Records of the Seattle City Clerk
City of Seattle
Office of City Clerk
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- City Charter
- Council Bills
- Comptroller Files/Clerk Files
- City Council Minutes
- Seattle Municipal Code
- Bond Files
- Campaign Disclosure Reports
- Claim Files
- Consultant Contract Files
- Deed and Easement Files
- Domestic Partnership Registration Files
- Local Improvement District Files
- Public Works Contracts
This guide describes the records held by the Seattle City Clerk's Office. It is a guide to the current records managed by the City Clerk, including historical records still in active administrative use by the City. The Seattle Municipal Archives, a program of the City Clerk's Office, maintains historical records which complement those of the Clerk's Office, including records of all City departments and agencies. The Archives collection is described in a separate publication, A Guide to the Archives of the City of Seattle.
Seattle City Clerk's Office
600 4th Ave. Floor 3
PO Box 94728
Seattle, WA 98124-4728
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
The City Charter embodies the fundamental principles of the City, defines the City's powers, duties and boundaries, and guarantees certain rights to the people. The City's first charter was passed by the Territorial Legislature in 1869. The first home rule charter was adopted in 1890, and subsequent charters were passed in 1896 and 1946. The City charter has been amended frequently and reprinted in new editions to reflect changes.
All City charters are part of the City Clerk's reference collection.
Ordinances constitute the laws of the City. They must be passed by the City Council and signed by the Mayor, or passed by the Council over the Mayor's veto. Ordinances also are required to authorize certain actions, as designated in the City Charter.
Ordinance files include the text of legislation as well as information on legislative history. All ordinances up to the last two years are available for reference on microfiche. More recent ordinances are available in paper files. Since 1946, ordinances of a general, public or permanent nature have been published in an annual Compilation of City Ordinances. The ordinance files include the ordinances of the annexed municipalities, including West Seattle, Ballard, Columbia, Georgetown, South Park, and Southeast Seattle.
Date Type Name Information 1882-1904 Book Index of Ordinances; Alphabetical and subject Index of Records of indexes with various subject the City Council vol. 1 arrangements. 1905-1992 Card Ordinance/Resolution Alphabetical subject index Card Index to ordinances. Cards contain both Council Bill numbers and Ordinance numbers. 1971-1992 Card Ordinance Amendments Citations to all subsequent Card Index legislative action which affects an ordinance, including amendment and repeal. 1869-present Database Clerks Online Council bill and ordinance Information number, title, date of introduction, sponsor, committee referral date of passage and filing, veto date, index terms.
Date Type Name Information 1869-1902 Book Record vols. 1 & 2 Ordinance number, title, date of approval. 1881-1890 Book Record of Ordinances Ordinance number, title, date of passage, date of publication, newspaper of publication. Covers numbers 238-1,386. 1898-1992 Book Council Bill Logbooks Council Bill number, ordinance number (when passed & signed). Title, date of passage and committee referrals. 1883-1992 Card Ordinance/Council Ordinance number, title, Bill Cross-Reference Council Bill number, Cards approval date.
COUNCIL BILLSA council bill is a draft ordinance which the City Clerk processes for formal introduction to the City Council. If the legislation is passed by the Council and signed by the Mayor, it becomes a city ordinance. If it is not passed by the Council, or if a Mayoral veto is not overridden by council vote, it remains a council bill and is filed in the City Clerk's office.
Council bills are retained as paper files for ten years at the City Clerk's office. Bills from periods prior to ten years preceeding the current year are stored in the Seattle Municipal Archives.
Indexes and Logs
Same as for ordinances (above)
RESOLUTIONSA resolution is City legislation which is administrative or temporary, or which expresses policy. Resolutions are passed by the City Council only, but the Council may request the Mayor's signature as endorsement of the policies contained within them. Resolutions also may serve as backup material or preliminary policy in preparation for drafting a council bill.
Resolutions from 1906 until two years before the present are available for reference on microfiche in the City Clerk's office. Prior and subsequent resolutions are available in paper copies.
Date Type Name Information Provided 1890-1906 Book Index of Council Subject and cross-reference Resolutions indexes. 1905-1992 Card Ordinance/Resolution Alphabetical subject index Card Index to ordinances. Cards contain both Council Bill numbers and Ordinance numbers. 1906-present Database Clerk's Online Resolution number, title, Information sponsor, committee referral, dates of filing, introduction and approval, index terms.
Date Type Name Information Provided 1907-1958 Card Resolution Card File Resolution number, brief description, reference to Council Minutes citation. 1958-1992 Book Resolution Register Resolution number, title, committee referral, disposition.
