Subtitle 19.1 Land Use Districts

Chapter 19.10


19.10.010    Legislative Intent.

19.10.020    Zoning Classifications.

19.10.030    Minimum and Maximum Calculations.

19.10.040    General Development Regulations.

19.10.010 Legislative Intent.

The controls as set forth in Chapters 19.01 through 19.36 are deemed necessary in order to:

(1)    Implement the Comprehensive Plan, enacted under the Washington State Growth Management Act.

(2)    Encourage the most appropriate use of the land for commerce, industry and residences in districts where they are compatible with neighboring land uses.

(3)    Protect the social and economic stability of resource lands (farm, forest and mineral), rural and unincorporated urban areas of the County.

(4)    Assure the orderly development of such areas consistent with comprehensive plan policies.

(5)    Provide for adequate privacy, light, air and view.

(6)    Promote development within unincorporated areas coordinated with infrastructure and services, and minimizes the public and private costs to maintain.

(7)    Reduce the time required for public review of proposed projects.

(8)    Protect existing land uses and property values from adverse impacts of adjoining developments.

(9)    Reduce traffic danger and congestion on roads and highways.

(10)    Secure economy in local governmental expenditures.

(11)    Encourage development in areas where adequate public services including water and sewer, police and fire protection, roads, and schools can be provided; and limit development, through density, zoning and other official controls, in areas where these facilities are not provided.

(12)    Provide for urban growth, as defined in the adopted Comprehensive Plan, in designated Urban Growth Areas, where public utilities can be provided and planned residential densities are greater than four dwelling units per acre in order to:

(a)    Promote the efficient utilization of public water, sewer and public transportation systems; and

(b)    Promote the provision of public services at the lowest possible cost to the general public.

(13)    Provide for rural development, as defined by RCW 36.70A.030(16), outside of Urban Growth Areas and designated resource lands at densities that do not lead to urban growth or necessitate extension of urban services.

(14)    Reduce the threat to public safety resulting from:

(a)    The improper location of homes, farms and industry in a single area; and

(b)    The establishment of commercial areas along State highways and County arterials causing interference with traffic movement.

(15)    Promote low impact design as referenced in the Yakima Regional Low Impact Design Manual in development of projects.

(16)    Minimize adverse impacts and risk to public health, safety, and infrastructure and to adjoining properties from flood damages as a result of new developments in floodplain areas.

(17)    Otherwise promote the public health, safety and general welfare of present and future inhabitants of Yakima County under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), notably Chapter 201, Laws of 1959, Chapter 232, Laws of 1961, Chapters 36.70, 36.70A and 36.70B RCW. All references in this Title to RCW refer to titles, chapters and sections as they now exist or are amended.

(Ord. 6-2017 § 2(C) (Exh. 1) (part), 2017: Ord. 7-2013 § 1 (Exh. A) (part), 2015).

19.10.020 Zoning Classifications.

(1)    For this Title, the County is divided into zoning districts designated as shown in Table 19.10.020-1.

Table 19.10.020-1. Zoning Districts 

Zoning District

Map Symbol

Urban or Rural

Code Section


Forest Watershed and Agriculture








Rural Districts

R/ELDP-40, Rural-10/5



Rural Transitional District




Rural Settlement District




Highway/Tourist Commercial District




Master Planned Resort District





Suburban Residential




Single-Family Residential




Two-Family Residential




Multi-Family Residential





Professional Business




Local Business




Small Convenience Center




Large Convenience Center




General Commercial




Highway/Tourist Commercial




Light Industrial




Heavy Industrial





Airport Safety Overlay




Master Planned Development Overlay




Greenway Overlay




(2)    Map of Zoning Districts and Overlays – Adoption, Changes, Filing, and Replacement.

(a)    Official Zoning Map. The zoning districts established by this Title are defined as shown on the official zoning map for the unincorporated portions of Yakima County. The official zoning map, with all the explanatory material thereon, is adopted by reference and declared to be a part of this Title. Any adopted overlay shall be displayed on the zoning map as identified by the adopted ordinance.

(b)    Administrative Official Custodian. The official zoning map shall be in the Yakima County Planning Division in electronic form, and depicted in various formats and scales to the need. The Administrative Official shall be the custodian of the official zoning map.

(c)    Map Amendments. Each amendment to the official zoning map shall be identified by the adopted ordinance and the date of adoption. The official zoning map maintained by the County shall be the final authority as to the current zoning status of land.

