Landscape Development

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Where can I find Bellevue’s landscaping requirements?

General landscape development requirements are found in Land Use Code (LUC) 20.20.520.

Other sections of the Land Use Code establish additional requirements for projects located in the following areas: Downtown, Bel-Red, Transition Area Design District, Office and Limited Business (OLB) District, Evergreen Highlands Design District, Institutional District, and Critical Areas Overlay District.

When do these requirements apply?

Any project which includes land alteration or land development, change in lot coverage, or a change in the area devoted to parking and circulation must comply with these requirements. Single-family home construction is exempt.

What kind of landscaping is required?

The Land Use Code identifies five landscape “types,” with each type having a specific intent:

  • Type I – Provides a very dense sight barrier to separate uses and land use districts.
  • Type II – Creates a visual separation between uses and land use districts.
  • Type III – Provides visual separation of uses from streets and softens the appearance of streets, parking areas, and building elevations.
  • Type IV – Provides visual relief where clear sight is desired.
  • Type V – Provides visual relief and shade in parking areas.

Each type has its own performance standards and requirements for plant selection and spacing, contained in LUC 20.20.520.G.

What are some of the requirements?

Perimeter landscaping,

Type III, is required along street frontages and interior property lines for many types of development. The width of the landscape area depends on the land use district of the proposal, the abutting land use district, and whether the site lies within a Transition Area Design District.

Parking lot landscaping,

Type V, is required in addition to any required perimeter landscaping. A curb or similar barrier must separate the Type V landscaping from parking and circulation areas.

image of type 5 landscaping

Key Notes

  1. Slow-growing evergreens
  2. Substitute a landscape island for every 10th or 11th parking stall
  3. Tall-to-medium-height deciduous tree with a light and airy canopy and fall color
  4. Pedestrian connection aligned with striping to minimize damage to plants
  5. Smaller trees for visual interest and better screening between the rows

Specific uses have additional landscape requirements. The following uses require 15' of Type I landscaping on all sides when located above ground and not housed within a building or accessory to another use, and if located outside of a public right of way:

  • Utility substations
  • Sewage pumping stations
  • Water distribution facilities
  • Equipment and vehicle storage yards if located in a Transition Area or visible from a public right of way.

The uses below require 10' of Type II landscaping along the street frontage and 10' of Type III landscaping along interior property lines, unless a more stringent requirement is specified elsewhere in the Land Use Code:

  • Church
  • Commercial or public parking lot not serving a primary use
  • Mobile home park
  • Government service building
  • Community club
  • Charitable or fraternal organization
  • Hospital

Are any improvements allowed in the perimeter landscape area?

Landscape features—such as decorative paving, sculptures, rock features (but not rockeries over 30” in height), or fountains—are permitted in the perimeter landscape area. Those features may not exceed 50% of the required perimeter landscape area.

Are there limits to landscape requirements?

Unless the property lies within a Transition Area, the total landscape areas must be a minimum of:

  • 20% of the buildable area in a NB, PO, O, or OLB land use district.
  • 15% of the buildable area in an LI, GC, or CB land use district.
  • 20% of the buildable area in the OLB land use district.

Do different requirements apply Downtown?

LUC 20.25A.040 contains landscape requirements specific to Downtown. However, to the extent they do not conflict with the Downtown requirements, the provisions of LUC 20.20.520 apply to the Downtown as well. Primary differences include:

  • Different requirements for site perimeter and parking area landscaping.
  • Street trees may be required in the Downtown.
  • Downtown street frontage landscape requirements are affected by LUC 20.25A.90, Perimeter Design District; LUC 20.25A.115, Design Guidelines: Building/Sidewalk Relationships; and the provision of pedestrian-oriented frontage improvements.
  • All new development in the Downtown shall provide landscaping and other elements that meet a minimum green-and-sustainability-factor score. See LUC 20.25A.120 for additional information and refer to the Green and Sustainability Factor Tree List for size classifications of trees.

What about other districts?

Landscaping for projects in the Bel-Red Land Use Districts is subject to LUC 20.20.520 as well as LUC 20.25D.110.

In the Transition Area Design District the requirements of LUC 20.20.520 generally apply. But in some cases, perimeter landscape areas are increased to a 20' width. Specific planting standards apply. See LUC 20.25B.040.C for additional information.

The Office and Limited Business (OLB) District is subject to LUC 20.20.520, but has additional specific requirements as well. See LUC 20.25C.040.B.

The Evergreen Highlands Design District (EHDD) has its own landscape requirements. Except for plant maintenance and performance assurance requirements, the provisions of LUC 20.20.520 do not apply in the EHDD. See LUC 20.25F.040.C.2 for more information.

The Institutional District is subject to LUC 20.20.520 but also has specific requirements which must be met. See LUC 20.25J.035.

In the Sensitive Area Overlay District existing vegetation may be counted toward meeting requirements for new landscaping in some cases.

Can landscape requirements be modified?

A modification may be requested through an Alternative Landscape Option (ALO). The landscaping proposed through an ALO must be equal to or better than that which would result from strict adherence to code requirements.

An ALO is reviewed administratively and must satisfy specific criteria in order to be approved. An ALO may not allow disturbance of a Protected Area. See LUC 20.20.520.J for more information.

What other information does the Land Use Code provide?

The Land Use Code contains additional provisions related to:

  • Street intersection sight obstructions
  • Site landscaping design standards
  • Species selection
  • Maintenance of plant materials
  • Performance assurance

Required Amounts (Minimum Areas)

  • A parking area with up to 50 stalls must have at least 17.5 square feet of Type V landscaping per parking stall.
  • A parking area with more than 99 stalls must have at least 35 square feet of Type V landscaping per parking stall.
  • For any parking area with more than 50 stalls but less than 100 stalls, the amount of landscaping is determined by interpolating between 17.5 and 35 square feet per parking stall.
  • To count toward the area requirement, each area of landscaping must contain a least 100 square feet and be at least four feet in any direction.

Where can I get additional information?