Chapter 11.04


11.04.001    Procedures for processing project permits.

11.04.002    Determination of proper procedure type.

11.04.003    Project permit application framework.

11.04.004    Joint public hearings.

11.04.005    Legislative decisions.

11.04.006    Legislative enactments not restricted.

11.04.007    Exemptions from project permit application processing.

11.04.008    Administrative interpretations.

11.04.010    Vesting of development rights.

11.04.011    Transition period for proposed but nonvested projects within the downtown subarea.

11.04.001 Procedures for processing project permits.

For the purpose of project permit processing, all development permit applications shall be classified as one of the following: Type I, Type II, Type III or Type IV (A and B). Legislative decisions are Type V actions, and are addressed in BMC 11.04.005. Exclusions from the requirements of project permit application processing are contained in BMC 11.04.007. (Ord. 1871 § 1, 2002; Ord. 1815 § 1, 2000; Ord. 1691 § 1, 1997; Ord. 1628 § 1, 1996).

11.04.002 Determination of proper procedure type.

A.    Determination by Director. The community development director shall determine the proper procedure type for all project permit applications. If there is a question as to the appropriate procedure type, the community development director shall resolve it in favor of the higher procedure type number. The act of classifying an application for procedure type shall be a Type I action; and subject to reconsideration and appeal at the same time and in the same way as the merits of the project permit application in question.

B.    Optional Consolidated Permit Review Processing.

1.    Unless otherwise required, where the city must approve more than one project permit application for a given development, the applicant may submit the applications for review under a single permit processing review procedure (“consolidated permit review”). The consolidated permit review process can be used with the submission of two or more applications, at any time prior to the holding of a public hearing on any of the associated applications. The permit processing issue date, as required by BMC 11.10.002(C), shall not commence until the last required land use permit has been deemed complete. The applications (1) shall be reviewed and processed under the highest-numbered procedure type that applies to any of the applications; and (2) the determination of completeness (BMC 11.06.003); notice of application (BMC 11.06.004); and notice of final decision (BMC 11.12.007) shall include all project permits being reviewed through the consolidated review process. For example: If the applications included a critical areas permit (Type II), a shoreline permit (Type II) and a conditional use permit (Type III) then the project would be processed as a Type III which would require that all of the permits would be submitted to the hearing examiner for an open record public hearing and the hearing examiner would make the decision on all of the permits.

2.    Applications processed in accordance with this subsection which have the same highest-numbered procedure but are assigned different hearing bodies shall be heard collectively by the highest decision-maker(s) applicable to such applications. Decision bodies in order of ranking are as follows: the city council is the highest, followed by the planning commission, hearing examiner, or shoreline board as applicable, and then the community development director or public works director; provided, in the event that the applications would be heard by the planning commission and the planning commission is not otherwise authorized by this code to hear or determine one or more of the project permit applications, the city council shall determine whether or not to act as the hearing body or assign the applications to a hearing examiner. Joint public hearings with other agencies shall be processed according to BMC 11.04.004. (Ord. 1871 § 1, 2002; Ord. 1815 § 1, 2000; Ord. 1691 § 1, 1997; Ord. 1628 § 1, 1996).

11.04.003 Project permit application framework.

A.    Table of Land Use Actions Arranged by Type (Exempt, Types I, II, III, IVA, IVB and V), Indicating Hearing Body Where Appropriate.

Exempt (per BMC 11.04.007)

Type I

Type II

Type III

Type IVA

Type IVB

Type V

Landmark designations

Street vacations under Chapter 35.79 RCW

Street use permits, public area use permits, and other approvals relating to the use of public areas

Other project permits determined by the council to present special circumstances warranting a different review process

Forest practices/land clearing permits w/o SEPA review

Grading permits w/o SEPA review

Building permits w/o SEPA review

Right-of-way invasion permits w/o SEPA

Utility permits (includes: sewer connection, side storm sewer connection, water meter, and hydrant use)

Tenant improvement permits

Temporary occupancy permits for commercial and multiple-family building

Boundary line adjustments (HE if appealed)

