Published February 7 2024
Plus, permit extension, updates from County Councilmembers
The City Council Monday approved a contract with 4 Tomorrow, an organization that will operate Bellevue’s first safe parking pilot program.
The council received a briefing from the city’s homelessness outreach program team about the launch of the safe parking pilot, expected to be operational this spring. The council then approved a contract for the program operator.
4 Tomorrow is a local nonprofit with a focus on serving vulnerable populations and connecting to communities of color. To operate the safe parking pilot, the organization will work in partnership with i2, another group with experience serving unhoused community members and facilitating safe parking programs. The city issued requests for proposals last year to find and select the right community-based organizations to help operate the program.
The primary goal of the program is to provide stability to individuals who live in their vehicles as they seek permanent housing. At least 54 vehicles were counted as residences in Bellevue during an unofficial count conducted by the city in 2023. The safe parking location includes a clean, safe, off-street parking area and on-site access to bathrooms, showers, kitchen and case management services. The program will give preference in the lot to families with children.
The contract approved by the council is for $672,350 and includes staffing and operational costs to facilitate the program. As the program will operate on city-owned property, the city is also completing minor facility improvements and security upgrades to support program success. The initial contract is through 2024 with an option to extend to June 1, 2025. More information is in the meeting materials.
Some permit applications extended
The council adopted an ordinance extending the life of building and clearing and grading permit applications and issued permits by providing a single 180-day extension. The extension is nearly identical to an ordinance approved in March 2023, with the addition of a clarification that the extension also applies to a small number of standalone clearing and grading permit applications and issued permits. Projects will remain vested under the current codes, providing certainty to developers as to what codes are applicable throughout permit review and construction.
The city is meeting with industry and community partners through the Bellevue Development Committee to gather input on possible process improvements. The permit extension is one early outcome of this partnership.
These meetings also support policy in the city’s Comprehensive Plan to support growth through strategic land use policies. These extensions are consistent with previous extensions provided in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and in 2010 and 2011 following the Great Recession.
County Councilmembers Balducci and Dunn share updates
King County Councilmembers Reagan Dunn and Claudia Balducci delivered an update on major initiatives and accomplishments from the County Council.
They first shared maps of the new county council districts, which were changed based on the 2020 census. Regarding public safety and criminal justice, they promoted the county's multiprong effort to address an increase in gun violence and to increase capacity and transparency in the King County Sheriff's Office. King County District Superior Court is working through a backlog of cases caused by pandemic restrictions and changes to how youth incarceration is managed are underway.
The councilmembers shared data about the sharp increase in drug and alcohol poisoning deaths between 2019 and 2023, which led the County Council to declare fentanyl a public health crisis. King County has launched multiple programs, regional efforts and public awareness campaigns to reduce substance use disorder and prevent overdose.
The councilmembers shared news about progress on the East Link “starter line” connecting eight stations in Bellevue and Redmond, set to begin service this spring. The full Line 2 light rail service between Redmond and Seattle is planned to begin in mid-2025.
They also shared information on major investments in Bellevue including housing, transportation, behavioral health care, stormwater infrastructure, and arts and culture.
Long-time community volunteer and board member commended
The council honored Debra Kumar, a long-time Parks & Community Services Board member and active community volunteer, who recently lost her two-year battle with ALS. Members of her family were present to receive the commendation.
Lunar New Year proclamation
Councilmember Janice Zahn read a proclamation in honor of Lunar New Year, a holiday celebrated by many Asian cultures. Celebrations for the Lunar New Year are taking place around the region, including in Bellevue. The city is hosting internal and public events, and several community organizations are also holding events this month.