Chapter 20.25
DESIGN REVIEW

Sections:

20.25.010    Purpose.

20.25.020    Applicability.

20.25.030    Procedure.

20.25.040    Repealed.

20.25.050    Repealed.

20.25.060    Large retail facility design.

20.25.070    Urban village.

20.25.080    Waterfront district.

20.25.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to establish an administrative design review process that will implement design standards and guidelines adopted for various districts and types of development as specified herein. [Ord. 2001-07-049].

20.25.020 Applicability.

The following areas and developments are subject to design review under this chapter. No building or sign permit shall be issued for projects regulated under this chapter until design review approval has been issued unless the activity is exempt from design review under subsection (A) of this section. Buildings and activities which are exempt from the design review process shall comply with adopted site lighting standards regarding shielded outdoor lighting. The provisions of Chapter 20.14 BMC regarding nonconformance establish which of the standards and criteria in this chapter apply to developed sites. In addition, some standards in this chapter specify the level of development that requires full compliance.

A. The following activities are exempt from design review:

1. Single-family detached dwelling units unless specified otherwise in an adopted urban village regulated under this chapter.

2. Single-family attached dwelling units consisting of less than three attached units and not located in an adopted urban village regulated under this chapter.

3. A duplex on a site that is not located in an adopted urban village regulated under this chapter.

4. Interior alterations that do not affect the exterior design of the building.

5. Any activity, located outside the city center design review district, that requires a certificate of alteration or certificate of demolition for any historic resource individually listed on the city of Bellingham’s register of historic places, or listed on the local register as a contributing property to a historic district, shall be processed pursuant to BMC 17.90.060.

6. Normal maintenance and repair.

7. Minor renovations, additions and exterior alterations to buildings and their associated site improvements, including electrical and mechanical equipment and accessory buildings, which the director determines will maintain or improve the architectural character of the building or site design, and will have minimal detrimental impact on adjacent uses.

8. Public infrastructure of permanent or temporary character such as bridges, viaducts, elevated ways, docks, piers, retaining walls, gates, fences, lamp standards, sculptures, bas-reliefs, monuments, fountains and playground equipment.

9. All signage, except that signage located in a residential multi land use designation, shall comply with the requirements of the multifamily residential design handbook.

10. Restoration of any historic element of a building as approved by the planning and community development director.

B. Multifamily Residential Projects and Mixed Uses in Residential Multi Zones.

1. The following development activities shall obtain design review approval when located in any use district except within an urban village design district listed in subsections (C) and (D) of this section, institutional general use types that are governed by an adopted institutional master plan, or when exempt by subsection (A) of this section:

a. Single-family attached residential development consisting of three or more attached units;

b. Residential development consisting of three or more dwelling units on a site;

c. Projects involving any use that is allowed as a “mixed use” by the use qualifier in residential multi zones;

d. Accessory buildings for any of the developments listed above;

e. Any additions or exterior alterations to buildings of the types listed above and/or to their associated site improvements. The design standards apply only to the proposed additions or alterations to the extent feasible while allowing the flexibility to accommodate the design of the existing improvements.

2. When any of the residential uses listed in subsection (B)(1) of this section are part of a commercial or mixed use development, or development will consist of a “mixed use” identified in subsection (B)(1)(c) of this section, the director shall determine which design standards are applicable and which portions of the development are subject to review based on the context of the use district and the type of development proposed.

3. Development activities listed in subsections (B)(1) and (2) of this section shall be reviewed either by staff or the design review board as noted below:

a. Development activities listed in subsections (B)(1) and (2) of this section shall be reviewed by staff.

b. The director may refer any project to the applicable design review board for a recommendation if staff has identified potential inconsistencies with the design standards.

c. An applicant may request an optional preapplication design guidance meeting with the design review board.

4. Decision Criteria. For projects listed in subsections (B)(1) and (2) of this section, the director shall base his or her decision on consistency with the provisions of the adopted multifamily residential design handbook.

C. Development in the Fairhaven Design Review District.

1. All development activities within the Fairhaven design review district (Figure 20.25.020(C)) shall obtain design review approval unless exempted by subsection (A) of this section.

2. The following activities shall be reviewed either by staff or the historic preservation commission as noted below:

a. Projects Subject to Review by the Historic Preservation Commission.

i. Within the Historic District.

(A) New buildings and developments.

b. Projects Subject to Staff Review.

i. Within the Historic District.

(A) Additions or exterior alterations to existing buildings and their associated site improvements.

ii. Within the Historic, Industrial and Maritime Influence Areas.

(A) New buildings and developments; and

(B) Additions or exterior alterations to existing buildings and their associated site improvements.

iii. The director may refer any project that is subject to staff review to the commission for a recommendation if staff has identified potential inconsistencies with the design standards.

c. An applicant may request an optional preapplication design guidance meeting with the historic preservation commission.

3. Decision Criteria. For projects located in the Fairhaven design review district, the director shall base his or her decision on consistency with the Fairhaven Design Standards as contained in the exhibit at the end of this chapter. If the project is located in a residential transition area, the standards of the multifamily residential design handbook shall also apply. If there is any conflict between these standards, the historic preservation commission and/or director shall apply the standard that would result in the best design, based on the context of the area in which the project is located and the policies in the applicable neighborhood plan.

Figure 20.25.020(C) – Fairhaven Design Review District

D. Development in the City Center Design Review District and Other Urban Village Design Review Districts.

1. All development activities within the city center design review district or an urban village design review district listed in Table 20.25.020 and shown on corresponding figures shall obtain design review approval unless exempted by subsection (A) of this section.

Table 20.25.020

Urban Village Design Review District

Corresponding Figures

City Center

Figure 20.25.020(D)(1) – City Center Design Review District

Fountain District

Figure 20.25.020(D)(2) – Fountain District Design Review District

Samish Way

Figure 20.25.020(D)(3) – Samish Way Design Review District

2. The following projects shall be reviewed either by staff, the design review board or the historic preservation commission as noted below:

a. Projects Subject to Review by the Design Review Board.

i. New buildings and developments.

b. Projects Subject to Review by the Historic Preservation Commission.

i. Additions and exterior alterations to buildings and associated site improvements if they are on the city of Bellingham register of historic places. If a certificate of alteration is required under BMC 17.90.060, the commission’s decision regarding the certificate of alteration shall be incorporated into the design review decision by the director.

c. Projects Subject to Staff Review.

i. Additions or exterior alterations to existing buildings and their associated site improvements unless the building is on the city of Bellingham register of historic places.

ii. The director may refer any project subject to staff review to the applicable design review board or historic preservation commission for a recommendation if staff has identified potential inconsistencies with the design standards.

d. An applicant may request an optional preapplication design guidance meeting with the applicable design review board or historic preservation commission.

