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Land Use

Department of Commerce Master Land Use Category


The Puget Sound Mapping Project provides land-use designations of the urban areas that drain into Puget Sound. Data is derived from zoning and land-use data from 113 cities in 12 counties. A description of land use categories, provided by Commerce is below.

Intensive Urban

Intensive Urban areas include the sub-categories of Commercial/Office; Mixed Use; Residential (12+ Units/Acre) and Institutional Uses. The locations may contain development such as office buildings, retail stores, apartments, civic buildings, hospitals or institutions of higher learning. Generally, impervious surface coverage (buildings, pavement) exceeds 50 percent. PUBLIC Public use areas may have a mixture of intensively and sparsely developed locations that apply to a range of civic oriented places such as parks, schools, reservoirs, libraries and stadiums.


The Industrial category includes Airport/Seaport; Light Industrial; and Heavy Industrial subcategories. These locations not only have manufacturing facilities but may also include warehousing, repair shops and major transportation facilities.

Urban Character Residential

Urban Character Residential includes the Traditional Single Family Neighborhood designation, as well as locations within the Mixed Use/Planned Neighborhood and Low Density Urban (1.1 Unit/Acre to 3 Units/Acre) sub-categories. Detached homes predominate in these locations but may be interspersed with duplexes, parks, churches and schools. Lot sizes in these areas are over 3,600 square feet per unit but less than 1 acre. Some areas may have small neighborhood commercial stores or areas of apartments but these do not compose a significant amount of development and the overall density stays below 12 units/acre.

Rural Character Residential

The Rural Character Residential category covers areas where lot size ranges from 1 acre to over 20 acres. This includes areas that are purely residential as well as areas that contain agriculture, timber and other rural uses intermixed among homes. These locations include the sub-categories of Urban Edge, Rural Transition, Large Lot Residential and Very Large Lot Residential.


These locations may or may not be designated as mineral resource areas under the stateโ€™s Growth Management Act. They are often open pit operations (like gravel pits and quarries) for construction materials and aggregate. See

Forest Lands

Forest lands include areas located within National Forest as well as locations that are privately held and intended for timber production. They may include some other land uses such as recreational areas and vacation homes. Subcategories include National Forest, Primary Forest Area and Other Forest Lands. See

Agricultural Areas

Agricultural areas include places specifically designated for agriculture as well as areas where agriculture is a significant (but not necessarily predominant) use. Agricultural uses include farms, ranches and dairies. Hobby farms and equestrian lots may also have a significant presence in these areas. Primary Agricultural Areas and Other Active Agriculture are the sub-categories contained within this master designation. See

Active Open Space

Campgrounds, resort developments, large parks and open spaces with extensive trail systems typify locations with this type of zoning.

Natural Open Space

The three national parks (Olympic, Mt. Rainier and North Cascades) correspond with the National Park sub-category. Other areas within this master category are a part of the Natural Preservation and Open Space sub-category where the intent is the preservation of watersheds, habitat, vegetation and other natural features.


The Tribal category includes locations within tribal reservations (Tribal Reservation) as well as land outside of the reservations controlled by tribal entities (Tribal Inholding Lands).


The Intensively Developed Military sub-category includes locations where the Naval, Army, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard facilities have buildings, piers, airports or other similar active uses are included within this designation. Less developed portions of military reserves are included within the Undeveloped Military Lands sub-category.


Formally designated rights-of-way by jurisdictions are included in this designation. This may include roads, railroads or power transmission corridors. Locations identified by the Washington State Department of Transportation as a part of the stateโ€™s road network are incorporated as 60-foot wide rights-of-way from the centerline of the road. This category includes areas designated as PROW (preliminarily identified ROW)


Tidal bodies, lakes, ponds, streams and rivers are consolidated within the Water designation. Some water features may not have been included in source material and inadvertently omitted from these locations.


Undesignated Zoning and existing land use cannot be positively identified for these locations. This occurs in places for which jurisdictions have not created zoning designations. In addition, overlaps or gaps in maps along the boundary between jurisdictions may inhibit the ability to categorize these areas

Layer Access in Earth Engineโ€‹

The javascript commands below can be used to access this layer within the Google Earth Engine Code Editor. A Google Earth Engine account is required.

// Import the layer data dictionary
var data = require('users/stormwaterheatmap/apps:data/public')

// To view data dictionary, print to the console:
print('Data:', data)

//Get this layer from the layer data dictionary:
var layer_name = data.rasters["Land Use"]


Individual objects contain all the info used in the stormwater heatmap. To add it to the map, add the layer object.

var display_image = layer_name.layer


To get the raw image data for analysis, access the eeObject key.

var raw_image = layer_name.layer.eeObject
Map.addLayer(raw_image,{},'Land Use')



LabelRaster valueColors
Forest Lands3#14774C#14774C
Intensive Urban4#9E2B0E#9E2B0E
Rural Character Residential5#F4A691#F4A691
Right of Way7#6E8387#6E8387
Active Open Space and Recreation8#8EB8B3#8EB8B3
Urban Character Residential9#D17257#D17257
Natural Preservation12#66CDAB#66CDAB
Mineral Resource Area14#BF93BE#BF93BE


Puget Sound Mapping Project