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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Council Roundup: Downtown helicopter flights expected

Also, residents give city high marks again

The City Council on Monday signaled its intent to permit limited helicopter landings on top of a downtown office building, with numerous restrictions.

Council members are expected to finalize the decision at an upcoming meeting, providing a possible end to a complicated, two-year long process. During that time, a hearing examiner's decision in favor of a conditional use permit to allow helicopter flights was appealed, and the council twice sent the "quasi judicial" matter back to the hearing examiner for further work.

The conditional-use permit would allow up to five landings-takeoffs per week atop the 21-story Bank of America Building at 10500 Northeast Eighth St., a maximum of four of them from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and one on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The flight path is to be strictly limited to freeways and Northeast Eighth Street.

In 2009, downtown property owner Kemper Freeman Jr., through his Kemper Development Company, applied for a permit for ongoing operation of the helistop. The helistop was constructed in 1988, and temporary permits have allowed for limited landings since that time.

The city's hearing examiner recommended approval of the permit, but his decision was appealed by John Su, another downtown developer, and a group of downtown residents led by Ina Goodwin Tateuchi. Attorneys for the various parties argued their points, the council twice sent the matter back to the hearing examiner, and more information was sought from the Federal Aviation Administration.

On Monday, council members expressed concerns about noise generated by helicopters and potential impacts on the growing number of downtown residents, making sure helicopters stick to a tightly designated flight path, and ensuring that regular reviews are conducted to determine whether all of the permit conditions are being followed.

The council directed staff to incorporate its concerns into an ordinance that would deny the appeal and approve Kemper Development's application for a conditional use permit. Council action on the ordinance is scheduled for May 16. 

Feedback: Mary Kate Berens, Deputy City Attorney, 425-452-4616 or mkberens@bellevuewa.gov

Residents give city high marks again
The vast majority of Bellevue residents continue to believe the city is a great place to live, their tax dollars are being used wisely and the community is moving in the right direction.

The positive findings from the city's 14th annual citizens' performance management survey, completed earlier this year by a market research company, were consistent with those from past years.

"Bellevue strives for excellence, and I think that's a key to why we get high ratings," Mayor Don Davidson said. "Mediocrity, average -- those terms don't come to mind when we try to deliver services here."

Major findings of the survey included:

  • Ninety-five percent of residents believe Bellevue is a good to excellent place to live;
  • Eighty-five percent believe they are getting value for their tax dollar;
  • Ninety-three percent believe their neighborhood is a good to excellent place to live;
  • The percentage of residents who believe the city's quality of life exceeds expectations vaulted from 84 percent last year to 95 percent this year; and
  • Ninety percent say Bellevue is close to an ideal city in which to live, up 15 percent from last year.

Residents gave city staff straight A's this year for topics such as courtesy, knowledge and responsiveness, a jump from scores of A- and B+ in 2010.

"It's just good news on all fronts," said City Manager Steve Sarkozy. 

ORC International, with an office in Seattle, conducted phone interviews, including mobile phone users, and Internet-based surveys with more than 500 residents in February, asking them questions on a wide range of issues pertaining to the performance of city government.

Complete survey results will be available later this spring and published on the city's website.

Feedback: Rich Siegel, Performance and Outreach Coordinator, 425-452-7114 or rcsiegel@bellevuewa.gov 

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