Published April 20 2023
Plus, more actions on affordable housing, one-time arts grants approved and proclamations for Prescription Drug Take Back Day and Earth Day and Arbor Day
On Monday, the City Council took another step toward establishing an apprenticeship utilization program in Bellevue by voting to have city staff prepare an ordinance amending City Code to establish apprenticeship requirements for certain public works projects.
On Feb. 27, the council discussed developing a program that would require businesses hired on city construction projects to have a percentage of labor hours performed by apprentices. Since then, community input collected through an outreach website, an online survey and focus groups with key stakeholders led to refinements to the proposed program such as increasing the contract value threshold from $1 million to $2 million and providing additional support and technical assistance to contractors, including small, women and minority-owned businesses.
The council will take final action following the governor's decision on House Bill 1050, which would further regulate who is able to bid on public contracts. These apprenticeship utilization requirements are intended to encourage growth in the local supply of skilled construction workers.
The city's apprenticeship program will align with HB 1050 (once passed), though the city's program would start sooner in order to begin outreach with contractors and labor well in advance of implementation. City officials are planning on the apprenticeship program taking effect on projects advertised for bid after Sept. 1.
The full council discussion is available on replay through Bellevue Television.
Temporary ordinance to promote affordable housing
The council also voted unanimously to bring back a temporary six-month ordinance to incentivize and promote housing and affordable housing construction downtown.
The proposal allows for higher density for residential development in exchange for affordable housing and is included in the actions selected this summer under the "Next Right Work" planning effort to encourage more housing and affordable housing production. Additional development flexibility would be available to developers creating affordable housing. As part of a phased approach, the interim official control would be replaced with a permanent, citywide Land Use Code amendment. The council will hold a public hearing on the action at a future meeting.
More information is available on Bellevue TV replay.
One-time arts funding approved
In other business, the council unanimously approved the Arts Commission's recommendation for allocating funding to 32 local arts organizations as part of the 2023 One-Time Arts Project Grants.
The total budget for the special allocation was $100,000, which included $85,000 approved by the council in November 2022. The council transferred the money from the Arts Program Capital Improvement Plan to the general fund in response to the overwhelming volume of program applicants. The allocation also included $15,000 remaining from a $50,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant.
Out of 35 applicants, 32 organizations are being funded through this allocation. The $100,000 in funding represents 44% of the total requested by these organizations. The funded organizations offer programs designed to increase access for people from traditionally marginalized communities and will serve an estimated 540,000 residents and visitors this year through in-person and virtual projects. In addition, more than 106,800 people will have access to these opportunities through free or reduced admissions. The list of organizations and grant amounts is available in the meeting materials.
The council has been allocating annual operational grant funding to support artists and arts organizations since 2001. An overview of all of the city's arts grants is available at Arts Grants.
Proclamations for prescription drug awareness and Earth Day and Arbor Day
The council highlighted National Prescription Drug Take Back Day with a proclamation urging the public to locate and dispose of unwanted prescription medications. The city will host three locations for community members to drop off unwanted medication including City Hall and the Factoria and Crossroads police substations on Saturday, April 22, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
In addition, the council marked the 53rd Earth Day and 151st Arbor Day annual celebrations with a proclamation encouraging residents to take part in protecting the city's trees and natural environments for current and future generations.