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Development Regulations and Zoning

This page provides sample development regulations for local governments in Washington State and links to related webpages.

A separate page addresses Streamlining Local Permit Review Procedures.


Development regulations include a variety of land use regulations, such as zoning, subdivisions, critical areas, landscaping, planned unit development, signs,and environmental protection. Some jurisdictions have prepared "unified development codes" (or land use codes) that contain a range of development regulations, regulating how land is subdivided, used, and developed. Other jurisdictions have separate titles of their codes for zoning, subdivision, and environmental regulations.

In communities that are planning under the Growth Management Act (GMA), development regulations are required to be consistent with adopted comprehensive plans. However, if the local jurisdiction has not yet adopted regulations to implement the plan, the existing zoning apparently will control over the new comprehensive plan, if there is a conflict. Citizens of Mount Vernon v. City of Mount Vernon, 133 Wn. 2d 861 (1997)

Land Use Codes, Unified Development Codes, and Other General Development Regulations

Washington Cities

  • Bellevue City Code Title 20 - Land Use Code - Veteran land use code, includes subdivision regulations
  • Carnation Municipal Code Title 15 - Land Use Code - Smaller city example
  • Ellensburg Land Development Code - Complete revision of city’s land use regulations in 2013; award-winning code Governor’s Smart Communities Award, 2014. Includes User’s Guide (subdivisions, SEPA, development agreements, critical areas, landmarks, design guidelines, etc.)
  • Issaquah Municipal Code Title 18 - Land Use Code
  • Lake Stevens Municipal Code Title 14 - Land Use Code
  • Seattle Municipal Code Title 23 - Land Use Code - Very detailed, complex code
  • Spokane Municipal Code (see Titles 17 A-I - Unified Development Code) - Includes administration, comprehensive plan and various land use and city-wide standards (environmental, construction, and engineering)
  • Vancouver Municipal Code Title 20 - Land Use and Development Code

Washington Counties

  • Clark County Code Title 40 - Unified Development Code
  • Jefferson County Code Title 18 - Unified Development Code - Example of a simpler unified development code for rural/resource county
  • San Juan County Title 18 – Unified Development Code
  • Skagit County Code Title 14 - Unified Development Code
  • Stevens County Code Title 3 - Development Regulations

Zoning Codes

Washington Cities

  • East Wenatchee Municipal Code Title 17 - Zoning
  • Langley Municipal Code Title 18 - Zoning - Small city example
  • Redmond Zoning Code Portal - Interactive site for zoning code, property viewer, and use names database. Recently updated to new format
  • Sumner Municipal Code Title 18 - Zoning - Includes overlay districts
  • Tumwater Municipal Code Title 18 - Zoning - Includes many zoning districts, special uses, and transfer of development rights

Washington Counties

  • Island County Code Ch. 17.03 - Zoning Code
  • King County Code Title 21A - Zoning
  • Kitsap County Code Title 17 - Zoning
  • Okanogan County Code Title 17 - Zoning - Example from a county not fully planning under the GMA
  • Whatcom County Code Title 20 - Zoning
  • Yakima County Code Title 15 - Zoning

See also MRSC's list of Washington City Codes and County Codes for zoning and land use titles.  

General and Out-of-State Information

The following are documents that address model codes and sample zoning regulations from communities in other states.
  • Teton View Region, ID Model Code - Very easy-to-understand development code, including plain-language permit administration section. Would need to be revised to address Washington State law. Developed with a HUD grant and intended for other jurisdictions to copy and adapt to their needs. Includes supporting documents, user handbook, and complete set of InDesign files.
  • Portland, OR Municipal Code Title 33 - Planning and Zoning - Useful example for large cities
  • Model Code (for Plan Implementation), Georgia Department of Community Affairs - Includes "starter" code offering basic levels of regulation and a well-done model code that addresses a comprehensive range of conditions such as hillside and ridgeline protection, infill development, rural clusters, affordable housing, downtowns, and more
  • Model Development Code for Small Cities, 3rd edition, Oregon Transportation and Growth Management Program, 10/2012 - Includes user's guide
  • Ordinances collected by Professor Daniel Mandelker, Washington University School of Law, updated regularly - Includes examples of form-based codes, smart codes, design standards, impact fees, and a variety of zoning codes and specific landuse ordinances
  • Development Tools and Techniques, A Short Course in Local Planning Resource Guide, 07/2009. - Includes discussion of zoning, platting, land use permits, impact fees, and other related topics
  • Understanding the Basics of Land Use and Planning: A Guide to Local Planning, Institute for Local Government, 2010 - Covers subjects such as why plan, participants in the process, and explanation of the general plan and zoning

Related Topics

The following MRSC webpages relate to development regulations and zoning. In some cases, they address more specific topics within the general area of development regulations and zoning.


Comprehensive Planning/Growth Management

Other Regulations

Other Topics

Last Modified: April 26, 2022