Q: What’s the zoning of my property?
A: You can use CityMap, an interactive mapping tool, to find out the zoning designation, future land use designation, and other property information for parcels in Yakima. CityMap allows you to search by parcel number, site address, property owner last name, or organization name.
Q: What uses are allowed on my property?
A: Permitted Uses. The chart indicating zones where uses are allowed and the type of review required can be found at YMC 15.04.030. Information on determining the zoning of your property can be found here. If your proposed use is not allowed in the zoning district that the subject property is in, you may speak to a planner regarding the possibility of rezoning the property.
Development Standards. Requirements for setbacks, landscaping, lot coverage, parking, and signs all need to be taken into consideration when developing a property. Such standards can be found in YMC Ch. 15.05 through YMC Ch. 15.08. These requirements may potentially be adjusted under the provisions of YMC Ch. 15.10. Special Development Standards. Some land uses have additional requirements that can be found in YMC Ch. 15.09.
Other Applications that May Accompany the Underlying Land Use Application.
SEPA – Some uses and activities require SEPA environmental review. Uses/activities that exceed the flexible thresholds in YMC Ch. 6.88.070 are required to undergo SEPA review.
Traffic Concurrency Review – A Transportation Concurrency Review application is also required if the proposed use generates more than 10 p.m. peak hour trips.
Critical Areas Review – a Critical Areas Review may also be required. Flood hazard areas, fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, wetlands, geologically hazardous areas, and areas with a critical recharging effect on aquifers used for potable water constitute the city of Yakima’s critical areas.
Shoreline Development Permit, Conditional Use, or Variance Application – Development within the shorelines may require a shorelines permit. Shorelines are all of the water areas of the state, including reservoirs, and their associated shorelands, together with the lands underlying them; except (i) shorelines of statewide significance; (ii) shorelines on segments of streams upstream of a point where the mean annual flow is twenty cubic feet per second or less and the wetlands associated with such upstream segments; and (iii) shorelines on lakes less than twenty acres in size and wetlands associated with such small lakes. A Shorelines Exemption permit may be applied for if it falls under the exempt developments set forth in WAC 173-27-040 and RCW 90.58.030(3)(e), 90.58.140(9), 90.58.147, 90.58.355, and 90.58.515. These are not required to obtain a shoreline substantial development permit, but must otherwise comply with applicable provisions of the Act and the local Shoreline Master Program YMC Title 17.
*Note: this is not intended to be an exhaustive list; please speak to a planner about what applications may be required.
Pre-Application Meeting. The City offers a one-time free pre-application meeting with city’s Development Services Team (DST) in order to understand the development processes and requirements that may be imposed on your proposal. This process is ideal for proposals to develop a vacant lot, redevelop a lot, or subdivide a property. View information about pre-application meetings here.
Q: Can I subdivide my property?
A: Lot Size and Width Requirements. The first factor in determining if property can be subdivided is to clarify the minimum lot size required. See the chart in YMC 15.05.030(C)(1) and in YMC Ch. 15.05.030 Table 5-2. Minimum lot width is also included in Table 5-2.
Other considerations in determining the feasibility subdividing may include lot coverage and setbacks standards. These can be found in YMC Ch. 15.05.030 Table 5-1.
Utilities. Sewer availability can be confirmed by the city’s Wastewater Division which can be reached at (509) 575-6077. To confirm water/irrigation availability, please check with the appropriate water service provider based on your location. Not sure who the provider is for the area? Call the Water/Irrigation Division at (509) 575-6154 or use CityMap by zooming into the area of interest, clicking the “layer list” icon in the top right, selecting the box next to Water Department, and selecting the box next to service areas in the list that populates below.
DST Pre-Application Meeting. If you’re interested in meeting with city staff and other relevant parties (our “Development Services Team” (DST)) to discuss the potential of subdividing a property prior to submitting a formal application and application fee, you can submit a pre-application meeting request on our online permit center – instructions listed here. The first pre-application meeting is free. A preliminary site plan will be required showing the proposed layout of the lots and streets, the names of existing abutting streets, any existing structures on site, etc. Generally, the more info you provide, the more detailed comments our DST members can relay to you.
Application Process. Our subdivision applications can be downloaded from our application forms and fees page and filled out on your computer. If you are subdividing property into 9 lots or fewer, fill out the preliminary short plat application form; for 10 or more lots, fill out the preliminary long plat application. It is highly recommended that you hire a state licensed land surveyor or engineer to prepare the preliminary plat due to the level of detail required for review. See the application packet for more information on the review process.
