Published January 27 2023
Plus, public hearing on code amendments and council takes position on housing bills
On Monday, the City Council was briefed on initial findings from an updated Housing Needs Assessment completed in December. The last time the city conducted a citywide Housing Needs Assessment was in 2016. That earlier assessment informed the creation of the city’s 2017 Affordable Housing Strategy.
The 2022 assessment revealed, among other findings, that Bellevue has an aging and diversifying population, there are increasing income disparities among residents, housing prices are rising faster than wage increases, and housing unit sizes over time are getting smaller, with more multifamily and rental unit developments. More people are on the very low income or the very high income ends of the economic spectrum, with fewer people in the middle since the last assessment. More than a quarter of Bellevue households are paying more than 30% of their income on housing costs.
The city will apply the findings of the 2022 Housing Needs Assessment to the city’s "Next Right Work" (key affordable housing actions being taken in the next 12 to 18 months), Comprehensive Plan Update (Bellevue’s plan for what the city will look like in 2044), and the Wilburton Vision Implementation (the planning framework for improvements in the Wilburton neighborhood.)
It is anticipated that housing focus areas will include policy support for the most cost-burdened populations in the city, continued preservation efforts for existing affordable housing, creation of larger, multigenerational housing units at all income levels and creation of housing specifically at the deepest affordability levels.
More information on the assessment and the council presentation are in the meeting materials.
Public hearing on code amendments
The council also held a public hearing on proposed amendments to the city’s land use code in light of the sunsetting of the East Bellevue Community Council in 2022.
The proposed amendments include a Shoreline Master Program Conformance Land Use Code Amendment. The code amendments remove references to the EBCC and conform provisions with city code amendments adopted in summer 2022.
Following the hearing, the council voted unanimously to bring back the final action to adopt the amendments at a future meeting on the consent calendar.
The proposed code amendment was introduced to the council on Jan. 9. More information is on the Shoreline Master Program and SEPA Conformance Amendments webpage and the hearing is available on Bellevue Television replay.
Council takes position on housing bills
In other business, the council voted to take a position House Bill 1110 and companion legislation Senate Bill 5190, currently being considered in the State Legislature. This legislation would amend the Growth Management Act to require cities to allow up to fourplexes on all residential lots, in addition to other housing requirements, in an effort to increase affordable housing in the state.
The council voted to take a position as “other” (as opposed to a “pro” or “con”), giving the city an opportunity to provide substantial comments and requests for specific changes to the legislation that would enable the city to potentially support the bill.
The council voted 5-2 to take the “other” position and submit a comment letter, with Councilmember Conrad Lee and Deputy Mayor Jared Nieuwenhuis voting no. The full discussion is available on Bellevue Television replay.
NOTE: The next council meeting will be on Feb. 6 due to Jan. 31 being the fifth Monday of the month.