Department: Administration

Effective Date:     2/12/99


Prepared by:    Laureen Nicolay

Approved by:    Barbara Shinpoch


To establish policy and procedural guidelines for amendments to City Development Regulations, Title 4 of Renton Municipal Code.


All Departments/Divisions


City of Renton Development Regulations (formerly Building Regulations) Title 4, Renton Municipal Code. Title 4, the City’s primary means of regulating land use and development, underwent an extensive reorganization in May of 1998 in order to make the regulations easier to locate, use and administer. Guidelines for future amendments are provided to avoid the costs of extensive code reorganization in the future and to ensure the Development Regulations retain a logical, organized structure.




5.1    The revised Title 4 structure provides a simplified framework into which future regulatory amendments regarding development will be included. Grouping related regulations together will help avoid redundancy and reduce the potential for regulatory conflicts. Administrators and decision makers can more readily determine the cumulative impacts of overlapping regulations and where additional regulations are needed.

5.2    Amendments to this document must be carefully and appropriately located within the Chapter structure in order to ensure consistent and predictable code administration and interpretation. Maintaining this user-friendly version of our development regulations will require a continuing and long term commitment to a well-organized document.




TOPIC                                    PAGE



STANDARD POLICY FORMAT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     1

TABLE OF CONTENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    2



CODE AMENDMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    3

Final Review Authority . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    3

Content of Municipal Code . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     3

Size of Document . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    3

Headings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     3

Maps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     3

Tables and Illustrations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     4

Numbering and Code Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     4

Applicability of Amendments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     4

Cross Referencing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     4



Chapter 1, Authority and Enforcement (Includes all Development-

related Fees) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     4

Chapter 2, Land Use District Regulations (Includes zone-related use

restrictions and development standards) . . . . . . . . . . .    4

Use Tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     5

Number of Zones and Overlays . . . . . . . . . . .     5

Number of Zoning-Related Conditions . . . . . . . .     5

Development Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     5

Chapter 3, Environmental Regulations and Special Districts (Includes

wetland, shoreline, flood regulations, etc.) . . . . . . . . . .     6

Chapter 4, Property Development Standards (Includes sign, parking,

landscaping regulations, etc.) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     6

Chapter 5, Building and Fire Prevention

Standards. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    7

Chapter 6, Street and Utility Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     7

Chapter 7, Subdivision Regulations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     7

Chapter 8, Permits, Decisions & Appeals . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     7

Chapter 9, Procedures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     7

Chapter 10, Nonconforming uses, structures and Lots . . . . . . .    8

Chapter 11, Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     9

6.2    HOW TO USE THIS CODE AMENDMENT POLICY AND PROCEDURE: First consult the general procedures applicable to all code amendments (on this page and page 4), then consult the specific chapter instructions (on pages 5 through 10) for the particular chapter that your amendment will modify. You need not review the instructions for those chapters you are not modifying. The table of contents on the preceding page may help locate specific topics or Chapter information more quickly.


6.3.1    Final Review Authority: All code amendment proposals to be included within Title 4 and all proposals relating to regulation of land use or property development must be submitted to the Development Services Division Director. The Director will review the proposal in a timely manner and determine the appropriate format, structure, and location for the proposal before the drafting section/department requests an ordinance from the City Attorney. Once the Director is satisfied with the location and form of the proposal, he/she will provide the drafting section with a cover memo indicating his/her approval of the proposed format/organization. Then the proposal may be sent to the City Attorney for preparation into final ordinance form.

6.3.2    Content of Renton Municipal Code: There are now two volumes of the Municipal Code. One volume contains Title 4 and the second volume contains Titles 1-3 and 5-10. No information pertaining to land development shall be adopted in any Title other than Title 4. (i.e. use restriction, development standards, restrictions related to environmentally sensitive areas, etc.).

6.3.3    Size of Document: This is a large document and effort should be made during each code revision to reduce its size through deletion of redundant or outdated text and consolidation of similar regulations (e.g. the number of conditions listed in chapter 2).

6.3.4    Headings: All paragraphs and sections must have descriptive headings. Limit the range of information covered within a single paragraph to only one topic. Create separate paragraphs with headings for each subsequent topic. For example, three short paragraphs with individual headings are preferable to one long paragraph with a lengthy heading. If an amendment changes the name of an existing heading, make sure that any cross references to that section are also amended to reflect the new heading name.

6.3.5    Maps: Maps of legible scale and sized to fit in the document (between 8.5” by 11” and 11” by 17”) shall be provided for most area-specific regulatory amendments which affect an area less than the entire City (i.e. City Center Sign Regulation Area) or affect areas of the City differently (i.e. APA Zones 1 and 2). Amendments referring to existing zoning districts (i.e. not allowed in the CO Zone) would not have to be mapped since the Zoning Map will be inserted into the back pocket of the Title 4 document.

6.3.6    Tables and Illustrations: Tables and illustrations shall be provided where possible for new or amended code provisions.