(d)    District Boundary Changes. Any changes in the district boundaries established by this Title shall be made under this Title. The official zoning map shall be promptly changed after the amendment has been approved by the Board.

(e)    Unauthorized Changes. No changes of any kind shall be made on the official zoning map, except in conformance with the procedures of this Title or for technical correction of scrivener’s errors by the Administrative Official. Any unauthorized change by any person shall be considered a violation of this Title and punishable under YCC Section 16B.11.050.

(f)    Updates to Official Zoning Map. If the official zoning map becomes damaged, destroyed, lost, or difficult to interpret because of the nature or number of changes and additions, the Board may, by ordinance, adopt a new official zoning map that shall supersede the prior official zoning map. The new official zoning map may correct drafting or other errors or omissions in the prior official zoning map, but no such correction shall have the effect of amending the original zoning ordinance or any subsequent amendment.

(Ord. 6-2017 § 2(C) (Exh. 1) (part), 2017: Ord. 7-2013 § 1 (Exh. A) (part), 2015).

19.10.030 Minimum and Maximum Calculations.

(1)    General Rule.

(a)    When determining maximum standards for planning related calculations (including density, parking, setbacks, etc.), the final number in any calculation shall be rounded up to the nearest whole unit. If the required parking for a project were determined to be 15.37 spaces, 16 spaces would be required.


Table 19.22-2 requires one parking space for each 400 square feet of floor area for an office. If the applicant has 6,150 square feet of office space, divide by 400 and round the result up to the nearest whole unit.


6,150 sq. ft.


400 sq. ft. per space

= 15.37 spaces

Rounds up to:

16 spaces

(b)    If two or more amounts must be added to figure a total, applicants shall add amounts accurate to two decimal places (hundredths) and round off only the total.

(c)    The calculation methods prescribed in this Section shall not apply to engineering related calculations (surveying information, stormwater calculations, road construction information, etc.).

(2)    Density Calculations. Density shall be calculated based upon the gross area of the site, including proposed and existing public road right-of-way.

(3)    Lot Area Calculations. Lot area is the computed area within the lot lines.

(a)    Within an Urban Growth Area, lot area excludes street and alley rights-of-way, and street tracts, whether such rights-of-way or tracts are public or private.

(b)    Outside Urban Growth Areas, lot area includes on-site road easements, and one-half the width, or 30 feet, whichever is less, of abutting public rights-of-way for perimeter streets, excluding limited access state or interstate highways.

(c)    Driveways serving only an individual lot are included in lot area calculations in all zones.

(Ord. 6-2017 § 2(C) (Exh. 1) (part), 2017: Ord. 7-2013 § 1 (Exh. A) (part), 2015).

19.10.040 General Development Regulations.

The regulations set by this Title within Chapters 19.10 through 19.25 shall be minimum regulations and shall apply uniformly to each class or kind of development, structure or land in the zoning districts and situations indicated. Where text and tables conflict, the text shall govern. Administrative adjustment or variance of some basic development standards in this Title are authorized under Chapter 19.35.

(1)    Conformity with All Regulations Required. Any development, structure or part thereof shall conform to all of the regulations specified in this Title for the situation and zoning district in which they are located in order to be authorized, erected, constructed, reconstructed, moved or structurally altered.

(2)    Yards, Lots, Open Space and Off-Street Parking and Loading Spaces.

(a)    Yards, Minimum Standards. Yards or lots created after the effective date of this Title shall meet at least the minimum requirements established by this Title and shall not be smaller than the minimum standards established in Chapters 19.10 through 19.18. The lot size, width, depth, shape and orientation shall be in accordance with the applicable zoning laws.

(i)    Every lot created or modified shall not exceed a maximum 4:1 depth-to-width ratio, except where the zoning district regulations provide there is no minimum lot width or size for a particular use. For flag lots, the Building Official designates the front lot line to be used for depth-to-width calculations, and the calculation shall exclude the narrow strip of lot or easement.

(ii)    Minimum lot size is the smallest lot size permitted in a particular zoning district or special standard when land is subdivided, short platted, re-subdivided, or when lot lines are adjusted. Exceptions to minimum lot sizes for specific uses are listed in the Allowable Land Use Table 19.14-1 in Chapter 19.14 and under special overlay zones in Chapter 19.17.

(iii)    Minimum yard size is defined by required setbacks, plus any open space requirements.