3. Decision Criteria.

a. City Center Design Review District. For projects located in the city center design review district, the director shall base his or her decision on consistency with the City Center Design Standards as contained in the exhibit at the end of this chapter. If the project is located in a residential general use type, the standards of the multifamily residential design handbook shall also apply. If there is any conflict between these standards, the design review board and/or director shall apply the standard that would result in the best design, based on the context of the area in which the project is located and the policies in the applicable neighborhood plan.

b. Urban Village Design Districts. For projects located in the Fountain District and Samish Way Urban Village Design Districts, the director shall base his or her decision on consistency with the urban village design guidelines and standards in BMC 20.25.070. Large retail establishments shall also comply with the standards in subsection (E) of this section.

c. If there is any conflict between the standards in subsections (D)(3)(a) and (b) of this section and the standards in Chapter 17.90 BMC, Historic Preservation, the historic preservation standards shall prevail.

Figure 20.25.020(D)(1) – City Center Design Review District

Figure 20.25.020(D)(2) – Fountain District Design Review District

Figure 20.25.020(D)(3) – Samish Way Design Review District

E. Large Retail Establishments.

1. All development activities for a large retail establishment as defined in subsection (E)(2) of this section shall obtain design review approval unless exempt by subsection (A) of this section.

2. A “large retail establishment” means an individual retail user that exceeds 60,000 square feet of gross floor area, including but not limited to membership warehouse clubs, discount stores, specialized product stores and department stores. For the purpose of this definition, gross floor area shall consist of the sum of the gross horizontal areas of all floors within the inside perimeter of the exterior walls of the structure or tenant space and roofed or partially walled outdoor areas reserved for the display, storage, or sale of merchandise, including accessory uses inside the primary retail establishment. Structured parking is excluded. The gross floor area of adjacent stores shall be aggregated in cases where the stores (a) are engaged in the selling of similar or related merchandise and operate under common ownership or management; (b) share check stands, a warehouse, or a distribution facility; or (c) otherwise operate as associated, integrated or cooperative business enterprises.

3. Development activities listed in subsection (E)(1) of this section shall be reviewed either by staff or the design review board as noted below:

a. Development activities listed in subsection (E)(1) of this section shall be reviewed by staff.

b. The director may refer any project to the applicable design review board for a recommendation if staff has identified potential inconsistencies with the design standards.

c. An applicant may request an optional preapplication design guidance meeting with the design review board.

4. Decision Criteria. For projects listed in this subsection (E), Large Retail Establishments, the director shall base his or her decision on consistency with the standards in BMC 20.25.060 unless the proposal is located in the city center design review district, Fairhaven design review district, or the waterfront design review district, in which case the standards of those districts shall apply.

F. Development in the Waterfront Design Review District.

1. Commercial and Institutional Mixed-Use Land Use Areas. All development activities within commercial and institutional mixed-use land use areas of the waterfront design review district (Figure 20.25.020(F)) shall obtain design review approval unless exempted under subsection (A) of this section, or the following:

a. Industrial, manufacturing and warehouse facilities, including boat servicing, repair and accessory offices located within the industrial mixed-use land use area, provided the buildings are set back at least 20 feet from adjacent arterial streets, trails, or parks, and the street frontage, trail or park is buffered by landscaping.

b. The design and layout of buildings within institutional or business campuses may vary from the waterfront district design standards if a master plan or character plan is completed for the campus area with an alternate standard which implements the policies and implementation strategies of the waterfront district sub-area plan.

2. Industrial Mixed-Use Land Use Area. New construction within the industrial mixed-use land use area is subject to design review if the uses within the proposed building or facility include retail, personal services, cultural or entertainment uses, or if the building is located within 20 feet of an existing or proposed arterial street or park. In these situations the director shall determine which requirement statements are applicable and which portions of the development are subject to review based on the context of the use district, the context of the street or park frontage, and the type of development proposed. Activities exempt from design review are those specified in subsections (A) and (F)(1)(a) of this section.

3. The following projects shall be reviewed either by staff, the design review board or the historic preservation commission as noted below:

a. Projects Subject to Review by the Design Review Board.

i. New buildings and developments.

b. Projects Subject to Review by the Historic Preservation Commission.

i. Additions and exterior alterations to buildings on the city of Bellingham register of historic places. If a certificate of alteration is required under BMC 17.90.060, the commission’s decision regarding the certificate of alteration shall be incorporated into the design review decision by the director.

c. Projects Subject to Staff Review.

i. Additions or exterior alterations to existing buildings and their associated site improvements, unless the building is on the city of Bellingham register of historic places.

ii. The director may refer any project subject to staff review to the applicable design review board or historic preservation commission for a recommendation if staff has identified potential inconsistencies with the design standards.

d. An applicant may request an optional preapplication design guidance meeting with the applicable design review board or historic preservation commission.

4. Decision Criteria. For projects listed in this subsection (F), Development in the Waterfront Design Review District, the director shall base his or her decision on consistency with the waterfront urban village design guidelines and standards in BMC 20.25.080 unless an institutional master plan with an alternate design standard has been approved by the city council for an institutional or business campus. If there is any conflict between these standards and the standards in Chapter 17.90 BMC, Historic Preservation, the historic preservation standards shall prevail.

Figure 20.25.020(F) – Waterfront Design Review District

[Ord. 2015-01-001 § 4 (Exh. A)].

20.25.030 Procedure.

A. Design review applications shall follow the procedures in Chapter 21.10 BMC and the following:

1. Design Review Board. For projects that are subject to review by the design review board, the following procedures shall apply:

a. Preapplication Design Guidance Meeting. When a project requires review by the design review board, the board’s review shall be conducted in a preapplication design guidance meeting. A preapplication design guidance meeting is not required when a project is referred to the board by the director.

The purpose of this meeting is to discuss which design standards are applicable; how the design standards, guidelines and regulations apply to the proposed project; explore alternative design concepts; and provide guidance on information that should be provided with the design review application. The following procedures shall apply:

i. The applicant shall apply for a preapplication meeting with the board. The applicant shall provide conceptual level information regarding the proposed project, including any potential concept alternatives.

ii. Public comment relevant to the application of the design criteria shall be considered, but the board may restrict the time allotted for comment in order to complete its meeting agenda.

iii. The board shall forward guidance and/or a recommendation to the applicant and director by motion. The board may recommend conditions of approval if it determines that the project design is sufficiently compliant with the applicable design standards and the recommendations provided are clear enough for the director to make a qualified decision. The director shall give substantial weight to the guidance and recommendation of the board.

b. Design Response Meeting. A design response meeting is only required when the director refers a project to the design review board for a recommendation. In such cases, the following procedures shall apply:

i. The applicant shall apply for a design response meeting with the board. The applicant shall provide an analysis of the project’s consistency with the design criteria. Staff shall provide a report responding to the applicant’s analysis.

ii. Public comment relevant to the application of the design criteria shall be considered, but the board may restrict the time allotted for comment in order to complete its meeting agenda.

iii. The board shall review the plans for consistency with the applicable design guidelines, standards and regulations and forward a recommendation to the director by motion. The board may recommend conditions of approval. If the board does not recommend approval, the board shall specify which criteria were not satisfied and the elements of the project that were not in compliance. The director shall give substantial weight to the recommendation of the board.

