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Zoning - Quick Answers
The following sources of information should be able to answer most zoning-related questions. Answers to zoning-related questions can also be obtained by using this form or calling the Development Center Information Line at (253) 798-3739.

Pierce County Zoning Code
The Pierce County zoning code (Title 18A) is available online as a PDF.

Online Zoning Information
To determine the zoning of a parcel you must know the parcel number or the site address. If you have this information, you can use About My Property online, this form or you can telephone the PALS Permit Information Hotline at (253)798-3739.

Zone Description & Summary Sheets
Here are handouts that describe what each zone allows.

* Due to recent code changes the zone description and summary sheets are being updated and some are temporarily unavailable.
Frederickson Community Plan

Gig Harbor Peninsula Community Plan

Graham Community Plan
  • Community Employment Center Zone Summary Sheet 
  • Mixed Use District Zone Summary Sheet
  • Moderate High Density Residential Zone Summary Sheet
  • Single Family Summary Zone Sheet
  • Rural Activity Center Zone Summary Sheet
  • Rural Neighborhood Center Zone Summary Sheet
  • Reserve 5 Zone Summary Sheet
  • Rural 10 Zone Summary Sheet
  • Rural 20 Zone Summary Sheet
  • Rural Sensitive Resource Zone Summary Sheet
  • Rural Farm Zone Summary Sheet
  • Agricultural Resource Lands Zone Summary Sheet
  • Forest Land Zone Summary Sheet

Mid County Community Plan

Parkland Spanaway Midland Community Plan

South Hill Community Plan

Zones Outside a Community Plan Area

Common Zoning-Related Topics
Accessory Dwelling Units
  • Definition
    • Accessory dwelling unit' means a second dwelling unit added to, created within, or detached from a single-family detached dwelling for use as a completely independent or semi-independent unit with provisions for cooking, eating, sanitation, and sleeping.  
  • Purpose
    • Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are intended to increase the supply of affordable and independent housing for a variety of households, increase home and personal security, provide supplemental earnings for people with limited incomes, and increase residential densities. This should occur by utilizing the existing infrastructure and community resources throughout the County while protecting the existing character of single-family neighborhoods. See 18A.35.
  • Application
    • The owner occupant shall apply for a Building Permit for an ADU. A complete application form must demonstrate that all size thresholds and design standards are met.  
  • General Requirements
    • ADUs are only allowed accessory to existing single-family residential structures. Only one ADU is allowed per lot of record. ADUs within the Urban Growth Area may be no more than 1,000 square feet in size. ADUs outside the Urban Growth Area may be no more than 1,250 square feet in size. Other design requirements also apply to ADUs, please see 18A.33.300.

Allowed Uses
Allowable uses are grouped by community plan and then by Urban and Rural zones within the zoning code

Outside of a Community plan area:   Urban Zone Classification 18A.17.010
Rural Zone Classification 18A.17.020
Alderton-McMillin: Urban Zone Classification 18A.18.010
Rural Zone Classification 18A.18.020
Anderson/Ketron Island:  Rural Zone Classification 18A.19.020
Browns Point/Dash Point:  Urban Zone Classification 18A.20.010
Frederickson:  Urban Zone Classification 18A.20.010
Gig Harbor Peninsula:  Urban Zone Classification 18A.23.010
Rural Zone Classification 18A.23.020
Key Peninsula:  Rural Zone Classification 18A.26.020
Mid-County:   
 
Urban Zone Classification 18A.27.010
Rural Zone Classification 18A.27.020
Parkland/Spanaway/Midland: Urban Zone Classification 18A.28.010
South Hill:  Urban Zone Classification 18A.29.010
Upper Nisqually:  Rural Zone Classification 18A.31.020

A definition of the Use Types and Categories referenced in the tables is contained in 18A.33.210 through 18A.33.280. If a use is not listed as being permitted in a zone, it is prohibited.  

Building Setbacks
  • Definition
    • The minimum required distance between any structure and a specified line such as a lot, public or private right-of-way, easement, future street right-of-way as identified through an official control or buffer line that is required to remain free of structures unless otherwise provided herein.
  • Standards
    • Setback standards are provided in the Density and Dimensions tables for each community plan area and for the areas outside of all the community plan areas. The tables are located at the end of each respective zoning code chapter.
    • Additional Setback Standards including how setbacks are measured, yard designations, setback exceptions and other setback standards are specified in the Density and Dimension Standards chapter, 18A.15.

Density

  • Definition
    • Density refers to the number of dwelling units allowed per acre. A density range, Base, Minimum and Maximum, is provided for all Urban Zones except for Employment Center zones. A range of density, Base and a Maximum, is provided for all Rural Zones except for Rural Center zones.
  • Requirements
    • Density requirements are specified in the Density and Dimensions tables provided for each community plan area and for areas not included in a community plan. The tables are located at the end of each respective zoning code chapter.

Height Limitations

  • Definition
    • 'Structure height' is the vertical distance from the average elevation of the finished grade on each wall of a building to the top of a flat or shed roof, or mansard roof, and the average distance between the bottom of the eaves to the highest point of a pitched, hipped, gambrel, or gable roof.
  • Restrictions
    • Structural Heights are restricted based upon zone classification. Height limitations are specified in the Density and Dimension Tables provided for the areas not included in a community plan, and for each community plan area. The tables are located at the end of each respective chapter in the zoning code. Special height requirements apply to fences, retaining walls, and bulkheads. These special requirements are specified in Density and Dimensions Standards Chapter, 18A.15.

Home Occupations

  • Definition
    • 'Home occupation' means any business activity carried on within the principal residence or within a permitted accessory structure which does not have to meet fire and building code regulations for business or industrial occupancy.
  • Where Allowed
    • Home occupations are allowed as an accessory use to all single-family residences subject to the standards specified in 18A.33.300.G.12.

Nonconforming Uses
  • Definition
    • A 'Nonconforming use of land' means a use which does not involve a structure and which was allowed when established but is not allowed in the current zone classification. 
    • A 'Nonconforming use of a structure' means a use or activity conducted at least partially within a structure and which was allowed when established but is not allowed in the current zone classification.  
  • Standards

Variances
  • Definition
    • 'Variance' means an adjustment to the bulk standards (i.e. setback or height requirements) of the zoning regulation. A variance may not be granted to vary from restricted or permitted uses or required density for any zone classification. Variances can be processed either administratively or through the Hearing Examiner process depending on the extent of the variance request. Variances are typically used to request reductions in setbacks, increase in height, and other deviations from bulk standards. 
       
  • Review Criteria
    • In order for a variance to be approved, it must meet the criteria specified in 18A.75.040.