City of Spokane

Spokane Municipal Code

***Note: Many local criminal codes can now be located under Chapter 10.60 SMC while others are now cited under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), which was incorporated into the municipal code in 2022. (See SMC 10.58.010). Code Enforcement, including Noise Control and Animal Regulations are located in Chapters 10.62 through 10.74.

Title 17C
Chapter 17C.124
Section 17C.124.015

Title 17C Land Use Standards

Chapter 17C.124 Downtown Zones

Section 17C.124.015 Design Standards Administration

All projects must address the pertinent design standards and guidelines. A determination of consistency with the standards and guidelines will be made by the planning and economic development services director following an administrative design review process. Design standards are in the form of Requirements (R), Presumptions (P), and Considerations (C). Regardless of which term is used, an applicant must address each guideline. An applicant may seek to deviate from eligible standards and guidelines through the design departure process; see chapter 17G.030 SMC, Design Departures.

  1. Requirements (R).

Requirements are mandatory in that they contain language that is not discretionary, such as “shall,” “must,” and “will.” Requirements must be satisfied by any plan prior to building permit approval. An applicant may seek a deviation from certain requirements through the design departure process, chapter 17G.030 SMC. Requirements are listed with an (R) after the standard.

  1. Presumptions (P).

Presumptions are guidelines that are meant to be applied, but with some flexibility. Presumptions indicate that the City is open to design features that are equal to, or better than, that stated – so long as the purpose is satisfied. A submitted plan is incomplete and will be rejected if it does not demonstrate that the presumptive elements have been in some way incorporated or overcome. Presumptions are listed with a (P) after the standard.

    1. Overcoming a Presumption.

A presumption that may be unsuitable for a given project may be waived if an applicant can demonstrate to the planning and economic development services director that there is a good reason why the presumption is inappropriate. The director may approve an alternative that achieves the intent of the presumption. At the discretion of the applicant, or in rare cases the director may refer the permit to the design review committee. A referral from the director would be in those cases where the complexity of the project and/or the cumulative impacts of deviations result in the project no longer meeting the overall intent of the design standards and the comprehensive plan.

    1. Appropriate ways to overcome a presumption include:
      1. demonstrating that for a specific project the underlying design principles will not be furthered by the application of the presumption;
      1. showing that another design principle is enhanced by not applying the presumption;
      1. demonstrating an alternative method for achieving the intent of the presumption;
      1. explaining the unique site factors that make the presumption unworkable, such as lot size and shape, slope, natural vegetation, drainage, or characteristics of adjacent development, which are identified through their use of materials, colors, building mass and form, and landscaping.

Note: Increases in the cost of development will not be an acceptable reason to waive a guideline or determine that a guideline is inappropriate.

  1. Considerations (C).

Design guidelines listed as considerations are features and concepts that an applicant should consider in preparing a plan. Their omission is not grounds for rejecting a plan, but their inclusion or recognition is encouraged and may assist in overcoming certain presumptions and in gaining acceptance for a plan. Considerations are listed with a (C) after the standard.

Date Passed: Monday, December 14, 2009

Effective Date: Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ordinance C34522 Section 1