Local permits & approvals

Use this page for information on when and how to apply for permits from local agencies. Local agencies are the incorporated cities and counties where the work will occur.

Common local agency permits include the following and are described in more detail further down the page:


Before applying for permits, follow the procedures on how to identify the permits you may need and find general permitting information on our permits and approvals webpage. You will need to coordinate with the local agency where the work will occur to determine what permits are or may be needed, how to apply for them, and how to comply with the conditions.

Some local agencies use the Joint Aquatic Resource Permit Application (JARPA) as the application for all or some of the permits they issue. Use the information on our JARPA webpage to fill out the JARPA form.

90-day requirement for local agency permit decisions

For work that is part of a WSDOT project that costs less than $500 million, include a statement in the cover letter that the local agency only has 90-days to make a permit decision per RCW 47.01.485.

Track when a permit decision takes longer than 90-days. The Environmental Services Office will ask you for the information at the end of the calendar year.

Fish habitat enhancement project exemptions

Work meeting the criteria as a stand-alone fish habitat enhancement project (FHEP) may be exempt from getting local permits or paying fees. Review RCW 77.55.181 to determine if your work meets the FHEP criteria. If you have questions about the FHEP permitting process, contact your Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Habitat Biologist or the Permit Streamlining and HPA Lead, Virginia Stone, virginia.stone@wsdot.wa.gov.

Common local agency permits

Find out more about some of the local agency permits below. Make sure to check the local agency’s ordinances for more information on their specific requirements.

Building, grading, & clearing permits

In general, you do not need a building, grading, or clearing permit from the local agency for transportation-related work, such as state highway or bridge construction (RCW 36.70A.200(5)). This includes retaining walls, noise walls, and activities required by a regulatory condition or requirement, such as stormwater facilities or mitigation sites.

Some local agencies may use building, grading, and clearing permit applications for their critical area or floodplain permits. Check with the city or county where the work will occur. See the Growth Management Act Critical Areas Ordinance and Floodplain Development Permit if the local government does use building, grading, and clearing permits to meet other permit needs.

Work on rest areas, ferry terminals, and connections between state and local roadways may not be exempt.

If you think you may need to apply for a building, grading, or clearing permit, contact the Permit Program Manager, Gretchen Coker, gretchen.coker.wsdot.wa.gov.

Noise variance for nightime construction & maintenance

Your project may need a noise variance if a local agency has noise limits and if work is to occur outside of those limits. Noise limits usually are in effect between 10 pm and 7 am, but vary by jurisdictions or type of land use adjoining the construction noise source. If some or all of your work will occur at night, submit a completed Task Request Form (doc 195 kb) to Jim Laughlin, jim.laughlin@wsdot.wa.gov.

WSDOT may obtain the variance and include conditions in the contract if it knows work will be required outside of the noise limits. If WSDOT does not specify nighttime work in the contract, the contractor is responsible for obtaining the permit.

In most jurisdictions, daytime noise from construction and maintenance activities is exempt from requirements. Construction and maintenance activities that do not exceed the property line noise level identified by regulations would be exempt. Noise caused during emergency work or to restore property following a public calamity is also exempt.

Review Chapter 446: Noise of our Environmental Manual and our Air Quality, Noise, and Energy Policies and Procedures webpage for information on environmental documentation initiated during the NEPA/SEPA process, including relevant statutes, interagency agreements, and policy and technical guidance.

Growth Management Act Critical Areas Ordinance review/permit

Apply for this permit for work within a “critical area” as defined by a local agency’s Critical Area Ordinances. All cities and counties in Washington are required to adopt critical areas regulations by the Growth Management Act (RCW 36.70A.060). Examples of critical areas include wetlands and buffers, aquifer recharge areas, wellhead protection areas, frequently flooded areas, geographically hazardous areas, fish and wildlife habitat, and conservation areas.

Find an overview of the critical areas regulations required of all cities, towns, and counties in Washington State on the Municipal Research and Services Center’s Critical Areas Website.

Floodplain Development Permit

A permit may be required for work within a mapped 100-year floodplain. Check the floodplain ordinances of the city or county where the work is occurring for more information on when and how to get a Floodplain Development Permit. You can find information on floodplain evaluations and mapping in Chapter 432: Floodplains of our Environmental Manual and on Ecology’s Floodplain Management website.

Find additional floodplain information on the Water & erosion control policies & procedures page.

Shoreline Management Act Shoreline Permit/Exemption

Shoreline permit or exemption may be required for work within 200 feet of a shoreline.  See RCW 90.58.030 for the definition of a shoreline. Consult the local shoreline master plan to determine if the shoreline is listed. Some shorelines are listed within the Environmental Workbench and some local jurisdictions provide this information online. Follow the procedure for determining when to use the Shoreline Exemption Law -PRO500-f (pdf 65 kb) to determine if the work qualifies for the optional WSDOT shoreline process.  If the work does not qualify, coordinate with the county or city shoreline planner for direction on the type of shoreline permit or exemption needed and the application requirements.

Go to the Ecology Shoreline Master Programs Handbook and the Municipal Research and Services Center- Shoreline Management Act website for information on the shoreline permitting program.