If your preliminary plat is approved, a final plat application will need to be submitted subsequent to meeting all conditions of approval imposed on the preliminary plat. A final plat must be prepared by a licensed surveyor.
Q: Where are my property lines?
A: Land Survey. Property owners may hire a land surveyor to mark their property lines for them, as surveyors have the knowledge and resources to accurately depict these points (note: city staff does not provide this service; a private land surveying company must be hired).
Estimated Property Line Locations and Lot Dimensions. CityMap is an interactive mapping tool that anyone can access. You can find it online here: https://gis.yakimawa.gov/citymap/
Disclaimer: the City of Yakima assumes no liability for any errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in the information provided or for any action taken, or action not taken by the user in reliance upon any maps or information provided therein.
Lot Line Adjustments. Property owners can request to change the location of their property lines through the Short Plat Exemption application process, or merge multiple parcels together. The application form can be downloaded online: https://www.yakimawa.gov/services/planning/land-use-application-forms/
Q: Where can I place a mobile home or manufactured home within the city limits?
A: Definitions. “Mobile home” means a dwelling on one or more chassis for towing to the point of use which does not meet applicable HUD manufactured housing standards of June 15, 1976. This definition does not include modular homes, manufactured homes, commercial coaches, recreational vehicles or motor homes. “Manufactured home” means a dwelling on one or more chassis for towing to the point of use which bears an insignia issued by a state or federal regulatory agency indicating that the structure complies with all applicable construction standards of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development definition of a manufactured home and was built after June 15, 1976. Manufactured homes are further classified as single-wide or multi-wide (see full definitions in YMC 15.02.020).
Permitted Locations and Siting Requirements. Table 4-3, found in YMC 15.04.160, shows where mobile and manufactured homes can be permanently placed and what level of land use review is required, and describes siting standards for manufactured homes in residential districts outside of a manufactured home park, including requirements for roofing and siding materials, roof slope, and pit set. This code section also explains how existing manufactured homes can be replaced. Mobile/manufactured homes for nonresidential purposes are permitted in all zoning districts and are subject to compliance with other standards of the zoning district (YMC 15.04.170).
Mobile/Manufactured Home Parks. Mobile home parks are allowed in the following zoning districts per YMC 15.04.030 Table-4-1: Suburban Residential (SR), Multi-Family Residential (R-3) and General Commercial (GC) (need to know what the zoning is for a piece of property? Contact us or follow instructions here: https://www.yakimawa.gov/services/planning/zoning-land-use-information/) Standards and criteria for development and expansion of mobile/manufactured home parks can be found in YMC 15.04.150.
Temporary Hardship Units. A mobile/manufactured home may be permitted as a temporary use in all zoning districts if it meets the requirements for a temporary hardship unit listed in YMC 15.04.140.
Q: How do I find information about easements on my property?
A: Easement Purposes. Easements can be established on properties in order to grant access for individuals who are not owners of the property to pass through (e.g. if a property is landlocked so the only way to access their property would be to go through a neighboring parcel). Another purpose of an easement would be for utilities in order to allow the city, utility company, etc. to access that portion of your property to access the utilities. It’s important to note that nothing can be permanently built within an easement.
Documentation. The first place to look for indications of easements is in your title report for your property. Another resource is the record of survey, which may be requested from Yakima County through a public records request.
Establish or Vacate. For questions pertaining to establishing or vacating an easement, please contact us at (509) 575-6183 or email@example.com to speak with a planner.
Q: Can I operate a business out of my home?
A: Allowed Uses. Certain types of home occupations are permissible depending on the zoning district your property is in. The chart indicating zones where uses are allowed and the type of review required can be found in YMC 15.04.120. All home occupations are required to obtain a City of Yakima Business License which must be renewed annually, and undergo a one-time land use review process. The Home Occupation application packet, which includes the business license application, can be found online here.
Prohibited Home Occupations. The following uses are not permitted as home occupations: auto repair; antique shop or gift shop; kennel; veterinary clinic or hospital; painting of vehicles, trailers or boats; large appliance repair including stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers; upholstering; machine and sheet metal shops; martial arts school; taxidermist; two-way radio and mobile telephone system sales and service; vehicle sign painting (except for the application of decals); and firearm sales and/or gunsmith.
Unclassified Uses. Home occupations not listed in Table 4-2 shall be reviewed by the hearing examiner in accordance with the provisions of YMC Chapter 15.22; provided, any unclassified home occupation permitted after review and decision by the hearing examiner in a particular district shall be allowed only as a Class (2) or (3) use.
