• Council Roundup: Relief for businesses, arts organizations

    Published April 22 2020

    Also, building permit applications extended, Sexual Assault Awareness Month

    The City Council Monday received an update on the city’s efforts to support the local business and the arts community during COVID-19.

    At a virtual meeting with councilmembers and city staff, the city’s Cultural and Economic Development division reported a variety of efforts in progress to respond to COVID-19 business impacts:

    • Coordinating Eastside partners on a COVID-19 economic response;
    • Compiling and communicating resources and technical assistance available to local businesses;
    • Reaching out to small and mid-sized businesses and organizations; and
    • Marketing and promoting small businesses still in operation. 

    The cities of Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond and Renton launched (re)STARTUP425, a collaborative effort to connect Eastside small business owners, nonprofit leaders and sole proprietors with government loans and grants during the pandemic.  

    The cities have contracted with Business Impact NW to staff (re)STARTUP425’s business response team, with an emphasis and expertise in helping traditionally underserved business owners.

    (re)STARTUP425, accessible in multiple languages, offers connection to one-on-one technical consultations on business financial assistance programs and COVID-19 related resources including a calendar of webinars. Additionally, the website features a map of over 300 Eastside restaurants and cafes open for carryout.

    A regional survey with nearly 1,000 East King County respondents found that the primary business concerns were ability to pay rent and bills, along with temporary closures. According to the results, the most impacted businesses are retail, tourism, construction and the arts. 

    During the council meeting, staff recognized many top employers in Bellevue for their efforts to support the business community during the pandemic. A list of businesses supporting our community in this challenging time can be found at 

    Additional background on the city’s economic development relief work can be found in the agenda packet materials.

    Extension of building permit applications

    The council approved an ordinance effective April 20 extending the expiration date by 180 days for building permit applications — including electrical, mechanical and plumbing permit applications — and already-issued building permits. The ordinance also extends by 180 days the expiration date of clearing and grading permit applications and already-issued clearing and grading permits.

    The ordinance is in response to the halt of most commercial and residential construction projects due to necessary COVID-19 precautions. The extensions give extra time for completing the permit process or construction in an effort to avoid the time and cost of reapplication in the event permits expire. The extensions apply only to complete permit applications or issued permits active on the effective date of the ordinance.

    Sexual Assault Awareness Month

    The council recognized April as “Sexual Assault Awareness Month.” The proclamation is particularly important during the governor’s “Stay Home” order period. Bellevue police have reported a 14 percent increase in domestic disturbances since social distancing measures were put in place. 

    In addition, demand for services to help survivors heal has increased significantly since 2016. More survivors who previously remained silent are speaking up to get the help they need.

    The proclamation is available in the agenda packet materials.