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Stock# 69390

Seattle's First  Zoning Ordinance

Scarce Zoning Guide for the City of Seattle, published in 1923.  Printed in Seattle by Lowman & Hanford.

This is the first comprehensive ordinance for Seattle and from a publication standpoint is pre-dated only by the proposed ordinance, published in 1921 (OCLC locates 1 example).

Includes 14 pages and 39 maps showing Height and Zoning restrictions for the city.

Seattle Zoning Ordinance History 

Prior to 1923, zoning in Seattle was adopted by ordinance, generally referred to as the Building Ordinance. Each building ordinance would be passed, and then later amended in its various sections by subsequent ordinances until they were eventually replaced and repealed. These included Ordinance 2833 in 1893; Ordinance 7040 in 1901; Ordinance 17240 in 1907; and Ordinance 31578 in 1913.

Compilations of the Building code were published every two to five years beginning in 1909.  These early building ordinances are strongly focused on fire prevention, and divide buildings into "Classes" based on the construction materials and techniques used. They also divide the city into "building districts," but only in order to specify which classes of buildings can be built in which districts.

In 1920, Ordinance 40407 established the Seattle Zoning Commission, which was to "make a survey of the City of Seattle with a view of dividing the same into zones or districts, and report to the City Council a zoning or districting ordinance which shall specify the uses to which property in each district may be devoted...."  

The eventual result of the Zoning Commission's work was Ordinance 45382, adopted in 1923, described as "An ordinance regulating and restricting the location of trades and industries; regulating and limiting the use of buildings and premises and the heights and size of buildings; providing for yards, courts or other open spaces; establishing districts for the said purposes; defining offenses; prescribing penalties and repealing all ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict therewith."

Commonly known as the Zoning Ordinance, it was amended many times by subsequent ordinances, generally a section or a few sections at a time, until it was repealed and replaced in 1957. 


This is among the earliest surviving zoning guides for Seattle.