Necessary Conditions. All home occupations must abide by the 13 conditions listed in YMC Ch. 15.04.120 (C).
See YMC Ch. 15.04.120 for additional details, including regulations for signage, parking, and storage of equipment, materials, and goods.
Q: What animals am I allowed to keep on my property?
A: The Yakima Municipal Code provides regulations for keeping animals on property within the city of Yakima; this includes pets, animal husbandry, kennels, and pet daycares/training facilities.
Pets. Pets are domesticated animals kept for pleasure or as a hobby rather than utility, including, but not limited to:
- Fish; birds; dogs (limited to 3); cats (limited to 5); hen chickens (limited to 4), no roosters allowed; and rabbits (limited to 4).
Key Points & Regulations:
- Their presence must not create undue noise or odors
- Animals shall be properly fed, watered and kept in a humane manner
- Any chicken coops, chicken tractors, or rabbit hutches shall be set back 10 or more feet from any residence or property line, and 5 feet from other structures including decks
- Hen houses, coops, hutches, and chicken tractors shall be restricted to the backyard area
- For chickens and rabbits, adequate fencing shall be installed to contain the animals within the backyard.
- The other provisions of the YMC for animals shall be followed.
Animal Husbandry. “Animal husbandry” means the raising of domesticated farm animals when, in the case of dairy cows, beef cattle, horses, ponies, mules, llamas, goats and sheep, their primary source of food, other than during the winter months, is from grazing in the pasture where they are kept.
Key Points & Regulations:
- Minimum lot size: one-half acre.
- A decision with conditions of approval or a decision of denial may be issued if the operations would create nose, odors, attract insects or rodents, or would otherwise be incompatible with the surrounding residential uses or intent of the zoning district.
- No portion of any structure used to house a domesticated farm animal shall be located within 100 feet of any residence other than a dwelling on the same lot.
- No portion of any structure used to house a domestic farm animal shall be located within 10 feet of a residence where the residence and domestic farm animal structure are located upon the same lot/tax parcel.
- The maximum number of animals that may be kept on the site at any time of the year shall be the number of animals that can be sustained by the pasture on which they are kept as their primary source of food, except during the winter months. The burden of proving that the pasture can sustain the number of animals in question shall be on the applicant.
- Fencing adequate to contain the animals shall be provided and maintained.
Animal husbandry is permitted in the SR, M-1, and M-2 zoning districts under a Type 1 Review process, and may be permitted in the R-1 zoning district under a Type 2 Review process.
Kennels. “Kennel” means a building, enclosure or portion of any premises in or at which dogs, cats or other domesticated animals are boarded or kept for hire; or in or at which dogs, cats or other domesticated animals are kept or maintained by any person other than the owner; or in or at which 6 or more cats or four or more dogs over the age of 4 months are kept or maintained. This definition shall include boarding kennels, but not pet shops, animal hospitals or zoos.
Kennels may be permitted in the SR, M-1, and M-2 zoning districts under a Type 2 Review process.
Pet Day Care/Animal Training. “Pet day care” means a building or structure in which an agency, person or persons regularly provide care for pets, but not including overnight stays. Uses not meeting this definition shall be considered kennels.
Pet day care/animal training uses are permitted in the B-2, SCC, LCC, GC, and RD zoning districts under a Type 1 Review process, and may be permitted in the SR, AS, and M-1 zoning districts under a Type 2 Review.
Links: Table of Permitted Land Uses (Table 4-1 in YMC Ch. 15.04)
What’s the Zoning of My Property?
Land Use Applications & Fees
Utility Department (handles dog licensing)
Animal Control (handles animal-related complaints)
Q: Where can I put my fence on my property and how tall can it be?
A: The first step in determining where you can put your fence is to know the exact location of your property lines. Property owners may hire a land surveyor to mark their property lines for them, as surveyors have the knowledge and resources to accurately depict these points (note: city staff does not provide this service; a private land surveying company must be hired).
The next step is to review the regulations in Yakima Municipal Code (YMC) § 15.05.020 (G) for fence height and location. Generally, fence height limitations are dependent upon:
a) The zoning of your property;
b) Which yard the fence is in; and
c) Whether the fence is within the required setback area or behind it (see setback requirements in YMC § 15.05.030 Table 5-1)
Please note that your fence must always be on or behind your property line. If you have a corner lot, any fencing within the clearview triangle cannot be taller than 2 and ½ feet for safety vision purposes (see additional information on the clearview triangle in YMC § 15.05.040 and images below).
