• Council Roundup: Grand Connection planning advances

    Published May 20 2021

    Plus, update on Smart City plan and new funds from business community for human services and more

    On Monday, the City Council was presented with Planning Commission recommendations for Land Use Code Amendments (LUCAs) related to the Grand Connection project. The amendments would establish guidelines and standards to implement “Sequence One” of the Grand Connection. The proposed LUCA reflects the Grand Connection vision and supports continued planning for implementation of phase one of the project while simplifying and clarifying city regulations.

    The Grand Connection, to be implemented in two phases, is a council priority and a major people-focused route through downtown from Meydenbauer Bay to the Wilburton area. It includes components such as a pedestrian corridor, plazas, wayfinding mechanisms, a crossing over I-405 and arts and culture features. The LUCA recommendations currently being considered by the council specifically relate to work being done in Sequence One of the Grand Connection spanning from Meydenbauer Bay through Downtown to the east end of the Bellevue Transit Center.

    To develop the guidelines being presented as part of the code amendments, the city conducted external focus groups with stakeholders of the Grand Connection, internal focus groups with city staff from multiple departments, and briefings with broader community  when developing the code amendment recommendations. The Planning Commission was given two informational briefings, held two study sessions and a public hearing prior to recommending the guidelines.

    The council will take final action on the LUCAs at a later meeting, and more details on the recommendations are in the meeting materials. The full discussion from this week is available through video replay on Bellevue Television

    Update on Smart City plan

    In other work on Monday, councilmembers reviewed progress on the transportation element of “Bellevue Smart: Planning for a Smarter City,” a 2017 strategy to achieve the council’s smart city vision, which includes a high-quality environment, reliable infrastructure and high-tech connectivity. 

    The transportation element, refined in the “Smart Mobility Plan 2018,” contains six initiatives and the presentation included summaries of several projects already completed or in progress under each initiative. The initiatives are traffic management, real-time traveler information, autonomous and connected vehicles, data management and shared-use mobility and electric vehicles.

    One of the shared-use mobility initiatives highlighted is Crossroads Connect, an on-demand transit service the city launched in October 2020 in partnership with King County Metro. The service provides residents in East Bellevue more access to fixed route transit; it also provides transportation to King County COVID-19 vaccination sites. 

    The presentation also highlighted recent partnerships associated with managing curbside delivery space. The city will soon be kicking off a Curbside Management Plan to better define how curb space is allocated in Bellevue’s urban centers.

    More information is available in the meeting agenda item.  

    New funds from business community for human services and more

    In other business, councilmembers received a briefing from Amazon about a new donation from the company of more than $1.4 million to benefit parks, neighborhoods and human services in Bellevue.

    Amazon announced last year they planned to add 25,000 jobs in Bellevue and at the time committed $1 million over four years to the city’s Human Services Fund, support that helped address immediate needs in the community due to the pandemic. This latest donation will allocate another $1 million to the Human Services Fund during the 2021-2022 and 2023-2024 funding cycles, $289,000 for six projects that are part of the Neighborhood Enhancement Program and $150,000 for three parks improvement projects.

    “We want to be a true partner to you and the city,” Brian Huseman, Vice President of Public Policy for Amazon, told the council. “We want to be a good neighbor.” 

    Huseman also mentioned that the company launched a $2 billion Housing Equity Fund earlier this year and looks forward to working with the city to focus some of that in Bellevue to provide and enable more affordable housing supply. 

    A list of the projects being supported is available in the meeting agenda item.