Seattle

Identify Zoning Controls

How it's done

Zoning controls determine where commercial, industrial and residential activities can occur. Their purpose is to ensure incompatible land uses are separated and the long-term needs and interests of the larger community are balanced. This page introduces the importance of zoning controls and where they apply.

  1. WHY does zoning matter?
  2. WHERE do zoning controls apply?
  3. HOW do I use this information?

Why does zoning matter?

Zoning controls determine where you can operate certain types of businesses and where specific forms of development can occur. If you are researching a new location to invest, develop a property or operate a business you should take the time to confirm that the local zoning controls permit what you want to do. Failure to do so could be costly.

Where do zoning controls apply?

The zoning map below indicates those general areas where commercial, industrial, residential and other types of land uses may be permitted. Use this map to identify the general category of land use that applies to the location you are researching.

How do I use this information?

Local zoning controls regulate the development and end use of land throughout the municipality. These controls matter because they also determine where you can operate certain types of businesses. Each part of the municipality is divided into zones. Within the boundaries of each zone pre-specified types of development and land uses may be permitted.

Land use zoning regulations are combined with maps into a legal document called a zoning bylaw. Zoning bylaws can control a range of things including land use, signage, parking, setbacks, hours of operation and more.

BE AWARE: Zoning controls and by-laws can get complicated. For example, certain types of businesses may or may not be permitted in residential areas. So, the next step is to talk to the planning department to get a better understanding of all the controls that apply to any location. If you don’t consider these over-arching controls you may not be able to obtain approval from the municipality to operate a business, or undertake new development.

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City of Seattle
Office of Economic Development
(206) 684-8090
oed@seattle.gov

700 Fifth Avenue, Suite 5752, Seattle, WA, 98104