RV Storage and Screening

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Certain storage and screening requirements have been established to balance the need to store these items with the need to reduce the aesthetic impacts of such storage on surrounding properties.

This information pertains to Land Use Code 20.20.720 for codes applicable to all areas in Bellevue, except the East Bellevue Community Council area.

Can an RV, boat, or utility trailer be stored on a residential lot?

Parking or storage of recreational vehicles, watercraft (whether mounted on trailers or un-mounted), or utility trailers is permitted in a residential (R-1 – R-30) land use district.

image of locations for RV, boat, trailer storage

What is considered a recreational vehicle?

Any wheeled, motorized vehicle manufactured, converted, or altered to provide self-contained temporary living quarters for recreational, camping or travel uses and which does not exceed 40’ in length. Any vehicle manufactured, converted, or altered which has integral wheels for towing or can be mounted on a motorized vehicle to provide self-contained, temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, or travel uses.

What is considered a watercraft?

Any vessel used for water travel, sport, or pleasure which is greater than 12’ in length but

does not exceed 40’ in length or 12’ in height as measured at the highest point when mounted on a trailer.

What is considered a utility trailer?

Any vehicle with integral wheels designed to be towed by a motorized vehicle to transport goods, property, equipment, or livestock.

Are canoes and kayaks considered watercraft?

They are watercraft. They are not required to be sight-screened from abutting properties if they are less than 12' in length.

Is there a maximum size limit?

Yes. An RV, watercraft, or utility trailer over 40’ in length is not permitted in any residential land use district.

image of vehicle size limits

Where can these be stored, and what screening must be provided?

The easiest ways to store these are as follows:

  • In a vented garage
  • In a carport, provided it is screened by solid board fencing or sight-obscuring landscaping at least six feet in height
  • In a side or rear yard, provided it meets setback requirements applicable to accessory structures (typically 5 feet) and is screened by solid board fencing or sight-obscuring landscaping at least six feet in height

image of front-yard storage beyond front-yard setback

image of front-yard storage within front-yard setback

image of site screening with solid board fencing and boat

image of site screening fence optional with RV

Is storage in the front yard, between the house and road, allowed?

If there is no reasonable access to a rear or side yard, one licensed and operable RV, watercraft, or utility trailer not exceeding 28 feet in length may be located in the front yard one of two ways as follows:

  1. Outside the front setback
    • It is located outside of the front setback required for the zone.
    • It is parked in the driveway, perpendicular to the right-of-way
    • It is sight-screened from the closest abutting property by solid board fencing or sight obscuring landscaping at least six feet in height
  2. Within the front setback
    • It is located within the front setback required for the zone
    • It is completely sight-screened from the right-of-way and the closest abutting property. The sight-screening must consist of plant material; however, a gate is permissible if necessary for maneuvering.

Notes:

  • All sides of a property which abut a right-of-way are considered to be front yards.
  • Where there is an elevation difference between properties, a fence located along the property line does not necessarily meet the screening requirement.

Screening and Slopes

image of screening and slopes with RV

Can an RV be used as a dwelling?

One RV may be used as a temporary dwelling on a lot already containing another dwelling unit. It may be used for up to five days without a permit and up to 30 days upon issuance of a temporary use permit, subject to the following:

  • The permit must be affixed to the RV in a manner that it is prominently displayed and visible, to the extent possible, from a public right of way.
  • RVs allowed as a temporary dwelling may be parked within a front yard, need not be sight-screened, and need not comply with accessory structure setback requirements for the effective period of the permit.
  • No more than one temporary use permit may be granted within any three-month period.

Are there exceptions to the storage and screening requirements?

  • During loading and unloading of an RV, watercraft, or utility trailer, the requirements do not apply, provided that the loading/unloading is completed within a three-day period within any two-week period.
  • During temporary use of an RV as a dwelling, the screening and setback requirements do not apply.
  • Vehicles with camper shells and watercraft moored over water are exempt from the requirements.

Are there allowances for qualified disabled RV owners?

Yes. One RV per residence is exempt from the location and screening requirements if at least one occupant of the residence has a current windshield placard or special license plate issued to him/her by the State of Washington as a qualified disabled person in accordance with RCW 46.16.381. Persons claiming this exemption must apply to the Director of Development Services for approval.

What if I want to store it closer to the property line?

An RV, watercraft, or utility trailer can be located up to the side or rear property line if a written mutual agreement of the affected abutting property owners is recorded and other requirements are met. See Land Use Code (LUC) 20.20.125

What type of plant materials are acceptable?

Plants that are well-foliaged from the ground up and can provide a dense screen. Remember that plant spacing, height at time of planting, and ongoing care and maintenance are necessary considerations when the required screening.

