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A. Applicability. This section is intended to provide the minimum landscaping requirements for all uses. Additional requirements and provisions may be required for certain uses and within urban village areas.

B. General Provisions.

1. The provisions of this section shall apply to all new construction and to the remodeling of same when the cost of remodeling exceeds 50 percent of the assessed valuation of the structure to the extent that there is space available for the landscaping. (Single-family homes and individual manufactured homes are exempt from any landscaping requirements.)

2. Prior to issuance of a building permit, a scaled landscape site plan shall be submitted and approved by the planning department consistent with the provisions herein. Said plan shall specify species name, size and location.

3. Landscaping pursuant to the approved site plan shall either be installed or bonded for (in an amount no less than 150 percent of cost of material and installation) prior to issuance of a certificate of occupancy or if no certificate is required prior to final inspection approval.

4. Existing trees which will be saved and which meet the minimum specification herein specified shall count toward meeting the requirements herein, provided they are an acceptable species as to their location.

C. Requirements.

1. Street Trees (For Residential Multi, Commercial, Industrial, and Planned General Use Types).

a. One street tree shall be required for every 50 feet of street frontage abutting the property. Said trees shall be installed adjacent to the right-of-way within the property lines or within the right-of-way subject to the approval of the public works and parks department.

2. Yards and Open Spaces.

a. Only required 25-foot yards for uses permitted in the industrial general use type shall be installed with a wall of trees.

b. All yards required (except the vision triangle) for all uses permitted in the commercial general use type shall be screened.

c. For all uses permitted in the residential multi general use type a minimum of 25 percent of the required open space area shall be landscaped.

d. Landscape-based LID facilities are permitted within landscaped open space and passive recreation areas.

3. Garbage Receptacle Areas. Garbage receptacle areas for multifamily dwelling units shall be screened on at least two sides.

4. Parking.

a. For every 10 open parking spaces, one tree shall be installed around the facility perimeter. These trees may be grouped or spread lineally. This provision shall not apply to industrial use type areas.

b. Separation areas as required in BMC 20.12.010(D)(5) shall be landscaped. This provision shall not apply to industrial general use type areas.

c. Areas between the parking facility and adjacent property as required in BMC 20.12.010(D)(4)(b) shall be landscaped if the adjacent property is of the same general use type. If the adjacent property is of a different general use type, said area shall be screened.

d. Parking Facility Interior Landscaping for All Uses Permitted in the Commercial General Use Type.

i. Surface parking lots with 15 or more parking spaces shall provide internal landscaping at the rate of 20 square feet of landscaped area per parking stall.

ii. The landscaping must be dispersed throughout the parking area.

iii. Landscaping around the facility perimeter may not substitute for interior landscaping. However, interior landscaping may join perimeter landscaping as long as it extends at least four feet into the parking area from the perimeter landscape line.

e. When adjacent to landscaping, a portion of a standard parking space may be landscaped instead of paved, as follows:

i. The landscaped area may be up to two feet of the front of the space as measured from a line parallel to the direction of the bumper of a vehicle using the space, as shown in Figure 20.12.030(A). Any vehicle overhang must be free from interference from sidewalks, landscaping, or other required elements.

ii. Landscaping within the parking overhang area must be ground cover plants.

iii. The landscaped area counts toward parking lot landscaping requirements and toward any overall open space requirements.

iv. Where landscape-based LID BMP is utilized, the impervious area shall be sized as prescribed by the BMP. Where landscaping is required by BMC 20.12.010(D)(4)(b) or (D)(5), a minimum seven-foot width of landscaping shall be provided, including parking overhang area, regardless of whether landscape-based LID BMP is utilized.

Figure 20.12.030(A)

f. Unless infeasible, landscape-based LID BMPs shall be used within parking lot landscaping to meet drainage requirements. This requirement does not apply to parking provided within structures.

5. Freeway Trees (For Residential Multi, Industrial and Planned General Use Types).

a. One tree shall be required for every 25 feet of freeway frontage abutting the property and shall be installed along that frontage.

D. Standards.

1. Trees.

a. Species.

i. Street Trees. As recommended in the Bellingham street tree plan and approved by the parks department.

ii. Other Required Trees. Species shall be native to the area or recognized as being easily adaptable to the climate.

b. Size (Unless Otherwise Specified).

i. Street trees shall be no less than 10 feet in height at time of installation with a minimum caliper size of two and one-half inches measured one foot above grade.

ii. Other required trees shall be no less than six feet in height at time of installation with a minimum caliper size of one inch measured one foot above grade.

c. Spacing and Location.

i. Street trees shall be spaced and installed as recommended in the Bellingham street tree plan subject to approval of public works and parks department.

ii. Other required trees may be installed where desired by the applicant within the general constraints of this section.

