Commercial Site Development

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Commercial Site Development (SDEV) Permits are often required when (re)developing a property or performing other activities that disturb the site. This sheet provides information on when an SDEV permit is needed, details types of SDEV permits, and overviews the permitting process.

What is the purpose of an SDEV Permit?
To ensure city design standards and regulatory requirements are applied to site work, in order to protect public safety and the environment.

When is an SDEV Permit needed?
Activities such as grading, cutting and filling, paving, parking lot striping, landscaping, and installing and/or adjusting on-site public utilities and stormwater facilities all require an SDEV permit prior to any site work as outlined in the tables below.

What are Cumulative Impacts and how do they affect my SDEV Permit?
When sites are re-developed, constructed in phases, or when the impervious footprint(s) are otherwise altered, all site work completed since 01/01/2003 is added together to calculate thresholds and determine permit requirements.

Onsite Activities Requiring an SDEV
The table below outlines site activities and scopes that would require an SDEV permit. Continue reading this tip sheet for information on the further classification of Major and Minor SDEV permits and the associated permit fees.

Site Activities Requiring an SDEV Permit
Site Disturbing Activity
  • Grade and/or fill of >50 yd3 of material
  • New/replacement of ≥2,000 ft2 of hard surfaces
  • Any project that disturbs ≥7,000 ft2 of land
Onsite Utility Work*
  • Stormwater and sanitary sewer service connections or repairs
  • Stormwater and sanitary sewer facility construction or alterations

*Utility permit(s) are required in addition to an SDEV; read below for information on other permits that may be needed

Building-related work
  • Demolition of structure(s) or pavement disturbing ≥7,000 ft2 of land
  • Any work outside the footprint of a new building, remodel, addition, tenant improvement or redevelopment related to the building project such as: onsite utility replacement, material stockpiles, pavement replacement or striping, landscaping, and similar work**

**An SDEV is usually needed in relation to a BLDCN or BLDCA even when site work falls below the area thresholds listed above


SDEV Permit Classification and Fee Structure
The table below outlines some of the project activities and scopes that are used in determining the SDEV permit type and its associated fee.

Site Development Permit Classifications
  Minor Major
Level 1 Minor Level 1 permit: $365

  • Limited onsite work that totals*:
    • <2,000 ft2 new/replaced hard surface;
    • <50 yd3 grading; and
    • <7,000 ft2 disturbed area
  • New or altered engineered facilities (i.e. pump, manhole, treatment facility)

*Issued in association with another commercial permit (BLDCN, BLDCA) or in connection with a code violation. 

Major Level 1 permit: $5,000

  • 5,000 ft2 to <50,000 ft2 new/replaced hard surface, OR
  • 500 yd3 to <10,000 yd3 grading, OR
  • 1 acre to <10 acres disturbed area


Level 2 Minor Level 2 permit: $2,250

  • 2,000 ft2 to <5,000 ft2 new/replaced hard surface, OR
  • 50 yd3 to <500 yd3 grading, OR
  • 7,000 ft2 to <1 acre disturbed area
Major Level 2 permit: $152 per review hour

  • ≥50,000 ft2 new/replaced hard surface, OR
  • ≥10,000 yd3 grading, OR
  • ≥10 acres disturbed area
  • Cumulative impact projects

Permitting Process
Tacoma offers a Pre-Development Application process that provides scoping comments along with an overview of anticipated development standards and requirements based on a project’s conceptual design. This may be helpful in the early design process and could provide guidance that may reduce revisions and the number of review cycles needed. The timeline for the first review cycle of a newly submitted SDEV Permit application is typically four weeks. Depending on the scope of the project, engineered drawings or reports may be required. The Pre-Development Application process can help identify whether engineered plans are needed and the SDEV Document Checklist can also assist the engineer with submittal requirements.

Other Permits May Be Needed
Other permits are often needed in combination with an SDEV permit, and depend on the work being performed. Permit Tip Sheets are available online at: Below is a  list of additional permits types that are often asssociated with onsite work:

  • Storm Connection (STORM)
  • Right-of-Way Construction (RCON)
  • Side Sewer (SEWER)
  • New Commercial Building (BLDCN)
  • Commercial Building Alteration (BLDCA)
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