B. Historic Preservation Commission. Review by the historic preservation commission shall be conducted in the same manner as outlined in subsection (A)(1) of this section, except that for projects that involve exterior alterations to buildings on the city of Bellingham register of historic places, review by the commission shall be conducted in the same manner as the design response meeting in subsection (A)(1)(b) of this section.

C. No building permits shall be issued until design approval has been obtained. Building and other construction permits shall be consistent with the design review approval. Minor adjustments may be made after review and approval by the director. Adjustments shall be limited to minor changes in the dimensions or siting of improvements or to design details that do not change the scope or character of the proposal. [Ord. 2015-01-001 § 5 (Exh. B)].

20.25.040 Decision criteria.

Repealed by Ord. 2015-01-001. [Ord. 2014-09-049 § 39; Ord. 2014-09-043 § 3; Ord. 2012-08-041 § 9; Ord. 2009-11-070; Ord. 2007-02-011; Ord. 2006-06-060; Ord. 2001-07-049].

20.25.050 City center design.

Repealed by Ord. 2014-09-049. [Ord. 2006-06-060].

20.25.060 Large retail facility design.

A. The standards contained in this section are minimum standards and shall not be construed to limit the city’s ability to apply more restrictive standards as may be authorized by other provisions of the Bellingham Municipal Code, including but not limited to the planned development provisions of Chapter 20.38 BMC.

B. Specific Standards.

1. Buildings.

a. Facades greater than 100 feet in length, measured horizontally, shall incorporate wall plane projects or recesses having a depth of at least three percent of the length of the facade and extending at least 20 percent of the length of the facade. No uninterrupted length of any facade shall exceed 100 horizontal feet. Facades that have no customer entrance, are only visible from service areas and are screened from abutting properties and customer parking are exempt from this requirement. (See Figure 20.25.060(A).)

b. Facades that face public streets shall have arcades, display windows, entry areas, awnings or other such features along no less than 60 percent of their horizontal length. (See Figure 20.25.060(A).)

c. Small Retail Stores. Where large retail establishments contain additional, separately owned stores with separate, exterior customer entrances, the street level facade of such stores shall be transparent between the height of three feet and eight feet above the walkway grade for no less than 60 percent of the horizontal length of the building facade of such additional stores.

d. Detail Features. Building facades must include a repeating pattern that includes no less than three of the elements listed below. At least one of the elements shall repeat horizontally. All elements shall repeat at intervals of not more than 30 feet, either horizontally or vertically.

i. Color change;

ii. Texture change;

iii. Material module change;

iv. An expression of architectural or structural bays through a change in plane no less than 12 inches in width, such as an offset, reveal or projecting rib. (See Figure 20.25.060(B).)

e. Parapets, mansard or other sloping roofs shall be used to conceal flat roofs and rooftop equipment such as HVAC units from public view. The average height of such parapets shall not exceed 15 percent of the height of the supporting wall and such parapets shall not at any point exceed one-third of the height of the supporting wall. (See Figure 20.25.060(C).)

f. Rooflines shall be varied with a change in height at least every 100 linear feet.

g. Materials and Colors.

i. Predominant exterior building materials shall be high quality materials, including, but not limited to, brick, sandstone, other native stone and tinted and textured concrete masonry. Materials shall have a low level of reflectivity.

ii. Facade colors shall be low reflectance. The use of high-intensity colors, metallic colors, black or fluorescent colors shall be prohibited.

iii. Building trim and accent areas may feature brighter colors, including primary colors, but neon tubing shall not be an acceptable feature for building trim or accent areas.

iv. Exterior building materials shall not include smooth-faced concrete block, smooth-face tilt-up concrete panels or prefabricated steel panels.

h. Entryways.

i. Each large retail establishment on a site shall have clearly defined, highly visible customer entrances. All public entrances shall feature no less than three of the following:

(A) Canopies or porticos;

(B) Overhangs;

(C) Recesses/projections;

(D) Arcades;

(E) Raised cornices, parapets over the door;

(F) Peaked roof forms;

(G) Arches;

(H) Outdoor patios;

(I) Display windows;

(J) Architectural details such as tile work and moldings which are integrated into the building structure and design;

(K) Integral planters or wing walls that incorporate landscaped areas and/or places for sitting.

ii. Where additional stores will be located in the large retail establishment, each such store shall have at least one exterior customer entrance, which shall confirm to the above requirements.

iii. All sides of a building that face an abutting street, customer parking or public park or plaza shall have at least one customer entrance providing ingress and egress with at least double width doors. Where a building faces two or more abutting streets, this requirement shall apply to a minimum of two such sides of the building, including the primary street. A corner entrance may count as serving two building sides.

If additional stores will be located in the building, each store shall have at least one customer entrance that conforms to this requirement.

2. Parking Lots.

a. Parking Lot Location. No more than 50 percent of the off-street parking area for the lot, tract or area of land devoted to the large retail establishment shall be located between the front facade of the large retail establishment and the abutting streets.

b. Break large parking lots into smaller lots divided by landscaping and/or pedestrian walkways.

c. Provide for bicycle access, including bike lanes where appropriate.

d. Provide customer trash receptacles throughout the parking lot.

3. Landscaping.

a. A planting bed with a minimum width of 10 feet shall be located between parking lots and the street right-of-way. Landscape-based LID BMPs shall be permitted within these areas. The director may require this width be increased to address specific site and street characteristics.

b. Landscaping shall be used along site boundaries as required to screen blank walls, service and loading areas and open parking.

c. An evergreen or mixture of evergreen and deciduous vegetation designed to be maintained at a height of at least two and one-half feet and not more than three and one-half feet is required along the street frontage of any open parking lot.

d. Surface parking lots shall provide internal landscaping at the rate of a minimum of 10 square feet of landscaped area per parking stall. This is a minimum requirement and may be increased to meet other criteria contained in this title. The landscaping shall include at least one shrub for every 20 square feet of landscaped area and one shrub per enclosed bed. One tree shall be required for every 10 open parking spaces. Vegetation ground cover shall be provided for all landscaped areas that will provide 90 percent coverage within two years. Bioretention and bio-filtration facilities shall count toward parking lot landscaping requirements; provided, that the plant density in this section is met. Landscaping designs shall include evergreen materials.

e. Drought tolerant materials shall be used for all plantings unless an irrigation system is provided. A two-year maintenance bond or other financial guarantee acceptable to the city shall be provided in the amount of 50 percent of the value of the landscaping materials and installation.