COMPTROLLER FILES / CLERK FILES
A Comptroller or Clerk file can consist of correspondence, reports, petitions, contracts, agreements, etc. from elected officials, City departments, other government agencies, or the general public, which have been placed "on file" with the City Clerk as an official file of the City. Examples include affidavits, agreements, audits, applications, appointments, approvals, Council reviews, contracts, certifications, charters, claims (some very old), community development block grant deeds of trust, correspondence, Mayor's messages, vetoes, petitions, policies, proposals, City publications, reports, rulings, rules, recommendations and requests. The name of this record series was changed to "Clerk files" in 1993 when the office of Comptroller was abolished by a City Charter amendment.
Comptroller or Clerk files are retained by the City Clerk as required by the City Charter. They are primarily permanent records, but also include some routine material which is periodically purged. The current series of files begins with number 1 from 1895, and continues to date. A separate and partially overlapping series of "General Files" exists for the period from the 1870s through 1905. These records primarily document City Council's interaction with its citizens and other City agencies. These records are searchable in a separate General Files Index.
Date Type Name Information Provided 1904-1910 Book Index to General Index term, CF number, short Files No. 1 description. 1910-1946 Book General Index, vols. Index term, CF number, short 1-3 description. Organized according to various subject arrangements. 1947-1992 Card CF Card Index Index term, CF number, short description. 1911-present Database Clerk's Online CF number, title, sponsor, Information introduction, referral and filing dates, committee referral, subject terms.
Date Type Name Information Provided 1907-1992 Book Comptroller Files CF number, brief Logbooks description, reference to Council Minutes citation.
CITY COUNCIL MINUTESCity Council minutes are the records of proceedings of the City Council. The Council-Mayor form of city government was established in Seattle by the charter of 1869, and the Common Council, as it was then called, began meeting in that year. It was the task of the Clerk of the Common Council to record the proceedings of that body. These records are not extant. The Charter Amendment of 1875 establishes the office of the City Clerk and defines one of its duties as recording the proceedings of the Common Council. The first volume of Council proceedings extant is Volume B, for the period 1881-1886. The Charter Amendment of 1890 changed the Council to a bicameral body, with a Board of Aldermen and a House of Delegates. The name of the entire body was changed to City Council. The charter in 1896 then consolidated the two bodies, creating a single City Council. Council records of proceedings, therefore, have four different names corresponding to the organizational changes in the Charter.
City Council minutes from 1909 through 1987 are available on microfiche; those prior and subsequent to these years are available as bound volumes. Online access is available to City Council Minutes for the period 2001 to the present.
SEATTLE MUNICIPAL CODEThe Seattle Municipal Code codifies all general ordinances currently in effect, arranged by subject. Predecessors to the Municipal Code include numerous compilations of City ordinances published between 1884 and the 1930s, often organized in various subject arrangements. Since the modern codes are loose-leaf publications and updated periodically, the copies in the City Clerk's reference collection are dated by the time of last update.
Date Type Name Information Provided 1973 Looseleaf Seattle Municipal Code Arranges ordinances by set title, chapter and section according to subject. Indexes provide access via ordinance number and subject. 1980 Bound Seattle Municipal Code Arranges ordinances by volumes title, chapter and section according to subject. Indexes provide access via ordinance number and subject. Additional volumes provide 1981 and 1982 updates. Current Looseleaf Seattle Municipal Code Arranges ordinances by set title, chapter and section according to subject. Indexes provide access via ordinance number and subject. Advance sheets update code with new ordinances, to within one or two months of the current date. Current Database Clerk's Online Full text of code is Information provided, with separate fields for title, chapter, subchapter and section headings. Also provides fields for references to other code sections and for notes.
BOND FILESSurety bonds related to various type of transactions are required to be filed with the City Clerk.
Bonds held by the City Clerk's office include franchise bonds, official bonds, indemnity bonds, contract bonds, licensing bonds, etc. Bonds are retained for six years after their expiration date. Bonds for underground fuel tanks and public place occupancy agreements have been selectively retained. Indexes and logs for bond files are kept permanently. Prior to 1933, bonds were filed as Comptroller files.
Date Type Name Information Provided 1896 Book Bond and Contract Principals, file number. Index 1910-1911 Cards Ordinance/Resolution Date filed, Comptroller File Card Index number, date of bond, principal's name, surety, amount of bond. 1933-1946 Book Comptroller Files Principals, Comptroller File Index number. 1947-1969 Card Comptroller File Card Bond type, principal, Index Comptroller File number. 1970-1992 Card Bonds card index Bond type, principal name, number. 1993-present Internal Database File number, principal, bond type, expiration date, date cancelled, renew date, date filed
Type Name Information Provided 1933-1993 Book Bond File Log Bond number, principal, date filed, bond type, surety company.
