Private Structures and Uses in the Right-of-Way (Fences, Rockeries, Balconies, Walls) 

Updated 4/2024

What is a Private Structures and Uses permit?   

Private uses in public-right-of-way such as retaining walls, fences, balconies, and stairs are permitted with an annually renewable Long Term Use permit. We encourage you to locate these on your private property, we understand that it might not always be feasible. We'll take into account if your private use can be sited in a way that meets our standards and priorities for transportation and utility uses of the public right-of-way before approving a private use.  
Locating uses on private property is also beneficial to the owner, as you may be required to remove your private uses in the future. When you apply for this Private Structures and Use permit, you'll need to factor in the cost of issuance, inspection, the occupation fee (if applicable) and also an annual renewal fee. Be aware that these could increase over time. You can get more details from the Street Use Fee Schedule PDF on our How to Estimate and Pay Permit Fees webpage. You have to keep your Private Structures and Use permit active as long as the structure remains in the right-of-way. 

Under the Long Term Private Structures and Uses permit, a variety of structures and uses are reviewed. Below are some common examples and links to our Applicant Guides where you can find more information and specific requirements.  

Private Structures and Uses - AG1090: Private Structures and Uses  

  • Fences, rockeries, walls, stairs, handrails, and other access or minor structures 
  • At-grade structures such as portions of a garage, deck, or carport
  • Below-grade structures such as underground vaults 
  • Above-grade structures such as roof overhangs, awnings, balconies, and bay windows 

Private Utility - AG 1088: Private Utilities Infrastructure  

  • HVAC ducts, drainage systems, cables, transformers, access hatches, electrical outlets, pedestrian lighting, and many other utility components

Underground Storage Tank (UST) – AG1095: Underground Storage Tank

  • Underground tanks that store chemicals and other hazardous materials in public right of way  

Areaways - AG1092: Areaways 

  • Areaways are existing spaces below the sidewalk or street that are categorized as an active or inactive  

Permanent Soldier Piles  

  • In-active soldier piles that are allowed to remain in the public place after a construction or repair project is completed require a Private Structures and Uses permit. 
    • See our SDOT Shoring Review Process webpage for more information. The first-year per pile occupancy fee and annual permit fee will be collected under this record. 
    • Apply for the Long Term Private Structures and Uses record after the shoring permit is issued from Seattle Department of Constructions and Inspections (SDCI)
    • Upload the approved SDCI shoring plans, the recorded Shoring Public Place Indemnity Agreement, approved bond, and the number of piles on each street frontage in the public place when you apply for this permit.  

Waterway and Underwater Street Structures/Uses (Docks, piers, and moorage) 

Ready to Apply? 

When you are ready to apply, head to the Seattle Services Portal.      
Note: If you've never used the Portal before, you'll need to register and set up an account first. See this helpful article or video on how to do this. 

Once you are logged in, follow the steps below: 

  • Under "Create New" select "Permits-Street Use"  
  • Navigate to and select the "Long Term Use" and "Private Structures/Uses" record type.    

When prompted to input “Use Code Description,” choose a description as appropriate to your structures and uses.   

Application Review & Decision  

Current permit timelines can be found on our Permitting Customer Service Support webpage. Information on our permit steps and how we estimate the Targeted for dates can be found in our Understanding the Street Use Permit Process, Status, Target Dates, and Permit Timelines help article 

We will review the application and may contact you either to request additional information or to request corrections. For responding to corrections, read our help article (including a video on how to upload documents).  
For private structures where construction activity is proposed, a Right-of-Way Construction Use permit may also be required for your project. This is a Street Use permit that covers the temporary right-of-way impacts of activities related to the installation/construction of your private use.  If a Right-of-Way Construction Use permit is required, you must submit a separate Right-of-Way Construction Use application through the Seattle Services Portal. The Right-of-Way Construction Use permit must be issued before you can start any construction related activity with right-of-way impacts. 

Some use types may require an Indemnity Agreement, we will prepare a draft document and send to you with instructions for recording with the King County Recorder. The agreement will be recorded against the title of the property associated with the structure.   

Issuance and occupation fees (if applicable) are due once an application has been approved and must be paid before a permit is issued. For detailed information, visit our page on How to Estimate and Pay Permit Fees

Permit Renewal and Change in Ownership 

Long Term Private Structures and Uses permits are renewed annually. The yearly permit fees include the renewal fee and occupation fee (if applicable), see our Street Use Fee Schedule PDF on this page for more information. If the use is in good standing, our permitting system will automatically renew the permit and invoice the permittee.     

Need to make changes on your existing long term use permit? You can request a permit revision through our Seattle Services Portal.  

If there is a change in business or property ownership and no change to the use, the new owner must apply for a new Long Term Use permit. In the application, note “transfer of ownership” in the project description. In addition, the existing permit holder should submit a withdrawal amendment to notify us of the update through our permitting portal (so we will stop billing you for the annual fee!).    

Permit Duration

It’s important to understand that Long Term Use permits are temporary in nature and do not grant you permanent rights to occupy the public right-of-way. We may revoke permits pursuant to SMC 15.04.070. If a permit is revoked or terminated, the right-of-way shall be returned to its original condition. 


Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623

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The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.