2. General Planting.

a. No landscape bed shall have artificial impervious material placed underneath the surface bed.

b. i. Provisions should be taken to ensure each landscape bed has proper drainage.

ii. The excavation pocket should be dug 12 inches below the root ball and six inches larger in circumference around the root ball. The excavation pocket should be filled with an approved planting mix.

iii. Each excavation pocket should take provision to ensure proper drainage. If the subsoil is impervious, an additional foot of excavation backfilled with gravel to lower the water table should be required or an auger hole sunk down to porous material and the hole sack filled with gravel to the bottom of the planting pocket.

iv. All trees over eight feet high should be securely staked or guyed until the roots become established but in no case less than one year. Street trees should be staked according to the staking guidelines of the street tree plan.

E. Green Factor Measurement. The following standards apply to certain areas and uses that require landscaping to meet a minimum green factor score.

1. The green area factor score for a lot is determined by:

a. Multiplying the square feet, or equivalent square footage where applicable, of each of the existing and proposed landscape elements in Table 20.12.030 by the green area multiplier shown for that element.

b. Adding together all the products computed under subsection (E)(1)(a) of this section to determine the total green area factor.

c. Divide the total green area factor by the lot area to determine the green area factor score.

2. If multiple landscaping elements occupy an area (for example, ground cover under a tree), the full square footage or equivalent square footage of each element is used to calculate the product for that element.

3. Public right-of-way is not included in parcel size calculation.

4. Landscape elements that are in rights-of-way may be counted to calculate the score if they are contiguous with the parcel.

5. For vegetated walls, use the square footage of the portion of the wall covered by vegetation.

6. For all elements other than trees, large shrubs and vegetated walls, square footage is determined by the area of the portion of a horizontal plane that underlies the element.

7. For projects that include more than 2,000 square feet of new or replaced impervious surface, permeable paving is required for hard surface ground cover areas unless infeasible, per infeasibility criteria found in BMP T5.15 of the Ecology Manual. Permeable pavement may not qualify for more than one-third of the green factor numerator for any one site.

Table 20.12.030 Green Factor Landscape Elements

1. Landscaped Areas (select one of the following for each area):

a. Landscaped areas with a soil depth of less than 24"


b. Landscaped areas with a soil depth of 24" or greater


c. Bioretention facilities


2. Plantings (credit for plants in landscaped areas above):

a. Mulch, ground covers, or other plants less than two feet tall at maturity


b. Plants two feet or taller at maturity, calculated at 16 square feet per plant (typically planted no closer than 18 inches on center)


c. Tree canopy for “small trees” in the Bellingham List of Approved Street Trees or equivalent (canopy spread of 15 feet) calculated at 50 square feet per tree


d. Tree canopy for “small/medium trees” in the Bellingham List of Approved Street Trees or equivalent (canopy spread of 20 feet) calculated at 100 square feet per tree


e. Tree canopy for “medium trees” in the Bellingham List of Approved Street Trees or equivalent (canopy spread of 25 feet) calculated at 150 square feet per tree


f. Tree canopy for “large trees” in the Bellingham List of Approved Street Trees or equivalent (canopy spread of 30 feet) calculated at 200 square feet per tree


g. Tree canopy for preservation of “exceptional trees” or other large existing trees 6" or greater in diameter, calculated at 15 square feet per inch DBH (diameter 4.5 feet above the ground)


3. Green Roofs:

a. Over at least 2" and less than 4" of growth medium


b. Over at least 4" of growth medium


4. Vegetated Walls


5. Approved Water Features


6. Permeable Paving:

a. Permeable paving over at least 6" and less than 24" of soil or gravel


b. Permeable paving over at least 24" of soil or gravel


7. Structural Soil Systems


8. Bonuses:

a. Drought-tolerant or native plant species


b. Landscaped areas where at least 50 percent of annual irrigation needs are met through the use of harvested rainwater


c. Landscaping in food cultivation


[Ord. 2017-03-009 § 17; Ord. 2011-08-044; Ord. 2009-08-047; Ord. 2001-04-033 § 11; Ord. 9024, 1982].