Trees contribute to Bellevue’s visual character and its ecosystem. Trees oxygenate the air, provide food and habitat for small animals and microorganisms, and reduce the impacts of storm water runoff. They enhance the visual appearance of the community, promote better transition between land uses and help protect property values. Although trees can be removed and replaced with new plantings, it takes years or decades for young trees to reach maturity and match the benefits of existing trees.
The city recognizes that existing trees and new development compete for space. Since both are crucial to Bellevue’s vitality, the Land Use Code, LUC 20.20.900 seeks to balance the needs of the two. The LUC sets requirements for tree retention and replacement that the new development must satisfy.
Trees are required to be retained for subdivisions, short subdivisions, planned unit developments, construction of new buildings and homes, alterations and additions to existing structures, and general alteration of land, including changes to lot coverage and parking areas. There are also specific tree preservation requirements for the R-1 zone in Bridle Trails.
A variety of rules protect trees in Bellevue. Under certain conditions, residents must obtain a permit to cut or prune trees on their property. It is illegal to remove, prune or top trees on public property. Read about tree removal rules and permit requirements.