Ÿ    Tables: Use screening (shading) for table heading backgrounds and bold lettering for heading text. Line and column spacing (white space) should be consistent with those tables already located Title 4.

Ÿ    Illustrations: Keep the images simple and use a graphic style consistent with those illustrations now existing within the development regulations. Proposed illustrations should be inserted immediately after the text to which they relate.

6.3.7    Numbering and Code Structure: Amendments should be structured to avoid going to outer extremes of the code numbering system (i.e. 4-31-010 A1b2ii). Advantages are a shorter code and more helpful table of contents. Amendments should not be added to the end of a Chapter or Section in order to reduce costs of codification.

6.3.8    Applicability of Amendments: All amendments shall specify what activities and/or areas are to be regulated. It is important to clarify which activities (if any) are exempt from the code provisions entirely, which activities must comply with the code provisions but do not require a permit, and which activities require a permit.

6.3.9    Cross Referencing: Include the section number and its full title (e.g. All structures shall comply with the provisions of Section 4-5-5B, Site Standards).

6.4    SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS FOR AMENDING INDIVIDUAL CHAPTERS: Information contained in the various Chapters of Title 4 shall be limited to the following:

6.4.1    Chapter 1. Authority, Interpretation, Administration and Enforcement: Information about the interpretation and enforcement of the development regulations shall be located only in this Chapter and shall not be duplicated elsewhere. Code amendments regarding the authority and responsibilities of various staff, commissions and Boards shall be placed in this Chapter. All fee information must be located in this Chapter in a table format.

6.4.2    Chapter 2. Land Use Districts: This Chapter consolidates all of the zones and zoning map information into a single table-based format. Any zone-related restrictions on land use and zone-related development standards must be incorporated into this Chapter in a table format.    Use Tables: There are essentially two versions of the use-tables: One version (Section 4-2-060) advises which zones would allow a given use (i.e. a restaurant) and the second version advises on the full range of uses permitted in a certain zone. This requires that any use related amendments be made in BOTH formats. If a new permitted use is added, it must be added to the large use table (Section 4-2-060) AND to the appropriate individual zone table. Likewise both tables must be modified if a use is deleted or changed from one type to another (i.e. secondary to primary).

Before adding allowances or restrictions for a given use, the proposed use must first be defined as distinct from existing use terms used in the tables; For example is a “nail salon” the same as a “personal service”? Consult the large use table to see if a similar use term is already in use.

At present all the zones can be viewed at a glance on a single table, however, there is not room on the use table for additional zones. This single table format should be maintained and zoning/overlay-related amendments should be crafted with simplicity in mind.    Minimize Number of Zoning-Related Conditions: Chapter two is the largest and most complex Chapter in the Title. Due to the large number of zoning districts, the need for additional specific use-related conditions should be minimal. If determined that the only way a given use is acceptable in a zone is to place a condition upon it, then the existing list of use conditions is to be consulted and a pre-existing condition used or modified in order to simplify the regulations.    Development Standards: These tables and illustrations clarify zone-related setbacks, height limits, lot coverage, landscaping, etc. Any NEW standards proposed should be given a descriptive heading and then presented in the same order in each set of tables. Amendments to topics already covered in the tables should be inserted into the table framework with like standards (i.e. landscaping requirements with landscaping requirements). Only zone-related development standards go here; development standard amendments that are not zone specific go in Chapters 4, 5 or 6, depending on content.

6.4.3    Chapter 3. Environmental Regulations and Special Districts: All regulations restricting or governing development of environmentally sensitive areas as well as special districts with additional restrictions unrelated to Zoning (i.e. shoreline restrictions, aquifer restrictions, airport and steep slope regulations) must be grouped together in this Chapter. This Chapter does not contain procedural information. Related permit processes (i.e. shoreline permit procedures, aquifer permit procedures) are to be located in Chapter 9, Procedures. The general chapter structure to be used for future amendments is as follows:

Purpose of Regulations--Explain why the City is regulating this particular issue/district/sensitive area.

Applicability--Clearly state the specific activities and/or locations which are to be regulated.

Exemptions--Clearly state the specific activities and/or locations which are not regulated at all by the provisions.

Authority and Interpretation--Very briefly note who/which body is responsible for reviewing and/or making a determination regarding compliance with the regulations) Make sure this information is also noted in the “roles and responsibilities” section of Chapter 1.

Submittal Requirements and Fees--If a special review/permit application of some sort is required, state that here; add the process information to Chapters 8 and 9, Permits and Procedures; and include the application fee (if any) in the appropriate Chapter 1 fee table. Reference these sections here in this Chapter.

Development Standards--Include the proposed development restrictions here. Discuss: a) activities/construction which are not permissible, b) activities/construction which must comply with the standards but which may be allowed outright, and c) activities/construction which must comply with the standards but also requires an approval/permit of some type. Activities/construction entirely exempt from the regulations should not be listed here, but rather under the “exemptions” heading.