4. Safety. Strategies to enhance public safety and deter crime shall be incorporated into the design of the building and associated parking areas. These include adequate lighting, increasing visibility of pedestrian areas and other techniques commonly known as “crime prevention through environmental design.”

5. Pedestrian Circulation.

a. Public sidewalks shall be provided along all public streets.

b. Continuous internal pedestrian walkways shall be provided from the public sidewalk or right-of-way to the principal customer entrance of all large retail establishments on the site. The walkways shall have a minimum width of six feet, exclusive of vehicle overhang area. At a minimum, walkways shall connect focal points of pedestrian activity such as, but not limited to, transit stops, street crossings, building and store entry points, and shall feature adjoining landscaped areas that include trees, shrubs, benches, flower beds, ground covers or other such materials for no less than 50 percent of the length of the walkway.

c. Sidewalks shall be provided along the full length of the building along any facade featuring a customer entrance, and along any facade abutting public parking areas. The sidewalk shall have a minimum width of six feet, exclusive of vehicle bumper overhang area. Such sidewalks shall be located at least six feet from the facade of the building to provide planting beds for foundation landscaping, except where features such as arcades or entryways are part of the facade.

d. Awnings, canopies, marquees, arcades, building overhangs or similar forms of pedestrian weather protection at least four and one-half feet wide shall be provided over a pedestrian walkway along at least 80 percent of any facade with a customer entrance. Such weather protection shall be at least eight feet above the sidewalk. If placed more than eight feet above the walkway, the weather protection shall be at least an additional six inches in width for each additional foot of height, or portion thereof.

e. All internal pedestrian walkways shall be distinguished from driving surfaces through a change in material. Durable, low maintenance surface materials such as pavers, bricks or scored concrete shall be used to enhance pedestrian safety and comfort, as well as the attractiveness of the walkways.

f. Walkways shall be designed for pedestrian safety and shall avoid or mitigate vehicle and pedestrian route conflicts through lighting, bollards and other features.

g. Cart corrals shall not encroach on walkways.

h. Bike racks shall be located in a well-lighted area close to building entrances.

6. Lighting.

a. All outdoor lighting shall be sized and directed to avoid adverse impact and spillover onto adjacent properties. Upward directed lighting is prohibited. Outside parking lot lighting shall not be less than one footcandle per IES minimum lighting standards at the property line, and shall be designed to minimize glare and spillover onto adjacent properties. Building and aesthetic lighting must be shielded to prevent direct glare and/or light trespass in excess of one footcandle at the property line.

b. Night lighting shall be provided for all pedestrian walkways.

c. All exterior lighting shall utilize cutoff shields or otherwise be designed to conceal the light source from adjoining uses and streets.

d. The maximum height of light poles in parking lots abutting residential zones shall not exceed 18 feet.

7. Signs.

a. Blinking, animated, moving or changeable copy signs (reader or electronic message boards) are prohibited.

b. Signs on the building shall not extend above the parapet or roof line. Parapet walls may not be erected for the sole purpose of extending sign heights and when they are not in character with the rest of the building or complex.

c. Signs shall be designed and located to minimize impacts on residential uses. Signs shall not be located on any wall, canopy or building facade facing abutting residential zones.

d. Sign area on buildings shall be proportional to the facade and not dominate it. Signs on the primary building facade shall not exceed seven percent of the facade’s total area and signs on other facades shall not exceed three percent of the facade’s total area.

8. Outdoor Storage and Service Areas.

a. Areas for outdoor storage, truck parking, trash collection or compaction, loading, or similar uses shall not be visible from public or private streets.

b. No service areas for outdoor storage, trash collection or compaction, loading or similar uses shall be located within 20 feet of any public or private street, public sidewalk, or internal pedestrian way.

c. Service functions shall be incorporated into the overall design of the building and the landscaping so that the visual and acoustic impacts of these functions are fully contained and out of view from adjacent properties and the public streets. Screening materials shall be consistent with the principal materials of the building and landscape.

d. Mechanical or HVAC equipment shall not be installed at ground level along any portion of a building facing a public or internal street unless there is no reasonable alternative. Fencing or landscaping shall be installed to screen ground level equipment.

e. Nonenclosed areas for the storage and sale of seasonal inventory shall be permanently defined and screened with walls and/or fences. Screening materials shall be consistent with the principal materials of the building. If nonenclosed areas are to be covered or roofed, materials shall be used that are consistent with those used on the building.

9. Central Features and Community Space. Each retail establishment subject to these standards shall contribute to the establishment or enhancement of community and public spaces by providing at least two of the following: patio/seating area, pedestrian plaza with benches, transportation center, window shopping walkway, outdoor playground area, kiosk area, water feature, clock tower or other such deliberately shaped area and/or a focal feature or amenity that, in the judgment of the appropriate decision maker, adequately enhances such community and public spaces. Any such areas shall have direct access to the public sidewalk network and such features shall not be constructed of materials that are inferior to the principal materials of the building and landscape. (See Figure 20.25.060(D).)

Figure 20.25.060(A)

Figure 20.25.060(B)

Figure 20.25.060(C)

Figure 20.25.060(D)

[Ord. 2017-03-009 § 17; Ord. 2007-02-011].

20.25.070 Urban village.

A. Departures from Design Requirements. The director may approve departures from the design guidelines and standards. All requests for departures shall be identified in the application and reviewed by the design review board following the process in BMC 20.25.030(A)(1)(b) unless the request involves a building on the city, state or national register of historic places, in which case it shall be reviewed by the historic preservation commission. A departure may only be allowed if the director determines that the applicant has demonstrated that either:

1. In response to difficult physical circumstances relating to the size, shape, topography, location or surroundings of the subject property, an alternative solution is required that meets the intent of the requirement to the greatest extent practical; or

2. An alternative design will provide an equal or better solution that:

a. Meets the intent of the standard;

b. Enhances the character and livability of the urban village;

c. Enhances the character and environment for pedestrians;

d. Enhances or protects the character of the neighborhood or vicinity by protecting natural features, historic sites, open space, or other resources; and

e. Will not have any substantial detrimental effect on nearby properties and the city or the neighborhood.

B. Specific Standards.

1. Site Design.

a. Orientation to Street.

i. Intent. Reinforce pedestrian activity, orientation to ground floor activities and enhance the liveliness of the street through building location.

ii. Guideline. Locate the building at sidewalk edge. A larger setback may be considered in order to accommodate a wider sidewalk, public space, or outdoor cafe.

iii. Guideline. Locate the primary entrance at street level facing a public street. The primary entrance should be more articulated and highlighted (size, material, recessed, lighting) than secondary entrances.

b. Surface Parking.

i. Intent. Ensure parking lots are not a dominant element within urban villages and minimize the impact of surface parking on the pedestrian environment.

ii. Standard. Parking shall be located to the rear or side of a building and shall not be located at intersections. (See Figure 20.25.070(A).)

Figure 20.25.070(A)

iii. Standards.

