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Unified Development Code

Simplifying the Permitting Process

Currently, the City of Tacoma is addressing the ease, simplicity and predictability of its permitting process. To that end, the City’s Planning and Development Services Department (PDS) is initiating the creation of a Unified Development Code (UDC).


The UDC will provide a predictable, customer service-oriented process allowing for increased economic development and investment. It will also protect the natural, built, social and cultural assets that define a unique sense of community.


How will the Unified Development Code help?

The UDC will help by streamlining and consolidating the development codes, permits and processes into a single, more user-friendly document. The finished document will include all development-related regulations including:

  • Zoning
  • Subdivisions
  • Shoreline and critical areas
  • Building codes
  • Site development
  • Administrative provisions such as fees, code authority, etc.

Within a single code title, the codes will be organized to reflect the order of design, development and permitting processes.  As part of this effort, the City is also addressing out of date or conflicting information currently in the codes.


In early 2015, the City conducted a review of best practices from other jurisdictions using unified development codes.  Below are reports summarizing the recommendations for best practices the City should consider for its Unified Development Code.

Web Access and Hosting
Research and Reconnaissance

Stakeholder Outreach

What are development codes?

Development codes regulate where and what type of development may occur, including land use, density, setbacks, and transportation requirements. When done well, codes make it easier for a community to implement its vision. However, when they are out of date, do not line up with the community's vision or are in conflict, codes can actually inhibit desired development.


What codes are being reviewed?

Code sections or portions of code sections currently being considered for consolidation into the UDC are as follows:

Title 2 - Buildings

Title 3 - Fire

Title 9 - Public Ways

Title 10 - Public Works

Title 12 - Utilities

Title 13 - Land Use Regulatory Code

Project Goals and Schedule

Specific goals associated with the UDC project include the following:

  • Clear delegation of authority for decision making
  • Clear reference to standards and guidelines
  • Consolidation of code sections related type of development (i.e. building, site development) versus code authority
  • Simplification of fees
  • Available in an online format designed to improve accessibility, searchability and consistency
  • Council adoption of UDC is intended for spring 2016 

Stakeholder Outreach

Over the next few months, staff will be planning and conducting stakeholder outreach.  This process is an important part of the development of the UDC.


Upcoming Stakeholder Outreach Calendar

Planning Commission

Outreach was conducted at this meeting held on Wednesday, September 16, 2015


View the presentation

Staff Contacts

Sue Coffman

Building Official

(253) 594-7905



Information, Questions and Comments