Planning Codes & Standards

The Planning & Development Services Department is responsible for enforcing adopted City codes and standards.

Current adopted codes are available in the documents listed below, in addition to Title 14 (Land Use Development) and Title 19 (Building and Construction) of the Snohomish Municipal Code.
The Historic District Design Standards are currently being reviewed and updated by the Design Review Board. All materials associated with this project are available to the public, and comments are welcome. Click here to access more information.

Code Amendments

The Planning Department is responsible for amending and updating the City's land development regulations.  Development regulations in the Snohomish Municipal Code are found within Title 14.

Development regulations are intended to implement and be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan goals and policies.  Proposed amendments to the development code are first considered at a public hearing by the Planning Commission, which makes a recommendation to the City Council.  The City Council typically holds a second public hearing before taking action on a code amendment.  All development code amendments are adopted by City Council ordinance.

Amendments to the development code may be initiated by the City Council, the Planning Commission, staff, or citizens. 

Vesting and Complete Application Requirements Code Amendments

In land use, vesting refers to the right an application obtains to develop a project pursuant to regulations in place at a specified time.  Court cases in recent years have altered long-held assumptions and application of vesting rules.  Snohomish Municipal Code's (SMC) rules regarding vesting therefore require updating to be consistent with recent case law in order to ensure principles of fairness and due process for applicants are preserved.

The trigger for establishing vesting rights is typically when a permit application is determined to be complete.  Currently, the SMC rules regarding when and how an application is determined to be complete appear in several sections and do not provide any specifics or criteria regarding required submittals to accompany an application.

To address these issues the following code amendments are being proposed:
  • Repeal SMC 14.35.030 - Determination of Completeness and amend SMC 14.40.030, 14.45.030, and 14.50.030 so they don't address determinations of completeness.  View the proposed changes.
  • Create a new section, SMC 14.55.025 - Determination of Completeness, to centralize all regulations regarding determination of completeness and add regulations establishing requirements and criteria.  View the proposed changes.
  • Repeal the existing vesting section, SMC 14.55.012 and replace it with a new, renumbered section, SMC 14.55.028 - Vesting, so it appears next to the Determination of Completeness section and updates the vesting rules.  View the proposed new section.

If you have any questions or comments please contact Planning Director Glen Pickus via email or 360-282-3173.

Code Interpretations

The Land Use Development Code, Title 14 of the Snohomish Municipal Code (SMC), authorizes the Planning Director to interpret the code where it is unclear or contradictory and to determine whether a land use is allowed when the land use tables don’t anticipate that use.  The Director must issue a written interpretation to formalize that determination in order to establish a clear precedent.  This authority and relevant rules for code interpretations are found in SMC 14.05.050 and SMC 14.207.060.

The Director has issued a code interpretation to clear up confusion regarding the difference between a Bed & Breakfast establishment and a vacation rental (sometimes referred to as an “Airbnb”).  While Bed & Breakfast establishments are regulated in Title 14 and have been since 1983, the code did not anticipate the popularity of vacation rentals so the term isn’t defined nor is the use identified in the land use tables.

The code interpretation defines “Vacation Rental” to mean the same as “Short-term Rental”.  A “Vacation Rental” is a furnished dwelling unit, or room within a dwelling, or an Accessory Dwelling Unit, that is rented out on a daily or weekly basis for periods of less than 30 days.  When the entire dwelling unit is rented it shall be occupied by no more than five (5) people who are travelling together as a group.  When a portion of the dwelling united is rented, only one room may be rented at one time and that room may be occupied by no more than three (3) people.

Vacation Rentals will be allowed in any dwelling unit and do not require any City permits.

To download the full code interpretation click here.

If you want to comment on the interpretation please contact Glen Pickus, Planning Director, at 360-282-3173.

Any aggrieved party to this interpretation may appeal the decision to the Hearing Examiner following procedures outlined in SMC 14.75.  Appeals include a $500 filing fee and must be submitted by March 17, 2017.