Is charging others a fee for storage allowed?

No. Storage of RVs, watercraft, or trailers for compensation is not permitted in a residential land use district. Storage facilities provided exclusively for tenants of multifamily dwelling complexes are allowed.

Where can I get additional information?

Effective in East Bellevue Community Council area only:

This information pertains to Land Use Code LUC 20.20.890 and is applicable to the East Bellevue Community Council area.

Can an RV, large boat, or trailer be stored on a residential lot?

Parking or storage of recreational vehicles, large boats, or trailers is permitted in a residential (R-1– R-30) land use district.

What is considered a recreational vehicle?

A camper, motor home, or trailer.

What is considered a camper?

A room-like addition over the bed of a pickup truck, outfitted as temporary living quarters.

What is considered a motor home?

A motorized vehicle with fully self-contained living quarters.

What is considered a large boat?

Large boats are defined as being at least 16’ in length and having a gunwale which is at least 5’ from the ground when the boat is sitting on a normal-sized boat trailer.

Are there size limits that apply?

Yes. An RV, watercraft, or trailer over 40’ in length is not permitted in any residential land use district.

image of RV, watercraft, trailer size limits in EBCC

Is charging others a fee for storage allowed?

No. Storage of RVs, watercraft, or trailers for compensation is not permitted in a residential land use district. Storage facilities provided exclusively for tenants of multifamily dwelling complexes are allowed.

Where can these be stored, and what screening must be provided?

Storage can occur:

In a vented garage.

In a carport.

In a side or rear yard if in compliance with setback requirements applicable to accessory structures (typically 5 feet).

The RV, large boat, or trailer must be sight-screened from abutting properties which can be achieved with an enclosed structure or by either a solid board fence at least 6’ high or Type I landscaping. You have the option of providing either a solid board fence OR Type I landscaping.

image of RV, boat, trailer storage locations in EBCC

What is Type I landscaping?

Type I landscaping is intended to provide a very dense sight barrier to significantly separate uses and includes:

  • Two rows of evergreen trees at least 6’ in height and planted at intervals of no greater than 20’ on center. The trees must be backed by a sight-obscuring fence at least 5’ high, or the required width of the planting area must be increased by 10’;
  • Shrubs at least 3-1/2’ high planted in an area at least 5’ wide, and other plant materials, planted so that the ground will be covered within 3 years;
  • Alternatively, the trees and shrubs may be planted on an earthen berm at least 15’ wide and an average of 5’ high along its midline.
image of Type 1 landscaping to screen boat in EBCC


image of solid board screening of boat in EBCC


What if there is no reasonable access to my side or rear yard?

If there is no reasonable access to a rear or side yard, you must store the RV, large boat, or trailer off-premises.

What if I want to store it closer to the property line?

An RV, large boat, or trailer can be located up to the side or rear property line if a written mutual agreement of the affected abutting property owners is recorded and other requirements are met. See Land Use Code (LUC) 20.20.125.

My pickup truck has a camper on it. Can it be parked in the front yard?

A camper, by definition, is a recreational vehicle and can only be stored in the side or rear yard with sight-screening. Temporarily parking for loading is not restricted.

I use a utility trailer to haul items to the dump. Is this an RV? (verify accuracy)

The storage regulations do not apply to utility trailers.

Are there exceptions to the storage and screening requirements?

During loading and unloading of an RV, large boat, or trailer, the requirements do not apply, provided that the loading/unloading is completed within a three-day period within any two-week period. During temporary use of an RV as a dwelling, as discussed below, the RV is exempt from the screening and setback requirements. Utility trailers and boats moored over water are exempt from the requirements.

Are there allowances for qualified disabled RV owners?

One RV (but not large boat or trailer) per residence is exempt from the requirements if at least one occupant of the residence has a current windshield placard or special license plate issued to him or her by the State of Washington as a qualified disabled person in accordance with RCW 46.16.381. Persons claiming this exemption must apply to the director of Development Services for approval.

Can an RV be used as a dwelling?

One RV, house trailer, or mobile home may be temporarily parked and used as a dwelling in the side yard or rear yard of a lot already containing another dwelling unit for up to 30 days, provided the setbacks applicable to detached accessory buildings can be complied with (typically 5’).

A temporary use permit may be issued for up to one year for one house trailer not on a foundation but connected to water, power, and sewer utilities or to a septic tank system according to the procedures and requirements of LUC 20.30M.

What type of plant materials are acceptable?

Plants that are well-foliaged from the ground up and can provide a dense screen. Remember that plant spacing, height at time of planting, and ongoing care and maintenance are necessary considerations when the required screening.

Where can I get additional information?