(iv)    Standard lot width is the minimum lot width permitted in a particular zoning district. The intent of this standard is to prevent irregularly shaped lots along rights-of-way and to control access.

(v)    To preserve public safety by limiting neighboring accesses to a roadway and to realize efficient and appropriate use of land, access strips on flag lots shall be limited to:

(A)    Maximum lengths of 150 feet, unless a fire apparatus access road turnaround is provided under YCC Title 13;

(B)    Minimum widths of 20 feet if the narrow strip of lot serves only one lot, and 30 feet where an easement exists or is proposed; and

(C)    Situations where there is no adjoining driveway.

(vi)    Corner lots for residential use shall have sufficient width to permit appropriate building setback from and orientation to both streets.

(b)    Shared Improvements. No part of a yard, other open space, off-street parking or loading space required in connection with any development for the purpose of complying with this Title, shall be included as part of a yard, open space, off-street parking or loading space similarly required for any other development, except as allowed by Section 19.21.030 for consolidated perimeter plantings and Section 19.22.050 for shared parking areas.

(c)    Existing Yards and Lots. No yard or lot existing at the time of the adoption of this Title shall be reduced in dimension or area below the minimum requirements in this Title.

(d)    Steep Yards. If the elevation of a lot rises or falls more than four feet in the first 20 feet measured from the front lot line, the following provision shall apply: The required depth of the front yard shall be equal to the horizontal distance measured from the front lot line to where the average lot profile line intersects a horizontal line four feet above or below the front lot line, as determined by the Building Official, or as recommended by a geotechnical engineer’s study. See Figure 19.10.040-1, below.

Figure 19.10.040-1 Side view of required depth of front yard if elevation of a lot rises over four feet in the first 20 feet measured from the front lot line.

(3)    Access Required. All new development shall have a minimum of 20 feet of lot frontage upon a public road or be served by an access easement conforming to the dimensional requirements of Sections 19.23.040 and 19.23.050 to provide for access to the development. The approach location shall be reviewed by the County Engineer for compliance with YCC Chapter 10.08. Approach connections to other public roads are subject to review by the applicable agency. Verification of legal access and a valid road approach permit shall be required prior to final approval of any permit granted under this Title.

(4)    Land Uses. Uses allowed within a zoning district are listed as permitted, administrative or conditional uses in the Allowable Land Use Table 19.14-1 within Chapter 19.14.

(5)    Building Permits Required. No building or other structure shall be erected, moved, added to or structurally altered without a permit issued by the Building Official under RCW 19.27 and YCC Title 13. No building permit shall be issued, except in conformity with this Title.

(6)    Setbacks, Easements and Right-of-Way.

(a)    Setbacks. Chapters 19.11 through 19.18 list standard minimum setbacks for buildings or other structures and uses. Exceptions to certain setbacks are listed in Subsection 19.10.040(6)(b) below.

(i)    Front and side setbacks from public roads other than alleys shall be measured from the planned centerline of a public road other than an alley, as designated by the County Engineer. However, where the planned or existing right-of-way exceeds 60 feet in width (as in the case of designated classified roads such as arterials and collectors shown on Tables 19.23.045-2 and 19.23.050-1), the minimum setback shall be 25 feet measured from the property line abutting the planned road right-of-way.

(ii)    The front lot line shall be determined as described in the definitions in Section 19.01.070. Where the front lot line does not border a right-of-way or vehicular access easement, as is the case with flag lots the setback shall be 25 feet from the end of a driveway or the remainder of the front lot line, see Flag Lot definition 19.01.070.

(iii)    Front and side setbacks outside Urban Growth Areas shall be a minimum of 50 feet from the planned centerlines of private roads and ten feet from private, shared driveways and public alleys measured from the edge of the access easement or right-of-way of such a road, driveway or alley, except garage and carport entrances that face the front setback, which are a minimum of 20 feet from the edge of the right-of-way or easement. Front and side setbacks vary as listed in Chapters 19.12 and 19.13 for Urban Growth Areas.

(iv)    Rear setbacks from public and private roads shall be the same as the front yard setback requirement from public and private roads when the rear lot line abuts a right-of-way or vehicular access easement, provided the required rear setbacks shall not be less than the required setbacks from the property line.

(v)    Where a road connection plan has been adopted, there shall be a structural setback of not less than the minimum front setbacks established in Chapters 19.11 through 19.13 from the planned center of the corridor, as designated by the County Engineer.

