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Community Development heading

Common questions

- Animals and pets
- Building
- Fire
- Land use
- Permits


Animals and pets
Can I pay for a pet license or renewal online?
Yes, you can create an online account to pay for pet licenses and renewals.

Can I make a payment over the phone for my pet license renewal?
We do not accept payments over the phone at this time.

I mailed in my renewal and I haven't received anything, am I supposed to?
Your cancelled check is your receipt. Your pet keeps the same tag as long as you own it. Please call (360) 397-2489 if you need a replacement tag.

My pet’s tag states that it is a permanent license, why am I receiving a renewal?
Your pet’s tag number is permanently assigned to you as long as you own the animal, but the license must be renewed yearly.

I adopted an animal from the Humane Society and part of the adoption fee included a pet license, why am I receiving a bill for it already?
If the animal you adopted was six months old or younger, you were given a puppy or kitten license that is only good until the pet becomes six months old. The renewal notice you received is to renew your pet’s license as an adult.

I received a pet license renewal for a pet I no longer have, do I need to let you know?
Yes, so we can update our records. We will continue to send you notices as long as our records indicate you own the pet. If the pet is listed in your online account, you can update the records as well.


Building

Can I build a shed? What size shed can I build without having to get a permit?

Garden sheds that are larger than 200 square feet require a permit. Any size shed built in a mobile home park or multi-family zones is required to have a permit. All sheds need to meet the setback requirements for your zone unless it meets certain criteria as stated in the Garden Shed, Gazebos, and Play Structures handout (PDF). Any shed located within a wetland, habitat, or shoreline area may require additional permits. A Permit Technician can assist you with requirements for your project.

Can I build a shop or garage on my property?
A building permit is required to build a shop or garage on your property in both the urban and rural areas. This includes pole buildings. Site specific conditions will be reviewed during permit processing such as:

  • If the lot was legally established
  • Location of environmentally sensitive areas
  • Placement of drain fields and reserve drain fields
  • Existence of easements or other areas that cannot be built on

A Permit Technician can assist you with requirements for your property.

Do I need a permit to build a deck?
All decks require a separate permit with the following two exceptions:

  • Exterior entry landings which are proportionate in size to the entry. The maximum size measured in square feet is the gross width of the entry squared including side glazing. For example: For an entry door with sidelights measuring 60 inches wide, outside trim to outside trim, the porch may be a maximum of 25 square feet.
  • Platform or free standing decks 30 inches or less in height and not associated with other structures (i.e. hot tub, swimming pool) and not abutting any structures.

All decks and platforms regardless of permit requirements, shall meet minimum setback requirements.

How high can I build my fence? Is a permit required? How close to the property line can I build it?
Fences less than six feet in height do not need a permit and can be built up to your side of the property line. Taller fences and retaining walls require a permit and may need to be built further inside the property line. Retaining walls may also require engineering specifications.

Can I build a second residence or mother-in-law quarters on my property?
Second residences and accessory dwelling units on the same lot may be built in some urban areas. They are not allowed in the rural areas. Site specific conditions will be reviewed during permit processing.

Separate living quarters within a residence may be allowed in some zones. A separate kitchen, specifically cooking equipment, is not allowed.

A building permit is required in both cases. Additional information is available in this handout (PDF). A Permit Technician can assist you with requirements for your project.

Can my house be rebuilt if it is destroyed?
If your home was legally established you can rebuild it. You will have to meet current land use and building code requirements. An inspection is required to review the extent of damage prior to applying for a permit.

Can I convert my garage into bedrooms?
Living spaces, like bedrooms and family rooms, converted from non-living spaces, like garages or basements, must meet building codes, sanitary sewer requirements and neighborhood covenants. A Permit Technician can assist you with requirements for your project.

How can I contact my building inspector? What time will the inspector arrive home for my inspection?
Inspectors can give an approximate inspection time if you contact them before 8:30 a.m. on the day of your inspection. You may also leave a message on IVR and online when you make your inspection request.

I am having trouble scheduling an inspection online and/or using the IVR system.
Please contact us at (360) 397-2375 ext. 4290.

How can I contact a plans examiner?
For project specific questions, contact the plans examiner reviewing your plans. For general questions, call the Permit Center at (360) 397-2375 ext. 4078.

How close can I build to my neighbor's property?
You can find a property’s setbacks using Maps Online.


Code enforcement
How many inoperable cars can someone have on their property in a residential neighborhood?
Inoperable vehicles are not allowed in public view for more that 30 days in urban residential areas of Clark County. In the rural residential areas, two inoperable vehicles are allowed in public view. CCC 9.24.010

How do we get a neighbor’s yard cleaned up?
When a complaint is submitted, Code Enforcement contacts your neighbor and monitors the property until the nuisance is cleaned up. Most nuisance violations are cleaned up in about 30 days.

