Easement Director's Rule

To clarify an existing process regarding private use of public sidewalk and utilities easements, the Transportation Department seeks input on a draft Director’s Rule that clarifies required clearance above and below the sidewalk grade to ensure the public’s right of use for sidewalks, utilities, and other facilities such as street trees and street light poles is preserved. 


The City occasionally receives requests from developers and property owners to construct improvements above and below public sidewalks such as underground parking garages and balconies.  The Transportation Department Director has authority to approve or disapprove such requests by determining whether the application conforms to the requirements of the code and adopted procedures.  The Easement Director’s Rule clarifies the space within the easement area to be preserved for sidewalk, utilities, and features such as streetlights and trees.

Why a Director’s Rule?

Bellevue’s current clearance requirements for sidewalk and utilities easements is not provided in written form. The purpose of the Easement Director’s Rule is to clarify the space within the easement area to be preserved to ensure common understanding and consistent application in the administration of City code.

As drafted, the Director’s Rule proposes: 

Graphic rendering of easement
  • A 60-foot minimum clearance above the sidewalk for public uses such as street trees, streetlight poles with small wireless facilities (a type of cellular network infrastructure) and small wireless facilities built on poles intended for only that purpose.  Also included is an 8-foot minimum horizontal clearance.
  • A 12-foot minimum clearance below the sidewalk, except at an intersection corner, which requires a 25-foot minimum clearance below the sidewalk. This clearance allows for public uses such as public utilities (e.g. water, sewer, storm water, fiber optics, streetlights, traffic signals), private franchise utilities (e.g. electrical, gas, communications) and future uses.

The draft rule also more clearly defines:  

  • Reviews during the pre-application and design review processes
  • Deviations from the standard design process
  • Required documentation (e.g. “Memorandum of Permit” and exhibits for building permits)

Community engagement

Bellevue development review staff engaged developer stakeholders to receive comments on the draft Director’s Rule. An informational session was held July 7, 2021; presentation materials are posted under Background Materials (below). 


Following the informational meeting, comments will be reviewed and considered by the end of July. The final Director’s Rule is expected by early August.

Background materials