Land Use Basics
Understanding Zoning for the Sammamish Valley


Washington State had the foresight to protect rural lands from urban encroachment beginning in the 1990’s through the Growth Management Act (GMA). Under the GMA there are strict rules that regulate what defines urban, rural, and agricultural areas; what is permitted in each type of area; and what the required process is to modify the boundary lines of these areas.

Sammamish Valley Basic Zoning w APD.png

The red line on the map below denotes the Urban Growth Boundary for the surrounding cities of Woodinville, Kirkland, and Redmond. The cities are zoned for dense urban, residential, and commercial development.

To protect farming and comply with the GMA, King County designated specific Agriculture Production Districts (APDs). The Sammamish Valley APD (darker green on the map) is designated as A 10 zoning, meaning agriculture with one home per 10 acres. This APD includes some of the most productive agricultural land in the state, with one local farm producing an average annual production of 5.6 tons of vegetables per acre. The APD supports numerous agricultural businesses such as the Root Connection, Cedar Grove Compost Co (managing large vegetable farm on south side of NE 124th St), Olympic Nursery, Red-Wood Christmas Tree Farm, Classic Nursery and the Hmong farmers who sell their flowers and vegetables at local markets.

The Rural Area (light & medium green on the map) is denoted with RA zoning. RA 2.5 and RA 5 means one residential home per 5 acres (it's way too complicated to explain why RA 2.5 is also one home per 5 acres). These lands are not zoned for commercial use; they are zoned primarily for residential use, with some exceptions. Wineries, where wine is actually produced, are allowed in the Rural Area. Betz Winery on the east side of the Sammamish Valley along Redmond-Woodinville Rd is an example of this.

In the middle of the Valley lies the City of Woodinville Tourist District. This area is within the City of Woodinville's Urban Growth Boundary and is zoned for commercial use, with special provisions requiring the businesses to be tourism related. Restaurants, tasting rooms and bars for wine and other alcoholic beverages, and retail shops targeted at tourists and locals are allowed in this zone. City services such as sewer hookup are available in the Tourist District.

An important distinction is the difference between a winery and a tasting room. A winery actually manufactures wine, from grapes grown either onsite or elsewhere. A winery may also have a tasting room and retail sales for the wines they produce onsite. They may also host events using a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) obtained from the county. But their primary purpose of a winery is the production of wine.

A tasting room does not produce wine. It is classified as a retail liquor sales outlet by state law, for wines that are produced somewhere else. In layman's terms, tasting rooms are bars. In some cases these bars also promote and hold large-scale events on a regular basis to increase their sales. Under current King County zoning laws bars and event centers are not allowed on agriculture (A) or rural (RA) lands.