Sign permits

Personal wireless service permits (PWS) with noticing as required under BMC 12.11.050

Final certificates of occupancy

Minor modifications to final PUD

Administrative interpretations#

Minor modifications to approved CUPs

Demolition permits

Final plats

Short subdivision (HE if appealed)

General binding site plan (HE if appealed)

Building permits w/SEPA review (HE if appealed)

Shoreline substantial development permits (HE* if appealed)

Critical areas alteration permits (HE if appealed)

Reasonable use requests (HE if appealed)

Final binding site plan (HE if appealed)

Grading permits w/SEPA review (HE if appealed)

Forest practices/land clearing permits w/SEPA review (HE if appealed)

Right-of-way invasion permits w/SEPA review (HE if appealed)

Zoning special exception

Approval of a project within the campus district that is consistent with the campus master plan and development agreement (HE if appealed)

Variance (HE)

Conditional use permit (HE*)

Shoreline conditional use permit and shoreline variance (HE*)

Appeals of administrative interpretations#

Preliminary subdivision (HE*)

Plat vacations and alterations (HE*)

Preliminary PUD (HE*)

Minor and major modifications to an approved preliminary PUD (minor modifications to be included in final PUD application; major modifications require reprocessing as a preliminary PUD) (HE*)

Final PUD (HE*)

Major modifications to an approved final PUD (HE*)





Site rezone (PC)


Comp. plan amendments (PC; CC optional)

Development regulations and amendments thereto (PC; CC optional)

Area-wide rezone (PC; CC optional)

Annexations (CC)

Abbreviations for Hearing Body:

CC: City Council

HE: Hearing Examiner

PC: Planning Commission

SB: Shorelines Board

#    May be appealed, see BMC 11.04.008

*    Unless delegated by the council to the planning commission or shorelines board, where applicable for specific applications involving new regulations

B.    Table Summarizing Procedures for Type I through Type V Land Use Actions. For the purposes of this table, the city council, planning commission, hearing examiner, and shoreline board are designated the “hearing body”; “director” shall mean the community development director or the public works director; and “department” shall mean the staff of the community development or public works departments, as specified by the applicable regulations. (The table follows a permit type through the entire code required review process. Generally after a permit type is selected (i.e., II, III, etc.) the steps required follow from top to bottom. Notes, *, and references refer the reader to sections of the table that are related to the particular numbered row they are reading.)


Type I

Type II

Type III

Type IVA

Type IVB

Type V

The following two sections (1 – 2) cover actions that occur prior to formal permit application.

1. Pre-application conference (BMC 11.06.001)

If application involves a structure 5,000 square feet or over, applicant required to request and attend conference

Applicant required to request and attend conference

Not applicable

Not applicable

2. Transportation concurrency review and determination (Chapters 17.03 and 17.04 BMC)

Applicant required to request and prepare necessary analyses if proposal would generate 3 or more peak hour trips, unless specifically exempted

Not applicable

Not applicable

The following six sections (3 – 8) cover the actions that occur during the permit review stage.

3. Application submittal (BMC 11.06.002)

Applicant required to submit on forms provided by city

Citizen-initiated requests for Plan and Development Regulations amendments and rezones shall be submitted in accordance with BMC 11.18.030; annexation requests shall be submitted in accordance with BMC 12.38.030

4. Determination of completeness (BMC 11.06.003)

Department determines whether application is complete or incomplete and notifies applicant

Not applicable

5. Notice of application (BMC 11.06.004, 11.19.001 and 11.19.002)

Not applicable except for new wireless communication facility (WCF) permits

Applies to all project permits. Department issues NOA when application is determined to be complete; contents of NOA and notification are per BMC 11.06.004 and Chapter 11.19 BMC; 21-day comment period follows (30 days if the proposal is a Shorelines Substantial Development Permit, Shorelines Conditional Use Permit or Shorelines Variance)

Not applicable

6. Environmental threshold determination or impact statement (SEPA) (Chapters 11.10, 14.02 BMC)

Not applicable if proposal is exempt from SEPA, per Chapter 14.02 BMC, or if applicant is its own SEPA lead agency and has completed SEPA review. If not exempt from SEPA, applicant submits environmental checklist as part of complete application; department reviews checklist and issues threshold determination (Determination of Non-Significance [DNS], Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance [MDNS] or Determination of Significance [DS]); if DS, applicant prepares impact statement; contents and notification per Chapter 14.02 BMC; comment and appeal periods and procedures per Chapter 14.02 BMC

Not applicable

Annexations exempt from SEPA.

