Design Review Board

The Design Review Board (DRB) advises the Planning and Community Development Director and Staff on proposed development projects; and typically meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month.

At this time, the meetings are still being held virtually (via Zoom Webinars) and require that attendees register prior to joining the meeting. Once registered, an email with pertinent meeting information will be sent to you.

Visit the Design Review Board Meeting Materials webpage to view meeting agendas and supporting materials, which are posted approximately one week prior to the meeting date. Also viewable, are the minutes from past meetings.

The purpose of the Design Review Board (DRB) is to encourage quality building design and site planning that enhances the character of the city. The Board reviews proposed development projects for consistency with adopted design standards within the following urban villages: Downtown, Old Town, Waterfront, Samish Way and Fountain. The Board may also review proposed multifamily, mixed used in residential multi zones, and large retail establishments located elsewhere in the City at the discretion of the Planning and Community Development Director.

The Board makes recommendations to the Planning and Community Development Department Director regarding design approval.

The Board reviews projects at two stages:  (1) a pre-application review of conceptual plans to provide design guidance and (2) a final review of the design application.  All reviews are conducted at open public meetings. 

The Board reviews new development and exterior alterations that are valued at over $50,000 and do not involve buildings on a historic registry. Projects involving historic registry buildings are reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission. Staff may also refer smaller projects to the Board if there are design issues. 

It is also anticipated that the Board will assist the City in a periodic evaluation of the design review program and standards.

The Board holds a regular meeting on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 3:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at City Hall. Additional time will be required to review plans and reports prior to meetings.

The Board consists of five members appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council. At least three members must be from the professions of architecture, landscape architecture, urban design/planning, or similar disciplines.  At least one member shall represent the community at large and not be from the above listed professions. Members must be capable of reading and understanding architectural plans and be knowledgeable in building and design

Appointments are staggered, of the members first appointed, one will be appointed for one (1) year, two will be appointed for two (2) years, one will be appointed for three (3) years and one will be appointed for four (4) years; thereafter, the term is four years and members may be reappointed and .

Any U.S. citizen may apply, but preference will be given to residents of Bellingham. No member of the Advisory Board may be employed by the City. No compensation is paid to members of this Board.

Current Boards & Commissions Vacancy List (PDF)

Main Office
Design Review Board
Planning & Community Development Department
210 Lottie Street – Bellingham, WA 98225

Phone: (360) 778-8300


We are adjusting some City operations due to the current COVID-19 surge, prioritizing essential services and the safety of employees and the public.