The nuisance ordinance prohibits the accumulation of more than one cubic yard of debris visible from adjacent property in urban residential areas. In rural zones more than two cubic yards of junk and debris in the front and side yard are a violation of code when visible from adjacent property. CCC 9.24.010

You may report nuisance concerns online or use Community Mediation Services to work through neighborhood issues.

How many garage sales can someone have?
Each year, you may have two sales, each lasting no longer than three days. Advertising signs must be placed on private property and removed within 24 hours after the sale has ended. CCC 40.260.090


Fire

How much is a permit for a fire alarm and/or sprinkler system?
Current fees can be found on our forms and fees page.

Why was I billed so much for my inspection when the inspector was only here for 15 minutes or less?
The fee is a per hour rate that includes staff time for locating the file, driving to and from the location, paperwork, data entry and invoicing.

Can I burn on my property?
Outdoor burning is illegal within city limits and urban growth areas. To determine if you can burn on your property, view the No Burn Area maps online or contact the Southwest Clean Air Agency at (360) 574-3058.

If you are in an area where burning is allowed, you must get a burn permit.

I'm in the city and someone is burning trash in their fireplace, I was told to call your office for assistance.
Contact the Southwest Clean Air Agency at (360) 574-3058 regarding disruption of air quality, illegal burning within city limits, and burning garbage outside and/or in a fireplace. You may also file a complaint online.

Can I mail my plans to your office for review?
No. Plans must be hand delivered to the Permit Center, 1300 Franklin St., first floor, Vancouver.

How can I obtain a copy of a fire report and/or talk to the fire investigator?
Submit a completed public records request form (PDF) to the Fire Marshal’s Office. If you need to speak with an investigator, call (360) 397-2186 and leave a detailed message.


Land use

What is my zoning? What does it mean?
You can find a property’s zoning and a link to the code using Maps Online.

What are my setbacks?
You can find a property’s setbacks using Maps Online.

Can I divide my land?
A lot must be a Legal Lot of Record in order to be divided. Legal lots must meet the zoning requirements at the time the lot was created or current zoning requirements and platting laws in place at the time it was created.

Zoning determines the minimum area and dimensions. You can find out the zoning and the current minimum lot requirements using Maps Online.

I want to open a business in my home, what are the restrictions and requirements?
Businesses operated out of the home may require a permit. The review process depends on whether you are in the urban or rural areas, and the extent of the impacts the business may have on the neighborhood.
- Minor home business (PDF)
- Major home business (PDF)
- Starting a business in Clark County


Permits
How much does a permit cost?
Many factors determine the cost of a permit. Fees may be listed in our building permit applications, however you must speak with a Permit Technician to receive an accurate cost.

What is the status of my permit?
You can look up the status of your permit on the Permit Status page. You will need your permit number. If you don’t have it, you can look it up using Maps Online and these instructions.

Do I need a business license?
The county does not issue business licenses. The following web pages offer more information about starting a business:
- Department of Revenue
- Starting a business in Clark County

Do you have any records indicating that the mobile home on my property was placed there directly by the manufacturer?
Mobile homes are usually placed by dealers or placement companies. The county began issuing permits for mobile home in 1973. You can use Maps Online to find information about permits on your parcel or contact the Permit Center.

I received a notice that my permit is expiring. What permit? What does this mean?
Permits are valid for two years. We notify property owners when they are due to expire. You can use Permit Status to find out information about your permit including the type of permit and the nature of the project.

Many times a contractor gets a permit instead of the property owner. The last step in the permit process is obtaining a final inspection and approval. This step is not always completed, and therefore the permit is considered unfinished. It is the property owner’s responsibility that a final inspection is completed prior to the permit expiration date. You can schedule an inspection online.

I need to speak to a live person about my permit. Why can't I reach a live person?
Permit technicians are at the counter helping walk-in customers during the hours that the Permit Center is open. You may leave a detailed message on our message line (360) 397-2375 ext. 4489. A permit technician will contact you within 24 hours.

 

 
Permit Center information

Check current wait times

Location

Public Service Center
1300 Franklin St., 1st floor
Vancouver, WA - map

Hours

Monday-Friday
8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Phone (360) 397-2375

Email

permitservices@clark.wa.gov

Appointments
(360) 397-2375 ext. 4807
Email for appointments

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Animals and pets

ANIMALS and PETS

Building information

BUILDING

Fire prevention

FIRE PREVENTION

Land use information

LAND USE