Zoning & Permits

Permitting your Construction Project

The Community Development Department is here to assist you in permitting your construction project. Contact a Planner and the Building Official in the planning stage of your project or before purchasing your property. Contacting them early in the planning stage will make for a smooth building process later. The following are common projects and land reviews that the Planner and Building Official can help you in understanding the zoning and building codes and application processes.

Permit Center Hours


In-person Service Hours

Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. – noon 

Telephone and Email Service Hours

Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Permit Center Closed Daily, noon – 1:00 p.m. 

Note on Timing of Permits:

We are bringing to you a new permitting system in 2023! Thank you for your patience as we experience some delays in issuing permits while we invest staff time toward building the new system.

Residential Accessory Uses

A garage, shop, on-site rental offices, and antennae for private telecommunications services are just a few residential accessory uses. Residential accessory uses cannot exceed the lesser of 15 percent of the total lot area, or 80 percent of the footprint of the primary structure.

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)

An ADU is an extra living unit on your property, complete with kitchen, bathroom and sleeping facilities. An ADU may be located either inside, attached to or detached from the primary home on your property.

Home Occupation

Home occupation is a business conducted within a private home by the occupants. Keeping the impact to single-family neighborhoods low while encouraging home businesses is accomplished through regulations such as not allowing an outward appearance of a business, restricting employees to only household occupants and one person not living in the home, and limiting the number of customer visits to the home and hours of operation.

Bed and Breakfast Establishments

A bed and breakfast establishment is located within a private home where a maximum of 3 bedrooms are available for paying guests on a nightly or weekly basis. Owner occupancy is required.

Commercial Signs
A sign permit is required for all commercial signs within Burien.
Pre-Application Meeting

A pre-application meeting is required for all Land Use permits, short plats, subdivision, and change of use permits. Meetings are held every other Thursday and are by appointment only.

Complete this form to request a pre-application meeting.

Lot Line Adjustments, Short Plats, and Subdivisions

A lot line adjustment reconfigures lots by “moving” existing property lines. The result is the same number of lots positioned and sized in a new configuration.

A short plat is the creation of two to four new lots from one or more existing lots. Preliminary review is an 120-day process involving a 30-day public comment period and a 14-day appeal period. The preliminary short plat decision is administrative and is valid for 36 months. Once the conditions of the preliminary short plat approval are completed, i.e. road and utility improvements, a final short plat application is submitted for the lots to be formally recognized, recorded in the King County Recorder’s Office and assigned parcel identification numbers.

A subdivision is the creation of five or more new lots from one or more existing lots. It is a 180-day process involving a 30-day public comment period and a 21-day appeal period. A public hearing is held by the City Hearing Examiner who makes a recommendation to the City Council. The City Council makes the final decision for subdivisions; the decision is valid for 5 years. Once the conditions of the preliminary subdivision approval are completed, i.e. road and utility improvements, a final subdivision application is submitted to the City Council for a public meeting to formally recognize the new lots.

The subdivision drawings are then forwarded to the King County Recorder’s office for recording and parcel identification numbers assigned.

Environmental Reviews

Critical Areas

The City finds that critical areas provide a variety of valuable and beneficial biological and physical functions that benefit the City and its residents, and/or may pose a threat to human safety or to public and private property. The beneficial functions and values of critical areas include, but are not limited to, water quality protection and enhancement, fish and wildlife habitat, food chain support, flood storage, conveyance and attenuation of storm runoff, groundwater recharge and discharge, wave attenuation, aesthetic value protection, and recreation. Hazards include landslides and excessive erosion.

Critical area regulations apply if your property is located within a critical area or its buffer. A critical area study prepared by a professional in the field of wetland/stream biology, engineering, or geology, depending on the type of critical area, is required.

State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)

SEPA is required to mitigate impacts to the surrounding environment of a project meeting specific thresholds. It is a 60-day process involving a public comment period and an appeal period. It is an administrative decision. For help completing the SEPA Checklist refer to WA State Dept of Ecology SEPA checklist guidance.


Building on the Puget Sound or Lake Burien shorelines involves U. S. Corps of Engineers, FEMA, WA State Department of Fish and Wildlife and the City of Burien. If considering a construction project on or near a shoreline first contact a Planner. The Planner will help you navigate the various regulations and processes to get your project to completion.

Types of Review

The Land Use Review Type 1, 2 and 3 is used by the City of Burien to determine if certain uses and projects comply with the Zoning Code and Comprehensive Plan, and to inform citizens about projects and provide an opportunity for them to comment on the proposal.

The Building Plans Reviewer will review your Building permit application for compliance with current building, mechanical and electrical codes.

The Single Family Submittal Checklist for properties in a flood zone will help you meet the flood prevention regulations required for building in a flood zone.

A change of use permit is for changes in occupancy from one type of business or use to another. For example retail business to medical office, or retail business to a church.