Planning and Zoning

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Regional Growth
Photo of a house under construction
The Puget Sound region—including Pierce County—is growing rapidly. We need to proactively plan for growth in central Pierce County in order to maintain a livable community that reflects the values of our residents. Since the County’s community plans were adopted in the early 2000s, the population has grown by about 40 percent. About 60,000 more people are projected to move to the unincorporated communities of Pierce County between 2010 and 2030 (Washington State Office of Financial Management).
Zoning 101
Zoning allows Pierce County to regulate land use.
Its purpose is to protect the health, safety and wellness of a community.

Property in Pierce County is split into about 50 different types of zones.

The type of zone guides:
  • How a property can be used 
  • What can be built on a property 
  • Property size and building placement 
  • What types of uses are allowed in the area 
Zoning is adopted by the Pierce County Council based on public input. Changes to zones can be requested during the Comprehensive Plan amendment process or the Community Plan update process.

After a zoning change has been adopted, existing uses that were legally established continue to be permitted. New regulations would apply to new development and redevelopment.

How does zoning impact property taxes?
The Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer uses “highest and best use” of a property to determine the tax rate.
Learn more about how properties are assessed.

Zoning is not directly linked to property tax assessments. Zoning may allow re-development in a neighborhood, but it does not force it to take place. Zoning accompanied by demand for the new use determines how your assessed value changes. If nearby properties are re-developing to more valuable uses, assessed values and property taxes may increase.

For example, if you live in a single-family home in an area zoned to allow commercial, your taxes will not go up just because of your zoning. If properties around your house are commercial and there is demand for more commercial, your property may be re-assessed based on this allowable use. The new assessed value may be higher and therefore you may pay more in property taxes.

Commercial property doesn’t pay a different tax rate. All property within a jurisdiction pays taxes at the same rate per $1,000 in assessed value. Property owners pay more taxes when their property is worth more.
Will my property be rezoned?
Use our interactive map to see if your property is proposed to be rezoned.
What happens to my property if it is in an area that is rezoned?
The future of your property remains in your hands. You can continue to use it the way you are using it now, or you can develop it in accordance with the new zoning regulations. If you sell it, the new owner has the same options.
Zoning and the Community Plan Updates
Zoning changes are proposed in all four Community Plans. We'll explain the proposed changes on the next few pages.
Development Regulations
Community plans contain goals for how an area should develop. Development regulations are the tool that Pierce County uses to set requirements that achieve community goals.

The following development regulations are proposed to be updated as part of the community plan update process:
  • Title 18A—Zoning: This regulation controls what permits are required for certain types of development, what is allowed in each zone and the specific standards for development, such as the number of housing units per acre, building setbacks, number of parking spaces required, etc..
  • Title 18B—Signs: This regulation sets standards for the size, location and types of signs allowed within each zone.
  • Title 18J—Design Standards and Guidelines: This regulation sets standards for the design of new developments, including building architecture, landscaping, site layout and more. Proposed changes to development regulations are addressed throughout this open house, and are largely within the Centers and Corridors section.