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frequently asked questions   

Do I Need a Permit?

All commercial and residential construction in Anacortes requires a permit to ensure that safety matters are addressed.  Projects that Do Not require a permit include:

Fences not over seven (7) feet high.  For height, construction and location requirements contact the Building Department prior to construction.

Painting, papering and similar finish work.

Residential storage sheds, playhouses, and similar uses, provided the building area does not exceed 144 square feet. For height and setback location requirements contact the Building Department prior to construction.

Residential window awning not projecting more than 36 inches.

Shelves, counter, partition sand walls less than 5 feet 9 inches.

Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery.

Permits are required for re roofs, and additions, decks, mobile homes, wood stoves, LP and natural gas water heaters, stoves, heaters and log lighters and inserts, antenna towers, covered decks, solariums, garage conversions, membrane structures, etc.

Contact the Anacortes Building Department at 360-293-1901 if you are unsure whether you need a permit for your project or if you have questions about building codes.

Having a Garage/Yard Sale?

The City of Anacortes asks that you please consider the following: No premise may have sales, which total more than 12 days in any one year be they consecutive or individual dates.  Sale hours shall only be between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Sales must be supervised at all times, and are the legal responsibility of the resident of the premises.  Signs and the like advertising for a sale may be placed on the premises of the sale, plus other private property only with the permission of the owners.  Signs and/or directional devices may not be posted prior to 48 hours before the sale and must be removed no later than 24 hours  after the last day of sale.  No signs or directional devices may be placed on public structures or land, including right-of-ways, unless established for sale advertisements by the the City.  For specific safety reasons, sale signs and directional devices must not be attached to utility poles, public signs, or traffic control signs and devices.  In addition to possible personal liability for improper placed signs and/or directional devices, responsible parties could also be subject to citation by the City of Anacortes.  For posting of sale signs a City provided kiosk is available at the 32nd Street entrance to Storvic Park and at 10th Street and "M" Avenue in front of the library.  Your cooperation with these simple requirements should assure a minimum of disruption to those not directly involved with your sale.  Thank You! Ordinance No. 17.080.100. 

How Long are Building Permits Good For?

Permits are good for 18 months after the date of issuance.

What are Allowable Hours of Operation for Contractors Building Residential/Multi-Family Units?

The following is from the City's Municipal Code 17.54.010 Noise Ordinance.  Noise levels are not to exceed those standards as established by the State pursuant to Chapter 70.107 RCW, and contained in Chapter 173-60 Washington Administrative Code (WAC)(Ordinance 2316(part),1994).  Generally the allowable hours are from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. but there are some allowable exemptions depending on the activity and the zone. 

What Happens if I Build Without a Permit?

If you begin construction without the required permit(s) a "Stop Work Order" will immediately be issued by an inspector.  You will be required to apply for the permit(s) and pay additional fees (twice the amount of the permit fee).  After the permit has been properly issued, you will then be required to uncover any work that has been covered so that it may be inspected prior to the release of the "Stop Work Order".  In some cases, regulations or codes may not permit the type of construction that has been done.  In this case, you would be required to reconstruct to comply with current codes.                                                              

What is the Permitting Process?

The permitting process for a new single family residence requires that the applicant prepare and submit for review two complete set of construction plans plus a single copy of the floor plans.  A complete application will include all code required information related to the project including, but not limited to, zoning code, building code, plumbing code, mechanical code, drainage ordinance, street improvement code, critical areas code and fire code.  

Prior to preparation of the construction documents applicants are encouraged to request a pre-design meeting with City Staff.  This initial meeting is available to help identify local requirements or site-specific conditions that might affect the project.  After this meeting the applicant should complete the construction documents and applications for permit.  At the time of receipt of a complete application the project will be scheduled for review by staff.  Applications are reviewed on a first in, first out schedule.  Each department will prepare comments concerning any code related deficiencies found through the plan review process.  The comments are then mailed to the applicant who is then responsible for modification of the documents as necessary to satisfy the identified code issues.  When the corrected documents are returned for further review they will be scheduled for review shortly after delivery to the permit center.  When all code issues have been addressed the permit is prepared for issue and may be obtained by the applicant with payment of applicable fees. An application expires 6 months after receipt of a complete submittal.  A building permit is valid for 18 months after date of issue.  The permit holder must request required inspections for either morning or afternoon. All work must be inspected and approved prior to cover.  when all required inspections are completed a certificate of occupancy is issued for the project indicating that the community code requirements have been satisfied.              

What is the Zoning of My Property?

You can find out what a specific property is zoned by reviewing the City's zoning map, which is located online at  You can also call the Planning Department at 360-299-1986 or 360-293-1901.  Staff can identify the zoning and provide information regarding the specific regulations for the particular zone.

What Can I Do with My Property?

First, determine your property's zoning.  Then, look for the specific section in Title 17 AMC, Zoning for the specific zone.  The City's Municipal Code is available on-line on the City's web site.  Title 17 AMC includes sections with the regulations for each zone, including permitted uses, conditionally permitted uses and no-permitted uses; setbacks; maximum building height and coverage and other standards.  If you need help or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the Building Department at 360-293-1901.         

What do I Need to Know if I Want to Subdivide or Short Plat my Property?

Subdividing or short platting property involves review by the City's Economic, Community and Development, Fire, Public Works and Building Departments.  Most short plats are reviewed administratively, whereas formal subdivisions (10 or more lots) require a public hearing.  Prior to submittal of a formal application, an informal preliminary meeting with city staff (Development Review Group) is generally required.   The purpose of this meeting is to identify potential issues and requirements for the proposal.  Some topics of review including zoning requirements, such as minimum lot sizes and maximum density permitted; potential critical areas; tree preservation; and access, utility and stormwater requirements and improvements; etc.  The City Permit Center has information sheets, application checklists and forms for different kinds of development proposals.

How Do I Find Out About Pending Development Applications or Construction that is Happening in My Neighborhood?

If you see a "Public Notice-Land Use Application" sign posted or there is construction occurring and you would like to know more about what is proposed, call the Planning Department at 360-299-1986 or stop by the office located at City Hall (904 6th Street).  Staff can provide additional details regarding the application and review process; the project file may also be viewed.                                                                         

How Can I Get In Touch With a Planner to Ask General Questions?

A planner is available to answer general questions at the Community, Economic & Development front counter, Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  You can either call or visit the Planning Department at (904 6th Street)  or call 360-299-1986.

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