A. Purpose. Landscape development, including retention of significant trees, as required by this section is necessary to maintain and protect property values, to enhance the visual appearance of the City, to preserve the natural wooded character of the Pacific Northwest, to promote utilization of natural systems, to reduce the impacts of development on the storm drainage system and water resources, and to provide a better transition between the various land uses permitted in the City.
B. Applicability. The requirements of this section shall be imposed any time a permit, approval, or review including land alteration or land development including subdivisions, short subdivisions or planned unit developments, a change in lot coverage or impervious surface, or a change in the area devoted to parking and circulation is required by this Code, or by the International Building Code, as adopted and amended by the City of Bellevue. However, this section does not apply to a permit for a single-family dwelling, unless restrictions on the removal of significant trees on individual single-family lots have been imposed through prior City approval.
C. Required Review.
2. The Utility Department shall review all landscape and irrigation system designs for compliance with BCC 24.02.205 et seq., regarding landscape irrigation water budget requirements of the City Water Utility Code.
D. Minimum Design Qualification. If the landscaped area on the subject property which is irrigated exceeds 500 square feet or if the applicant requests Alternative Landscaping Option pursuant to subsection J of this section, the Director shall require approval of the proposed landscape plan by a privately retained registered Landscape Architect, Washington Certified Nurseryman or Washington Certified Landscaper.
E. Preservation of Significant Trees. See Tree Retention. LUC 20.20.900.
F. Site Landscaping.
1. Perimeter Landscaping Requirements for Use Districts. The applicant shall provide site perimeter landscaping either according to the following chart and subject to subsections F.2 and F.6 of this section; or in conformance with subsection J of this section.
(Type and Minimum Depth)
Interior Property Lines
(Type and Minimum Depth)1
R-10, 15, 20, 30
NB, PO, O, OLB, OLB 2, OLB-OS
LI, GC, CB, NMU
(1)If approved by the Directors of the Development Services and Utilities Departments, such landscape area may be used for biofiltration swales. If used for biofiltration swales, this area shall be landscaped with quantities and species of plant materials that are compatible with the functional intent of the biofiltration swale. If the property which abuts the subject property is in the same or a more intensive land use district than the subject property, the landscaping required along that common interior property line may be relocated.
(2)S/F includes the R-1, R-1.8, R-2.5, R-3.5, R-4, R-5, and R-7.5 Land Use Districts.
2. Planting Requirements for Specific Uses. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph F.1 of this section, the uses listed in this paragraph require specific landscaping as follows:
a. Subject to paragraph F.6 of this section, the following uses require 15 feet 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:
ii. Sewage pumping station;
iii. Water distribution facility.
Alternative landscaping may be approved by the Director of the Development Services Department if the requirements of subsection J of this section are met, and if visibility is essential to safety, security, or maintenance access.
b. Subject to paragraph F.6 of this section, the following uses require 10 feet of Type II landscaping along the street frontage, and 10 feet of Type III landscaping along interior property lines unless a more stringent requirement is specified in paragraph F.1 of this section:
iii. Mobile home park;
iv. Government service building;
v. Community club;
vi. Charitable or fraternal organization;
viii. Solid waste disposal facility.
c. Subject to paragraph F.6 of this section, equipment and vehicle storage yards require 15 feet of Type I landscaping on all sides if in a transition area, or visible from a public right-of-way. Alternative landscaping may be approved by the Director of the Development Services Department if the requirements of subsection J of this section are met.
d. Subject to paragraph F.6 of this section, the perimeter landscaping requirements for schools are set forth in LUC 20.20.740. Alternative landscaping may be approved by the Director of the Development Services Department if the requirements of subsection J of this section are met.
a. Type V landscaping is required within a parking area.
b. A curb or other physical separation is required around each landscape area to separate that area from the parking and circulation area.
4. Except for site perimeter landscaping areas required under paragraph F.6 of this section, landscape features such as decorative paving, sculptures, rock features or fountains are permitted in the required site perimeter landscaping area so long as such features are made of pervious materials, or are specifically exempt from impervious surface limits under LUC 20.20.460.D. The area devoted to such a feature may not exceed 50 percent of the required area. Rockeries over 30 inches in height are not rock features for the purpose of this section, and may not be counted toward the required area for landscaping.
