* raised bed permit saga

Posted on February 16th, 2010 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.

Sorry for the tl;dr but this info was un-Google-able so I thought I’d go into detail for posterity.

In Seattle, you are allowed to garden in the planting strip, that little piece of ground between the sidewalk and the street.  This is pretty much the only part of our property that gets good sun, so I’m going to try to grow vegetables there this summer.  Since who knows what’s in the ground, nevermind the neighborhood dog proclivities, raised beds seem like a good idea.  Our neighbors have a couple in their planting strip and they look great and very productive.  Also, due to us not raking leaves promptly in the fall, the surviving grass is in rather uneven clumps that I’ll be happy to cover up.  We do have two nice trees though (not sure what they are), which I plan to plant bulbs around for next year.

Even though you don’t need a permit to garden in your planting strip, it turns out that you do need one to build raised beds.  Seattle makes this pretty easy, all things considered, by allowing online permit applications.  You’ll want to read the street use permits info page on gardening in planting strips, and, in particular, CAM2305 (PDF) for all the details like how far they have to be set back from the sidewalk and the curb and fire hydrants, how tall the plants can be, etc.

The permit application itself was a little bit confusing.  They ask for a description, and there’s a link to another page to see what kind of details they want to know.  That link points to another link, which references a CAM (that stands for Client Assistance Memo) that doesn’t exist on the main CAM page.  So I tried a different CAM, CAM2105, which tells you what info you need before applying.  This too says to read CAM2100 and has a different link, which results in an access error.  I ended up Googling it (here you go: CAM2100) before noticing that it’s linked in the sidebar on a completely different page.  Anyway, the reason you need CAM2100 is to figure out your “use code” and the matching work details to put in the description.  But there’s not an obvious category in the file for building a raised bed.  So I just left it out, which led to an error when I submitted the application.  I did the best I could on the other details, including building materials, dimensions, and setbacks.

I heard back the very next business day and was excited until I noticed a $75 inspection deposit fee.  Huh?  The city’s own documentation says this permit should be free.  I called the office and argued with the nice lady on the phone about it, quoting the CAM saying it should be free.  From looking at my record, it looks like my assigned use code was 1, “Tree planting and beautification,” which requires a $150 fee.  I left my contact info and she said someone else would call me back.  Now the fee is removed and the record is closed with status “pre-completed” but no link to print the permit.  This is despite the instructions at the top of the page to click a particular link to print the permit.  And does pre-completed mean approved?  Call back office.  Nice lady explains everything to me and says that it’s all good (closed/pre-completed is approved and this is a record-only permit, no printing necessary).  Thanks, nice lady!

So now I’ve got a permit to build two raised beds.  Good thing, too, since we already bought the supplies to build the first one :P

One Response to “raised bed permit saga”

  1. Karen Says:

    Kafka nightmare. Glad it all worked out okay! I haven’t put any raised beds in my parking strip partly for that reason, too crazy-making to deal with the city regs. But at least it’s free now, aside from all the time and frustration.


  • maitreya[@]craftlog[.]org

books I’m in

other sites I’m on


  • Some little stamps I carved earlier this year for a project that didn’t pan out. It’s time to scan them in and play around with them on the computer.

  • Rainbow Root Raita

  • Follow Me on Pinterest




creative commons

craftlog is under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial license. That means that you are all welcome to take and repost my photos, replicate my projects, remix my ideas, whatever you want as long as you give attribution (a link is fine) and it's noncommercial. Thanks!