Starting or Relocating a Business in Downtown Gig Harbor 

Frequently Asked Questions RegisteredlogoCGH

Is the use I am proposing allowed in this area?

It is important that you determine whether or not the use you are proposing is allowed in the area you wish to locate.  The Planning Department at (253) 851-6170 can help you determine which zones are compatible with your proposed use.  Different zones also have different parking and/or signage requirements which may impact your decision to locate in a certain area of town.

Do I need a City Business License?

All businesses located and/or conducting business within the city are required to obtain a business license.  The City of Gig Harbor participates in a joint business licensing program with the State of Washington Business License Service.  Businesses may apply on line for the City of Gig Harbor and various state and local agencies.  Peddlers and Solicitors will apply directly with the city.  Visit the City of Gig Harbor License Information page at or call the City Clerk’s office at (253) 851-8136 and you will be instructed on how to apply online or by mail. 

When do I need a building permit?

When you construct a new building, add to an existing building, alter the interior or make repairs you may need a building permit.  Minor interior cosmetic changes such as painting and/or carpeting do not require a permit.  Exterior changes, however minor, may require a permit, especially in the historic district.  Also, if you install or replace any plumbing or mechanical equipment you may need a permit.  Contact the City’s Permit Coordinator for permit submittal requirements at (253) 853-7621 or visit the Building Department located in the Civic Center at 3510 Grandview Street. 

What do I need to know about sign permitting?

The City’s sign ordinance regulates the type, size, height, placement and area for permanent signage as well as permitting requirements.  In addition to a sign permit, a building permit may also be required.  Temporary banner signs are limited to 20 square feet and 60 calendar days per year.  A permit is required for temporary banner signs but there is no fee.  Each business is allowed one a-board sign, without a permit, placed on their own property which cannot exceed 6 square feet per side.  If you need to place your a-board on the sidewalk, you will need to obtain an encroachment permit from the Engineering Department.  Be aware that wind driven and animated signs are prohibited.  Exterior lighting can be used to illuminate your signage but it must be shielded to conceal the light source and prevent excessive light throw.  Contact Diane McBane in the Planning Department at (253) 853-6170 for permitting requirements and specific regulations for your situation.

Who do I ask about public utilities?

The City of Gig Harbor provides water and sewer service to most areas of the city.  Contact the Utility Department at (253) 851-6157 with any questions or to have service established.  Other utility providers are as follows: 

GARBAGE American Disposal / Murrays (253) 857-2545
TELEPHONE / CABLE / INTERNET CenturyLink (253) 851-8311
TELEPHONE / CABLE / INTERNET Comcast Cable (888) 266-2278
ELECTRICITY Peninsula Light Company (253) 857-5950
SATELLITE DirecTV (800) 580-5494
GAS Puget Sound Energy (888) 225-5773

What can you tell me about parking requirements?

Parking requirements vary based on the type of business and the zone.   Information on parking requirements can be found on the city’s website at within the Gig Harbor Municipal Code, Chapter 17.72.  Visit the Planning Department at 3510 Grandview Street or give them a call at (253) 851-6170 to determine what is necessary for your situation. 

Who does fire inspections?

Annual Fire Inspections are conducted by Pierce County Fire District 5 in order to assure that businesses have clear exit paths, functioning fire extinguishers, etc.  For questions about this program call (253) 851-5111.  Fire Alarm and Fire Sprinkler permits are issued by the City of Gig Harbor Fire Marshal Paul Rice and questions regarding the requirements for these systems can be emailed to or give him a call at (253) 853-7632. 

Can I display merchandise outside of my business?

Outdoor display of merchandise is regulated based on the zone you are located in.  In the downtown area, outdoor display of merchandise is limited to the area immediately along the building frontage a maximum distance of 12 feet from the building.  Displays of merchandise on public sidewalks or rights of way require an encroachment permit, which can be obtained from the Engineering Department at (253) 853-7617. 

Are there any special shoreline regulations in the downtown?

Since most of the downtown area is within the Shoreline jurisdiction, any exterior modifications to your building may trigger shoreline requirements and/or permits.  Contact the City of Gig Harbor Shoreline Administrator with any questions (253) 851-6170.