(A) A wall or evergreen hedge designed to be maintained at a height of at least two and one-half feet and not more than three and one-half feet is required along the street frontage of any street level open parking lot. Open trellis work or similar features that can be seen through may extend above the wall. Street trees with canopies above pedestrian height may be included. Planting beds must be at least five feet wide. (See Figure 20.25.070(B).)

Figure 20.25.070(B)

(B) Visually screen parking lots from abutting residential single zones and residential transition areas. Chain link fencing with slats is not an acceptable screen.

c. Drive-Through Facilities.

i. Intent. Diminish the impact of automobiles on the pedestrian environment.

ii. Standard. Access and stacking lanes for drive-through services shall not be located between the street and the building or between the building and a residential zone. (See Figure 20.25.070(C).)

Figure 20.25.070(C)

d. Refuse Enclosures.

i. Intent. Reduce the impact and view of trash and recycling storage areas.

ii. Guideline. Locate refuse storage to the rear of the site and away from major pedestrian walkways.

iii. Standard. Refuse containment areas shall be placed in a building or enclosed in a structure that is of similar architectural character of the major structures on the site.

e. Rooftop Screening.

i. Intent. Mechanical equipment should not detract from the appearance of the building.

ii. Standard. Screen mechanical equipment by extending the parapet walls or other roof forms that are integrated with the architecture of the building to a height that equals or exceeds the height of the mechanical equipment.

f. Pedestrian Connectivity.

i. Intent. Create a network of safe, convenient and attractive off-street linkages for pedestrians.

ii. Guideline. When a development encompasses a site greater than 350 feet wide or deep, incorporate pedestrian access through the site to connect to alleys, streets or neighboring properties. (See Figure 20.25.070(D).)

Figure 20.25.070(D)

iii. Guideline. Provide walkways connecting access points within the site and from the site to the street. Locate walkways in active areas visible from adjoining spaces. (See Figure 20.25.070(E).)

Figure 20.25.070(E)

iv. Standard. Pedestrian through-block connections shall not be less than five feet wide and be clearly defined by use of material, elevation (six inches raised) or landscaping borders.

v. Standard. Pedestrian access that is separated from vehicle access shall be provided between the building main entry and the public sidewalk. If walkways cross parking driveways, the walkway shall be separated from parking by landscaping or by raised pavement, or when crossing driving lanes, by a change in texture or material.

g. Variations on Building Design.

i. Intent. To avoid repetition and monotony, create a range of different forms similar to the variety of buildings and styles found in traditional downtowns which evolved over time.

ii. Guideline. When a development includes three or more buildings, the buildings within a development should not use identical footprints or elevations. Changes in textures and colors may be appropriate. While there may be some elements that provide a commonality to the entire development, variety shall be visually evident.

h. Site Lighting.

i. Intent. Provide architectural character, safety and encourage evening activity while minimizing impacts to neighboring properties and the darkness of the night sky.

ii. Guideline. Low intensity lighting should be provided for entries, walkways, parking garage entrances, parking lots, alleys and refuse enclosures.

iii. Guideline. Parking lot lights should be generally be no more than 18 feet in height and lower for pedestrian walkways.

iv. Guideline. Lighting should be directed away from the sky, dwellings and neighboring development. The use of LED or low energy use fixtures is strongly encouraged.

v. Guideline. Light fixtures should contribute to the overall design of the building and may be used to highlight special architectural features.

i. Fencing. All fencing shall be designed to integrate into the architecture of the building and add visual interest in its detail, materials or color. Chain link fencing shall specifically not be allowed between commercial and residential areas.

2. Building Design.

a. Massing and Articulation.

i. Intent. Reduce the apparent mass of large buildings to provide visual interest and pedestrian scale. (See Figure 20.25.070(F), which applies to subsections (B)(2)(a)(ii) through (v) of this section.)

Figure 20.25.070(F)

ii. Guideline. Buildings should convey a visually distinct base and top.

iii. Guideline. Roof parapets and eaves are encouraged to vary in height to avoid long, straight lines at the maximum building heights.

iv. Guideline. Buildings with facades longer than 50 feet should be divided into “modules” that are expressed three dimensionally throughout the building facade. Modules could vary in width.

v. Guideline. Reduce the apparent mass of buildings facing adjacent public spaces, historic register sites or residential zones by stepping down building height and reducing the area of wall planes.

vi. Standards.

(A) The maximum height within 15 feet of any street right-of-way is three stories and 40 feet. The minimum height within 15 feet of any street right-of-way is 18 feet. A maximum of 50 percent of wall length above the third story may encroach five feet into the setback (not including decks). (See Figure 20.25.070(G).)

Figure 20.25.070(G)

(B) Provide at least one setback for every three stories in similar fashion to subsection (B)(2)(a)(vi)(1) of this section on building elevations that front public spaces and historic buildings on the city, state or national historic registers. This provision shall apply regardless of whether the proposed development is built up to, or set back from, the common property line.

(C) Buildings over 75 feet in height shall incorporate at least one additional setback at or above the fifth floor, and incorporate features that create a visually distinct roof form. The following are examples of such features:

(1) Terraced setbacks.

(2) Pitched or curved roof elements.

(3) Projecting cornice elements.

(4) Trellises along the parapet.

(5) Geometric forms.

(6) Change of material or color on the top floor.

(D) Commercial ground floor space shall have a minimum floor to floor height of 12 feet.

b. Ground Floor Details.

i. Intent. Reinforce the character of the streetscape by encouraging the greatest amount of visual interest along the ground level of buildings facing streets.

ii. Guidelines. Ground-floor, street-facing facades of commercial and mixed-use buildings shall incorporate elements such as lighting or hanging baskets, medallions, belt courses, plinths for columns, kick plates, projecting sills, tile work, pedestrian scale signs, planter boxes or other vegetation, or other elements that meet the intent.

c. Structured Parking.

i. Intent. Reduce the visual impacts of structured parking on public streets, public open spaces and residential zones.

ii. Guidelines. Structured parking levels that are adjacent to a public street or open space or a residential zone shall be screened or treated architecturally by window openings, landscaping designed to screen the facade, decorative meter grills, and/or other approved devices that meet the intent.

d. Building Material.

i. Intent. Create vibrant urban villages through the use of high quality materials.

ii. Guideline. Design architectural features that are an integral part of the building and discourage features that appear to be “tacked on” or artificially thin.

iii. Guideline. Material selection should exhibit high quality, particularly at street level. Examples include stone, brick, tile, concrete, metal, or transparent glass. Avoid residential lap siding on the ground floor of commercial or mixed use buildings.

iv. Guideline. Encourage the use of recessed windows that create shadow lines.

e. Transparency.

i. Intent. Provide a visual link between the business space and the public sidewalk to create visual interest at the pedestrian level.

ii. Standard. A minimum of 60 percent of the building wall between two feet and seven feet above the sidewalk and facing a street shall be transparent or lightly tinted glazing. Windows into parking garage space shall not qualify. If windows are not appropriate, glass display cases, decorative art (for example, murals or relief sculpture), significant architectural detailing or wall-covering landscaping may be used. (See Figure 20.25.070(H).)

