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Critical Areas

Learn more about Bellevue’s Critical Areas Ordinance Update.

Critical areas are parts of the landscape afforded special protection because they provide unique environmental functions that are difficult, if not impossible, to replace, and they promote public health, safety and welfare. In 2006, the City of Bellevue added a Critical Areas Ordinance to its Land Use Code. The code protects six types of critical areas:

  • Wetlands are one type of critical area.Streams and riparian areas
  • Wetlands
  • Habitats for species of local importance
  • Geological hazard areas
  • Flood hazard areas
  • Shorelines

Buffers and structure setbacks are then applied to the edges of these critical areas to protect their functions and values.

How you can protect critical areas
To make it easy for residents and professionals to protect critical areas, the city has developed some handouts, as well as a Critical Areas Handbook, Tree Pruning Guidelines and videos of a training.

  • CA-1, Critical Area Functions
  • CA-2, Identify Existing Conditions Before You Design
  • CA-3, Site Planning Resources
  • CA-4, Hiring an Environmnetal Professional
  • CA-5, Mitigation Plan Essentials
  • CA-6, The Critical Areas Report Process
  • CA-7, Maximum Residential Development Density on Sites with Critical Areas
  • CA-8, Maximum Office Floor Area on Commercial Sites with Critical Areas
  • CA-9, Vegetation Maintenance and Management
  • CA-10, Environmental Consulting Services


The Critical Areas Handbook is a detailed, step-by-step guide to aid in the development, installation, monitoring and maintenance of small-scale environmental enhancement and restoration projects.

Urban Wildlife Habitat Literature Review and Functional Assessment Model

  The Tree Pruning Guidelines (flipbook version) explain appropriate tree maintenance practices allowed in geological hazard critical areas.
  Critical Areas Training Videos, filmed during a training for professional service providers who perform work in critical areas. Professional service providers who have taken Bellevue's critical-areas training
Contact Information

Land Use Desk
450 110th Ave. NE
P.O. Box 90012
Bellevue, WA 98009
Phone: 425-452-4188
E-mail: landusereview@bellevuewa.gov

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