5. All plantings and fences required by this section are subject to the street intersection sight obstruction requirements, BCC 14.60.240. All plant materials must be pruned as necessary to comply with BCC 14.60.240.
6. Existing Vegetation in Lieu of Landscape Development. If the proposal is located within the Critical Areas Overlay District, the Director shall waive the planting requirements of paragraphs F.1 and F.2 of this section and shall require the use of native vegetation that exists within a critical area or within a critical area buffer in lieu of landscape development if the width of that existing vegetated area equals at least twice the dimension required by paragraph F.1 or F.2 of this section. Supplemental landscaping may be added adjacent to a setback to create the necessary width.
7. The Director will allow the planting requirements of paragraphs F.1 and F.2 of this section to be satisfied within a critical area buffer where landscaping is added pursuant to a habitat improvement plan meeting the requirements of LUC 20.25H.055.
8. Site Landscaping Design Standards.
a. Landscaping plans shall show locations of retained trees, initial size, location and name of plant materials to be installed. For landscaping plans submitted with Building Permits or Clearing and Grading Permits, detailed irrigation plans are required.
b. Landscaping shall not include irrigated turf strips which are less than five feet in width. Soils within any irrigated turf strip used to satisfy the requirements of this section shall be amended as required by soil amendment standards established by the Director.
c. Irrigated turf shall not be included on slopes with finished grades in excess of 33 percent.
d. Landscaping areas which are irrigated shall be designed so that plants are grouped according to distinct hydrozones for irrigation of plants with similar water needs at a good efficiency.
e. In all newly landscaped areas, soils shall be amended as required by soil amendment standards established by the Director.
f. Newly landscaped areas, except turf, shall be covered and maintained with at least two inches of organic mulch to minimize evaporation.
G. Types of Landscaping.
1. Type I. Purpose. Type I landscaping is intended to provide a very dense sight barrier to significantly separate uses and land use districts.
a. Two rows of evergreen trees, a minimum of six feet in height and planted at intervals of no greater than 20 feet on center. The trees must be backed by a sight-obscuring fence, a minimum of five feet high or the required width of the planting area must be increased by 10 feet; and
b. Shrubs a minimum of three and one-half feet in height planted in an area at least five feet in width, and other plant materials, planted so that the ground will be covered within three years;
c. Alternatively, the trees and shrubs may be planted on an earthen berm at least 15 feet in width and an average of five feet high along its midline.
2. Type II. Purpose. Type II landscaping is intended to create a visual separation between uses and land use districts.
a. Evergreen and deciduous trees, with no more than 30 percent being deciduous, a minimum of six feet in height, and planted at intervals no greater than 20 feet on center; and
b. Shrubs, a minimum of three and one-half feet in height and other plant materials, planted so that the ground will be covered within three years.
3. Type III. Purpose. Type III landscaping is intended to provide visual separation of uses from streets, and visual separation of compatible uses so as to soften the appearance of streets, parking areas and building elevations.
a. Evergreen and deciduous trees, with no more than 50 percent being deciduous, a minimum of six feet in height, and planted at intervals no greater than 30 feet on center; and
b. If planted to buffer a building elevation, shrubs, a minimum of three and one-half feet in height, and living ground cover planted so that the ground will be covered within three years; or
i. Shrubs, a minimum of three and one-half feet in height and living ground cover must be planted so that the ground will be covered within three years.
ii. Earth-mounding, an average of three and one-half feet in height, planted with shrubs or living ground cover so that the ground will be covered within three years. This alternative may not be used in a Downtown Land Use District.
iii. A combination of earth-mounding and shrubs to produce a visual barrier at least three and one-half feet in height.
4. Type IV. Purpose. Type IV landscaping is intended to provide visual relief where clear sight is desired.
Plant materials which will cover the ground within three years, and which will not exceed three and one-half feet in height. Trees are also permitted if the trunk is free of branches below six feet in height.
