Why Can the City Regulate How I Use My Property?

What Is It?

Our codes promote public health and safety and protect and preserve our quality of life.

  • The Land Use Code regulates how you use land and buildings in the City of Seattle to ensure that a property is used in a way that is appropriate to the zone
  • Seattle is divided into residential, commercial, and industrial zones to reflect the historical use of those areas and to ensure new development is compatible with the existing uses
  • The Shoreline Master Program helps preserve our maritime history and public use and enjoyment of our waters, and protects our shorelines from inappropriate development
  • The Housing and Building Maintenance Code sets standards to keep buildings safe and livable, regulates maintenance for vacant buildings, and focuses on rental housing, including rules for when a landlord or tenant can end a rental agreement
  • Technical codes such as the Building Code, Electrical Code, Mechanical Code, and Side Sewer Code provide safety standards for structures
  • Codes relating to grading, stormwater, and environmentally critical areas protect both the built and natural environment from deterioration and inappropriate development

Rules to Follow

Our codes require that you:

  • Build only in a zone that is appropriate to your project
  • Obtain all permits required for your work
  • Build according to established code standards

Read the Code

View our complete list of codes.