Planners and program managers at the City of Bellevue are always looking for ways to deliver better services. This year they will receive expert advice as University of Washington classes explore potential improvements to city programs based on data, research and best practices.
The university has selected the city for its Livable City Year program, and faculty and students will look at more than 30 Bellevue projects.
“We need you,” Deputy City Manager Nathan McCommon told about 25 professors and students at a kickoff meeting at UW on Tuesday, Oct. 9. “We need your ideas. We need your research. We need your energy. You will make us better.”
In character with the distinctive nature of the Livable City Year program, the kickoff featured an exercise where students and faculty in one circle of chairs exchanged aspirations for the year with city staff in a circle facing them.
The city has already enlisted the university’s help on 23 programs and notable projects, including:
- Best practices for trail-oriented development by the Eastside Rail Corridor and other multi-use trails in Bellevue;
- Research into operating models and service gaps for Startup 425, a small business incubator sponsored by Bellevue and other Eastside cities;
- Early planning for a civic center district by City Hall; and
- Development of a neighborhood walkability score that would help planners determine where sidewalks and other facilities would be most cost-effective.
The program will run through the 2018-19 academic year, winding up with a presentation of the completed projects in June. All of the projects will advance City Council priorities, specifically around livability and sustainability.
Projects encompass many of the council’s strategic target areas: Economic Development, Transportation and Mobility, High Quality Built and Natural Environment, Great Places You Want to Be, Achieving Human Potential, and High-Performance Government.
The Livable City Year program, now in its third year after UW partnerships with Tacoma and Auburn, matches faculty, courses and students across all UW schools, colleges and campuses to projects identified by the city. Through the partnership, city staff are connected to the research and project work at the university.
Danielle Verwahren, management fellow in the City Manager’s Office, is leading the city’s participation in the program.
The UW’s Livable City Year program is led by faculty directors Branden Born with the Department of Urban Design and Planning and Jennifer Otten with the School of Public Health.