Tree Rules in Bellevue

According to the city's Neighborhood Mediation program, 25 percent of neighborhood mediation cases in Bellevue involve trees.

Know the rules concerning trees and be a good neighbor!


A permit is required by the City of Bellevue if you will be clearing over 1000 square feet, grading over 50 cubic yards, or removing more than 5 significant trees within any three-year period.

Tree removal can occur in several different ways such as cutting the tree off at the main stem, killing the tree using herbicides, girdling the tree, cutting off a significant portion of the roots, or excessive pruning.

Trees help the city by retaining storm water and naturally purifying the air and water. Removing tree branches reduces the tree canopy and may expose the underlying soil to erosion. Excessive pruning of trees can adversely affect the health of the trees.

Bridle Trails Ordinance

This ordinance applies to lots zoned R-1 in the Bridle Trails subarea. Key elements of the ordinance require a permit for removal of any significant trees (eight inches diameter at four feet above grade).

For significant tree removal activity, a three-year vegetation management plan can be submitted to the city for review, which may include some tree replacement requirements.

Trees within 20 feet of property lines in most of the neighborhood must be retained, and can only be removed if they are deemed hazardous.

Other rules may apply. If you have any questions, contact the Bellevue Land Use Division, or 425-452-4188.

Trees on City Property

It is illegal to tamper with trees on City of Bellevue property. The public is not authorized to remove (or reduce) any vegetation-including trees-from any public property.

If someone removes, tops or otherwise prunes a tree on city property without permission, the individual may face civil penalties including fines up to three times the assessed value of the trees involved. Depending on the circumstances, criminal charges may also be brought.


If you are unsure whether the tree is yours or belongs to the city, refer to your property title report or email or to help determine whether a tree is on public or private property.

For more information about trees, visit the city's Development Services department online,
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