For other Type V actions, department prepares checklist and issues DNS, MDNS or EIS; notification and comment and appeal periods per Chapter 14.02 BMC

7. Department consistency review (Chapter 11.10 BMC)

Department determines whether proposal is consistent with comprehensive plan and development regulations, including any development agreement

Not applicable

8. Department recommendation or decision (BMC 11.06.005, 11.12.002); provided, that a decision regarding a proposal within the campus district shall be limited to (1) a determination whether the proposal is consistent with the campus master plan and development agreement and (2) whether additional mitigation is required by the city’s other development regulations

Department makes final decision* (see 12 below on notice of decision, see 9 and 13 on appeals and reconsiderations)

Department makes recommendation to hearing body

The following six sections (9 – 14) cover open and closed record hearings, decisions, reconsiderations and appeals.

9. Administrative appeal of Type II decision (Chapter 11.14 BMC); provided, that an administrative appeal of a Type II decision approving a proposal within the campus district limited to an appeal of (1) the determination of consistency with the campus master plan and development agreement, and of (2) the determination whether additional mitigation is required by the city’s other development regulations

Not applicable

Open record hearing before hearing body

Not applicable

Not applicable

Not applicable

10. Open record public hearing and recommendation or decision (Chapter 11.12 BMC, BMC 11.19.003)

Not applicable

Hearing body makes final decision

Hearing body makes recommendation

Not applicable

Hearing body makes recommendation, except that on annexations, hearing body makes final decision

11. Closed record decision (Chapter 11.14 BMC)

Not applicable

Council considers hearing body recommendation, makes final decision

HE makes final decision

Council considers recommendation, makes final decision, or council may hold own hearing (except annexations, see above)

12. Notice of decision (NOD) (BMC 11.12.007, 11.12.008)

Not applicable

NOD required to be issued within 10 working days after an administrative decision on a Type II permit and after the hearing or closed record review for a Type III, IVA, or an administrative appeal of a Type II application. For Type II, III and IV applications, the NOD shall be issued within 120 calendar days after the city notifies the applicant that the application is complete, in accordance with BMC 11.12.007 and 11.12.008.

Not applicable

13. Reconsideration of hearing body decision on Type III and IV or a decision on a Type II appeal (BMC 11.12.009)

Not applicable

The hearing body may: deny the petition for reconsideration; grant the petition; accept the petition and issue a revised decision; accept the petition and hold an open record public hearing

Not applicable

14. Judicial appeal (BMC 11.14.008)

To King or Snohomish County Superior Court*

Annexations to Superior Court; others to Growth Management Hearings Board, then to Superior Court

Abbreviations used in this table:

NOA: Notice of Application

SEPA: State Environmental Policy Act

DNS: Determination of Non-Significance

MDNS: Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance

DS: Determination of Significance

EIS: Environmental Impact Statement

NOD: Notice of Decision

*Appeals of Shoreline Substantial Development Permits go to the State Shoreline Hearings Board

(Ord. 2246 § 1, 2018; Ord. 2215 § 3 (Exh. B1), 2016; Ord. 2140 § 2 (Exh. B), 2014; Ord. 2123 § 2 (Exh. B), 2013; Ord. 2110 § 2 (Exh. B), 2013; Ord. 2093 § 2 (Exh. B), 2012; Ord. 2076 § 2 (Exh. B), 2011; Ord. 2069 § 2 (Exh. B), 2011; Ord. 2046 § 2 (Exh. B), 2010; Ord. 2041 § 3 (Exh. B), 2010; Ord. 1871 § 1, 2002; Ord. 1815 § 1, 2000; Ord. 1813 § 1, 2000; Ord. 1733 § 2 (Exh. A), 1998; Ord. 1691 § 1, 1997; Ord. 1628 § 1, 1996).

