E Denny Way in Capitol Hill

If you're interested in designating a new Festival Street, view the Director's Rule 1-2019. Email us at publicspace@seattle.gov or call 206-684-ROAD for more information.

Related program: Community Activation

This permit allows permittees to store materials in a pre-defined location in the public right-of-way. The permit must be renewed annually as long as the material continues to be located in public space.

You can apply for a permit on the Seattle Services Portal. Use the button on the right to login!

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Long Term Use" and "Private Structures/Uses" record type.

For storage where construction activity is proposed (such as if you are building a fence), rather than applying online, apply to Permit Services using our Combined Application. Your public space and construction use permits will be issued together.

Required documents

  • Site plan (11"x17" preferred)

Blank site plan

With this permit type, you can make use of temporary moorage (up to 30 days) or permanent moorage (more than 30 days) in state waterways. 

You can apply for a permit on the Seattle Services Portal. Click the button on the right to login!

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Long Term Use" and "Waterway" record type.  

Required documents:

  • Bond
  • Site plan (11"x17" preferred) 

11 x 17" blank site plan

If approved, an indemnity agreement will be drafted and you will need to record against the title of the property at King County Records prior to your permit issuance. 

With this permit, you can convert a few on-street parking spots into a parklet or streatery and create an open space for all Seattleites to enjoy.

You can apply for a permit on the Seattle Services Portal. Cllick on the button to the right to login.

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Long Term Use" and "Private Structures/Uses" record type. 

You'll need to upload the following documents:

  • Site plan (including elevation and structure details)
  • Letter of authorization (if applicant is different from the owner or financially responsible party)  
  • Photo/Conceptual Image/Design

We may require the following documents prior to issuing the permit:

  • Certificate of Insurance and endorsements (see CAM 2102)
  • Bond
  • Historic/Landmark District Certificate of Approval, if in an Historic District

If approved, an indemnity agreement will be drafted and you will need to record against the title of the property at King County Records prior to your permit issuance. Additional documents may be required based on the review of your application.

Looking for a public notice for pending parklets or streateries?

Check out our Public Comment page for an up-to-date list of projects.

Related Information: Parklets and Streateries Permits

Simple projects, such as small-scale planting in the planting strip or other right-of-way areas, may be completed with a free beautification permit issued by Street Use Permit Services.  

If you'd like to apply for a permit to plant in your planting strip, check out Planting in the Right-of-Way for a step-by-step guide on how to do so! 

More complex projects, require both a Trees and Landscaping Permit, and may also require a Construction Use in the Right-of-Way permit, depending on the scope of the project. Projects involving tree planting, tree pruning, or tree removal in the right of way require a free Trees and Landscaping permit. You cannot apply for these permits on the Seattle Services Portal at this time. 

Depending on the nature of your project (for example, if you would like to add paving to your planting strip or if you're using heavy equipment), additional Street Use permits may be required. If you have questions about what permits your project may require, please see the project information provided below, or email us at SDOTpermits@seattle.gov. You may also visit us in person at the Street Use permit counter. 

Additional guidance can be found in the following Client Assistance Memo (CAM):

Planting Strip Paving and Tree Planting Rules - CAM 2304

Gardening and Planting in other Right-of-Way Areas

Gardening in other areas of the right-of-way typically requires a construction use permit, and there are costs associated with this permit type. If you have questions about permits for gardening in other areas of the right-of-way, please contact our Public Space Management team at publicspace@seattle.gov.  

Planting for Storm Water Management

Rain gardens and bioretention installations are two methods of storm water management that we encourage you to explore. Not only do these installations help mitigate storm water runoff and remove pollutants being carried in the storm water, they can also be beautiful visual additions to the neighborhood. 

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens capture storm water from adjacent sidewalks. You can learn more about voluntary rain garden requirements, installation, and maintenance in  CAM 2308 - Voluntary Curbside Rain Gardens. Depending on the nature of the installation (if street trees are being added, removed or pruned, for example), both a Trees and Landscaping Permit and Construction Use in the Right of Way Permit may be required. Rain garden permits are free. 

