Plus, COVID-19 temporary use permits extended, ARCH housing project funding approved and homelessness update
On Monday, the City Council received a report on final recommendations from an independent review into Bellevue police’s use of force policy. The report included 47 recommendations based on months of research and robust community outreach. The council undertook a pledge in June 2020 to engage the community, review the current use of force policies and reform the city’s practices as needed.
The report to the council was delivered by the Office of Independent Review Group, an independent, third-party agency selected last year to conduct the review and deliver the report. The group held nine targeted, small-group listening sessions, conducted a survey, hosted three communitywide listening sessions and collected hundreds of emails and comments from community members, making about 1,400 total contacts during the course of the review. In addition, they reviewed Bellevue police manuals, reports and data, and met with command staff and subject matter experts from within the department to better understand how policies were implemented day-to-day.
Key highlights in the council briefing included recommendations that the department implement a body-worn camera program, enhance future community input and engagement in policing, update K-9 and taser policies to meet current progressive practices, add a duty to intervene as part of the use of force policy, and consult advisory groups in policy development earlier in the policymaking process. The full report containing all 47 recommendations and more information is available on the Council Pledge web page.
The briefing is available through video replay on Bellevue Television. The council will continue reviewing the report and assess the recommendations for potential future action.
COVID-19 temporary use permits extended
In other business, a public hearing was held to collect community input on extending an Interim Official Control (IOC) put in place last October to allow the continuance of temporary use permits specific to operating during COVID-19.
The IOC applies to certain temporary use permits enacted for the purpose of continuing or expanding the footprint of business operations under COVID-19 protocols. This included restaurants operating with extended outdoor dining spaces, educational organizations modifying operations, and medical facilities operating drive-through care options. The initial IOC ran for a six-month period but can be extended for another six-month period.
There were no comments submitted by community members during the public hearing. Councilmembers unanimously voted to renew the IOC for another six months. The matter will now go to the East Bellevue Community Council for a public hearing and action within that jurisdiction. More detail on the IOC is in the meeting materials.
ARCH housing project funding approved
Later, councilmembers reviewed recommendations from the executive board of A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH) to fund three regional housing projects jointly with other municipalities in the region. The projects in Bellevue, Bothell and Kirkland will provide more affordable housing options in the region.
Bellevue’s share of funding to support the three projects is $621,900, equal to 12.4% of the total funds recommended through the Fall 2020 ARCH Trust Fund process. The project in Bellevue will provide permanent supportive housing at the Eastgate housing complex being developed between multiple housing providers. It will also create 92 units of housing for individuals coming out of homelessness and provide them with supportive services to allow them to maintain stable housing. The project will employ a Bellevue-specific program model that prioritizes placement of residents from the Eastside. More information on all three projects is in the meeting agenda under “Other Ordinances, Resolutions and Motions.”
The council unanimously approved the funding. Further community meetings will be held as the Bellevue project advances. The building is expected to be occupied starting in 2023.
Homelessness outreach and enforcement update
In a related topic, the city’s Homelessness Coordinator addressed recent reports of homeless encampments in right-of-way areas in Bellevue, explaining how the city is currently working with those experiencing homelessness and enforcing city code where applicable.
The report emphasized the critical partnerships between city departments, housing providers and behavioral services agencies in the community to connect individuals to the right services. The goal is to identify and remove barriers to housing and serve those experiencing homelessness, while also ensuring the health of the community.
The mayor requested a future study session where councilmembers could further explore the issue and ask questions. The initial report is available on Bellevue Television’s replay.