• Council Roundup: Eastside Men’s Shelter and other housing projects funding approved

    Published July 22 2021

    Plus, Human Services recommendations, Environmental Stewardship progress report, and code amendment for East Bellevue parking minimums 

    On Monday evening the City Council unanimously approved funding for three housing efforts in Bellevue, including the Eastside Men’s Shelter, Eastgate Permanent Supportive Housing and the acquisition of Illahee Apartments to preserve those affordable housing units. 

    Funding from Bellevue of $3.6 million to support cost increases on the men’s shelter construction at the Eastgate Master Development was approved on the consent calendar. 

    Two other resolutions were unanimously approved to authorize the City Manager to use existing city affordable housing funds in the amount of $400,000 to support the Eastgate Permanent Supportive Housing project cost increases and $4 million for the Illahee Apartments acquisition by the King County Housing Authority to preserve existing affordable housing. 

    More information is in the meeting materials for Resolution 9971 (Eastside Men’s Shelter), Resolution 9972 (Eastgate Permanent Supportive Housing), and Resolution 9973 (Illahee Apartments) and the full discussion can be viewed on Bellevue Television replay.

    Human Services recommendations

    Councilmembers also reviewed recommendations from the Human Services Commission to fund behavioral health, supportive services and rental assistance programs as part of a House Bill 1590 (HB1590) affordable housing and related services sales tax increase, approved by the State legislature in 2020 and expected to generate about $8.5 million for Bellevue in 2021. 

    The bill aims to preserve and create affordable housing for low-income residents, but also to provide behavioral and mental health treatment programs to support housing stability and successful transitions from homelessness. The tenth of a percent tax increase went into effect Jan. 1, 2021. 20% of the revenue generated is dedicated to human services funding, which equals $1.66 million in Bellevue this year.

    The commission prioritized equity in the process of selecting agencies to fund, doing additional outreach to agencies supporting diverse populations and offering technical assistance to complete the grant applications. 25 applications for funding were received and discussed during two rounds of review, with 19 programs recommended to receive funding. Seven of those programs were new to the city.

    During the vote to direct staff to prepare an ordinance allocating funding in alignment with the commission’s recommendation, councilmembers Jared Nieuwenhuis and Janice Zahn recused themselves from the vote because they serve on boards for agencies that had applied for funding. The remaining councilmembers unanimously approved moving forward with allocating the funding in line with the recommendation.

    The council will discuss in an upcoming meeting how to allocate the remaining 2021 HB1590 funding to capital projects to create affordable housing. More information on the human services component of the action is available in the meeting materials

    Environmental Stewardship progress report

    Later, councilmembers received an informational update on the city’s progress as part of the newly updated Environmental Stewardship Initiative. 

    The report highlighted the impacts of COVID-19 on the community’s key environmental metrics, which improved due to less business activity and reduced driving and energy use during the pandemic. Emissions decreased by 19%, per capita vehicle miles driven dropped 31% and electricity use went down by 22%. The city’s municipal operations also saw a decrease in emissions of 20%, lower building energy use and fossil fuel use reduction due to fleet vehicles not being used. There was also a reduction in energy use for traffic signals and street lights due to an LED lighting upgrade that is nearly completed.

    In the second quarter of 2021, the city will undertake several lighting and HVAC upgrades thanks to an energy efficiency grant awarded by the Dept. of Commerce. The city is also using a donation from the business community to start a tree planting program and was recognized by What Works Cities for excellence in data management and sharing data with the public. All of the key metrics being tracked to show how the city is progressing in its Environmental Stewardship Initiative are at www.BellevueWA.gov/esiperformance

    Code amendment for East Bellevue parking minimums

    Also on Monday, the council enacted a Land Use Code Amendment (LUCA) to establish different parameters for reduced minimum parking standards for certain multifamily developments near frequent transit in the East Bellevue Community Council (EBCC) area to align with state statutes. 

    The EBCC disapproved a prior ordinance passed by the City Council amending the Land Use Code to establish reduced minimum parking standards. The council established that certain multifamily developments may be eligible for reduced parking requirements when located within one-half mile of a transit stop with service at least four times per hour for 12 hours per day. One-half mile was selected instead of one-quarter mile, the minimum under state statutes, in order to make housing development more feasible and anticipating the impact of future light rail service. The EBCC LUCA would limit eligibility to one-quarter mile from any frequent transit stop for eligible residential development located within the EBCC jurisdictional area.

    More details on the LUCA are available in the meeting agenda item.