(vi)    Garage and carport entrances that face a road other than an alley, and gates on private property that restrict vehicular access to a road other than an alley must be setback a minimum of 20 feet from the edge of the right-of-way or easement, where structural setbacks of less than 20 feet are otherwise allowed.

(b)    Exceptions to Setback Requirements. The exceptions below do not apply to development envelopes for determining a buildable area or to landscape buffers.

(i)    Exceptions to Front Setback Requirements.

(A)    In residential zoning districts, where a turnaround easement is designated to be vacated upon future road extension and constitutes all or part of the front lot line, as opposed to setbacks from turnarounds designed to be permanent, front setbacks shall be a minimum of ten feet from the easement intended to be temporary for the dwelling and twenty feet for the associated garage.

(B)    Setbacks from both streets on through lots shall be considered front setbacks. However, if one of the streets has restricted access, the setback from the property line abutting the restricted access street shall be 20 feet. Access is restricted to a street if any of the conditions below exist:

1.    A plat contains a plat note that prohibits access to one of the abutting streets;

2.    The road is determined to be a restricted access road, such as I-82, SR-12, SR-97, and other State routes; or

3.    A covenant permanently restricting access to one of the abutting streets (with the County being a party to the recorded document) is recorded individually for a through lot.

(ii)    Setbacks for Residential Accessory Structures. The minimum setback for residential accessory structures in all allowed districts shall be at least five feet from the side property line, five feet from the rear property line, and up to, but not within, the required front yard and applicable street setback, except garage and carport entrances must be set back at least 20 feet from any property line. Other structures, as determined by the Building Official, may be permitted in specified zones within a side or rear setback under Subsection 19.18.020(6).

(c)    Access Easements and Right-of-way. No building, fence or structure, other than a gate permitted by the easement owner, shall be located within or encroach on any public or private access easement or road right-of-way.

(d)    Other Easements. The applicant shall provide the easement grantee or owner’s written permission with the primary permit application for any structure proposed to be built or located on or in an easement other than an access easement.

(7)    Vision Clearance Triangles at Intersections and Driveways.

(a)    Intersections. All corner lots at controlled or uncontrolled public or private street intersections or railroads shall maintain for safety vision purposes a triangular area; one angle of the triangle shall be formed by the planned right-of-way edges adjacent to the street or railroad, under the planned right-of-way width required for the functional classification of the road, listed in Chapter 19.23. The sides of such triangle forming the corner angle shall be 30 feet in length measured along the sides of the aforementioned angle, as illustrated below. The third side of the triangle shall be a straight line connecting the last two mentioned points. Within the area comprising the triangle nothing shall be erected, placed, planted or allowed to grow in such a manner as to materially impede vision between the heights of two and one-half and ten feet above the centerline grades of intersecting streets and/or railroads. Landscaping meeting the height limits of this Section is encouraged within the vision clearance triangle. The Administrative Official may consider the landscaped triangle area as part of any landscape requirement if planted and continuously maintained by the property owner. The County Engineer may enforce the landscaping requirements and may require a larger area to be reserved for vision clearance at road intersections and railroad crossing where necessary to provide vision clearance.

(b)    Driveways, Curbcuts and Alleys. This Subsection applies only to uses established under this Title. A vision clearance triangle shall be maintained at all driveways and curbcuts, and the intersection of an alley with a public street for vision and safety purposes. The vision clearance triangle shall measure 15 feet along the perpendicular street curb lines or pavement edge, or travel lane of the public street and 15 feet along the driveway or alley, as illustrated below. The third side of the triangle shall be a straight line connecting the 15 foot sides described above. No sign or associated landscaping shall be placed within this triangle so as to materially impede vision between the heights of two and one-half and ten feet above the centerline grade of the streets.

Figure 19.10.040-2. Plan views of vision clearance triangles, within areas that must be clear between heights of 2.5 and 10.0 feet.

(8)    Maximum Building Height.

(a)    Maximum Building Height Determined by Zoning District. The maximum building height is intended to maintain building and structure heights compatible with the character and intent of the district. The height of buildings is measured in the manner defined in Section 19.01.070. The height of other structures not containing a roof is the vertical distance from the base of the structure to its highest point. Chapters 19.11 through 19.18 list the maximum building and structure heights.

