Wireless Telecommunications

people holding cell phones

Seattleites rely on mobile phone connectivity as a central part of daily living. The City’s recent Technology Access and Adoption Study shows 95% of Seattle residents have a mobile or smart phone (up from 93% in 2018). And 58% of households now have cellular service as a source of their household internet, with those living in low-income households being more likely to rely on cellular service as their primary source of communication and internet connectivity.  

Constructing and upgrading the wireless network infrastructure supporting these demands is a capital and time-intensive process. It’s being achieved in Seattle through a high degree of collaboration between many City departments and our cellular industry partners who are deploying the networks Seattleites enjoy today. See City of Seattle Leverages Collaboration to Accelerate 5G Deployment

Residents: Find information on common questions related to "5G" and small wireless facility ("small cells") deployments in Seattle.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): 5G and Small Wireless Facilities on Seattle Poles

Sample public notification form about construction of small cell facilities

Seattle's Design Standards for Small Wireless Facilities on Poles in the Public Place (implemented by Director's Rule SDOT 01-2024)

Companies: Looking to deploy wireless equipment in Seattle? Below are departments involved with locating wireless facilities on public or private property, along with links to information on their processes and key contacts at each department. 

Other wireless-related questions for the City? Contact our Wireless Telecommunications Line (206) 727-8700 or email: telecom.wireless@seattle.gov.

Departmental Information/Contacts


Seattle City Light's Joint Use engineering team is responsible for the management, engineering, design, construction, regulatory, legal and contractual oversight of all third-party communications and power space attachments. 

Before a pole attachment will be allowed you:

  • Must have a signed wireless attachment agreement with SCL Joint Use Engineering
  • Must have approval for each attachment
    • Pole attachment approvals are determined on a pole-by-pole basis as part of the Joint Use Engineering application and review process.

A full guide to City Light's pole attachment process is here: Joint Use Small Wireless Facilities Handbook


City Light standards for to the co-location of wireless equipment or pole attachments are available on the SCL Engineering Standards Library website. 

Some of interest for wireless and small cell deployments are:

  • Attachments on Wood Poles: Construction Standard 0093.04
  • Communication Enclosures on SCL Wood Poles:  Construction Standard 0094.01
  • Working in the Vicinity of Wireless Communications Antennas: Construction Work Practice 0095.04
  • Non-Ionizing Electromagnetic Radiation (NIER) Report Standard 0095.06
  • Small Wireless Facilities on Wood Poles: Construction Standard 0095.15 
  • Wireless Communications Antennas on Wood Pole Tops: Construction Standard 0095.20 
  • Collocated Small Wireless Facilities on Metal Streetlight Poles:  Construction Standard  0095.60 
  • Pole Attachments, Identification and Tagging: Construction Standard 0093.12


Seattle City Light Joint Use Engineering for wireline attachments: SCL_JointUse@seattle.gov 

Joint Use Engineering for wireless attachments:  SCL_JointUseWireless@Seattle.gov

The Department of Transportation (SDOT) is responsible for management of the use of public right-of-way (ROW), including wireless-related work. 


What specific permit(s) do you need for utility work in the ROW?  Visit SDOT's Utility Permits page.

For information on permitting process, fees and contacts, visit the SDOT's permit page

Design Standards for Small Wireless Facilities on Poles

SDOT Director's Rule 01-2024 establishes the City's Design Standards for Small Wireless Facilities on poles in the public place (also known as right-of-way), including those poles that are owned in whole or in part by the City, and privately-owned poles in the public place. Access the Standards at here.

Project Coordination Resources

Project & Construction Coordination Office  


Project Coordination Groups  



For questions related to ROW use permits contact Judy Connors at Judy.Connors@Seattle.gov

Seattle's Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI) issues land use and building permits related to the minor communication utility installations, including placements on private property, utility poles in the right-of-way, and on public property non in the right-of-way. To better understand Seattle's Land Use and how it applies to an installation proposal (e.g., what are the required setbacks?) zoning coaching from SDCI can be requested. 


A full overview of SDCI minor communication utility permit framework is provided in TIP Minor Communications 211-C

For any SDCI forms related to permitting for a wireless facility see SDCI Permit Forms

  New Deployments 

Director's Rule 19-2013 clarifies terms for minor communication utilities (facilities for cell phones and other hand-held devices) in land use zones. 

  • Commercial/Industrial zones - minor telecom, especially on rooftop, is generally permitted outright if it meets development standards, including height (SMC 23.57)
  • Residential zones - although sometimes permitted outright, often permitted only if in least intrusive location (Conditional Use Permits - see SMC 23.57 ) For single family zones, the establishment of a new minor communication utility on a parcel with a single family dwelling unit requires City Council approval through a Council Conditional Use Permit.  
  • Certain projects in South Seattle (usually limited to extra height added to towers or new towers) may need FAA approval and an Airport Height Exception from SDCI (see SMC 23.64)
  • Accessory Cabinet Equipment  - If accessory cabinet equipment is proposed on private property adjacent to a Seattle City Light (SCL) pole, a Building Permit with a Zoning review will be required. 
  • For deployments on Seattle City Light poles in the right-of-way, the process starts with Seattle City Light. 

