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A. Purpose. Design review is a discretionary administrative decision used to ensure that signs comply with the policies set forth below.

B. Applicability.

1. Where Design Review Applies.

a. Affected Land Use or Overlay Districts. The provisions of this section are applicable in the following land use or overlay districts as provided for in the Land Use Code:

i. Downtown, except DT-OLB;

ii. CB and NMU (community business and neighborhood mixed use);

iii. NB (neighborhood business);

iv. OLB-OS and OLB-2 (office limited business – open space and office limited business 2);

v. Development in transition areas as defined in the Land Use Code;

vi. BelRed land use districts, except BR-GC unless design review is available per LUC 20.25D.030.C.2, as now or hereafter amended;

vii. EG-TOD (Eastgate transit oriented development); and

viii. EM-TOD-H (East Main transit oriented development – high) and EM-TOD-L (East Main transit oriented development – low).

Signs within the land use and overlay districts set forth above shall also comply with all other provisions of this chapter and provisions applicable to signs that are contained in the Land Use Code.

b. Affected Permits, Approvals and Sign Types. The provisions of this section also apply to the following permits, approvals and sign types irrespective of the land use district within which they are located:

i. Signs for any development required to have design review by ordinance (except Factoria);

ii. Planned unit developments;

iii. Conditional uses; and

iv. Freeway corridor signs.

Signs requiring the permits/approvals or signs of the type set forth above shall also comply with all other provisions of this chapter and provisions applicable to signs that are contained in the Land Use Code.

2. When Design Review Applies.

a. Upon adoption of this code, no sign governed by this code shall be erected, altered or relocated in any new building(s) or project(s), or on existing building(s) or project(s) located in a design district or originally approved through PUD or conditional use processes pursuant to the Land Use Code, without design review approval as described in this section.

b. Signs erected, altered or relocated within an existing building(s) or project(s) outside of any design district and originally approved through any permitting process under the Land Use Code other than through a PUD or conditional use process shall not be subject to the design review requirements of this section, but shall comply with all other applicable provisions of this sign code.

c. A property owner or his or her authorized agent may choose at any time to submit an application for design review for an existing building or project where a design review application has not previously been approved.

C. Applicable Procedure. A design review application is reviewed and approved by the development services department through the design review process described in Chapter 20.30F LUC. Requests to amend a previously approved sign master plan, as well as proposals for new signage which are regulated by an existing sign master plan, require approval of a land use exemption (LUX).

D. Design Review Application Submittal Requirements. Applications for design review shall include the following elements:

1. Location;

2. Lighting;

3. Letter size, type and style;

4. Type (i.e., blade, neon, individual letter);

5. Color(s);

6. Material(s);

7. Sign placement (relationship of all signs to one another on building and/or tenant facades); and

8. Overall signage concept for construction period, initial lease-up period, and permanent signs.

The director may waive specific submittal requirements determined to be unnecessary for review of a specific application.

E. Design Criteria. Applications for design review are evaluated according to the following criteria:

1. General Requirements.

a. Signs shall enhance the overall appearance, image and design character of the building and site.

b. Signage shall be simple and clear so as not to distract moving traffic.

c. Signs shall be architecturally integrated by relating scale, location, sign type, style and materials to the architectural style and size of the building or tenant facade.

d. Signage is prohibited at the upper levels of high-rise buildings, except with exceptions for hotel/motel uses when the design is compatible with building architecture and for enterprises occupying at least 75,000 net square feet of building area as permitted by BCC 22B.10.030(E)(2), as now or hereafter amended.

e. Placement of signage shall not obscure or overlap architectural elements.

f. Signs in commercial development with multiple businesses shall be compatible.

g. Signs shall provide information and be consistent with the character of the community.

h. Signs shall be incorporated into commercial and public centers that make them appear and function cohesively.

i. Perimeter areas of major commercial and public centers shall use appropriate signs to blend with surrounding development and to be compatible with surrounding residential neighborhoods.

j. Any awning which projects less than three feet from the face of a building is classified as a sign. The entire awning face will be calculated as sign area.

k. Glass buildings shall incorporate a sign band into the building design to avoid difficult and impractical application of signage to spandrel glass.

l. Application of multiple signs to one building shall be consolidated or arranged so as not to result in a scattered appearance.

m. Illuminated signs shall be oriented away from adjoining residential development.

n. Signage shall be in accord with the comprehensive plan.

o. Individual letter signage is preferred. Other types of signage may be approved if the design of the sign, including the quality and durability of materials used, is determined to achieve an equivalent result.