Bioretention

Bioretention installations capture storm water from adjacent sidewalks and streets. They are more extensive than rain gardens, and therefore require a Street Improvement Permit (SIP). For detailed information on the requirements for bioretention installations, see CAM 2309 - Voluntary Curbside Bioretention, and visit our Street Improvement Permits page. 

Additional Resources

This permit allows the siting of private utility infrastructure in the right-of-way.

All private utility infrastructure located fully or partially in the right-of-way require a public space permit. For existing infrastructure where there will not be construction or modifications, you will only need a public space permit. If you plan to build or modify the private utility infrastructure, you will need to apply to Permit Services using our Combined Application. Your Public Space and Construction Use permits will be issued together.

For existing private utility infrastructure with no construction activity, you can apply for a permit on the Seattle Services Portal. Click the button on the right to login!

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Long Term Use" and "Private Structures/Uses" record type.

Required documents:

  • Site plan (11"x17" preferred)

Blank 11x17" site plan

If approved, an indemnity agreement will be drafted and you will need to record against the title of the property at King County Records prior to your permit issuance. 

With this permit, you can install street improvements such as furniture, planters, bike racks, street murals, and artwork on traffic-signal control boxes. 

You can apply for a permit on the Seattle Services Portal. Use the button on the right to sign in!

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Long Term Use" and "Private Structures/Uses" record type.

Required documents:

  • Site plan, including elevation, detail, or manufacturer's specifications as necessary (11"x17" preferred)

Sample 11x17" site plan

Signal Box Artwork

We consider the following when reviewing proposed designs: 

  • Artwork should have a consistency of style and medium to create a unified aesthetic between signal boxes. Think of them as a series, rather than individual pieces of art. 
  • Designs for the boxes contribute to the visual quality of the streetscape. For example, consider using a limited palette of colors and simple graphic images to avoid visual clutter. 
  • If original artwork is being created, a lead artist/designer should be responsible for designing the images. 
  • Artwork should contribute to a public benefit. Community support for the designs is a must. 
  • Images that convey messages appearing to advertise or promote a private entity corporation, neighborhood business, chamber of commerce, or other community organization) will not be accepted. 
  • Images that create a driver distraction or could be confused with traffic signs will not be accepted. 
  • Arts representatives will review locations to determine proximity to artwork in the public art collection. 

Additional information on permitting signal box artwork is available in Client Assistance Memo 2505

If you are ready to start planning your design, you may find our signal box artwork design template helpful. 

Ready to apply? Apply online using the Seattle Services Portal. Use the button on the right to sign in!

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Long Term Use" and "Private Structures/Uses" record type.

You'll need to upload the following documents:

  • Site plan showing the signal box locations (11"x17" preferred) 

Sample 11x17" site plan

Neighborhood Identification Pole Banners

With this permit, you can place neighborhood identification banners on City-owned utility poles.

You can apply for this permit type on the Seattle Services Portal. Use the button on the right to sign in!

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Long Term Use" and "Private Structures/Uses" record type.

When you apply, you'll need to upload the following documents: 

  • Pole map with pole numbers (11"x17" preferred) 
  • Design proof(s) complete with size and colors.  
  • If you're installing brackets, submit specifications for your installation system. 
  • If your proposed banner is in an historic or landmark district, you must get a certificate of approval for those areas. 

When creating a diagram or map of the specific poles to be used for banner installation, include the vertical pole numbers located on the street-side of the pole, and the streets where the poles are located. Provide a photo or other way to identify the pole if no pole number is available. Please see our pole map installation diagram to see an example. 

Apply at least 4-6 weeks before you need to install your banners. Spring and summer are busy seasons for banner requests, so get your application in as early as possible! 

More information on banner design and technical specifications are available on our Pole Banners program page. 

Related program: Public Amenities, Event Pole Banners

This permit allows for the long-term private use of a designated shoreline street end by adjacent property owners. Community groups interested in improving a shoreline street end for public use should visit our program page. Additionally, a Shoreline Substantial Development Exemption may be required.

You can apply for a permit on the Seattle Services Portal. Use the button on the right to sign in!