Figure 20.25.070(H)

f. Weather Protection.

i. Intent. Provide pedestrians rain protection, integrate individual buildings into the streetscape, and define the pedestrian zone.

ii. Guideline. Weather protection should be located between eight and 12 feet above the walkway but a higher placement may be considered if the width of the protection is increased.

iii. Standard. Where commercial uses are located at ground floor, buildings shall provide pedestrian weather protection covering at least a four-foot width of sidewalk along at least 75 percent of the street level frontage. Minimum adjustments needed to accommodate trees or other overhead objects may be allowed. Materials shall be limited to metal, glass, Plexiglas or equivalent “hard” durable materials.

g. Blank Walls.

i. Intent. Provide visual interest and avoid the negative impacts of blank walls.

ii. Standard. A blank wall is a wall or a portion of wall that is either (A) at least 400 square feet in area with a length and width of at least 10 feet that does not include a window, door, building modulation or other architectural feature or (B) at the ground floor and over six feet in height with a horizontal length greater than 15 feet that does not include a window, pedestrian entry door, building modulation or other architectural feature.

Any blank wall within 50 feet of, and visible from, a public street, public park or trail, residential zone shall be treated with at least one of the following:

(A) Artwork, such as bas relief sculpture, mural or similar feature.

(B) A landscaping bed containing trees, shrubs and/or vines on a trellis that will cover at least 60 percent of the wall within three years. Irrigation shall be provided unless the bed is at least five feet in width, open to the sky and drought resistant plants are used.

(C) Architectural detailing incorporating trims, textures, reveals, contrasting materials, or other special detailing that provides visual interest.

(D) An alternative method of providing visual interest at the pedestrian level approved through design review.

h. Public Open Spaces.

i. Intent. Buildings adjacent to public open spaces such as public parks, plazas, and trails shall be oriented to promote activity and interaction, and provide visual interest to and from buildings so as to avoid the back-of-building effect.

ii. Guideline. Locate some ground level features such as entries, windows, decks, patios or similar features on buildings that interface with the public open space.

i. Projections into the Public Right-of-Way.

i. Intent. Provide adequate separation between private residential spaces, such as balconies, and the public walkway in order to make both the private and public spaces comfortable. Projections should not interfere with street amenities such as street trees, lighting or important public views. (User note: Street encroachments are also regulated by the building code and BMC Title 13.)

ii. Standards. No portion of a building may extend into the street right-of-way except:

(A) Decks and balconies shall not project more than two feet into the right-of-way unless a fixed awning covers the entire space directly below the deck or balcony at the ground floor level. A deck or balcony may not in any case project more than four feet into the right-of-way.

(B) Bay windows and similar architecture features with a horizontal width of not greater than 12 feet that project no more than four feet into the right-of-way from the face of the exterior wall, provided they are separated from like features by at least an equal width may protrude into the right-of-way.

(C) Columns, cornices, trellises, eaves and similar minor and/or decorative features; provided, that arcades shall not be located in the street right-of-way.

(D) Steps, stoops and similar ground level features, provided there is a minimum 12 feet of horizontal clearance to the street curb edge.

(E) Awnings, marquees and signs, subject to compliance with other codes, provided no ground-mounted support structures for these features shall be located in the right-of-way.

j. Residential Design.

i. Intent. Residential projects should have an active and direct link to the street pedestrian system while maintaining an appropriate transition from public to private space.

ii. Standards.

(A) Buildings containing residential uses shall have at least one covered front residential entryway facing a public right-of-way and accessed directly from the adjoining sidewalk.

(B) Open exterior entry/exit balconies that face a right-of-way are prohibited.

(C) Residential units built within 10 feet measured horizontally of an adjoining right-of-way or public space (property line) shall be constructed so that the finished floor elevation is at least 30 inches above the adjoining sidewalk.

(D) Ground floor residential units fronting on a street shall have a private main entry to the sidewalk consisting of a stoop or porch. Patio access doors shall not be considered a main entry.

(E) When private interior courtyards interface the street edge, use a landscape hedge, ornate fencing, architectural walls, or a combination of the above to carry the wall line at the street edge and define the private space. [Ord. 2017-05-014 § 2; Ord. 2009-11-070].

20.25.080 Waterfront district.

A. Purpose. This section is intended to implement the waterfront district subarea plan by:

1. Creating a safe, vibrant mixed-use urban district which is welcoming to businesses, residents and visitors.

2. Promoting diverse pedestrian and transit-oriented development at street level.

3. Optimizing public access and views to and from the waterfront.

4. Encouraging a variety of interesting design styles, features and amenities.

5. Promoting sustainable design and development practices consistent with the LEED for Neighborhood Development program.

B. Departures from Design Requirements. The director may approve departures from the design requirements in this section. All requests for departures shall be identified in the application and reviewed by the design review board following the process in BMC 20.25.030(A)(1)(b) unless the request involves a building on the city, state or national register of historic places, in which case it shall be reviewed by the historic preservation commission. A departure may only be allowed if the director determines that the applicant has demonstrated that either:

1. In response to difficult physical circumstances relating to the size, shape, topography, location or surroundings of the subject property, an alternative solution is required that meets the intent of the requirement to the greatest extent practical, or

2. An alternative design will provide an equal or better solution that:

a. Meets the intent of the standard;

b. Enhances the character and livability of the waterfront;

c. Enhances the character and environment for pedestrians;

d. Enhances or protects the character of the neighborhood or vicinity by protecting natural features, historic sites, open space, or other resources; and

e. Will not have any substantial detrimental effect on nearby properties and the city or the neighborhood.

