Master Use Permit Lifespan Extension - What & Why

Vacant lot that might benefit from a Master User Permit lifespan extension

What's Happening Now

The City Council Land Use Committee has reviewed and approved the legislation for this topic (Council Bill 120674). The committee held two meetings. On November 29 there was a briefing of the committee. On December 8 there was a committee discussion and public hearing. Written comments on the legislation were accepted until noon on Friday, December 8, 2023.. See the public notice for more information. This bill was approved and signed into law as Ordinance 126979. These changes are now in effect, as of January 11, 2024. It will be in effect for three years, through January 10, 2027.

Seattle has now extended the lifespan of Master Use Permits (MUPs) that are impacted by national and regional economic conditions that may pose challenges for new development projects to move forward.

The proposal applies to development proposals that obtained MUP decisions between September 1, 2019, and December 31, 2026.

This could aid projects that need more time to complete building permitting and initiate construction. Difficulty obtaining financing or soft demand for commercial space or housing can lead to delays that cause permits to expire.  Getting permits is a major investment. Allowing permit holders more time to act on their permits will support increased development that would help build more housing and job opportunities.

The proposal:

  • Change the maximum term for MUPs from 5 years to 6 years (no renewals after 6 years)
  • Remove a permit renewal step that now happens three years after the original MUP approval
  • Avoid unexpected changes in requirements that could happen in a permit renewal review after 3 years.

The proposal would not affect shoreline permits, variances, subdivisions or temporary use permits, which have different permit processes.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Gordon Clowers
Senior Planner, SDCI

Project Benefits

The proposal gives more time for existing and future development to work their way through the steps needed to get a building permit, secure financing and be ready to build.

Currently, around 200 significant development projects throughout Seattle have obtained a Master Use Permit (MUP) or have recently started the MUP land use review process, but have not yet received building permit approvals, which is the final step needed to start construction. These projects, and others getting MUPs in the next three years, could benefit from this additional flexibility in the City’s approval process.

The End Result

Easing the permit lifespan restrictions enables more permit holders to proceed with developments that are challenged by today’s economic conditions. 

Construction and Inspections

Nathan Torgelson, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA, 98124-4019
Phone: (206) 684-8600
Phone Alt: Violation Complaint Line: (206) 615-0808
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SDCI issues land use, construction, and trade permits, conducts construction and housing-related inspections, ensures compliance with our codes, and regulates rental rules. SDCI is committed to an antiracist workplace and to addressing racism through our work in the community.