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King County Archives

A repository of county government records
King County Archives
1215 E. Fir St.
Building A
Seattle, WA 98122

206-296-1538
archives@kingcounty.gov

Monday - Friday
9:00 am - 4:00 pm

PropertyBanner

Property Permitting

 
Historical building permits
King County did not begin issuing building permits until 1941. The permits themselves were not retained prior to 1972. For building permit information after 1972 (in unincorporated King County only) contact the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review (DPER).

Building permit master log, 1942-1943

Register of building permits issued from June 1942 to May 1943. Record information includes owner's name, permit number, valuation of improvement and address of property. Contact the King County Archives for more information about these records. A second chronological register (1941-1972; commercial building permits noted separately for 1959-1965) is held at the Puget Sound Regional Archives (external link) in Bellevue.

Building permit index cards, 1954-1971

Index cards to building permits issued, arranged by name of owner. Information includes owner's name, permit number, address of property, type of construction, county planning area, and date issued. These records are held at the Puget Sound [state] Regional Archives in Bellevue. Please contact the Regional Archives (external link) for more information.

 
Historical building codes
The "county building code" is actually an industry standard, the Uniform Building Code or UBC, which King County periodically re-adopts as new versions are issued. Sometimes the county makes certain changes or additions to sections of the Uniform Building Code. These historical adoptions, changes and additions can be researched through the county's legislative files -- resolutions or ordinances.

The published text of the Uniform Building Code is sometimes present as an attachment in the files that accompany the resolutions or ordinances adopting it. You may wish to contact the King County Archives to see if this is true for the year that you are researching. However, sometimes the published texts became separated from the legislative files, particularly prior to 1969. If you are looking for an older edition of the published Uniform Building Code, two libraries in Seattle maintain good backfiles: the King County Law Library (external link) and the University of Washington Engineering Library (external link).

 
Historical certificates of occupancy

Prior to May 1956, King County issued certain "special" or "temporary" (Home Occupation) permits; these were replaced in May 1956 by Use and Occupancy Permits. Before 1969 the issuance or denial of these permits was recorded in the Journal of Proceedings of the Board of County Commissioners. These entries can be found through the hand-written Index to Commissioners' Proceedings, which is available on-site at the King County Archives. Please contact the Archives for more information about using these indexes. It will be helpful if you can provide an approximate date of issue for the permit, or the name of the property owner or applicant.

The actual certificates no longer exist. The references in the Commissioners' Proceedings will only state that a permit was issued or denied on a certain date.

For information about more recent certificates of occupancy, contact the Record Center of the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services.

 
Other historical King County property permit records

King County Commissioners' index to franchises, permits, easements and agreements, 1889-1918.

These records were copied from the official proceedings of the King County Commissioners, county deeds, or official Auditor's filings. They constitute a selective transcription of transactions which relate to the use of county property and rights-of way. The transactions include franchises, permits, easements, and other agreements for projects and activities such as railroad grade crossings, lines, gravel pits, and road vacations. Please contact the King County Archives for more information.

Franchise files, 1898-1988

Washington State allows counties to grant franchises that permit corporations to use and occupy public streets, roads, rights of way and public places over which a county exercises its jurisdiction. These records document individual utility and transportation franchises issued by King County between 1898 and 1988 to private companies (railroad, streetcar, gas, electric power, water, and cable television companies); water and sewer districts; federal agencies (Bonneville Power Administration; Civil Aeronautics Board); and local municipal governments.

Franchise file documents vary over time but generally include a letter of application, a legal description of the proposed franchise, and records of the county's response. Additional correspondence may be present. Maps accompany most text records and may be either annotated copies of commercial or plat maps, or original maps created by the applicant. Please contact the King County Archives for more information.

King County Commissioners' state regulatory agency cause files, 1910-1959

The state of Washington, through its agencies, regulates and supervises providers of public utilities and transportation systems within the state. These records (PDF, 183KB) consist of King County's copies of documents filed with state regulators in causes which either directly affected county property (e.g., county roads and rights-of-way) or were those in which King County maintained an interest (i.e., where the actions affected unincorporated areas of the county). During the time period covered by these records, they were physically maintained in the office of the County Engineer as two subseries: railroad grade crossing permit files (1910-1941) and utility permits and franchises (1939-1959). Please contact the King County Archives for more information.

King County Commissioners' permit files, 1916-1942

Permits for construction on road rights-of-way for purposes, including pipelines, pole lines, railroad crossings, gasoline pumps and sidewalks. Also included are pool hall permits. Files are mostly complete through 1922. After that period they have been sampled to show examples of typical permit types. These records are held at the Puget Sound [state] Regional Archives. Please contact the Regional Archives (external link) for more information.

King County special permits, 1937- 1958

King County Commissioners' Resolutions 6494 and 11373 authorized the issuance of certain "Special" and "Temporary" permits. The permits were given alphanumeric identifiers (P, PD and TP, followed by a number). These permit files no longer exist as such. However, a search of the handwritten Index to Commissioners' Proceedings may identify basic information (petitioner name and date of Commissioner action) about the permits. Please contact the King County Archives for more information.

King County Commissioners' miscellaneous files, 1945-1969

These files contain records of permits of a non-routine nature. Most permits were issued after 1960. These records are held at the Puget Sound [state] Regional Archives. Please contact the Regional Archives (external link) for more information.

Zoning and Subdivision Examiner: Exhibits, Palmer Coking Coal Company landfill application, 1963-1971.

In 1963 the Palmer Coking Coal Company applied to King County government for a permit to construct a sanitary landfill to be operated on a 1100-acre site in the Coal Creek valley near Newcastle. The King County Planning Commission denied the application, a denial sustained by the Board of County Commissioners in 1964. In 1967, Palmer Coking Coal Company applied for permission to construct a smaller, eighty-acre sanitary landfill in the same general location. The Planning Commission approved this application with conditions. The company appealed the conditions to the Board of County Commissioners, who reversed the Planning Commission and denied the permit. After the adoption (1969) of a new government under the county's Home Rule Charter, the company re-submitted its second application in1969. The King County Council granted the permit in 1970, over a veto by the County Executive.

Public hearings on the permit were conducted by the Zoning and Subdivision Examiner between November 1970 and November 1971 when the permit was denied. Additional appeals and hearings followed during the next decade, and in 1980 the King County Council granted Palmer Coking Coal Company an unclassified use permit to construct a landfill at the site for non-putrescible material and demolition waste (Ordinance 4804). This series contains records collected and generated by the Subdivision and Zoning Examiner during the 1970-1971 hearing process (file no. P 70-7). Many records in the series relate to the earlier actions under the Board of County Commissioners.

Record types consist of correspondence, memoranda, hearing minutes, case history files, subpoenas, and exhibits, which comprise the bulk of the series and are arranged by exhibit number. Photographs and maps are also present in this series. Please contact the King County Archives for more information.

King County Document Collection

Individual reports and studies by King County agencies include draft and final environmental impact statements submitted in support of commercial site development permits, proposed building permits, shoreline permits, stormwater permits, and unclassified use permits. Access to this collection is by keyword. The Document Collection also contains statistics about county permits, and audits of permitting operations. Please contact the King County Archives for more information.