General information about the types of land use permits, the time and approximate costs associated with them, and the processes involved in these permits. see TIP Minor Communications 211-C


Applying for a construction ('building') permit for wireless site modifications or collocations under the FCC's 6409 Order is the same as other minor telecommunication construction permit applications except that the applicant must also include a completed FCC 6409 Eligible Facilities form. See Telecommunications Eligible Facilities Application .  

For general guidance on applying for a wireless collocation under the FCC's 6409 Order, see TIP Minor Communications 211-C

  Shoreline areas

Per Washington State mandated shoreline code, proposed new minor telecom facilities are severely restricted and may not be allowed in specific shoreline districts. Any siting locations within 200 feet of a shoreline will typically require a shoreline permit or shoreline substantial development exemption, whether the location is in the public right-of-way or on private property. Shoreline permit information, including process and costs, is here: Land Use / Master Use Permit - Shoreline

  Deployments on Landmarks or in Special Review Districts

There are extra steps when applying for a permit to do a project that:

    • Is located in a landmark or special review district
    • Involves a designated City landmark
    • Includes property that may be eligible for landmark designation

See FAQs for information on the reviews required to place a wireless facilities near a landmark or in a special review district, or visit the Historic Preservation Program contact page 


SDCI: For questions related to land use or building permits for construction on private property, or for land use applications related to City Light poles, contact Sung Lee at (206) 727-8613 or sung.lee@seattle.gov

Seattle Design Commission: For questions related to the aesthetic, environmental, and design principals for projects that will be required to have a Design Commission recommendation, contact Michael Jenkins at (206) 386-4024 or Michael.Jenkins@Seattle.gov

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) Real Property Services team administers deployments of wireless facilities on SPU water towers and monopoles. The team serves as the point of contact for all wireless and cellular carriers. This includes King County and other municipal agencies. 


All interested parties are required to first register in SPU's process management system (flairdocs.com) before submitting a request to initiate a proposed work assignment. You can access SPU's registration portal here External User Registration. Once registered, click on the Request for Service link and fill in all of the required information.

The Request requires:

  • a written scope of work
  • proposed concept/design drawings
  • signature authority
  • business contact information
  • business license information


There are fees associated with preparing a lease agreement. See Preparation of Legislation in Director's Rule FIN-220.4 

There are leasing rates for deploying on SPU real property. The SPU Policy Board approved 2019 wireless site rates for the 2 types of sites it hosts:

  • Water Tanks: $30,000 Annual with a 2.5% annual escalation rate
  • Monopoles: $24,000 Annual with a 2.5% annual escalation rate 

Cellular Lease Agreements are authorized by the SPU Real Property director and Chief Financial Officer. 

For list of all SPU Real Property Charges (e.g., Utility Use in SPU Tunnels, Utility Crossings Permits, Annual Land Use Fee, etc.) see SPU Director's Rule FIN-220.4


SPU's Real Property Agent assigned to wireless and cellular requests is Bryan Solemsaas at (206) 684-5971 or bryan.solemsaas@seattle.gov

The Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) manages the placement of wireless facilities on City buildings or parking garages. The Property Management team makes all initial arrangements associated with site selection and approval, and the Real Estate and Planning Services team creates and administers all agreements and leases associated with the placement of wireless facilities.  


  • Contact FAS regarding interest in a specific property
    • Provide the proposed address, a list of equipment to be installed, and a map of the proposed location.
  • FAS will conduct initial internal review and coordinates a property site visit.
  • If site is viable, FAS provides a list of additional documents required for full approval review (plans, reports, pictures, etc.)
  • FAS arranges for key decision makers to be involved regarding approval for the antenna/equipment install.
  • Once site approval is granted, Property Management forwards the request to the Real Estate and Planning Services for drafting of a lease agreement.


Seattle City Council Resolution 29344 allows City facilities to be used for wireless communication facilities, and established three criteria for evaluating proposals for use of City property:

  • Wireless facilities shall not unreasonably interfere with the intended City use of its real property or structures.
  • Such use of City real property must not violate any laws or impose limitations on the use of the City property nor any limitations on the structure established for the protection of the neighboring community.
  • Any City structure proposed for wireless facility shall have adequate physical capacity for the wireless facility. The lessee may propose and install renovations to a City structure, at its own expense and only after the City's jurisdictional department has given written approval.

Seattle City Council Ordinance 118737 authorizes City Departments (including FAS) to enter into wireless agreements using City-owned real property without requiring additional Council approval, using a standard lease form for a term up to five years, with three five-year extension options.


Siting Process: FAS Property Management Manager Stephen McKenzie at (206) 666-0465 or Stephen.mckenzie@seattle.gov

Lease Management: FAS Real Estate and Planning Services at realestate@seattle.gov or Real Property Agent Loretta ('Ret') Alake at (206) 615-1713 or Loretta.Alake@seattle.gov

Information Technology

Rob Lloyd, Interim Chief Technology Officer
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 2700, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94709, Seattle, WA, 98124-4709
Phone: (206) 684-0600
Phone Alt: Cable TV & Internet Discount Information: (206) 684-8498

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