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Long Term Use" and "Shoreline Street Ends" record type.

You will need to upload the following documents: 

  • Site plan (11x17 preferred)

A blank 11x17" site plan template

  • If construction is proposed, your application will be routed to our Permit Services team. Additional materials may be requested based upon their review.
  • If approved, an indemnity agreement will be drafted and you will need to record against the title of the property at King County Records prior to your permit issuance.

Related program: Shoreline Street Ends

We've recently updated the permit process and requirements for our sidewalk cafe permits.

Please see our sidewalk cafe permit page

Want to find a public notice for a pending sidewalk café application?

Visit our Public Comment page for applications open for public comment.

With this type of permit, business owners can display merchandise on the sidewalk in front of their building. Displays in the furniture zone, or displays with dimensions wider than the store front, may be permitted, as long as an adequate pedestrian zone is maintained. A pedestrian zone wider than 5' may be required, depending on the terms of the merchandise display.

You can apply for a permit on the Seattle Services Portal. Use the button on the right to sign in!

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Long Term Use" and "Merchandise Display" record type. 

Required documents:

  • Site plan, incluidng an elevation (11”x17” preferred)

A blank 11x17" site plan template

With a tables-and-chairs permit, businesses can set out tables and chairs on the sidewalk immediately adjacent to the business. These are open for use by both customers and the public. Table service may not be provided, and alcohol cannot be consumed. Tables and chairs must be removed daily and no fixed improvements (e.g., a railing) may be installed.

You can apply for a permit on the Seattle Services Portal. Use the button on the right to sign in!

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Long Term Use" and "Private Structures/Uses" record type. 

Required documents:

A blank 11x17" site plan

Related program: Sidewalk Seating, Public Amenities

This permit allows signs, awnings, and graphics to be affixed to buildings and positioned over the public right-of-way.

You can apply for a permit on the Seattle Services Portal. Use the button on the right to sign in!

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Long Term Use" and "Private Structures/Uses" record type. 

Required documents:

  • Site plan, showing elevation (11”x17” preferred)

A blank 11x17" site plan

  • Design proof(s) complete with size and colors

Signs

For more information about signage code in Seattle, please see Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 15.12. or Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 23.55. Please note: the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections also requires you to apply for a sign permit. Please see the SDCI permitting requirements for more information.

Awnings

Awnings hanging over the public right-of-way require a Street Use Construction Use in the Right of Way Permit, as well as permitting and review from the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections. If an awning includes a business name or other sign graphics, then the awning requires a public space permit.

For more information about Seattle’s code requirements for awnings and similar decorative elements, please see Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 15.10.

Medium-scale activities in streets, alleys, or plazas that can include vending, such as a farmers' market or retail sidewalk sale. For more information, click here

You can apply for a permit on the Seattle Services Portal. Use the button on the right to sign in!

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Short Term Use" and "Street/Sidewalk Activities" record type.  

Related program: Community Activation

We encourage street-food vending to increase public use, enjoyment, and safety of our public right-of-way. With proper design and management, street-food vending can be a great way to encourage walking, add vitality to the street, and promote local economic development. 

Specifically, we provide guidance and facilitate the permitting process for businesses interested in vending food or flowers in public spaces.  For more information, visit our Vending page

Related Program: Vending

This permit type allows for the siting of structures such as platforms, ramps, and structural building overhangs like bay windows, decks and balconies in the public right-of-way.

All structures located fully or partially in the right-of-way require a public space permit.  

For existing structures (no construction activity)

You can apply for a permit on the Seattle Services Portal. Use the button on the right to sign in!

Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use" and navigate to and select the "Long Term Use" and "Private Structures/Uses" record type.

Required documents:

  • Site plan, including an elevation and details (11”x17” preferred)

A blank 11x17" site plan template

For structures where construction activity is proposed

Apply to Permit Services using our combined application. Your public space and construction use permits will be issued together. 

If approved, an indemnity agreement will be drafted and you will need to record against the title of the property at King County Records prior to your permit issuance. 

Don’t see what you’re looking for?

Please let us know – we are always happy to hear about new ideas for improving public spaces and the shared right-of-way!