11.04.004 Joint public hearings.

A.    Director’s Decision to Hold Joint Hearing. The community development director may combine any public hearing on a project permit application with any hearing that may be held by another local, state, regional, federal, or other agency, on the proposed action, as long as:

1.    The hearing is held within the city limits; and

2.    The requirements of subsections B and C of this section are met.

B.    Applicant’s Request for a Joint Hearing. At the time of permit application, the applicant may request, in writing, that the public hearing on the permit application(s) be combined as long as the joint hearing can be held within the time periods set forth in this title, or the applicant agrees to a particular schedule if additional time is needed in order to combine the hearings. The decision to hold the joint hearing is at the discretion of the community development director.

C.    Prerequisites to Joint Public Hearing. A joint public hearing may be held with another local, state, regional, federal or other agency and the city, as long as:

1.    The other agency is not expressly prohibited by statute from doing so;

2.    Sufficient notice of the hearing is given to meet each of the agencies’ adopted notice requirements as set forth in statute, ordinance, or rule;

3.    The other agency has received the necessary information about the proposed project from the applicant in enough time to hold its hearing at the same time as the local government hearing; and

4.    The hearing is held within the geographic boundary of the city. (Ord. 1815 § 1, 2000; Ord. 1691 § 1, 1997; Ord. 1628 § 1, 1996).

11.04.005 Legislative decisions.

A.    Decisions. The following decisions are legislative, and are not subject to the procedures in this title, unless otherwise specified:

1.    Zoning code and development regulations, and amendments to development regulations (for the purposes of this section, “development regulations” are as defined in BMC 11.02.005 and RCW 36.70A.030(7));

2.    Area-wide rezones to implement new city policies;

3.    Adoption of the comprehensive plan and any plan amendments; and

4.    Annexations.

B.    Planning Commission. The planning commission shall hold a public hearing and make recommendations to the city council on the decisions in this section, except for annexations, which shall be processed as provided by statute. The public hearing shall be held in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 11.12 BMC.

C.    City Council. The city council shall consider the planning commission’s recommendation in a public hearing held in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 11.12 BMC or at a public meeting (closed record review).

D.    Public Notice. Notice of the public hearing or public meeting shall be provided to the public as set forth in Chapter 11.19 BMC.

E.    Implementation. The city council’s decision shall become effective by passage of an ordinance or resolution. (Ord. 1815 § 1, 2000; Ord. 1691 § 1, 1997; Ord. 1628 § 1, 1996).

11.04.006 Legislative enactments not restricted.

Nothing in this chapter or the project permit processing procedures shall limit the authority of the city council to make changes to the city’s comprehensive plan, or the city’s development regulations. See Chapter 11.18 BMC, Comprehensive Plan and Development Regulation Amendments. (Ord. 1815 § 1, 2000; Ord. 1691 § 1, 1997; Ord. 1628 § 1, 1996).

11.04.007 Exemptions from project permit application processing.

A.    Whenever a permit or approval in this code has been designated as a Type I, II, III or IV permit, the procedures in this title shall be followed in project permit processing. The following permits or approvals are, however, specifically excluded from the procedures set forth in this title:

1.    Landmark designations;

2.    Street vacations under Chapter 35.79 RCW;

3.    Street use permits;

4.    Other approvals relating to the use of public areas; and

5.    Other project permits, whether administrative or quasi-judicial that the city council has determined by resolution present special circumstances that warrant a different review process.