C. Specific Standards.

1. Site Design.

a. Orientation to Street.

i. Intent. Reinforce pedestrian activity, orientation to ground floor activities and enhance the liveliness of the street through building location.

ii. Guideline. Locate new structures to contribute to a strong “building wall” edge to the street such that they align at the front lot line and build out to the full width of the parcel, to the side lot lines. Although small gaps may occur between some structures, these are the exception. This should not preclude the provision of a wider sidewalk, public space, landscaping, art or outdoor seating.

iii. Guideline. Locate the primary building entrance at street level facing a public street. The primary entrance should be more articulated and highlighted (size, material, recessed, lighting) than secondary entrances.

iv. Guideline. Commercial buildings facing public streets or trails in commercial mixed use areas shall have entrances from the street or trail every 75 feet, on average.

b. Surface Parking.

i. Intent. Ensure that surface parking lots are not a dominant element within the waterfront district and minimize the impact of surface parking on the pedestrian environment.

ii. Standard. Parking shall be located to the rear or side of buildings. Surface parking lots shall not be located at intersections nor include more than 120 feet of street frontage along any arterial street (see Figure 20.25.080(A)). Access should be from a local street or alley where feasible.

iii. Standard. Long-term off-street surface parking lots shall not be located adjacent to Commercial Street or Bloedel Avenue. Interim surface parking lots may be permitted along Commercial Street and Bloedel Avenue for up to 10 years on parcels intended for redevelopment.

c. Drive-Through Facilities.

i. Intent. Diminish the impact of automobiles on the pedestrian environment.

ii. Standard. Access and stacking lanes for drive-through services shall not be located between the street and the building or between the building and a residential zone. (See Figure 20.25.080(B).)

d. Refuse Enclosures.

i. Intent. Reduce the impact and view of trash and recycling storage areas.

ii. Guideline. Locate refuse and recycling storage areas to the rear of the site, screened from arterial streets and pedestrian walkways.

iii. Standard. Refuse containment areas shall be placed in a building or enclosed within a structure that is of similar architectural character to the major structures on the site.

e. Rooftop Screening.

i. Intent. Rooftops and mechanical equipment should not detract from the appearance of the building and should be designed with consideration of the appearance from the adjacent bluff.

ii. Standard. Screen mechanical equipment by extending the parapet walls or other roof forms that are integrated with the architecture of the building to a height that equals or exceeds the height of the mechanical equipment. Utilize rooftop vegetation, screening or roofing materials which minimize glare from rooftops.

f. Pedestrian Connectivity.

i. Intent. Create a network of safe, convenient and attractive off-street linkages for pedestrians.

ii. Guideline. When a development encompasses a site greater than 240 feet wide or deep, incorporate pedestrian access through the site to connect to alleys, streets or neighboring properties. (See Figure 20.25.080(C).)

iii. Guideline. Provide walkways connecting building entrances to adjacent streets, parks and buildings. Locate walkways in active and well-lighted areas visible from adjoining public spaces. (See Figure 20.25.080(D).)

iv. Standard. Pedestrian through-block connections shall include a walkway at least five feet wide and shall be clearly defined by use of material, elevation (six inches raised) or landscaping borders. The space between two buildings adjoining a through-block walkway shall be a minimum of 20 feet, unless a shorter distance is approved through design review.

v. Standard. Pedestrian access shall be provided between the building main entry and the public sidewalk. If walkways cross parking lots or driveways, the walkway shall be separated from the parking area by landscaping or by raised pavement, or, when crossing driving lanes, by a change in pavement texture or material.

g. Site Lighting.

i. Intent. Provide architectural character and safety and encourage evening activity while minimizing impacts to neighboring properties and the darkness of the night sky.

ii. Guideline. Shielded low intensity lighting should be provided for entries, walkways, parking garage entrances, parking lots, alleys and refuse enclosures.

iii. Guideline. Parking lot lights should generally be no more than 18 feet in height and lower for pedestrian walkways.

iv. Guideline. Lighting should be directed away from the sky, dwellings and neighboring development. The use of LED or low energy use fixtures with cut off shades which meet LEED standards and dark sky criteria is strongly encouraged.

v. Guideline. Light fixtures should contribute to the overall design of the building and may be used to highlight special architectural features.

h. Acoustical Site Planning.

i. Intent. Employ site planning, design, and building orientation techniques in new residential development to minimize the potential for noise impacts from off-site noise-generating sources such as industrial operations and the railroad.

ii. Guideline. Site residential units at some distance from noise-generating sources, or closer to quieter and less traveled roadways, planned parks and green spaces.

iii. Guideline. Acoustical noise reducing concepts could be incorporated in the architectural design of individual buildings. These concepts could include room arrangement, window placement, and balcony and courtyard design. For example, placing bedrooms and living rooms in the part of the residential building farthest from the noise source, while placing kitchens and bathrooms closer to the noise source.

iv. Guideline. Acoustical construction treatments could be used for various parts of the residential buildings to reduce interior noise impacts. Treatments could include the use of walls, windows, doors, ceilings, and floors that have been treated to reduce sound transmission into a building (the use of dense materials and the use of airspaces within materials are the principal noise-reducing techniques of acoustical construction).

v. Guideline. Non-living portions of residential buildings (such as garages, commercial spaces, and recreational facilities) could be placed between the residences and noise-generating sources.

2. Building Design.

a. Building Scale.

i. Intent. Establish a building scale consistent with a highly urban downtown context.

ii. Guideline. Develop a primary facade that is in scale and maintains alignments with surrounding buildings. Although a new building may tower above the surrounding buildings, the first several stories should visually relate to the surrounding context.

iii. Standards. (See Figure 20.25.080(E).)

(A) Minimum building height within 15 feet of the street frontage of arterial streets in the commercial mixed-use subzone is 25 feet.

(B) Buildings within the commercial mixed-use sub-zone should have at least three stories of occupied space in some portion of the building. This standard does not apply to buildings located within parks, view corridors or shoreline jurisdiction.

b. Massing and Articulation.

i. Intent. Reduce the apparent mass of large buildings to provide visual interest and pedestrian scale.

ii. Guideline. Buildings should convey a visually distinct base and top.

iii. Guideline. Roof parapets and eaves are encouraged to vary in height to avoid long, straight lines at the maximum building heights.

iv. Guideline. Buildings with facades longer than 50 feet should be divided into “modules” that are expressed three-dimensionally throughout the building facade. Modules could vary in width.

v. Guideline. Reduce the apparent mass of buildings facing adjacent public spaces by stepping down building height and reducing the area of wall planes.

vi. Standards.

(A) The maximum height within 15 feet of any arterial street right-of-way is four stories and 56 feet. A maximum of 50 percent of wall length above the fourth story may encroach five feet into the setback (not including decks). (See Figure 20.25.080(E).)

(B) Buildings over seven stories in height shall incorporate at least one additional setback at or above the seventh floor, and incorporate features that create a visually distinct roof form (see Figure 20.25.080(E)). The following are examples of such features:

(1) Terraced setbacks.

(2) Pitched or curved roof elements.

(3) Projecting cornice elements.

(4) Trellises along the parapet.

(5) Geometric forms.

(6) Change of material or color on the top floor.

(C) The street level floor of buildings within commercial mixed-use subzones shall have a minimum floor-to-floor height of 12 feet.

(D) The floor plate for any portion of a building exceeding 100 feet in height is limited to 14,000 square feet. (See Figure 20.25.080(F).)

