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What is the purpose of a conditional use permit?

A conditional use permit (CUP) allows the county to consider a use of a property that is not routinely allowed, but can potentially be made compatible through the application of project and site-specific conditions. The CUP process also requires public notification and an opportunity for the public to comment on whether the proposal meets the criteria for approval.

The conditional use permit process allows for consistent evaluation of land use applications and provides clear criteria on which to base a decision. The burden is on the applicant to provide adequate justification to support the CUP request.

When is a conditional use permit required?

  • Refer to the permitted uses chapter of the King County Code (KCC) 21A.08 to determine whether a proposal requires a CUP.
  • For minor communication facilities (including cell towers), refer to KCC 21A.27.

How much will it cost?

See the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review current fee schedule for an estimate.

Where can I get an application?

Refer to the Conditional Use Permits Packet for application materials.

How do I submit my application?

A mandatory pre-application meeting is required prior to filing a CUP application.

Following the pre-application meeting, the CUP application must be filed in person at the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review Permit Center.  A submittal appointment can be arranged by calling 206-296-6797.

What is the timeline for processing a conditional use permit?

  • The Department typically holds pre-application meetings within 30 days from the date the pre-application meeting request is received.
  • Following the submittal of the CUP application, the Department has 28 days to determine if the application is complete.
  • After the completeness determination, a Notice of Application is mailed to property owners within 500 feet and published in the newspaper; and a minimum 24-day  comment period is open (3 days for mailing plus 21 days for commenting).
  • The Department attempts to issue a final decision on a CUP within 120 days from the date of application, provided no appeals are filed or substantial additional information is required.

How does the County review conditional use permit requests?

The conditional use permit is granted only if the applicant demonstrates compliance with the following CUP decision criteria (KCC 21A.44.040):

  • The conditional use is designed in a manner which is compatible with the character and appearance of an existing, or proposed development in the vicinity of the subject property;
  • The location, size and height of the buildings, structures, walls and fences, and screening vegetation for the conditional use shall not hinder neighborhood circulation or discourage the permitted development or use of neighboring properties;
  • The conditional use is designed in a manner that is compatible with the physical characteristics of the subject property;
  • Requested modifications to standards are limited to those that will mitigate impacts in a manner equal to or greater than the standards of this title;
  • The conditional use is not in conflict with the health and safety of the community;
  • The conditional use is such that pedestrian and vehicular traffic associated with the use will not be hazardous or conflict with existing and anticipated traffic in the neighborhood;
  • The conditional use will be supported by adequate public facilities or services and will not adversely affect public services to the surrounding area or conditions can be established to mitigate adverse impacts on such facilities; and
  • The conditional use is not in conflict with the policies of the Comprehensive Plan or the basic purposes of KCC 21A.

Many conditionally allowed uses have additional use-specific standards that must be met in order to be approved. See the permitted uses listed in KCC 21A.08.

What is the appeal process?

An aggrieved party has 24 days following the Department’s notice of decision to file an appeal. The appeal must be submitted to the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review along with an appeal filing fee. The King County Hearing Examiner then hears the appeal and makes a final decision.

Notes / Comments

For more information, read the Conditional Use Permit Instructions and Information Bulletin.

Administered by

The Department of Permitting and Environmental Review under the legal authority of Title 21A of the King County Code. For questions, please contact us at 206-296-6600.