Term Permits and Street Vacations

Permit Counter Temporary Closures

To protect the health and safety of our staff and customers, and to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19, we closed our public-facing customer service counters on Monday, March 16, 2020. Our counters remain closed until further notice. This includes both the Street Use and the Traffic and Parking permit counters at the Seattle Municipal Tower on floors 23 and 37. We are still processing permit applications.

You can submit applications for all permit types online through the Seattle Services Portal.

Our staff will be available to provide application coaching and assist with issuing permits by phone or e-mail.

What are term permits and street vacations?

A term permit is issued for skybridges and significant structures occupying the right-of-way such as utility tunnels, vehicle bridges and ramps, public plazas, and artwork. After we review a term permit application, it must be approved by the City Council. A term permit is for a period of ten years, with two renewable ten-year terms for a maximum of 30 years.

Street vacations allow property owners to petition the City Council for private use of the public right-of-way. Street vacations permanently change the right-of-way to private use, based on public benefit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a term permit and a public space management permit?
A term permit is for significant structures in the right-of-way and the applicant must provide a compelling necessity statement describing why there are no other feasible options to address the need. Term permits require City Council approval, whereas public space management permits are approved by us.
When should I apply for a street vacation instead of a term permit?
Unlike a term permit which has a maximum duration of thirty years and can be revoked by the City of Seattle and the permit holder directed to remove the encroachment from the right-of-way according to the terms specified in the term permit ordinance, street vacations permanently change the right-of-way to private use. Street vacations are only applicable when there is an adjacent development project planned.

How do I apply for a term permit?

You may submit your application online through the Seattle Services Portal. Use the button to the right to begin!

Please see the term permit application for additional application requirements, including the deposit fee, which are due at the time of application.

You can find a list of deposit fees in the Permit Fee Schedule below.

Large abstract sculpture installed by the sidewalk out side of the Peace Corps building.

What is the review process for a term permit?

Since the permit is for a significant structure, review time can take several months. After we review the application and supplemental materials, we draft the permit legislation.

It's a two-step process for the City Council to approve the term permit.

First, the City Council votes on a resolution that provides conceptual approval to the applicant. This can only occur after the project receives 60% technical approval for the structure. If the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) applies, this process will need to be completed before the City Council votes on the resolution.

Once the project receives 100% technical approval for the structure, the City Council votes on the ordinance granting permission. The term permit ordinance outlines all the terms and conditions of the permit.

Additional review steps may be required for certain types of structures. 

Term Permit Resources

Visitors to Pike Place Market enjoying the new public plaza.

Street Vacations

If you’re interested in a street vacation, please review the information in the links below.

If you'd like to learn more or have questions, please contact Beverly Barnett at beverly.barnett@seattle.gov or (206) 684-7564, or Moira Gray at moira.gray@seattle.gov or (206) 684-8272