In some circumstances, it may be permissible to construct a fence that is taller than what the code allows. This may be allowed through an Administrative Adjustment application process in which the applicant must provide answers to the narrative questions in the application packet demonstrating the need and compatibility for such adjustment (download application here).
Our planners are available to help answer any questions you may have on this topic.
Q: Are Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) permitted in the city of Yakima?
A: ADUs are one way to provide affordable housing and provide homeowners with extra income. They are allowed in the Suburban Residential (SR), Single-Family Residential (R-1), Two-Family Residential (R-2) and Multi-Family Residential (R-3) zoning districts. The chart indicating zones where ADUs are allowed and the type of review required can be found in YMC 15.04.030.
Requirements. One factor in determining if you can have an ADU is the size of your lot. YMC 15.09.045states that ADUs shall only be permitted on lots/parcels appropriately sized for a duplex per YMC 15.05.030Table 5-2. However, ADUs proposed on lots smaller than this may be approved after undergoing one additional level of review as shown in YMC 15.04.030 Table 4-1. ADUs must follow other requirements related to size, setback requirements, and aesthetics, as well as connection to public sewer and water for ADUs that are not attached to the primary dwelling unit. See YMC 15.09.045 for a complete list of requirements.
Please note that a parcel/lot cannot have more than one single-family residence and one ADU. Also, ADUs are not permitted on parcels containing a duplex or multifamily dwelling, or a commercial or industrial structure/use.
Q: I want to add on to my home or other structure, or want to build a new structure on my property – what are the setback requirements?
A: Requiring structures to be set back a certain distance from property lines, easements, and right-of-ways helps to ensure safety and privacy. These regulations can be found in the Site Design and Improvement Standards chapter of the Municipal Code (YMC 15.05). Please contact the Code Administration for questions related to building permits.
Q: What regulations do I need to follow for putting up an accessory structure?
A: Setback requirements for accessory structures such as garages and sheds can be found in the Site Design and Improvement Standards chapter of the Municipal Code (YMC 15.05). Accessory dwelling units are addressed in YMC 15.09.045. Contact the Code Administration to see if a building permit is required based on the size of the structure.
Q: Can a house or other residential structure be located anywhere other than a residential zone?
A: Some houses in the city of Yakima have been established in a commercial or industrial zoning district rather than residential. The Yakima Municipal Code (YMC) dictates that construction of new housing may be allowed in certain commercial and industrial zoning districts through the appropriate land use review. The chart indicating zones where types of residential uses are allowed and the level of land use review required can be found in YMC 15.04.030.
Nonconforming uses. The municipal code defines “nonconforming use” as follows: “Nonconforming use’ means a use of land or structure lawfully established and maintained, but which does not conform to this title for the district where it is located.”
The YMC provides for the continuation of nonconforming uses (see YMC 15.19.050). As such, if a single-family home or other housing type was constructed in a zoning district where it is now no longer permitted under the current code, the house may continue to be used and if destroyed can be rebuilt as it was prior to the damage if a building permit application for reconstruction/replacement is made within 18 months of such damage. No land use review will be required. Transfer of ownership will also not affect the continuance of the nonconforming use (YMC 15.19.110).
See also: Illegal uses, structures and lots not permitted (YMC 15.19.020)
Establishment [of legal nonconformity] (YMC 15.19.030)
Development on existing lots of record (YMC 15.19.040)
Continuation of nonconforming uses (YMC 15.19.050)
Nonconforming Structure (YMC 15.19.060)
Change from a nonconforming use to a Class 1, 2, or 3 use (YMC 15.19.070)
Change from a nonconforming use to another nonconforming use—Expansion of a
nonconforming use or structure (YMC 15.19.080)
Modifications of an approved site plan for a nonconforming use or structure (YMC
Discontinuance of a nonconforming use or structure (YMC 15.19.100)
Sale of a nonconforming use or structure (YMC 15.19.110)
Critical area nonconforming uses and facilities (YMC 15.19.120)
Q: How does the City of Yakima regulate marijuana uses?
A: Regulations for marijuana retail, processing, production, and research are outlined in the Special Development Standards chapter of the Yakima Municipal Code (YMC 15.09).
Q: Does the City of Yakima allow people to rent their homes or a room in their homes for tourists?
