4.9 Other Street Right-of-Way Improvement Activities

Last Updated: 7-17-2017Print page

Other City Departments also regulate or provide guidance on a number of other activities that impact the public right-of-way. This section defines the existing process for other improvement-related activities.

Seattle Parks and Recreation Department Reviews and Approvals

Some streets have been designated as park drives or boulevards and are under the jurisdiction of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department (SPR) as part of the City’s extensive parks system. These streets may or may not have the term “boulevard” in their name. A complete listing of streets under the jurisdiction of SPR is available as Appendix I to Title 15 of Seattle Municipal Code (SMC).

Through an agreement between SPR and SDOT, SDOT is responsible for issuing permits for street uses affecting the paved street surface of park boulevards. Any disturbance to unpaved areas of park boulevards is subject to SPR review and approval. For more information go to SPR web page concerning SPR Revocable Use Permits

The following information describes the typical permits and approvals relevant to permitting work on SPR land.

Non-Park Uses of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department Lands 

Seattle Parks and Recreation Department (SPR), as steward of public park lands, is responsible for preserving and protecting Seattle’s park system. In order to preserve the public character of park lands and assure their availability for public use and enjoyment, it is the policy of SPR to eliminate and prevent unauthorized non-park uses on SPR lands. Further, it is the policy of SPR to limit authorized non-park uses to the fullest extent practicable. Any project proposed for SPR lands must obtain permission of SPR; usually in the form of a Revocable Use Permit (refer to following section). Get more information in the complete policy.

Revocable Use Permits 

Any work on park boulevards, or that may affect other park property, must be reviewed by Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR). A Revocable Use Permit, issued by the Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, may be necessary. Refer to the SPR website and follow the links to Permits for Non-Park Use of Park Property or contact the Property Management Unit.

Design Intent for Seattle Parks and Recreation Department Boulevards and Trails 

Refer to the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department (SPR) website for basic information that project applicants must consider when developing landscape plans affecting boulevards or other streets and roadways under SPR jurisdiction.

Seattle Parks and Recreation Department Tree Policy and Permits 

The Seattle Parks and Recreation Department (SPR) Tree Policy was developed to maintain, preserve and enhance the urban forest within parks; to increase the overall tree canopy, tree health and tree longevity within parks including boulevards; and to ensure that parks trees are managed in a manner that is consistent with other departmental and municipal policies. Private work on trees on SPR property must be approved through issuance of a Tree Permit. Get a copy of the permit and the complete policy.

Seattle Parks and Recreation Department Standards 

The Seattle Parks and Recreation Department (SPR) Standards are intended to facilitate design and construction of SPR facilities through standard requirements on SPR property. The Standards are based upon past experiences and practices that have proved successful during design, construction, operation, and maintenance of SPR facilities. In certain situations, Consultant deviations may be acceptable provided they are approved by the Park Engineer and/or Construction Manager prior to implementation. The deviation process does not apply to, or replace, the SPR deviation request process for projects on SPR lands. Refer to the SPR standards homepage, including SPR CAD and Survey standards.

Department of Construction & Inspections Tree Protection Regulations 

The Department of Construction & Inspections (SDCI) enforces regulations regarding tree and vegetation protection and removal on private property and in the street right-of-way. To determine the regulations that apply to a specific site, reference SDCI Client Assistance Memo (CAM) #242: Tree Protection Regulations in Seattle if the site is not in an Environmentally Critical Area or SDCI CAM #331: Environmentally Critical Areas: Tree and Vegetation Overview.

Street and Alley Vacation Process 

A street vacation is the process by which an abutting property owner can petition the City to acquire the adjacent street right-of-way.

Street and Alley Vacations are reviewed by SDOT, the Seattle Design Commission and City Council who makes the final decision on whether or not to grant the vacation. The City has established policies and procedures to guide the decision. It is important to contact the street vacation staff early in your development planning. Street vacation staff can explain the process, costs and time frame associated with the review of a vacation. Staff will also make every effort to assess whether a vacation appears to be feasible in your particular circumstance. Tunnels and aerial use of the street right-of-way may also require vacations.

Use this link for more information about street vacations.

Dedication of Street ROW or Easement 

Developers and contractors are sometimes required by the land use code, and the corresponding design standards contained within this Right-of-Way Improvements Manual, to dedicate property for transportation purposes in order to receive a Construction Permit. When this occurs, the developer shall work with SDOT Real Property Services to administer the dedication. SDOT works directly with the developers to ensure they comply with the permitting requirements. For more details, refer to SDOT CAM 2203 for more information and procedures on dedications of street right-of-way or easements.

Landmarks Certificate of Approval 

In Seattle, a Certificate of Approval is required for any project that will alter the appearance (including demolition) of a protected feature of a designated landmark or a property located in an historic or special review district. This process requires submittal of an application to the Department of Neighborhoods (DON) Office of Urban Conservation and review by the Seattle Landmarks Board or the review board for the landmark district.

If your project may affect a landmark or is in one of the following districts, you will need to talk with staff at the Department of Neighborhoods. Review of these applications varies from district to district, depending upon the special characteristics of each area. For site-specific information, refer to the following SMC sections and ordinance.

State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Policies regarding preservation of landmarks are found in SMC 25.05.675.

NOTE: If your building appears to meet the criteria for landmark designation, but is not currently designated as a landmark, the structure may be referred to the Landmarks Preservation Board for consideration (per SMC 25.05.675H2c).