(b)    Exceptions. Height limitations shall generally not apply to accessory projections located at least 20 feet from any adjoining lot line and that are not intended for human occupancy or storage, such as steeples or spires on places of religious assembly, elevator shaft housings, heating/cooling or mechanical systems, water towers, chimneys, belfries, cupolas, domes, smoke-stacks, flagpoles, asphalt/concrete batch plants, grain elevators, cooling towers, solar energy systems, monuments, fire house towers, elevator shafts, or outdoor theater screens, except as limited within the Airport Safety Overlay, by Section 19.18.490 Towers, by a condition of permit approval or by the Shoreline Master Program.

(9)    Fences, Walls and Recreational Screens.

(a)    Fence and Wall Height. The following provisions shall govern the location and height of fences and walls, to allow access to properties by utility employees and emergency response personnel and to maintain good appearance of residential areas and visual access along residential streets and between lots:

(i)    Fences and walls may be placed on or behind the property line.

(ii)    Fence height shall include the fence and all attachments, including posts, barbed wire installed at the top of the fence, etc., but excluding ornaments 12 inches or less in height.

(iii)    The maximum fence height shall be:

(A)    Four feet within the required front yard setback area, and six feet behind the required setback, for all uses in the RT district and urban residential zones (SR, R-1, R-2, and R-3) and for allowed residential uses listed in Chapter 19.11 in the RS district. On corner lots, no fence exceeding four feet shall extend closer to either street than the required building setback line;

(B)    Four feet within the required front yard setback area, and eight feet behind the required front setback in the SCC, LCC, GC, B-1, B-2, M-1, M-2, and HTC districts;

(C)    The maximum fence height is not specified for nonresidential uses in the RS districts, or for any use in the AG, FW, MIN, R/ELDP-40 and R-10/5 districts; and

(D)    No fence, hedge or wall exceeding two and one-half feet in height shall be placed in the vision clearance triangles established in this Section.

(iv)    Fences exceeding the height limitations may be authorized for agricultural buffering of especially sensitive land uses, or required sitescreening, or through the administrative adjustment process of Chapter 19.35.

(v)    All fences shall meet the height requirements under YCC Title 13.

(vi)    No combination of a fence and retaining wall shall exceed a height of ten feet, measured from the lower elevation, except, existing retaining walls greater than ten feet in height at the time of adoption of this Title will be allowed a fence above the retaining wall consistent with Subsection (a)(iii) above.

(b)    Recreational Screens. The height, materials and need for recreational screens, defined in Section 19.01.070, shall be evaluated by the Reviewing Official under Type 1 review when proposed based on the need, safety requirements, purpose of the applicable district, and relationship to residential and commercial properties and streets.

(10)    Exterior Lighting. Exterior lighting is regulated to minimize light pollution to neighboring properties and encourage true-color, full-spectrum light rendition in projects. Exterior lighting for all uses and signs shall be directed downward and otherwise arranged, fully shaded, screened, shielded, and of a design that results in the light being directed onto the site and of an intensity or brightness that does not reflect or cause glare or light intrusion into any adjacent or nearby residential use or interfere with the safe operation of motor vehicles. See Figures 19.10.040-3 and 19.10.040-4 below.

Figure 19.10.040-3. Lighting sources shielded to minimize light pollution and intrusion onto neighboring uses.

Figure 19.10.040-4. Examples of acceptable and unacceptable fixtures for shielding of exterior light.

(11)    Floodplain Development. A pre-application meeting and a Flood Hazard Permit application is required for all new developments in floodplains in order to minimize and mitigate potential adverse impacts to property and infrastructure while reducing risks to public health and safety. Yakima County will utilize existing flood hazard data and mapping to assist applicants with the layout and design of their proposal. If the potential adverse impacts cannot be mitigated through the Flood Hazard Permit under YCC 16C.05 and 16D.05, a critical areas and shoreline permit will be required under Yakima County Critical Areas and Shoreline codes.

(12)    Stormwater Requirements. This section is intended to ensure public and private development projects comply with the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements under the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) where applicable. Stormwater quality and quantity concerns for project permits shall be addressed through:

(a)    YCC Chapter 12.10;

(b)    The environmental review process established by RCW 43.21C and YCC Chapter 16.04; or

(c)    The requirements of the Washington Department of Ecology.

(Ord. 10-2019 (Exh. 1) (part), 2019; Ord. 6-2017 § 2(C) (Exh. 1) (part), 2017: Ord. 8-2015 § 2 (Exh. 4) (part), 2015; Ord. 7-2013 § 1 (Exh. A) (part), 2015).