Chapter 19.20


19.20.010    Procedures for processing development permits.

19.20.020    Determination of proper type of procedure.

19.20.030    Project permit application framework.

19.20.040    Joint public hearings.

19.20.050    Legislative decisions.

19.20.060    Legislative enactments not restricted.

19.20.070    Exemptions from project permit application processing.

19.20.010 Procedures for processing development 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 IIIA. Legislative decisions are Type IV actions, and are addressed in RMC 19.20.050. Exclusions from the requirements of project permit application processing are contained in RMC 19.20.070.

A. Type I permits include the following types of permit applications:

1. Minor revisions to planned unit developments;

2. Final approvals of planned unit developments;

3. Short plats;

4. Small binding site plans;

5. Minor revisions to preliminary plats;

6. Minor revisions to site plans;

7. Minor revisions to special use permits;

8. Minor revisions to shoreline substantial development permits;

9. Minor new substantial development permits that meet any of the following criteria:

a. Single-family residences not constructed by an owner, lessee, or contract purchaser for their own use;

b. Single-family nonexempt docks; and

c. New developments on a site of one acre or less and with a cost of less than $500,000;

10. Accessory dwelling units;

11. Extension of preliminary plat approvals;

12. Administrative and special sign permits.

B. Type II permits include the following types of permit applications:

1. Shoreline substantial development permits not classified as Type I permits or major revisions thereof;

2. Large binding site plans;

3. Site plan approvals or major revisions thereof;

4. Building height exceptions;

5. Design review – acceptance of alternative design standards;

6. Schools on small sites;

7. Joint use parking reductions;

8. Special sign permits;

9. Special use permits or major revisions thereof.

C. Type III permits include the following types of permit applications:

1. Preliminary plats or major revisions thereof;

2. Plat alterations or vacations.

D. Type IIIA permits include the following types of permit applications:

1. Site-specific rezones;

2. Planned unit developments – preliminary approvals.

E. Type IV permits include the following types of permit applications:

1. Zoning code text and zoning district amendments;

2. Adoption of development regulations and amendments;

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

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

5. Annexations. [Ord. 12-96; Ord. 29-12 § 1.01; Ord. 19-14 § 1.01; Ord. 36-15 § 1; Ord. 02-18 § 1; Ord. 02-18A § 1; Ord. 51-19 § 1; Ord. 23-20 § 1; Ord. 05-21 § 1].

19.20.020 Determination of proper type of procedure.

A. Determination by Director. The development services director or designee (hereinafter the “director”) shall determine the proper procedure for all development applications. If there is a question as to the appropriate type of procedure, the director shall resolve it in favor of the higher procedure type number.

B. Optional Consolidated Permit Processing. An application that involves two or more procedures may be processed collectively under the highest numbered procedure required for any part of the application or processed individually under each of the procedures identified by this code. The applicant may determine whether the application shall be processed collectively or individually. If the application is processed under the individual procedure option, the highest numbered type procedure must be processed prior to the subsequent lower numbered procedure.

C. Decision-Maker(s). Applications processed in accordance with subsection (B) of this section which have the same highest numbered procedure but are assigned different hearing bodies shall be heard collectively by the highest decision-maker(s). The city council is the highest, followed by the hearing examiner, the board of adjustment or planning commission, as applicable, and then the director. Joint public hearings with other agencies shall be processed according to RMC 19.20.040.

D. Whenever an application involving a comprehensive plan amendment or other legislative action is filed with quasi-judicial actions such as applications for zoning reclassifications, special use permits, planned unit developments and/or preliminary plats, the application requiring legislative action shall first be completed as specified within this title. Following a final decision on the legislative action(s), the hearing examiner shall then consider the applications requiring quasi-judicial action. [Ord. 12-96; Ord. 31-03; Ord. 29-12 § 1.01; Ord. 19-14 § 1.01; Ord. 2022-29 § 27].

19.20.030 Project permit application framework.



Type I

Type II

Type III


Type IV

Recommendation Made By:




Hearing Examiner

Planning Commission

Permit Decision Made By:


Board of Adjustment or Planning Commission or Hearing Examiner1

Hearing Examiner

City Council

City Council

Notice of Application:






Notice of Decision:






Notice of Hearing:






Open Record Public Hearing:


Yes, before Board of Adjustment or Planning Commission or Hearing Examiner1

Yes, before Hearing Examiner

The Hearing Examiner will conduct an open record predecision public hearing

Yes, before both Planning Commission and City Council

Open Record Appeal Hearing:

Yes, before Hearing Examiner





Closed Record Appeal Hearing:




City Council will conduct a closed record decision hearing


Judicial Appeal:






1    RMC 23.46.025 defines the specific special use permit applications for which the hearing examiner or board of adjustment is designated as the hearing body.

[Ord. 12-96; Ord. 29-12 § 1.01; Ord. 19-14 § 1.01; Ord. 51-19 § 2].

19.20.040 Joint public hearings.

A. Director’s Decision to Hold Joint Public Hearings. The 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 subsection (C) of this section are met.

B. Applicant’s Request for a Joint Hearing. The applicant may request that the public hearing on a permit application be combined as long as the joint hearing can be held within the time periods set forth in this title. In the alternative, the applicant may agree to a particular schedule if that additional time is needed in order to complete the hearing.

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; and

3. The 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. [Ord. 12-96; Ord. 29-12 § 1.01; Ord. 19-14 § 1.01].

19.20.050 Legislative decisions.

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

1. Zoning code text and zoning district amendments;

2. Adoption of development regulations and amendments;

3. Areawide rezones to implement new city policies;

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

5. Annexations.

B. Planning Commission. The planning commission shall hold a public hearing and make recommendations to the city council on the decisions listed in subsection (A) of this section. The public hearing shall be held in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 19.60 RMC.

C. City Council. The city council may consider the planning commission’s recommendation in a public hearing held in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 19.60 RMC.

D. Public Notice. Notice of the public hearing or public meeting shall be provided to the public as set forth in Chapter 19.40 RMC.

E. Implementation. The city council’s decision shall become effective by passage of an ordinance. [Ord. 12-96; Ord. 29-12 § 1.01; Ord. 19-14 § 1.01].

19.20.060 Legislative enactments not restricted.

Nothing in this chapter or the permit processing procedures shall limit the authority of the city council to make changes to the city’s comprehensive plan, as part of an annual revision process, or to make changes to the city’s development regulations. [Ord. 12-96; Ord. 29-12 § 1.01; Ord. 19-14 § 1.01].

19.20.070 Exemptions from project permit application processing.

A. Whenever a permit or approval in the RMC 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;

3. Street use permits;

4. Variances processed in accordance with Chapter 23.70 RMC;

5. Final plats processed in accordance with Chapter 24.12 RMC.

B. Pursuant to RCW 36.70B.140(2), building permits, boundary line adjustments, other construction permits, or similar administrative approvals which are categorically exempt from environmental review under SEPA (Chapter 43.21C RCW) and RMC Title 22 (Environment), or permits/approvals for which environmental review has been completed in connection with other project permits, are excluded from the following procedures:

1. Determination of completeness (RMC 19.30.030(A));

2. Notice of application (RMC 19.30.040);

3. Except as provided in RCW 36.70B.140, optional consolidated project permit review processing (RMC 19.20.020(B));

4. Joint public hearings (RMC 19.20.040);

5. Single report stating all the decisions and recommendations made as of the date of the report that do not require an open record hearing (RMC 19.60.020(C)); and

6. Notice of decision (RMC 19.60.080). [Ord. 12-96; Ord. 28-05 § 1.07; Ord. 29-12 § 1.01; Ord. 19-14 § 1.01].