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Land Use / Master Use - Rezone

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What Is It?

A land use rezone permit allows you to change your property’s land use zone, which changes the size of what you can build and how you can use your property.

A rezone of your property leads to one of these changes:

  • Upzoning - bigger buildings and more options for how to use your property. For example, when you change your property’s land use zone from multifamily to commercial you can build a structure with both commercial and residential uses.
  • Downzoning - smaller buildings and fewer options for how to use your property. For example, when you change your property’s zone from multifamily to single-family you can only build a single-family house and other structures we allow in your single-family zone.

Your proposed rezone must meet our rules for development in land use zones. For example, in our Neighborhood Commercial One (NC1) zone, we encourage development of a variety of small businesses that people can walk to from the neighborhood. Therefore, our rules restrict the size of commercial businesses and require stores to be at ground level facing the street. See our development standards by land use zone on our zoning page.

We also review how your proposed rezone supports or impacts:

  • Seattle's Comprehensive Plan
  • Neighborhood plans
  • Surrounding property uses and land use zones
  • Housing, public services, pedestrians, shoreline, transit service, and street capacity, and water and sewer capacity

We usually require State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review at the same time you apply for a rezone. If you decide to apply for a specific project associated with a review, you may also need Design Review.

Sometimes, the Seattle City Council or Mayor ask us to study an area or neighborhood for possible rezoning to attract or limit development as outlined in the Seattle Comprehensive Plan. Our review process for this type of area-wide rezone is different from the process for a more limited site proposal.

Examples of area-wide rezones include:

  • South Lake Union Rezone
  • Yesler Terrace Rezone
  • Station Area Overlay Incentive Zoning

How Much Does It Cost?

Our review fee is $250 per hour. You need to provide a deposit when you submit your land use application. After we accept your application, we will send you a monthly invoice for all review time completed in that billing cycle. If you do not pay your invoice, we will stop reviewing your project.

How Long Does It Take?

How long it takes us to complete our review of your proposal depends on several factors, including the:

  • Complexity of your proposal
  • Whether environmental review is required
  • Quality of your plans and project documentation
  • Timely response to correction letters and requests for further information
  • Public interest

Steps to Get Your Permit

 

1. Research

Find your property information. Research your site to help you plan your project.

Determine restrictions to your project. Research the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) to determine standards that will apply to your proposal.

Attend a coaching session. We offer 20 minutes of free coaching in the Applicant Services Center to answer drainage, land use, geotechnical, or construction permit questions. If you need a longer coaching session, we offer one-hour sessions for $250.

2. Start Permit Application

Apply for a project number. Get a project number by starting your application online or by submitting a preliminary application in person, by mail, or by fax. You will need to provide a site plan.

Request a pre-application site visit. Pre-application site visits are required for all land use projects. Request a pre-application site visit online or submit a pre-application site visit form. Our report will include information about your next steps, potential right-of-way or utility improvements, what to include in your plans, and what to provide at your intake appointment.

Attend a pre-submittal conference. We require pre-submittal conferences for all proposed rezone applications. At a pre-submittal conference you will discuss our rezone requirements and our application process. One-hour pre-submittal conference fees vary based on the type of conference you need.

Apply for exemptions. You may be eligible for an exemption from environmentally critical area and/or shoreline code requirements.

Coordinate with other agencies. You may need permits or approvals from other agencies. These are the most common agencies you may need to work with for your permit type:

Prepare your plans and technical documents. Your plans should be to scale and easy to read and scan. You may need to submit technical documents including a survey, geotechnical and wetland reports, and other types of reports. Our Tips and code standards provide additional detail on the type of plans and reports we require to review your proposal.

3. Submit Plans

Schedule an intake appointment. Call (206) 684-8850 to schedule an intake appointment at the Applicant Services Center, or schedule an electronic appointment. 

Pay fees. You must pay a deposit for your review and noticing fees at intake. We will invoice you monthly for additional fees review process. We will stop reviewing your project if you do not pay your monthly invoice.

Wait for public notice. We will issue a public notice for your project as required by SMC 23.76.012. If required, you are responsible for building and installing a large environmental public notice sign. Once you've installed the sign, let us know and we'll begin our public notice process.

We'll consider all public comments we receive during the 2 - 4 week public comment period.

Make corrections and resubmit your plans. Once all of our reviews are done, we will contact you to pick up your plan sets and make corrections. Your project may require multiple correction rounds before our review is complete.

Pay outstanding fees. Once our review is complete, you must pay any remaining fees before we publish our decision.

Read our recommendation. We will publish our recommendation on your project in our Land Use Information Bulletin once all reviews are complete. We will also send a notice of our recommendation and of the required public hearing to everybody that submitted a public comment on your project. Our decision will include any required conditions of approval.

Submit an appeal. If you or a member of the public disagree with our decision, you may file an appeal with the Seattle Hearing Examiner within 14 days from when we publish our decision.

Attend the public hearing. The Seattle Hearing Examiner will hold a public hearing on our rezone recommendation, along with any appeals on your project. The Hearing Examiner will also issue a recommendation to the City Council. The council will vote on your rezone request based on the information provided during the public hearing process.

4. Get Permit

Pick up permit. Once City Council has approved your rezone, you will be contacted to pick up your permit and approved plans at the permit issuance counter in the Applicant Services Center.

5. Apply for Construction Permit

You may apply for a construction permit at any time once you submit a land use application. However, the project can change and evolve through the land use application review process. Corrections required by our decision may require building plan changes that can result in costly design changes.

What Do You Want To Do?


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