• Council Roundup: Report on outdoor dining expansion and downtown business support

    Plus, draft 2021 legislative agenda and King County Jail contract discussed

    On Monday, the City Council received a report on the city’s efforts to work with community partners to expand outdoor dining capacity for businesses primarily in the downtown area. Councilmembers also heard from one of those key partners on a local marketing campaign to highlight and connect businesses through the pandemic.

    The outdoor dining space expansion program was an eight-week, collaborative effort through the city’s economic development and transportation teams with the Bellevue Downtown Association and sponsorship support from Microsoft. The groups worked together to engage with downtown merchants associations, streamline city permitting processes, and assist with furniture and equipment needs to make expanded dining areas safe, comfortable, and in line with current COVID-19 health guidelines.

    A resident survey about the dining expansion program garnered around 400 responses and revealed that more than 70% of respondents were supportive of the patio expansion program and 80% said the patio areas made them more likely to return to the Main St. area as a customer in the future. Many participating restaurants reported back to the city that the expanded space offered a significant economic benefit that otherwise would not have existed. 

    The city is currently focused on exploring ways to further streamline permitting to make the process of temporary space expansion easier and supporting businesses through the winter months to create greater capacity where possible. There is also a need to build capacity and partnerships in more areas of the city to launch similar programs beyond downtown. 

    The Bellevue Downtown Association was on hand to give the council a report on its Heart of Bellevue campaign, another partnership program with the city to promote and connect local businesses to help them navigate the pandemic and generate business. The program included nearly 200 business highlight features on social media and through blogs, newsletters and marketing materials. The effort also included 39 virtual concerts, featured over 100 local artists and created a holiday lights display with partnership from Symetra Financial.

    Councilmembers expressed a desire to continue some of the virtual innovations that took place in 2020, such as the virtual jazz festival, lunchtime music series, and artist highlights. The full report and discussion is available on Bellevue Television

    Draft 2021 state legislative agenda

    In other business, the council was presented with the draft 2021 state legislative agenda to serve as a basis for city communication to the legislature on key issues of concern to the City of Bellevue. 

    The draft agenda includes priorities such as pandemic recovery, public safety and equity, key transportation items (I-405 Master Plan, key freeway interchange projects, and multi-use trail improvements), affordable housing, homelessness and human services work and environmental initiatives.. Other items from last year’s agenda will be retained as continued priorities.

    Councilmembers discussed amending the agenda to include language that more urgently conveys the need to invest in infrastructure to absorb Bellevue’s expected growth in the coming years, which would pay dividends to the state if successfully managed.

    King County Jail contract approved

    Councilmembers also unanimously approved a resolution approving a two-year Interlocal Agreement with the King County Jail to provide jail services for the city, including booking and housing of misdemeanor offenders and inmates with psychiatric and medical needs.

    The city has three jail contracts, the largest of which is with the South Correctional Entity, or SCORE. The King County Jail typically houses less than 5% of the city’s misdemeanor offenders. The contract with King County jail projects an estimated $96,000 expenditure in 2021 and $97,000 in 2022.

    The resolution and contract details are in the meeting materials.

    Published on 01/06/2021