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Look Up Your Property: Which Zone & Regs Apply

What to know before you apply for permits

Regulations apply to properties and projects. What you can build on or do with a property depends on which land-use, environmental & zoning regulations apply to the property. Next, your project plans (farm, build, log, mine, suddivide, etc.), determine which development regs apply to the project. Many permit applications require professionally-prepared environmental, septic or well reports, in addition to county-conducted inspections. 

Look up which regulations apply to a property  

Step 1  Open a Property's Parcel Data Sheet 

  • Go to Parcel Search & enter a property address or parcel number in the search box. 
  • If you enter an address, the tax parcel number appears. Click it to open the data sheet. 
  • Print the data sheet, or note what you find as you work through the steps below. You'll need these property details to look up codes, fill out permit forms, or talk to staff or other experts about your project or property. 

Step 2  Look Up Permitting Jurisdiction & Zoning Designation 

  • Thurston County government only issues permits for properties in unincorporated areas of Thurston County.
  • Start by checking the parcel data sheet for Permitting Jurisdiction - COUNTY. If you see something else, we don't issue permits for the property. 
  • Next look for Jurisdiction of Influence. Which will be Same as Permitting Jurisdiction, OLYUGA, TUMUGA, or LACUGA, for County jurisdictions. Each of these has its own code chapter.
  • Then look for Zoning, and check the designation. Or find zoning by phone (link to new page lookup-by-phone)

Step 3  Check for Regulated Environmental Areas (Mazama pocket gophers, protected species, wetlands, shorelines, steep slopes, flood areas, etc.) 

  • The county has environmental regulations (Title 19, Title 24) to protect sensitive habitats, species, lands and waters as required by state and federal law. 
  • To see if a property has them look on the parcel data sheet for YES or Unknown next to wetlands, all flood-related listings, high groundwater, all hazard listings, prairie soils, all Mazama pocket gopher info, Oregon vesper sparrow, Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, and Oregon spotted frog. 
  • YES or Unknown next to any area listed above means you'll need to hire experts to prepare an environmental report confirming if areas are on site, and detailing their size, location and type.
  • For a fee, the county can prepare a Critical Areas Determination Report, to let you know if critical areas are on the property. Our report doesn't detail size, location or type. You'll need environmental experts for that. Also read about Conditional Site Approval process (link to new page).

Step 4  Find which county codes regulate the zoning & environmental areas on the property

  • Once you know the zoning designation and environmental areas on a property, go to How Gophers, Wetlands, Shorelines, Flood Areas & Other Codes Affect Projects to find info and links to the specific zoning and regulatory code chapter numbers that match what you found on the property.
  • The zoning code chapters have details about what activities are permitted in the property's zone/s.
  • The environmental code chapters have details about what and where you can build, permitting processes, other details specific to environmental regulations.

Project considerations


Check source of drinking water & sewage treatment, or well & septic

  • If your project needs well and/or septic, county code requires you to apply for these permits first.
  • Permit application forms ask detailed questions about a property's source of drinking water and method of sewage treatment. Be prepared to do some research using the county's online look up below, or hire well installers or septic experts to do it for you.  
  • Properties with existing wells and septic systems will likely need testing. Some may need repair or replacement if outdated or too small to serve the structure/s. Be prepared to do some research about wells and septic systems already on site.
  • Online Look up

Get a professional to prepare a Stormwater Drainage / Erosion Control Plan

  • The county gets 60+inches of rain per year. Development alters the natural flow and filtration of rainwater runoff (called stormwater in county code). That's why most building projects need a professionally-prepared drainage plan and drawings showing how runoff will be directed, collected or filtered through the ground (usually storm ponds, pipes & drains). 
  • An Engineered Drainage Plan may be required if development significantly changes the flow of runoff.  
  • Fill out the Impervious Surface Worksheet and submit it with your application packet for all projects that include buildings, concrete or other hard surfaces.
  • Stormwater regulations apply at the construction site, and inspectors do on-site inspections during construction.
  • See Stormwater Drainage & Erosion Control Information & regulations for more information.

Look up a property's access to roads & how driveways or other access points may affect the project

  • If planning to build on raw/undeveloped land,or relocate an existing driveway, you need a permit to connect a driveway to an existing county road (called encroachment in county code.)
  • See Grading, Road Access & Easements. (link to new page)
  • Grading & Road access for a property (This process is administered by Public Works Dept./Development Review division)
  • See if there’s already an easement on a property (This process is administered by Thurston County Auditor’s Office)

For commercial projects, include fire safety requirements in your plan

  • All new construction and interior remodels require carbon monoxide alarm & fire code compliance.  (WAC 51-51-0315)  
  • Permits are required for burning yard waste, but those permits don't come from us. Check with Olympic Region Clean Air Agency to learn when and how to get a burn permit.
  • Fire District - To see what fire district a property is located in, check the parcel data sheet (see Step 1 above). 

Check property boundaries, tax records, liens & deeds 

Property addressing, past permits & other general information