B.    Pursuant to RCW 36.70B.140(2), building permits and boundary line adjustments, other construction permits, or similar administrative approvals which are categorically exempt from environmental review under SEPA (Chapter 43.21C RCW) and BMC Title 14, or for which environmental review has been completed in connection with other project permits, are excluded from the following project permit processing procedures:

1.    Notice of application (BMC 11.06.004);

2.    Except as provided in RCW 36.70B.110, optional consolidated project review processing (BMC 11.04.002(B));

3.    Joint public hearings (BMC 11.04.004);

4.    Single report stating all decisions and recommendations made as of the date of the report that do not require an open record hearing (BMC 11.10.002(C));

5.    Notice of decision (BMC 11.12.008).

C.    Plats – Subdivisions – Dedications. The specific time and notice requirements for plats and subdivisions set forth in Chapter 58.17 RCW and BMC Title 15, Subdivisions, shall supersede the time and notice requirements of this title for the review and approval of plat and subdivision applications. (Ord. 1815 § 1, 2000; Ord. 1691 § 1, 1997; Ord. 1628 § 1, 1996).

11.04.008 Administrative interpretations.

A decision as to the meaning, application or intent of any development regulation as it relates to a specific piece of property may be requested by an applicant, staff, or a citizen at any time prior to a final decision on a project permit application to which the development regulation may be applied. The request shall be on a form provided by the director and include identification of the regulation in question, a description of the property and a clear statement of the issue or question to be decided. The director shall issue a written interpretation within a reasonable time. Within 30 calendar days after receipt of the completed form, the director shall issue a written interpretation, or if additional time is needed due to the level of complexity of the issue or issues raised in the request, the director shall provide written notification that up to an additional 30 calendar days are required. When the interpretation is issued, a copy shall be filed in a book or binder for such interpretations, readily available to the public at the appropriate department’s service counter.

A.    The community development director shall interpret the provisions of BMC Titles 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 and the Bothell Design and Construction Standards and Specifications.

B.    The public works director shall interpret the provisions of BMC Titles 17 and 18 and the Bothell Design and Construction Standards and Specifications.

C.    Appeals. Interpretations may be appealed to the city council within 21 calendar days of the issuance of the interpretation. All appeals shall be in writing and filed with the city clerk. The appeals shall be heard at the discretion of the city council within 90 days. (Ord. 2101 § 2 (Exh. B), 2012; Ord. 2093 § 2 (Exh. B), 2012; Ord. 1871 § 1, 2002; Ord. 1815 § 1, 2000; Ord. 1691 § 1, 1997; Ord. 1628 § 1, 1996).

11.04.010 Vesting of development rights.

A.    Applications for Type I, II, III and IVB applications, and for any subsequent building permit arising therefrom, except those which seek variance from or exception to land use regulations and substantive and procedural SEPA decisions, shall be reviewed under the development regulations in effect when a fully completed application for such approval is submitted to the community development director. The director’s issuance of a notice of a complete application as provided in this chapter shall cause an application to be conclusively deemed vested as provided herein. This vesting provision shall apply to all complete applications filed after September 1, 1999.

B.    Applications for subdivisions that propose to create offspring lots within a parent site comprising existing detached condominiums or attached townhouses for which a grading or building permit has been issued shall vest to the site development requirements and standards in effect at the time such grading or building permit application was determined to be complete by the city. (Ord. 2123 § 2 (Exh. B), 2013; Ord. 2025 § 2 (Exh. C), 2009; Ord. 1871 § 1, 2002; Ord. 1815 § 1, 2000; Ord. 1691 § 1, 1997; Ord. 1628 § 1, 1996).

11.04.011 Transition period for proposed but nonvested projects within the downtown subarea.

Project proponents within the downtown subarea whose projects have not vested to the regulations in effect prior to July 25, 2009, which is the effective date of adoption of Ordinance 2025 (2009) establishing the downtown subarea plan and regulations, but who have submitted a complete State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) checklist prior to that date, may apply for Type I, II and III actions under such prior regulations; provided, that a complete application for such actions is submitted to and accepted by the city by 4:30 p.m. on January 25, 2011. A downtown subarea project application which is submitted and accepted by 4:30 p.m. on January 25, 2011, but determined by the community development director not to be complete shall not qualify for review under the prior regulations. This section and the regulations established herein shall expire contemporaneously with the end of the transition period. (Ord. 2025 § 2 (Exh. C), 2009).