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Municipal Right-of-Way and Telecommunications

This page provides links and examples of policies regarding the authority of local governments in Washington State to regulate the process for telecommunications companies to apply for access to public rights-of-way.

It is part of MRSC's series on Telecommunications.


Ch. 35.99 RCW, enacted initially in 2000, establishes the basic parameters of local government authority. Note that Ch. 35.99 RCW also applies to all code cities, pursuant to RCW 35A.21.245.

Reference Sources


NOTE: Anyone drafting a telecommunications ordinance needs to review the City of Auburn V. Qwest Corporation, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision of April, 2001.

  • Bainbridge Island Municipal Code Title 19 - Communications Systems and Right-of-Way Use - Provides comprehensive regulations covering all companies that install telecommunications infrastructure in the city
  • Bellingham Municipal Code
  • Brier Municipal Code Title 4 - Telecommunications
  • Gig Harbor Municipal Code Ch. 12.18 - Right-of-Way Use - Master Use Permits and Utility Relocation
  • Issaquah Municipal Code Ch. 12.60, Telecomunications
  • Kirkland Municipal Code Title 26 - Right-of-Way - Communications
  • Lacey
  • Pierce County Municipal Code
    • Ch. 12.32 - Right-of-Way Franchises for Public and Private Utilities
    • Ch. 12.34 - Telecommunications Users of Pierce County Rights-of-Way
  • Port Angeles Municipal Code Ch. 11.14 - Telecommunications Facilities Within Rights-of-Way, June 18, 2001. Please note that this ordinance was drafted after the City of Auburn V. Qwest Corporation 9th Circuit federal court ruling.
  • Poulsbo
    • Poulsbo Municipal Code Sec. 12.02.015 - Conduit standrs; requires the installation of conduit for telecommunications facilities whenever a new street is constructed, and authorizes the city engineer to prepare standards (2003)
    • Construction Standards and Specifications Sec. 7 - Trenching, Backfill and Pavement Restoration for Utility Installations in Public Rights-of-Way. The regulations are progressive in providing for installation of empty conduit when ROW work is being done and prohibiting street cuts to roads that are less than ten years old. Facilitate economic development while minimizing future road costs and ROW disruption -- your city might benefit from similar regulations.
  • Prosser Municipal Code Sec. 12.08.030 - Construction permit - Trench cut cost recovery - Fees
  • Redmond Master right-of-way use agreement with ATT&T Wireless Services (1996)
  • Sacramento, CA
    • Sacramento City Code Ch. 12.12, Art. III - Encroachment Permits, Excavations, and Placement of Facilities in Public Rights-of-Way - Additional Requirements for Excavations
    • Resolution No. 97-537 (1997) - Establishes trench cut cost recovery fees
  • Shoreline Municipal Code Ch. 12.25 - Right-of-Way Franchises
  • Spokane Municipal Code Ch. 12.09 - Telecommunications, Cable - Municipal Authorization to Use Right-of-Way
  • Tacoma Municipal Code Title 16 - Cable Systems, Open Video Systems, Telecommunications Systems, and Private Communications
  • Tumwater Municipal Code Title 11 - Telecommunications and Telecommunications Facilities.
  • Zillah Municipal Code Ch. 12.14 - Trench Cut Cost Recovery Fees

Last Modified: October 09, 2019