• Council Roundup: Mid-bi budget public hearing

    Published November 17 2021

    Plus, Land Use Code Amendments for East Main, affordable housing and residential occupancy discussed  

    On Monday, the City Council held a public hearing on the mid-biennium budget and later voted to move the full budget package forward for action next week. 

    The mid-biennium budget is the halfway point in the city’s two-year budget cycle that gives an opportunity to make adjustments as needed to reflect current fiscal information.

    During the public hearing, several speakers asked for additional funding for the city’s Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI) to support additional staffing and other environmental policy changes. Though councilmembers voiced support for adding resources to the ESI program, the change was not added to the mid-biennium budget package because there was no indication where the funding would come from at this point in the budget cycle. However, the council asked city staff to analyze potential areas from which to draw funding for the additional ESI support and bring this information back during work planning in early 2022.

    The council went on to unanimously vote to bring the full mid-biennium budget package forward for action at next week’s meeting. The public hearing and council discussion are available on Bellevue Television replay.  

    East Main Land Use Code Amendment items

    In other business, the council held a seventh study session to consider the proposed Land Use Code Amendment (LUCA) for the East Main Station Area southeast of downtown. Councilmembers discussed and directed staff on several items for inclusion in the LUCA.  

    The direction included setting the maximum floor plate sizes and building height allowances for East Main. The council also provided direction to establish a minimum housing requirement to prioritize the creation of housing, including affordable housing, through development requirements and incentives. Lastly, the council decided to exempt expansions of the Bellevue Athletic Club from certain East Main-specific requirements.  

    The council directed staff to bring the proposed ordinance for the East Main LUCA back to council in December for final action. The full discussion is available on Bellevue Television replay.  

    Affordable housing Land Use Code Amendment

    The council also considered a proposed Land Use Code Amendment (LUCA) to establish a density bonus for affordable housing development on land owned by certain religious, non-profit and public organizations. This LUCA would advance the city’s 2017 Affordable Housing Strategy (AHS), specifically AHS Action C-1, calling for increasing development potential on suitable land owned by public agencies, faith-based and non-profit housing entities for affordable housing. The LUCA would serve as a first step in implementing AHS Action C-1, with a second phase of work planned for consideration next year.  

    This LUCA is in response to state law enacted in May 2019 by Substitute House Bill 1377. This legislation added requirements for cities planning under the Growth Management Act to provide a density bonus for any affordable housing development on property owned by a religious organization. The city later adopted several policies in the Comprehensive Plan Housing Element to support the provisions of the new state law and to increase affordable housing on eligible properties.  

    The council voted to direct staff to bring back the ordinance for final action in December.  

    Residential occupancy Land Use Code Amendment adopted

    Later, the council unanimously voted to adopt a Land Use Code Amendment (LUCA) regarding occupancy limitations for residential uses. The LUCA removes the limits on the number of people living in a home and aligns the city’s Land Use Code with a recent update to state law aimed at increasing housing options, Senate Bill 5235. This new state law prohibits cities from limiting or regulating the number of people residing in a single home.

    The LUCA changes the definition of Family and several city code sections pertaining to occupancy limits on accessory dwelling units, boarding houses, rooming houses and other types of housing. Other areas of city code related to residential occupancy remain in place, including building codes, fire safety, sanitation, noise control, parking and others. 

    The East Bellevue Community Council will hold their public hearing on the Residential Occupancy LUCA in December. The presentation and LUCA details can be found on the city’s LUCA web page and in the meeting materials.