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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.

step 2

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.
step 3

How much will it cost?

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

step 4

Where can I get an application?

Refer to the Conditional Use Permits Packet for application materials.  See our Customer Service Bulletin for submittal information.

step 5

How do I submit my application?

A mandatory pre-application meeting is required prior to filing a CUP application. See the Pre-application meeting packet.

If you have questions or would like to inquire about alternatives, please email

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 Local Services, Permitting Division 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, see the Conditional Use Permit packet.

Administered by

The Department of Local Services, Permitting Division, under the legal authority of Title 21A of the King County Code. For questions, please contact us at 206-296-6600 or email

Schedule a land use inspection
  • Schedule a land use inspection or if you have questions, call 206-296-6600
Keep final plans and permits displayed on-site!

Approved building and land use permits must be displayed prominently on construction and development sites.

Maintaining these records on-site is the responsibility of the applicant and/or contractor.

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