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Road vacation process in unincorporated King County

What is a road vacation?

A road vacation removes the public interest in a County road right-of-way and relinquishes the property to the abutting property owners. The right-of-way is vacated by county ordinance after review of the petition to vacate by the County Road Engineer and a public hearing by the County Hearing Examiner.

How is a road vacation process started?

Property owners of a majority of the frontage on any county right-of-way may file a petition to vacate all or a portion of the right-of-way.

The petition can be downloaded here:

Word DOC (43KB)

Adobe Acrobat (18KB)

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What to file

The process of a road vacation is started by submitting the following to the County Road Engineer:

  • The original completed petition including a legal description of the right-of-way to be vacated and of the property owned by each petitioner;
  • A drawing or map of the area to be vacated showing the property owned by each petitioner*; and
  • A filing fee of $200 by check made payable to King County Finance, Road Services Division

What is the process?

A) Review of the petition

Once the petition, drawing or map and filing fee are submitted to the County Road Engineer, the petition is reviewed for completeness and ownership of the abutting properties. The County then reviews the public’s interest in the right-of-way, whether there is a current or anticipated long term need for the right-of-way and whether any utility or other stakeholder has an ongoing need for the right-of-way to remain public.

*Please note, the County Road Engineer may require a drawing prepared by a surveyor licensed by the state of Washington.

B) County Road Engineer recommendation

Based upon the review of current or anticipated need for the right-of-way, the County Road Engineer will issue a recommendation on whether the right-of-way should be vacated and what amount of compensation may be required of the petitioners as a condition of the County Council approving the vacation.

If a utility provider, stakeholder or neighboring property requires an easement over the area to be vacated, the petitioners will be notified and will work with the stakeholder to execute an easement. All compensation must be paid and all executed but unrecorded easements must be submitted before a road is vacated.

C) Public hearing

The County Hearing Examiner holds a public hearing on the County Road Engineer's recommendation. At the hearing, the petitioners and any interested party may present information to the Hearing Examiner. The Hearing Examiner will then issue a recommendation to the County Council.

D) County Council

The County Council will receive and review the Hearing Examiner's recommendation. The County Council will determine whether to approve or deny the petition for road vacation and what compensation may be required as a condition of approval.

How long does it take?

A typical road vacation can take nine to twelve months to complete. However, the process involves a number of parties and many issues can arise during the process that may take additional time to resolve.

Who gets the property?

Vacated property returns to its historical origin. This typically means that each property abutting the vacated right-of-way usually receives half of the vacated right-of-way.

How do I get more information?

Can every road be vacated?

Not every road can be vacated. Some right-of-way is needed for continued or future public use and some right-of-way cannot be vacated by law. If you have questions about a particular road or right-of-way, contact us and we can discuss your situation.