aerial shot of Lakewood with Mount Rainier in the background

Community Development

Lakewood’s Community Development Department performs permitting, licensing, planning, building inspections, and development review. This department also advances housing affordability, rental unit safety, code enforcement, and more.

Dave Bugher
Community Development Director
6000 Main St SW, 2nd Floor
Lakewood, WA 98499
(253) 512-2261
Email: DBugher
To email Dave Bugher add his email handle before

Phones & Email:
Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Permit and Service Counter
Monday to Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Permit appointments should be scheduled 24 hours in advance. Email [email protected] to make an appointment.

About Community Development

Our team strives to enhance the character of Lakewood, conserve neighborhoods and natural habitats, promote economic development, and ensure the safety of the built environment.

Department Goals:

  • Improve housing inventory & quality
  • Retain & expand existing business
  • Attract new business
  • Protect the Joint Base Lewis-McChord mission
  • Deliver efficient licensing, development review, and permitting.
  • Implement the Comprehensive Plan


The state laws that passed in Spring 2023 regarding allowing more ADUs and housing units on residential lots will be part of Lakewood’s 2024 Comprehensive Plan Periodic Review. These changes to what you can develop on your property will not go into effect in Lakewood until December 31, 2024 at the earliest. To keep track of how these new development options are being reviewed by Lakewood, please go to the 2024 Comprehensive Plan Review page.

City Council adopts nine 2023 Comprehensive Plan Amendments Cycle on July 3 – effective date = August 3, 2023

Following a study session on June 12 and a public hearing on June 20, the City Council took action on the 2023 Comprehensive Plan amendment Package on July 3. Amendments include: adopting the citywide tree canopy goal of 40% by 2050; allowing emergency and other special needs housing where the City allows hotels and motels (“Option D” in proposed Ordinance 789 for amendment 2023-05); rezoning parcels near the Downtown and at the Lakewood Racquet Club, adding the Western State Hospital Master Plan to the Comprehensive Plan, and more.
You can view the updated Comprehensive Plan here.
You can view the full language for each amendment here.
You can watch the City Council meeting here.

New Steps to Address Climate Concerns in Lakewood

On May 22, 2023, the City Council accepted a report from the UW Evans School of Public Policy & Governance regarding establishing an urban forestry program over a 5 year period. On May 31, the Council obligated $340,000 of ARPA funds to help fund the report’s recommendations for a certified arborist, tree assessment, and public outreach efforts through 2026.

On October 17, 2022, the City Council adopted Ordinance 776 that establishes a 3-year, 14-item Energy & Climate Change Work Plan. Highlights include:

  • Develop a five-year plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Update the City’s Nonmotorized Transportation Plan;
  • Incorporate an environmental justice assessment into the Energy & Climate Change Chapter work plan; and
  • Advocate for improvements to the I-5 corridor the Nisqually Delta at both the state and federal levels that would address I-5 traffic congestion, sea level rise leading to increased flood risk, salmon habitat degradation, military readiness and national security, environmental remediation, and Treaty rights of the Nisqually Tribe.

View the full Work Plan here.

In 2021, City Council adopted an Energy & Climate Change Chapter in the Comprehensive Plan through Ordinance 756. The ECCC contains 89-action items.  The City Council expressed concerns that the action items should be more focused, and in 2022 directed that the Planning Commission recommend a work plan with fewer prioritized items and develop cost estimates for each.

In 2021, the City of Lakewood also engaged students at the UW Evans School to survey residents about their opinions on climate change. The survey would assess residents’ degree of concern and what evidence and effects they have noticed.  The Report was presented to the Lakewood Planning Commission and City Council on May 23, 2022. You can view the discussion at Council here. The meeting materials are available here.

Click here to see what types of climate change effects will be experienced in Lakewood and what the City is doing to prepare for – and hopefully reduce – those effects.

For more information about Lakewood’s work related to climate change, go to

Big Projects

2024 Comprehensive Plan and Development Regulations Periodic Review

The City of Lakewood has begun its 18-month review of the entire City Comprehensive Plan and development regulations and its critical areas ordinance. Learn more here.