Modifications and variances--Explain whether and to what extent modifications of the development standards are possible. Make reference to Chapter 9 section on variances and modifications for these processes.

Appeals--Rather than repeat appeal information here, review Section 4-8-110 of Chapter 8 and, if necessary, amend that section to be sure your amendments are covered.

6.4.4    Chapter 4. Property Development Standards: Regulations and standards governing site development (regardless of zone) must be located in this Chapter. For example, parking, landscaping, fencing standards. This information should be depicted in chart format where feasible. The general chapter structure shall be the same as for Chapter Three.

6.4.5    Chapter 5. Building and Fire Prevention Standards: Structural and design information required by architects and contractors is to be located in this chapter--Regulations related to Uniform Code (building, fire, mechanical, plumbing) requirements. This is where code updates are adopted by reference every three years.

6.4.6    Chapter 6. Street and Utility Standards: The development-related requirements for water, sewer, storm drainage and street construction must be contained in this Chapter. Non-development related utility/street amendments (e.g. amendments to monthly storm water service fees or amendments to the provisions governing garbage collection procedures) are to be located outside of Title 4 (in Title 8 or 9). Fee-related information relevant to developers/builders must be located in Chapter 1.

6.4.7    Chapter 7. Subdivision Regulations: Amendments to subdivision, lot line adjustment and Binding Site Plan regulations will occur in this Chapter, near the other land use permit processes. Only provisions DIRECTLY related to the subdivision process will be included in this Chapter. Fee-related amendments must be located in Chapter 1.

6.4.8    Chapter 8. Permits, Decisions, and Appeals: Any changes regarding the State-mandated regulatory reform regulations; general permit type, procedural and processing time information; submittal requirements for all types of permit applications (Building, Public Works, and Planning applications must be located here in table format); all public notice requirements; and ANY information related to appeals and development/use permits and decisions. Amendments to authority (e.g. giving a new permit review responsibility to the P/B/PW Administrator) which are made to this Chapter must also be referenced in Chapter 1, Roles and Responsibilities.

6.4.9    Chapter 9. Procedures: With the exception of amendments to Subdivision procedures, specific procedural amendments regarding permit and land use applications are to be inserted here. For example, a new type of permit process or new evaluation criteria for decisions on deferral or modification requests would go here. However, prior to such an addition, the existing land use permits shall be inventoried to establish which permits are duplicative and which can be amended or eliminated. Distinctions between permits are often slight, and their procedures similar enough that, with small changes, we may be able to significantly streamline the permit process.

The general structure to be used for future amendments is as follows:

Purpose of Permit Requirement--Explain why the City is requiring the Permit/Review.

Applicability--State when the permit is required/desirable and explain specifically what activities and/or locations are subject to/able to use the provisions.

Exemptions--State which, if any, activities and/or locations are not required to undergo the process.

Authority and Interpretation--Briefly note who/which body is responsible for making recommendations on the permit and who is responsible for the final decision. Make sure this information is also noted in the “roles and responsibilities” section of Chapter 1.

Submittal Requirements and Fees--Reference the appropriate sections of Chapters 1 and 8. Include no submittal or fee information in this Chapter.

Public Notice requirements--Reference the appropriate Public Notice Section of Chapter 8.

Review Process and Decision Criteria--Include any permit-specific review process amendments here (general process amendments to an entire class of permits are made in Chapter 8). Include all required findings necessary to issue a permit or approval. Require that all findings be supported with evidence, which is a legal necessity. Avoid vague or open-ended findings. Define the limits of within which approvals are granted (e.g. ‘The Building Official may reduce the required number of parking spaces by 20 percent if the parking lot is to used by two or more uses and the reduction can be supported with a parking study that shows the peak parking demand to be less than the total required spaces’).

Decision/Permit Issuance/Conditions of Approval--List information regarding the decision options and stipulate any authority to condition approvals here.

Effective Date/Expiration/Extensions/Revocation/Resubmittal--Explain time frames here.

Modifications--Explain whether and to what extent modifications to an approved permit are possible.

Appeals (Reference the applicable section of Chapter 8)

6.4.10    Chapter 10. Nonconforming Structures, Uses, and Lots: This Chapter contains the requirements for lots, buildings, and uses that do not match the current zoning but which existed before regulations were adopted or implemented. Only development regulations addressing what a property owner can and can’t do if he/she has a non-conforming lot, use or structure go in this Chapter.

6.4.11    Chapter 11. Definitions: Definitions for terms used throughout the Title are primarily grouped together in this single chapter rather than located in individual chapters, sections and subsections throughout the Title. A few chapter-specific definitions (i.e. those used in the Utilities Standards) which are not referenced in any other Chapters may be located outside of this Chapter, but must still be referenced here (i.e. “Double Check Valve Assembly: See Section 4-6-012”). This will reduce the likelihood that, when definitions are added or amended in the future, there are no conflicts. Regulatory language must not be placed within the text of any definition. The definition section is strictly for clarification of a term’s meaning.