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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Council Roundup: Interim regs on room rentals extended

Also, update on Downtown Livability

Following a public hearing that drew eight speakers, the City Council extended a temporary ordinance restricting the number of unrelated people who can live together in a residential dwelling.

Originally approved September 23, the interim zoning controls were set to expire on March 23. State law requires that the council hold a public hearing each time a six-month, temporary ordinance is approved.

In September and again Monday, councilmembers acted in response to complaints from residents about investors who were renting out several individual rooms in houses. Many of the concerns emanated from the Spiritwood neighborhood, but similar issues have been raised elsewhere in Bellevue.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to start work on permanent regulations on March 12 and is tentatively scheduled to host a stakeholder panel on the topic April 23. The desire is have permanent rules in place to avoid the need for another extension of the interim ordinance.

The interim ordinance, among other actions: lowers the number of unrelated people who can live together as a family from six to four, clarifies what constitutes "unrelated persons" and clarifies the definition of boarding and rooming houses.

Currently, the regulations are being enforced on a complaint basis. City staff have addressed the room rental issue by sending compliance letters to potential violators and by providing information about the regulations to Bellevue College student representatives, real estate organizations and the Rental Housing Association. 

More information about the ordinance is available in the council meeting materials.

Building downtown: the next generation
The council reviewed progress on the Downtown Livability Initiative, an effort begun last year to update the land use code for downtown and examine how changes to development regulations can enhance it in the future.
A council-appointed citizens advisory committee has focused on key elements of the city's downtown land use code, first developed in 1981, such as building heights, public open spaces, design guidelines and incentives for developers to add amenities in exchange for increased height and density. Other topic areas that will be further studied by city staff and a consultant team include the pedestrian corridor, parking and food trucks.

To engage the public on the Livability Initiative, there have been walking tours, meetings with resident and business organizations and focus groups. Additional meetings and events will take place as the work continues.

Once the CAC submits its recommendations this summer or fall, the council will turn them over to the Planning Commission for review. Ultimately, the council will make changes to the land use code based on this work.

More information about the initiative is available in the agenda item

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