Code Amendments

Code Amendments

The Planning Department is responsible for amending and updating the City's land development regulations.  Development regulations in the Snohomish Municipal Code are found within Title 14.

Development regulations are intended to implement and be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan goals and policies.  Proposed amendments to the development code are first considered at a public hearing by the Planning Commission, which makes a recommendation to the City Council.  The City Council typically holds a second public hearing before taking action on a code amendment.  All development code amendments are adopted by City Council ordinance.

Amendments to the development code may be initiated by the City Council, the Planning Commission, staff, or citizens. 

Find links to our current codes on the Code Compliance page.

Parks, Open Space & Public land use designation

In the 2018 Comprehensive Plan Amendment cycle, the Public Park and the Open Space land use designations were consolidated into a new “Parks, Open Space & Public” designation.  The City Council adopted the Comprehensive Plan amendment because the two designations were regulated similarly, and there was little value in keeping them separate.

There are multiple chapters and sections in Title 14, Land Use Code, that reference the Public Park and Open Space designations.  All of these references must be corrected to implement and be consistent with the new Parks, Open Space and Public designation.  Most of the proposed changes are simply to change a reference, however some minor adjustments are proposed to accommodate the consolidation of zoned, particularly because the Open Space designation was more restrictive than the Public Park zone.

Chapters that are affected by the proposal include Permitted Land uses (14.205 SMC), Land use Tables (14.207 SMC), Dimensional Standards (14.210 SMC), Off-Street Parking, Loading, and Access Requirements (14.235 SMC), Landscaping, Screening, Fencing and Retaining Walls (14.240 SMC), and Wireless Communications Facilities (14.242 SMC).  

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed code amendments at its regular meeting on October 2nd.  The City Council is tentatively scheduled to take action on an ordinance to implement the changes on November 5th.

Utility Connections in the Urban Growth Area

In the 2018 Comprehensive Plan Amendment cycle, annexation policy AN1.11 was amended to allow the possibility for connections to the City’s utility systems from property located outside of the city limits but inside the Snohomish Urban Growth Area even before annexation.  Policy AN 1.11 now allows connections to the City's utility systems in the Urban Growth Area when conditions are imposed to require support of any future annexation proposals that include the property, and when the development served by the connection is consistent with the City's standards.

Snohomish Municipal Code 15.04.022 implemented the old AN 1.11.  To implement the new AN 1.11 the current SMC 15.04.022 must be repealed and replaced.  The new code language makes the City Engineer the decision-making authority in approving connections outside the city, subject to conditions.

However, the proposal is written so connection to the City utility services is not a right to the property owner but is just an opportunity.  That means approval is entirely up to the discretion of the City Engineer.  The code is proposed this way to accommodate potential situations where allowing the connection would not be a benefit to the city and/or not in the best interests of protecting the public welfare.

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed code amendments at its regular meeting on October 2nd.  The City Council is tentatively scheduled to take action on an ordinance to implement the changes on November 5th.

Code Interpretations

The Land Use Development Code, Title 14 of the Snohomish Municipal Code (SMC), authorizes the Planning Director to interpret the code where it is unclear or contradictory and to determine whether a land use is allowed when the land use tables don’t anticipate that use.  The Director must issue a written interpretation to formalize that determination in order to establish a clear precedent.  This authority and relevant rules for code interpretations are found in SMC 14.05.050 and SMC 14.207.060.

Vacation Rentals

The Director has issued a code interpretation to clear up confusion regarding the difference between a Bed & Breakfast establishment and a vacation rental (sometimes referred to as an “Airbnb”).  While Bed & Breakfast establishments are regulated in Title 14 and have been since 1983, the code did not anticipate the popularity of vacation rentals so the term isn’t defined nor is the use identified in the land use tables.

The code interpretation defines “Vacation Rental” to mean the same as “Short-term Rental”.  

A “Vacation Rental” is a furnished dwelling unit, or room within a dwelling, or an Accessory Dwelling Unit, that is rented out on a daily or weekly basis for periods of less than 30 days.  When the entire dwelling unit is rented it shall be occupied by no more than five (5) people who are travelling together as a group. 

When a portion of the dwelling unit is rented, only one room may be rented at one time and that room may be occupied by no more than three (3) people.

Vacation Rentals will be allowed in any dwelling unit and do not require any City permits; however a City business license is required.

Download the full code interpretation.