CAMPAIGN DISCLOSURE REPORTSPublic disclosure statements have been filed with the City Clerk since the City Charter was amended in 1913 to require each candidate for city office to file itemized statements of expenses incurred "for the purpose of securing or influencing or in any way affecting his nomination or election to said office." In 1936, a Charter amendment required each candidate to file an itemized account of any contributions of $25 or more in support of a candidacy, and contributors of $25 or more were required to file statements. In 1976, the contributor requirement was repealed.
Public disclosure files are given Clerk file numbers. Files include public disclosure reporting forms for persons campaigning for city office, for elected officials' continuing campaign committees, and for political committees advocating specific ballot issues. At the end of each calendar year public disclosure files are given Clerk file numbers.
CLAIM FILESClaims against the City on account of personal injury or property damage are filed with the City Clerk.
Upon receipt, claims are assigned numbers and are logged and indexed. One copy is retained by the City Clerk as the official copy, and the remaining copies are forwarded to the City's Risk Management Office. Documents are retained for six years after disposition of the claim. All indexes and logs have been retained. Prior to 1953, claims were filed as Comptroller files.
Date Type Name Information Provided 1910-1950 Card Card Index Claim type, date, volume and page number references to Council minutes. Arranged by type of claim. 1947-1969 Card Card Index Claimant, Comptroller File number (prior to 1953), Claim number (1953 -1969). 1970-1993 Card Card Index Claimant, date of claim, claim number. 1991-present Database (not on Internet) Claim type, claim number, claimant, committee referral, date of referral, date of filing, date of disposition, department, action taken
Date Type Name Information Provided 1953-1959 Book File book/Claims Claim number, claimant, description of claim, date of filing and date of disposition. 1959-1982 Book Claims logbook As above 1982-1993 Book Claims logbook As above 1991-present Database (not on Internet) Claim type, claim number, claimant, committee referral, date of referral, date of filing, date of disposition, department, action taken.
CONSULTANT CONTRACT FILESAll City contracts for consultant services are filed with the City Clerk's Office.
Consultant contract files include the original contract, amendments, related documents such as insurance forms, and performance reviews. Consultant contract files are retained for 6 years after termination of the contract.
Date Type Name Information Provided 1980-1992 Card Consultant Contract Contracting department, Card Index contractor, file number, date. Arranged by department. 1991-present Database (not on Internet) File number, department, contract date, amount,contrator name and firm.
Date Type Name Information Provided 1953-1959 Book File book/Claims Claim number, claimant, description of claim, date of filing and date of disposition.
DEED AND EASEMENT FILESDeeds and easements to property acquired by the City are filed with the City Clerk.
Microfilm reference copies or paper original documents are available for all deeds and for utility easements.
Date Type Name Information Provided 1884-1970 Book Record of Deeds and Deeds entered alphabetically Easements by plat name or township/range coordinate. Lists file number, grantor, instrument type, property description, ordinance number, and date recorded at county. 1970-1992 Card Deed index cards Entries arranged by plat name or township/range coordinates. Lists file number, grantor, property description, King County recording number, authorizing ordinance number and date filed. 1884-present Database (not on Internet) File number, authorizing ordinance number, grantor, King County recording number, property description.
DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP REGISTRATION FILESApplications and termination forms for the City's domestic partnership registration program are filed with the City Clerk.
Date Type Name Information Provided 1994-present Database (not on Internet) Applicant names, addess, registration status and date of registration.
LOCAL IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT FILESLocal improvement districts (LIDs) are formed to finance street improvements, sanitary and storm sewers and other improvements for a particular area in the city. LIDs may be initiated either by resolution of the City Council or by a petition signed by the owners of a property aggregating a majority of both the linear frontage upon the improvement and the area within the proposed district.
Local improvement district files typically contain the following documents: a Comptroller or Clerk file consisting of the petition for the LID and related documents, a resolution of the intention to order the improvement, an ordinance providing for the improvement, a resolution setting the date of the hearing on the assessment roll, an ordinance approving and confirming the assessment roll, and an LID file containing administrative records on the LID assessment and collection process. LID files older than ten years have been transferred to the Seattle Municipal Archives.
Date Type Name Information Provided 1891-1966 Book Local Improvement LID number, street improved, Register approving ordinance and resolution number. 1891-1966 Card LID File Cards LID number, council bill number, ordinance number, comptroller file number. 1966-present Card LID Tracking Cards LID number, reolution number, ordinance number, comptroller file number, date of filing of assessment roll.
PUBLIC WORKS CONTRACTSContracts for public works construction, maintenance and repair are filed with the City Clerk. Public works contracts are retained for six years after contract termination.
Date Type Name Information Provided 1992-present Database (not on Internet) Contract number, ordinance authorizing project, date filed, contractor, project name, and department.