A: Short-term stays (30 or fewer consecutive days) are generally offered through hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts. Online rental facilitators such as Airbnb and VRBO also provide tourists with short-term transient lodging options, generally within single-family residences. All owners of rental properties, including short-term rentals through online rental facilitators, are required to obtain a City of Yakima Business License which must be renewed annually, and undergo a one-time land use review process.
Operating a Bed & Breakfast, Airbnb or VRBO in the City of Yakima. As governed by Yakima Municipal Code (YMC) Ch. 15.04, bed and breakfasts can be located in the CBD zoning district through a Type 1 land use review, and may be permitted in the SR, R-3, B-1, SCC, LCC, and GC zoning districts through a Type 2 Review. Owners may rent out portions of the house they currently reside in as a “home occupation” bed and breakfast. In this situation, owners are limited to having not more than five lodging units or guest rooms. This home occupation is permitted in the SR, R-2, and R-3 zoning districts through a Type 1 Review, and may be permitted in the R-1 zoning district through a Type 2 Review. Airbnb, VRBO and other owners using similar short-term online rental facilitators, are currently processed the same as bed and breakfasts. The definitions of the various types of short-term accommodations can be found at Yakima Municipal Code 15.02.020. The chart indicating zones where uses are allowed and the type of review required can be found at YMC 15.04.030. Bed and Breakfasts are further regulated under YMC 15.09.080. Home occupation regulations are found at YMC 15.04.120.
The City of Yakima Planning Commission (YPC) will be looking at potential code changes specific to short term rentals, such as Airbnb and VRBO rentals, during the 2019 update process. If you would like to receive more information on when and where the YPC meets, please visit the YPC page or contact us here.
Q: What is the role of the Yakima Planning Commission?
Yakima Planning Commission. The Planning Commission is comprised of volunteers appointed by City Council who assist the city by carrying the following responsibilities:
1. Serving as the long-range planning body for the city of Yakima;
2. Monitor the growth and development of the city and continually reevaluate and recommend to the city council revisions to the comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance for the city;
3. Develop and recommend to the city council a subdivision ordinance for the city and revisions thereto;
4. Investigate and make recommendations on other land use matters as may be requested by the city council or on its own initiative;
5. Study and report on all proposed text changes to land use ordinances;
6. Advise the city council on land use matters;
7. Monitor the hearings of the hearing examiner in order to remain informed on development activities, public concerns and the decisions of the hearing examiner;
8. Such other planning functions as authorized or required by law or ordinance or as requested or assigned by the city council.
There is a time for audience participation at each Planning Commission meeting during which time anyone can address the Commission related to any issues relevant to its duties as listed above. More information about the Commission and links to the agenda packets and minutes can be found on this webpage: https://www.yakimawa.gov/services/planning/planning-commission-meetings/ If you would like to be on the email list to receive meeting agendas, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Can I have a well on my property?
A: Lot Size Requirements. The Yakima Municipal Code imposes lot size requirements that must be met in order to have a well (individual water system). See the table in YMC 15.05.030(C) for these requirements.
Yakima Health District. If your lot does in fact meet the requirements in the table, you will need to contact the Yakima County Health District, who ultimately makes the decision. The Health District may determine that a larger area is necessary for the safe installation of approved water supply.
Yakima County Health District: (509) 575-4040
You may also find the resources on the Yakima County Health District’s website to be helpful in regards to wells: http://www.yakimacounty.us/340/Drinking-Water
Q: Can I have my own septic system on my property?
A: Lot Size Requirements. The Yakima Municipal Code imposes lot size requirements that must be met in order to have your own septic system. See the table in YMC 15.05.030 for these requirements.
Yakima Health District. If your lot does in fact meet the requirements in the table, you will need to contact the Yakima County Health District, who ultimately makes the decision. The Health District may determine that a larger area is necessary for the safe installation of the sewage system.
Yakima County Health District: (509) 575-4040
You may find the information about septic systems on the Yakima County Health District website to be useful http://www.yakimacounty.us/335/Septic-Systems
Q: How can I report a zoning code violation?
A: Contact Code Compliance at (509) 576-6657, stop by the Codes/Permitting counter during business hours to make a complaint in person, or submit a Yak Back request. See the Code Compliance webpage for more info.
Note regarding other permits and licenses:
For questions related to business licenses (and renewals) or permits not referenced here, please visit the Code Administration website or contact them at (509) 575-6126 or email to email@example.com.
Don’t hesitate to give us a call at (509) 575-6183 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions you may have.
Common Referrals / Phone Numbers:
Note: phone numbers are subject to change. Please perform an online search if the information below is out-of-date.