In addition to the above, signs located within the land use districts below must also comply with the criteria set forth for such district.

2. Community Retail Land Use Districts (CB, NB).

a. Signs shall be of a type face that can be made as individual letters or a letter type shall be chosen to accommodate the individual letter format. Exceptions may be made for registered trademarks or logos that cannot be manufactured as individual elements.

b. Signage shall have a maximum letter and logo height of 36 inches.

c. Signage shall be oriented to face the major direction of pedestrian movement in the area of the sign.

3. Downtown and BelRed Land Use Districts (All DT, except DT-OLB, and All BR).

a. The primary signage for any building or business shall comply with the appropriate design guidelines for downtown, LUC 20.25A.140 et seq., East Main, LUC 20.25Q.130 et seq., and BelRed, LUC 20.25D.150, land use districts, as now or hereafter amended, pursuant to the procedures set forth therein. Signage within downtown and East Main shall be pedestrian-oriented unless the sign is permitted as an upper level high-rise sign.

b. Pedestrian-oriented signage shall use lettering and graphics no larger than 24 inches in height and shall be located within the first two floor levels of the building. Twenty-four inches may be an average height when upper and lower case lettering is used. Logos and first-letter capitals may be up to 30 inches if consistent with applicable design review criteria.

c. Illumination shall be coordinated in multi-sign or multi-tenant buildings.

d. High-rise signs (other than hotel/motel or a hospital). Signs permitted at the upper levels of high-rise buildings pursuant to BCC 22B.10.030, as now or hereafter amended, shall comply with the following requirements:

i. Signs shall not project above the top of the surface to which they are affixed, nor beyond the edge of any surface to which they are affixed;

ii. Signs shall use logos and lettering no larger than eight feet in height;

iii. Cabinet and box signs are prohibited;

iv. Signs shall be mounted to the building with a mounting system that is not visible beyond the edges of the sign elements;

v. Signs shall be designed and located to preserve the integrity of the building roof form; and

vi. Sign illumination shall be limited to halo lighting with a white light source; provided, that signs may be internally illuminated when the surface on which the sign is mounted is made of glass or other highly reflective material that would interfere with the appearance of the sign if halo-lit. Internal illumination is limited to only those letters or sign elements that will appear white when lit. Any illumination shall be designed to ensure no exposed lighting source or raceway. The light source shall be no brighter than the equivalent of 30 milliamp neon tubing behind a diffuser panel. The applicant shall provide a signed certification from the sign manufacturer declaring that the illumination meets the limits of this subsection.

4. Downtown – Old Bellevue (DT-OB). The downtown requirements above apply to DT-OB land use district except as modified herein; provided, that the following criteria shall not apply to signs for an entertainment/public assembly use within the DT-OB land use district:

a. Sign letter and logo height shall not exceed 18 inches; provided, that logos and first-letter capitals may be up to 24 inches if consistent with applicable design review criteria.

b. Awnings shall be opaque or a deep, rich color, and shall be scaled to the development.

c. Signs shall generally not be placed above the first floor level.

d. Signs intended and designed for visibility and attention of vehicle traffic are not permitted except as directional signage to vehicular entries.

e. Cabinet, box and freestanding signs are prohibited.

5. Freeway Corridors. In addition to criteria applicable in the underlying land use district, signs within freeway corridors are subject to the following design criteria:

a. Sign letter and logo height shall generally not exceed 42 inches; provided, that logos and first-letter capitals may exceed this limit if consistent with applicable design review criteria.

b. Sign length shall not exceed one-third of the building facade. When multiple signs are to be placed on a building face this ratio will include all signs. (Ord. 6630 §§ 2, 3, 2021; Ord. 6427 §§ 3 – 8, 2018; Ord. 6288 § 2, 2016; Ord. 6116 § 2, 2013; Ord. 5877 § 2, 2009; Ord. 5821 § 20, 2008; Ord. 5743 § 2, 2007; Ord. 5679 § 2, 2006; Ord. 5542 §§ 3, 4, 5, 2004; Ord. 5490 § 5, 2003; Ord. 5357 § 2, 2002.)