The act of dividing your property and to create additional lots or parcels. Almost all jurisdictions in Washington State require these various subdivisions to be performed by a surveyor licensed in the State.

There are numerous ways of performing a subdivision of land but the manners is which a particular county or city handles them varies greatly. In general, cities are cheaper and quicker than counties to process and approve the ‘land use’ applications described below. In all instances it is highly recommended that you meet with the staff of that jurisdiction prior to a formal application and that you bring your surveyor and an engineer and private planner, if necessary, to that meeting. These professionals can ask the questions pertinent to your project in order to provide you accurate information on how or even if you should proceed.

Short Plat/PBD

This application will allow you to divide your property into 2-4 or 2-9 lots depending on your zoning and thejurisdiction you are dealing with. These are the most common methods of dividing property and are fairly standard practices within a particular city or county. As such, we are usually able to advise you upfront on many of the criteria and point you to the proper ancillary professionals such as a civil engineer, a private planner, and an attomey.

Short plats are oonsidered ‘administrative applications’ which means they are reviewed and considered only by staff of the city or county. Though neighbors do have a short period of appeal they, in general, they have little or no input on the conditions of approval.

Long Plat

A long plat is a means of dividing property into an unlimited number of lots. In general, though, that number is usually greater than what is allowed by a short plat since a short plat is (typically) cheaper and quicker to complete.

Long plats are NOT considered administrative reviews like a short plat. Therefore they have to go through public hearing wherein your neighbors are allowed to speak for or against your project and which may result in additional conditions of approval to satisfy their concerns. Long plats will almost always require engineering of the proposed road system, water, sewer, power, cable, and other amenities pertinent to the project. These are long, involved, and complicated applications which can take years to get approved, designed and finally built. In general, the more lots and area you are considering platting, the more expensive and timely and convoluted will be the process.

Large Lot

A division of land into any number of lots (2+) whereby ALL lots are larger than 5 acres (nominal).

This is a good way to break up large parcels of rural land where zoning will allow. Again, each jurisdiction will have differing requirements and procedures for this type of application for land use. It is typical that roads to all lots are designed or even constructed but often they can be gravel, and built to a lesser standard than those of a long plat.

Large lots are considered administrative applications meaning they are reviewed and considered only by staff of the city or county. Though neighbors do have a short period of appeal they, in general, they have little or no input on the conditions of approval.

Commercial Site Plan

A Binding Site Plan is an alternative method, provided under State law, for the division for sale or lease of commercially or industrially zoned property, mobile home parks, trailer parks or condominiums . lt is a type of Site Plan that typically requires a review involving physical details related to the site and the type of use proposed and addresses such things as landscaping, design, parking location, and other site-specific issues.


An often under-utilized but effective method of dividing land. Yes, condominiums can be used to subdivide land as well as buildings. The best way to understand a condominium is to think of it as a corporation wherein all of the occupants of the condo are like shareholders of a company. Each participant of a condo has their own defined boundary (horizontal and vertical) of which they can typically exercise similar rights provided to other types of property owners. A condominium will have ‘common spaces‘ which are to be enjoyed or utilized by all or certain members of the condo association (haltways, road access, foyers and play yards). They also contain ‘limited common space’ of which is utilized by all members but with restrictions on the type of use and access (area between walls, paths of utilities).

While most people consider a condo as being reserved for buildings, this same sort of division of ownership can be applied to land and which is referred to as an ‘Air-space Condominium’. The advantage to this method is that it is not subject to all the same levels of governmental review, and in fact, Washington State law dictates limits on local governments. In lieu of these reviews, the condominimizer must hire and attomey to draft up the condo declarations which are very specific and controlled in nature, and should be executed by one experienced in these types of documents in order to avoid or limit legal exposure to the membership. A land surveyor must also be retained for the purpose.

The lack of governmental review is limited to the land-use side of the equation but you will still have to go through site design approval and may still be subject to other forms of pertinent regulation review. But we are of the opinion that most attomeys are quicker than a planning department and the costs may likely be similar.