• Environment and Critical Areas

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    Bellevue City Code and state and federal laws establish environmental regulations and procedures that affect development and use of property. These regulations are meant to ensure impacts to the environment are avoided, minimized, documented and/or mitigated. Established procedures provide opportunity for public notice and comment. Certain areas are designated as environmentally sensitive or “critical areas” that are protected from avoidable development impacts.

    Critical Areas Definition

    Critical areas are parts of the landscape afforded special protection because they provide unique environmental functions that are difficult, if not impossible, to replace. The code protects six types of critical areas:

    • 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.

    State Environmental Policy Act

    The State Environmental Policy Act of 1971, enacted to ensure projects and proposals maintain and improve environmental quality, requires the city to consider environmental impacts of proposals prior to making decisions. SEPA review in Bellevue is usually done as part of an associated land use application but can be done separately if the project is of sufficient size and complexity that it will have substantial adverse environmental impacts. Projects are evaluated through submittal of an environmental checklist.

    Green Building Incentives

    Our City Code offers incentives to encourage building projects that demonstrate a reduced environmental impact. These code incentives are supported by the city’s policy goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by rewarding innovation green building technology. Learn more about green building incentives.


    The city has developed the following information to assist in understanding environmental regulations, permitting requirements, mitigation and other topics:

    Code News