AG 1010: Holiday Construction Moratorium

This guide explains the purpose of the Holiday Construction Moratorium. It also explains how to ask for an exception and covers the types of work that do not require special permission during the moratorium.

I want to learn more about...

Step 1: Understanding the Holiday Moratorium

During the winter holidays, we don't allow construction work in certain areas of the city: the Downtown Retail Core, Pioneer Square, and the Chinatown-International District (CID). This rule, called the "Holiday Construction Moratorium," helps local businesses when many people are shopping and keeps traffic from getting too busy.

Sometimes, we make exceptions for special cases. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director looks at each request carefully and decides if an exception can be made. But there are only a few exceptions allowed. If you need to work in one of these areas during the winter holidays, this guide will tell you what you need to know to ask for an exception.

(top of page)

Step 2: Moratorium Boundaries and Dates

We have two moratorium areas with different restriction periods.

  • The Downtown Retail Core, including Pioneer Square: the moratorium starts on Thanksgiving Day and continues through New Year's Day (January 1).
  • The Chinatown-International District (CID): the moratorium lasts for 6 weeks around the Lunar New Year. It starts three weeks before the Lunar New Year and ends three weeks after.

The exact date of the Lunar New Year holiday varies each year. You can find the date of the Lunar New Year using a search engine.

You can see maps of the areas where construction is not allowed during the moratorium below.

Also, if construction work will impact how people can move into or out of the designated Holiday Construction Moratorium areas, we may impose restrictions near the boundaries of those areas.

A street map showing the area covered by the Downtown Retail Core and Pioneer Square holiday moratorium

Fig 1 - The Downtown-Pioneer Square Holiday Construction Moratorium Area

Street map showing the Chinatown-International District area covered by the Holiday Construction Moratorium

Fig 2 - The Chinatown-International District Holiday Construction Moratorium Area

(top of page)

Step 3: Understanding Exceptions

If you want to do work or use the right-of-way during the periods when the Holiday Construction Moratorium is in effect, you have to ask for special permission. Some types of work are not affected by this rule, and you can find those in the Excluded Work section of this guide.

Usually, we allow exceptions for construction work that will be done in a short time. This work usually happens at night – after stores and businesses have closed – until 6:00 AM. It should not make a lot of noise, and by 6:00 AM, the area should be clear and open for the public.

Sometimes, we might allow an exception for a longer period if it won't cause problems for people driving, walking, biking, or using mobility devices in the area.

Exceptions are also allowed for emergencies that could cause immediate damage to property, personal injury, or loss.

(top of page)

Step 4: Work That Doesn’t Need an Exception

We allow work on certain types of small and short projects in the areas covered by the Holiday Construction Moratorium during the restricted times. You don't have to ask for special permission for the following kinds of work:

  • Putting up walk-through scaffolding in the right-of-way: If the scaffolding is set up before the moratorium starts and it's the only thing that affects the right-of-way, you don't need to request an exception. But you can't install new scaffolding during the moratorium.
  • Doing work with an Annual Vehicle Permit: If you have an Annual Vehicle Permit, you don't need to ask for an exception. However, you need to coordinate the dates for your work with the Hub.
  • Doing other small projects that don't last long and don't cause much trouble in the right-of-way, like moving storage pods or using ladders on sidewalks: You can do these activities during the moratorium, and you don't need special permission for them.

(top of page)

Step 5: When to Submit an Exception Request

The dates by which you need to submit exception requests depend on the location. The deadlines for submitting requests for each area are listed below.

  • Downtown and Pioneer Square
    • Priority submittal deadline: August 31
    • Final submittal deadline: September 30.
  • Chinatown-International District (CID)
    • Final submittal deadline: December 1

If you send your request after the final deadline, we will not consider it. If you started your work before the moratorium, and you didn't ask for an exception, you might have to stop work and leave the right-of-way.

(top of page)

Step 6: How to Submit an Exception Request

If you want to ask for an exception, you need to send us the following:

  • Holiday Construction Moratorium Exception Request form
  • Site plan
  • Traffic Control Plans (TCP)

You don't have to pay any fees for submitting the exception request form. But you’ll still need to pay the regular permit fees for your use of the right-of-way.

To submit your request, you may submit the form by email or mail to our Street Use division.

By e-mail:

By mail:

Seattle Department of Transportation

Street Use

ATTN: Holiday Construction Moratorium

700 5th Ave, Suite 2300

P.O. Box 34996

Seattle, WA 98124-4996

(top of page)

Step 7: Emergency Work during the Holiday Moratorium

Seattle Municipal Code Title 15 defines this type of work as something that couldn't have been expected and is necessary for keeping the public safe and healthy. If there is an emergency and work needs to be done within or near the areas affected by the moratorium, please follow these steps.

  • Temporary traffic control must conform to the City of Seattle Traffic Control Manual for In Street Work.
  • We must be notified of an emergency at the earliest possible opportunity:
    • During working hours, please contact your Street Use district inspector or inspections lead. You can find your inspector at Street Use Inspections.
    • Outside of working hours, please call 206-684-ROAD (7623)
  • Street Use permit application must be submitted by the end of the next business day

(top of page)

Step 8: Special Event and Film Permits

If you want to get a permit for a special event or filming, it might be affected by the moratorium. You can find more information on the Special Events Office website at

(top of page)


Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623

Newsletter Updates


Sign up for the latest updates from Transportation

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.