5. Type V. Purpose. To provide visual relief and shade in parking areas.
a. Required Amount.
i. If the parking area contains no more than 50 parking spaces, at least 17.5 square feet of landscape development must be provided as described in paragraph G.5.b of this section for each parking stall proposed.
ii. If the parking area contains more than 99 parking spaces, at least 35 square feet of landscape development must be provided as described in paragraph G.5.b of this section for each parking stall proposed.
iii. If the parking area contains more than 50, but less than 100 parking spaces, the Director shall determine the required amount of landscaping by interpolating between 17.5 and 35 square feet for each parking stall proposed. The area must be landscaped as described in paragraph G.5.b of this section.
i. Each area of landscaping must contain at least 100 square feet of area and must be at least four feet in any direction exclusive of vehicle overhang. The area must contain at least one tree at least six feet in height and with a minimum size of one and one-half inches in caliper if deciduous. The remaining ground area must be landscaped with plant materials, decorative mulch or unit pavers.
ii. A landscaped area must be placed at the interior end of each parking row in a multiple-lane parking area. This area must be at least four feet wide and must extend the length of the adjacent parking stall.
iii. Up to 100 percent of the trees proposed for the parking area may be deciduous.
H. Limitation of Landscaping Requirements.
1. Except in a transition area, the total buildable area of the subject property which is required to be landscaped is limited as follows. The location of this landscaping within the buildable area must meet the purpose and intent of subsections A, F.1 and G of this section.
I. Species Choice. The applicant shall utilize plant materials which complement the natural character of the Pacific Northwest, and which are adaptable to the climatic, topographic, and hydrologic characteristics of the site, and shall include at least 50 percent native species in the required plantings. If the subject property is within the Critical Areas Overlay District, the applicant shall utilize plant species as specified by the Director which enhance that critical area and critical area buffer. In selecting species, the applicant should utilize plant materials which reduce or eliminate the need for fertilizers, herbicides, or other chemical controls, especially for properties within the Critical Areas Overlay District. Plant materials may not include noxious weeds or species, as designated by the Director.
J. Alternative Landscaping Option.
1. The applicant may request a modification of the landscaping requirements set forth in subsections E through I of this section; provided, however, that modification of the provisions of paragraph F.6 of this section may not allow disturbance of a critical area or critical area buffer.
2. The Director may administratively approve a modification of the landscaping requirements of this chapter if:
a. The proposed landscaping represents an equal or better result than that which could be achieved by strictly following the requirements of this section; and
c. If a modification of any paragraph excluding subsection E of this section is requested, the proposed landscaping either:
i. Incorporates the increased retention of significant trees and naturally occurring undergrowth; or
ii. Better accommodates or improves the existing physical conditions of the subject property; or
iii. Incorporates elements to provide for wind protection or to maintain solar access; or
iv. Incorporates elements to protect or improve water quality; or
d. If a modification of subsection E of this section is requested, the proposal either:
i. Incorporates the retention of significant trees equal in number to what would otherwise be required, or
ii. Incorporates the retention of other natural vegetation in consolidated locations which promotes the natural vegetated character of the site.
3. Effect of Approval. Following approval of alternative landscaping by the Director, the applicant may meet the landscaping requirements of this Code by complying with the approved landscape development proposal. A copy of the approved landscape development proposal will be placed in the official file.
K. Maintenance of Plant Materials.
1. The property owner shall replace any unhealthy or dead plant materials in conformance with the approved landscape development proposal and shall maintain all landscape material.
2. The Director shall require a maintenance assurance device for a period of one year from the completion of planting in order to ensure compliance with the requirements of this section in conformance with LUC 20.40.490.
3. Streetscape plant materials shall be maintained in a manner consistent with the Bellevue Parks and Community Services 2012 “Environmental Best Management Practices and Design Standards,” Chapter 8 – Streetscape Management, now or as hereafter amended.
L. Performance Assurance.
1. The required landscaping must be installed prior to issuance of the Temporary Certificate of Occupancy unless the Director determines that a performance assurance device, for a period of not more than one year, will adequately protect the interests of the City. In no case may the property owner delay performance for more than one year.