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.124.230

Title 17C Land Use Standards

Chapter 17C.124 Downtown Zones

Section 17C.124.230 Structure Setbacks, Sidewalks, and Street Trees
  1. Purpose.

The required structure setbacks promote streetscapes that are consistent with the desired character of the different downtown zones and the character of the complete street designation of the adjacent street. The sidewalk standards provide a continuous, safe, and consistent street frontage character along the street right-of-way.

  1. Structure Setbacks – Setback and Required Sidewalk Width Standards.

The setback standards for all structures are stated in Table 17C.124.210-1, Development Standards, and as stated below.

    1. When the existing sidewalk width is less than twelve feet structures shall be allowed no closer than twelve feet from the back of the curb.

Exception to Maintain Existing Historic Character:

      1. The required sidewalk width may be reduced by approval of the planning and economic development services director if the existing sidewalk (distance between the curb and the building) is less than twelve feet wide between the back of curb and the existing historic building setback line of existing adjacent building(s).
      1. In no case shall the setback be reduced below nine feet from the back of the curb unless on-street parking exists between the building and the street. In no case shall the building encroach into the public right-of-way.
    1. When the existing sidewalk width is greater than the bare minimum of twelve feet the sidewalk environment shall be designed to meet the intent of the complete street designation of the street. Existing sidewalk width shall not be reduced or encroached upon by new development.
    1. For buildings facing the streets designated in Table 17C.124.230-1 and not containing residential units on the ground floor, at least seventy percent of the first floor of the front of buildings must come up to the edge of the property line.


      1. The building may be setback from the edge of the property line for the purpose of providing a publicly accessible “plaza,” “courtyard,” or recessed pedestrian entrance that contains landscaping and/or other pedestrian-oriented amenities. Building setbacks may not be used for automobile parking or storage.
      1. One hundred percent of the building along a street lot line may be recessed up to twelve feet for an arcade if the second floor comes up to edge of the property line.


17C-124-230_ C34961.png

TABLE 17C.124.230-1

Building Setbacks & Complete Streets [1]





All Streets

Type I, II

Type I, II, IV

Type I, II, IV

[1] Plan district or overlay zone standards may supersede these standards.

  1. Sidewalks are required to be constructed and shall be at least twelve feet wide and consist of a clear walking path at least seven feet wide (in addition to a pedestrian buffer zone and planting zone for street trees per SMC 17C.200.050). Part of the sidewalk width may be located on private property. The sidewalk dimension shall be measured from back of curb to building facades or parking lot screening and other landscaping.
    1. A clear distance (unobstructed width) is required for all sidewalks along public streets. For sidewalks fourteen feet or wider the minimum clear distance is eight feet. For sidewalks with a width of less than twelve feet the minimum clear distance is six feet.
    1. Within the clear walking path sidewalk paving material shall be concrete, two-foot grid, standard sidewalk color, and float finish. Variations from this standard must seek a design deviation as specified in SMC 17C.124.015.


  1. Street Trees.

Street trees must be installed and maintained by the adjacent property in all streets bordering development. Requirements for street trees and landscaping are stated in chapter 17C.200 SMC, Landscaping and Screening.

  1. Exception to the Setback Standards.
    1. Where a site is split between more than one zone and a structure is proposed that will cross an internal lot line that is also a zoning line, no setbacks are required from that lot line.
    1. Detached Accessory Structures.

The setback standards for detached accessory structures are stated in SMC 17C.124.300. Fences are addressed in SMC 17C.124.310. Sign standards are in chapter 17C.240 SMC, Signs.

  1. Extensions Into Required Structure Setbacks.

The following features attached to structures are allowed as exceptions to the setback standards except they shall not reduce the required sidewalk width of subsection (B) of this section.

    1. Minor Projections of Features Attached to Structures.
      1. Minor projections, such as eaves, fire escapes, and balconies are allowed to extend into the right-of-way when they are greater than fourteen feet above the adjacent right-of-way grade and comply with the building code and the requirements of SMC 17F.040.140.
      1. Minor features of a structure, such as bay windows, uncovered stairways, wheelchair ramps, and uncovered decks or balconies, may extend into a required structure setback up to twenty percent of the depth of a required setback. However, they may not extend off the site. Bays and bay windows extending into the setback also must meet the following requirements:
        1. Each bay and bay window may be up to twelve feet long, but the total area of all bays and bay windows on a building facade cannot be more than thirty percent of the area of the facade.
        1. At least thirty percent of the area of the bay which faces the property line requiring the setback must be glazing or glass block.
        1. Bays and bay windows must cantilever beyond the foundation of the structure; and
        1. The bay may not include any doors.
      1. Full Projection Allowed.

In addition to subsection (F)(1)(b) of this section, the following features are allowed to project farther into required structure setbacks:

        1. Canopies, marquees, awnings, and similar features may fully extend into a street setback and may extend into the public right-of-way subject to the requirements of SMC 17F.040.140.
        1. Uncovered stairways and wheelchair ramps that lead to one entrance on the street-facing facade of a building may fully extend into a street setback, but not into the public right-of-way.
        1. Uncovered decks and stairways that are no more than forty-two inches above the ground may fully extend into a required structure setback; and
        1. On lots that slope down from the street, vehicular and pedestrian entry bridges that are no more than forty-two inches above the average sidew
        1. Balconies may extend into public rights-of-way as allowed in the building code.
      1. Projections Not Allowed.

Attached mechanical structures such as heat pumps, air conditioners, emergency generators, and water pumps are not allowed between the street lot line and buildings or within any required setback from an abutting residential zone.

    1. Underground structures are permitted in required setbacks.

Date Passed: Monday, February 25, 2013

Effective Date: Thursday, April 4, 2013

ORD C34961 Section 5