Prior to cutting or removal of any trees, it is recommended that you contact the Land Use review team to ensure compliance with applicable codes and to discuss permit requirements. Also, review our information on tree retention.
Tree Removal on Private Property
The following conditions will require a permit for tree removal:
- Removal of any landmark tree. A landmark tree is at least 24 inches in diameter (75 inches in circumference), measured four feet above the existing grade, and at least 20 feet tall. Only licensed contractors may remove Landmark Trees.
- Removal of more than five significant trees. A significant tree is at least eight inches in diameter (25 inches in circumference), measured four feet above the existing grade.
- The property is part of a designated critical area or buffer.
- The property is a commercial or multifamily zoned property
- The tree is in a native growth protection area or a retained vegetation area.
- The tree is on the city’s right of way.
- The property is located in an R-1 zone in Bridle Trails.
Apply for a Tree Removal Permit
Apply for a permit online at MyBuildingPermit. When entering your Application Information, choose the following:
- Application type: Clearing and Grading
- Project type: Single Family Residential or Multifamily Residential or Nonresidential
- Activity type: Trees or Vegetation only
- Scope of work: Tree Removal or Vegetation or Vegetation Management
Trees in the City Right of Way
Contact the Right-of-Way Division of the Transportation Department or Permit Processing for information on removing a tree in the city right-of-way.
Concerns About Tree Safety
One of the leading reasons given for tree removals is the health or safety of the tree. To ensure you are not needlessly removing an otherwise healthy tree, consult a qualified certified arborist or certified forester. There are two websites that can help:
Tree ownership is determined by whose property the trunk stands completely on. If the tree is a boundary tree (the trunk straddles a property line), it is owned jointly. In most cases, property owners may trim branches and roots which encroach on their property if they stay within certain guidelines: trim only up to the property line; do not enter the owner’s property without permission; do not destroy or damage the tree by trimming roots or branches.
If you have a dispute with your neighbor, call the Bellevue Conflict Resolution Center at 425-452-4091. They can help you explore your alternatives, coach you on how to negotiate with your neighbor, or provide free mediation to help you and your neighbor find a workable solution.
Tree Removal on Public Property
The public is not authorized to remove (or reduce) any vegetation, including trees, from any public property, including any trees or vegetation adjacent to your own property. If you are unsure whether a tree is on public or private property, refer to your property title report or contact the Right of Way division.
Contact the city if you are concerned about the health or safety of a tree. The city has foresters and arborists on staff to respond to your concerns.
To report a potentially unhealthy tree on park property, call 425-452-6855 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To report a potentially unhealthy tree in the public right of way, call 425-452-7840.
You may face civil penalties, including fines up to three times the assessed value of the trees involved, for removing, topping or otherwise pruning a tree on city property without permission. Depending on the circumstances, criminal charges may also be brought.