• Council Roundup: Hearing set on light rail permitting

    Published January 24 2013

    Also, advisory board for Downtown Livability

    Council members on Tuesday scheduled a second public hearing on Feb. 11 to take comments on amending the city's land use code related to the East Link light rail project.

    The proposed amendments will be part of a comprehensive new section, or land use code "overlay," that would create permitting processes, development standards and design standards for reviewing East Link plans. The changes are intended to fill in gaps in the current land use code, which did not anticipate a light rail line.

    Since its first public hearing last October, the council has studied different aspects of the proposed land use code amendments at six of its last nine meetings. The council also is tentatively scheduled to consider the changes at meetings on Jan. 28 and Feb. 4, and aims to complete the work on the overlay by the end of February.

    Also on Tuesday the council discussed how a citizen advisory committee, or CAC, could be involved in the light rail permit review process. Such an approach was envisioned in a 2008 Light Rail Best Practices report, and similar public outreach efforts have been used by Seattle and Portland, Ore., when light rail plans were reviewed in those cities.

    Bellevue has been working with Sound Transit on cost savings options for the $2.8 billion East Link project, which will run from Seattle, through Bellevue, to the Overlake Transit Center in Redmond. Construction is expected to start in 2015 and service is scheduled to begin in 2023.

    Feedback: Carol Helland, Land Use Division Director, 425-452-2724 or chelland@bellevuewa.gov

    Advisory board for Downtown Livability
    An advisory board with members from several boards and commissions, as well as other community representatives, will lead an effort to foster development downtown that would give Bellevue's skyline more personality and help make the city's fastest growing residential neighborhood more pedestrian-friendly.

    The council Tuesday decided the group guiding the Downtown Livability initiative will include two members of the Planning Commission and one member each from the Parks & Community Services Board and the Transportation, Human Services and Environmental Services commissions, as well as an architect and business and neighborhood representatives. Ultimately, the advisory group's work will be handed off to the Planning Commission and City Council for the code adoption process.

    Last July the council launched the Downtown Livability initiative to make downtown "more viable, livable and memorable."

    In an extensive update of the downtown land use code adopted in 1981, the city aims to change zoning regulations and design guidelines to ensure that the downtown area serves the needs of residents and businesses. The council allocated $385,000 for consultants to study the city's code and suggest changes.

    The council adopted principles that set forth the initiative’s focus areas, including

    • Refining incentives for downtown developers to add public amenities such as public open space and memorable gathering places;
    • Promoting a distinctive and memorable skyline that sets Bellevue's downtown apart from other cities;
    • Creating a great visitor experience and a more vital tourism sector;
    • Encouraging green, energy-efficient and sustainable buildings; and
    • Improving the overall quality of the pedestrian experience downtown.

    Adoption of code changes and design guidelines related to the Downtown Livability initiative is expected in 2014.

    Residents and businesses weighed in on what the project should address at a “scoping†meeting and open house in November. Outreach for the project will continue with more open houses and other kinds of meetings.

    Feedback: Dan Stroh, Planning Director, 425-452-5255 or dstroh@bellevuewa.gov