(E) Any portion of a building exceeding 100 feet must be located at least 100 feet from any portion of an existing or approved building face which exceeds 100 feet. (See Figure 20.25.080(F).)

c. Variations on Building Design.

i. Intent. To avoid repetition and monotony, create a range of different forms similar to the variety of buildings and styles found in traditional downtowns which evolved over time.

ii. Guideline. When a development includes three or more buildings, the buildings within a development should not use identical footprints or elevations. Changes in textures and colors may be appropriate. While there may be some elements that provide a commonality to the entire development, variety shall be visually evident.

d. Commercial Street Frontage Standard.

i. Intent. To encourage pedestrian-oriented activity at street level along arterial streets in the downtown waterfront area.

ii. Guideline. The front 20 feet of building space at sidewalk level along Commercial Street and Bloedel Avenue shall be designed for commercial or public uses, including retail, service, office, government, or similar nonresidential uses. Lobbies for residential uses and hotels and parking garage entries are exempt from this provision. Hotel guest rooms, dwelling units and structured parking garages shall not occupy street level building space fronting on Commercial Street or Bloedel Avenue.

e. Ground Floor Details.

i. Intent. Reinforce the character of the streetscape by encouraging the greatest amount of visual interest along the ground level of buildings facing streets.

ii. Guidelines. Ground floor, street-facing facades of commercial and mixed-use buildings shall incorporate elements such as lighting or hanging baskets, medallions, belt courses, plinths for columns, kick plates, projecting sills, tile work, pedestrian scale signs, planter boxes or other vegetation, or other elements that meet the intent.

f. Structured Parking.

i. Intent. Reduce the visual impacts of structured parking on public streets and open spaces.

ii. Guideline. Where feasible, parking garages should be located on local streets or alleys or integrated within a building with occupied building space along the ground level street frontage.

iii. Guideline. Structured parking levels that are adjacent to an arterial street or open space, or a public street within a commercial or institutional mixed zone, shall be screened or treated architecturally by window openings, landscaping or artwork designed to screen the facade.

g. Building Material.

i. Intent. Create a vibrant waterfront district through the use of good design and quality materials.

ii. Guideline. Design architectural features that are an integral part of the building and discourage features that appear to be “tacked on” or artificially thin.

iii. Guideline. Material selection should exhibit high quality, particularly at street level. Examples include stone, brick, tile, concrete, metal, or transparent glass. Avoid residential lap siding on the ground floor of commercial or mixed-use buildings.

iv. Guideline. Encourage the use of recessed windows that create shadow lines.

h. Transparency.

i. Intent. Provide a visual link between business spaces and public sidewalks to create visual interest at the pedestrian level.

ii. Standard. A minimum of 60 percent of the building wall between two feet and seven feet above the sidewalk facing an arterial street in the commercial mixed-use subzone shall be transparent or lightly tinted glazing. Windows into parking garage space shall not qualify. If windows are not appropriate, glass display cases, decorative art (for example, murals or relief sculpture), significant architectural detailing or wall-covering landscaping may be used. (See Figure 20.25.080(G).)

i. Weather Protection.

i. Intent. Provide pedestrians rain protection, integrate individual buildings into the streetscape, and define the pedestrian zone.

ii. Guideline. Weather protection should be located between eight and 12 feet above the walkway but a higher placement may be considered if the width of the protection is increased.

iii. Standard. Where commercial uses or parking garages are located at street level along an arterial street, buildings shall provide pedestrian weather protection covering at least a four-foot width of sidewalk along at least 75 percent of the street level frontage. Minimum adjustments needed to accommodate trees or other overhead objects may be allowed. Materials shall be limited to metal, glass, Plexiglas or equivalent “hard” durable materials.

j. Blank Walls.

i. Intent. Provide visual interest and avoid the negative impacts of blank walls.

ii. Standard. A blank wall is a wall or a portion of wall that is either (A) at least 400 square feet in area with a length and a width of at least 10 feet that does not include a window, door, building modulation or other architectural feature or (B) at the ground floor and over six feet in height with a horizontal length greater than 15 feet that does not include a window, pedestrian entry door, building modulation or other architectural feature. Any blank wall within 50 feet of, and visible from, a public street, public park or trail shall be treated with at least one of the following:

(A) Artwork, such as bas relief sculpture, mural or similar feature.

(B) A landscaping bed containing trees, shrubs and/or vines on a trellis that will cover at least 60 percent of the wall within three years. Landscape beds shall be at least five feet in width, open to the sky and use drought-resistant plants or include irrigation with reclaimed water.

(C) Architectural detailing incorporating trims, textures, reveals, contrasting materials, or other special detailing that provides visual interest.

(D) An alternative method of providing visual interest at the pedestrian level approved through design review.

k. Public Open Spaces.

i. Intent. Buildings adjacent to public open spaces such as public parks, plazas, and trails shall be oriented to promote activity and interaction, and provide visual interest to and from buildings so as to avoid the back-of-building effect.

ii. Guideline. Locate some ground level features such as entries, windows, decks, patios or similar features on buildings that interface with the public open space.

l. Projections into the Public Right-of-Way.

i. Intent. Provide adequate separation between private residential spaces, such as balconies, and the public walkway in order to make both the private and public spaces comfortable. Projections should not interfere with street amenities such as street trees, lighting or important public views. (Street encroachments are also regulated by the building code and BMC Title 13.)

ii. Standards. No portion of a building may extend into the street right-of-way except:

(A) Decks and balconies shall not project more than two feet into the right-of-way unless a fixed awning covers the entire space directly below the deck or balcony at the ground floor level. A deck or balcony may not in any case project more than four feet into the right-of-way.

(B) Bay windows and similar architecture features with a horizontal width of not greater than 12 feet that project no more than four feet into the right-of-way from the face of the exterior wall, provided they are separated from like features by at least an equal width, may protrude into the right-of-way.

(C) Columns, cornices, trellises, eaves and similar minor and/or decorative features; provided, that arcades shall not be located in the street right-of-way.

(D) Steps, stoops and similar ground level features provided there is a minimum 12 feet of horizontal clearance to the street curb edge.

(E) Awnings, marquees and signs, subject to compliance with other codes, provided no ground-mounted support structures for these features shall be located in the right-of-way.

m. Residential Design.

i. Intent. Residential projects should have an active and direct link to the street pedestrian system while maintaining an appropriate transition from public to private space.

ii. Standards.

(A) Buildings containing residential uses shall have at least one covered front residential entryway facing a public right-of-way and accessed directly from the adjoining sidewalk.

(B) Open exterior entry/exit balconies that face a right-of-way are prohibited.

(C) Residential units built within 10 feet measured horizontally of an adjoining right-of-way or public space (property line) shall be constructed so that the finished floor elevation is at least 24 inches above the adjoining sidewalk.

(D) Ground floor residential units fronting on a street shall have a private main entry to the sidewalk consisting of a stoop or porch. Patio access doors shall not be considered a main entry.

(E) When private interior courtyards interface the street edge, use a landscape hedge, ornate fencing, architectural walls, or a combination of the above to carry the wall line at the street edge and define the private space. [Ord. 2014-09-043 § 4; Ord. 2013-12-090 § 7 (Exh. E)].

Design standards:

City Center Design Standards

Fairhaven Design Standards