Design Standards

The City of Bellingham provides guidance through development and design standards to ensure that development is safe, appropriate for the area, and fits well with adjacent properties.

Urban Village Design Review

The purpose of the Urban Village Design Review update is to clarify, simplify and standardize urban village design review to encourage predictability and support creativity in the design process.


  • Meaningful public involvement
  • Earlier staff engagement, including Public Works review
  • Constructive Design Review Board (DRB) evaluation
  • Defined and empowered roles for DRB, the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) and staff
  • Easy process for desired projects
  • Clear hierarchy of guidelines and standards
  • Encourage great design through defined design principles/intents

This project will combine urban village guidelines in a single location, replacing numerous existing documents such as the City Center and Fairhaven Design Standards. It includes a new Historic Guidelines document and updates to development regulations as well as the review process.

AUGUST 16, 2022: Design Review Board / Historic Preservation meeting.

City Center Design Guidelines

The City Center Design Guidelines present design standards for the City Center in Bellingham, Washington. They reflect the City’s goals to promote economic development, enhance the image of the downtown and reuse historic resources. The standards neither dictate taste nor assure good design. Rather, they support the traditional qualities of the City Center and provide a framework for sympathetic design.

Multi-family Residential Design Handbook

The Multi-family Residential Design Handbook acknowledges that development must be designed in a way that blends with and respects the character of its surroundings if neighborhoods are to accept higher densities. Development requiring design review under Bellingham Municipal Code 20.25.020 (A) shall comply with the provisions of this handbook.  

Park and Trail Design Standards

These Park and Trail Design Standards are not intended to supersede City/State/Federal laws or codes or generally accepted design practices of professional consultants. It is meant to be used on City of Bellingham Parks’ projects only. Bellingham Parks shall not be responsible if these standards are used for other purposes.

Public Works Development Guidelines and Improvement Standards

The Public Works Development Guidelines and Improvement Standards have been prepared to assist you in understanding the requirements of the Public Works Department and to provide the basis for consistent design standards and policies. The Public Works Department is responsible for the construction , operation and maintenance of public facilities that include: transportation facilities, domestic water distribution systems, sanitary sewer systems, and stormwater runoff quantity and quality management,


Planning and Community Development – 360-778-8300
Parks and Recreation – 360-778-7000
Public Works – 360-778-7700