JBLM McChord Field North Clear Zone

The SSMCP and partners from the State of Washington, Pierce County, City of Lakewood, JBLM, and the Department of Defense have completed work on the North Clear Zone Action and Implementation Plan (AIP). In April 2017 the City of Lakewood adopted Resolution No. 2017-09, authorizing the City to sign and execute a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to implement AIP. In May 2017, the MOA was signed by all AIP partners. Now that the AIP is completed and the MOA is signed, the SSMCP and partners are transitioning to implementing the AIP.

2022 Tree Preservation Code Updates Adopted

The Lakewood City Council took unanimous action on November 7, 2022 to adopt Ordinance 775 that protects some of the city’s oldest and most significant trees.

“This ordinance strikes a balance and moves the needle forward on tree preservation in the city. This is a significant step in our continued efforts to protect trees, increase canopy and address climate change at the local level,” said Lakewood Mayor Jason Whalen.

With its action Council:

  • Stepped up protections for significant trees, including priority Oregon White Oak and woodlands, and establishment of a Heritage Tree Program.
  • Directed the establishment of an Urban Forestry Program.
  • Established incentives to encourage tree preservation across the city.
  • Required tree removal permits for properties 10,000 square feet or larger (previously properties smaller than 17,000 square feet were exempt).

Increasing the city’s tree canopy aligns with Council’s recent adoption of a new chapter in the city’s Comprehensive Plan focused on energy and climate change. An urban tree canopy assessment in 2019 showed 26% of the city is covered by tree canopy, an increase of 0.5% from the last assessment in 2011. In 2023, Council will add a goal to the city’s Comprehensive Plan to increase overall tree canopy to 40% by 2050.

Western State Hospital Master Plan

The State Department of Social and Health Services has proposed a complete reconstruction of Western State Hospital and its campus. The proposed master plan update proposes an expansion of the hospital capacity including:

  • new 350-bed forensic hospital on the property. This will require the demolition of several existing buildings on site.
  • new 18-bed residential cottage at the Child Study and Treatment Center.
  • new community residential treatment facility (RTF) of 48 beds. This is contingent on the completion of a parallel study to site community facilities throughout the region.

Long term, the state’s goal is to transition the hospital to serve primarily forensic patients (those who have been processed through the criminal justice system). This would reduce the number of civil commitment patients, which make up the majority of the approximately 850 patients on site today.

Watch the Hearing Examiner Public Hearing on the Western State Hospital Master Plan from July 28th, 2022
Watch the Western State Hospital Q&A from September 1, 2021

Downtown Subarea Plan

Lakewood’s Downtown Subarea Plan includes the Towne Center, Colonial, and East Commercial Districts. The study area is over 300 acres. The Downtown Subarea Plan will build up past planning efforts and describe a vision, land use and design, gathering places, and action strategies for Lakewood’s central business district or “Downtown”.

Lakewood Station Subarea Plan

As the City plans for an additional 11,500 residents by 2030, new housing in the area near Lakewood Station will help meet this growth target. The Lakewood Station Subarea will be a dense, walkable, mixed-use place with a focus on connections with larger transportation networks.

Tillicum Neighborhood Plan

In 2009, Lakewood released a Vision for Tillicum document which outlined six key planning initiatives. In 2011, the Tillicum Neighborhood Plan (TNP) was adopted as a City Subarea Plan. In 2022, the City is reviewing the status of the Plan’s action items to see how much has been done to make the neighborhood plan a reality.

Common Questions

Where can I find more information about Tree Preservation in Lakewood?

  • Please visit our Trees page for information on Trees and our Urban Forestry Program

I heard the Tacoma Community Village is being constructed. What is a Community Village?

Where can I get help with housing or paying rent?

How do I get a Permit in Lakewood?

  • Please visit the Permit Center for permit services and information in Lakewood.

How do I get a Business License?

Building InspectionsBusiness Licenses