scenic picture from Washington state
SubjectsPlanning › Scenic View Protection
Updated 09/2013

Scenic View Protection



Cities and counties may consider aesthetics in regulating the use of land. The legal basis for aesthetic zoning has been established in caselaw for many years. The Washington State Court of Appeals affirmed this by stating that "aesthetic standards are an appropriate component of land use governance." Anderson v. Issaquah, 70 Wn. App. 64, 82 (1993). Zoning for aesthetics includes view protection regulations, historic preservation ordinances, design review standards, sign controls, and tree protection measures. MRSC recommends that the city or county support any height restrictions or other view protection provisions on as many grounds as possible, since it is not clear in this state if aesthetics alone will justify a view protection ordinance.

Reference Sources - State Statutes

  • RCW 90.58.320 - Height limitation respecting permits - Statutory basis for protection of views on shorelines of the state

City and County Ordinance Provisions

These examples address a variety of view protection issues, including hillside development regulations, view corridors, and billboard location restrictions.  Some of the examples address shoreline views in particular.

  • Clark County Code Ch. 40.240 - Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Districts (see especially Sec. 40.280.800 and Sec. 40.280.810)
  • Everett Municipal Code Ch. 16.20.040 - Billboard location restrictions
  • Kent Municipal Code Sec. 15.08.060 - View corridor protection regulations on hillside development
  • Klickitat County Code Ch. 2.21 (Adobe Acrobat Document) - View Protection District
  • Lake Forest Park Municipal Code Sec. 16.06.200 - Public view protection (Shoreline District) 
  • Olympia Unified Development Code Ch. 18.10 - Height Overlay Districts and Sec. 18.06.100
  • Port Orchard Municipal Code Sec. 16.20.700 - View Protection Overlay District
  • Redmond Zoning Code Ch. 21.42 - Public View Corridors and Gateways
  • Seattle Land Use Code Ch. 23.60.162 - View Corridors (Shoreline District)
  • Spokane Municipal Code Ch. 17C.170 - Special Height Overlay Districts

Out-of-State Code Provisions

Other Documents

The following are general articles and documents that address view protection and hillside development:

Need more information?

Feel free to Ask MRSC. Washington cities, counties, and our contract partners can call or email MRSC for more information and advice - free of charge.