The City of Bellevue has devoted considerable resources to help residents and businesses succeed, innovate and persevere through the economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus, Mayor Lynne Robinson and Deputy Mayor Jared Nieuwenhuis explained in a State of the City video "chat" Thursday with the Bellevue Downtown Association.
"I know this is a very challenging time for our businesses and community members, but from what I hear regionally, federally and locally, our city is better positioned than any other city to get through this," Mayor Robinson declared. "And we'll get through this together."
"I've never been more bullish about Bellevue," Deputy Mayor Nieuwenhuis echoed. "I have every confidence that Bellevue will emerge stronger and better than it is today once we shed this pandemic."
Usually a breakfast address hosted by the Bellevue Downtown Association, the State of the City took a different form this year, as Mayor Robinson and Deputy Mayor Nieuwenhuis took questions from BDA President Patrick Bannon at a conference tablein a livestreamed presentation, now available for viewing on demand from the city's YouTube channel or the BDA.
Participants sat six feet apart and were further separated from each other by plastic barriers. Bannon described it as a "fireside chat," in the tradition of President Franklin Roosevelt's radio addresses during World War II. Bannon asked questions on topics suggested by BDA members through a poll.
Bellevue's elected leaders focused on the many ways the city has supported the community in recent months, helping residents and businesses.
Aid for residents has included $1 million allocated to local human services agencies, which translates to rental, food and other assistance, detailed at COVID-19 Community Resources. To directly help stem the spread of the virus, the city and Bellevue Chamber of Commerce partnered to distribute 40,000 free face masks to residents.
To help businesses, the city has provided technical assistance for transitions to virtual services, one-on-one help with applications for federal and state loans, permits to restaurants for outdoor seating and deferral of business and occupation taxes. COVID-19 Business and Nonprofit Resources is available in multiple languages.
The mayor and deputy mayor also touched on local conversations in the wake of George Floyd's death, and the city’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Both officials commended the Bellevue Police Department for its measured response to vandalism and looting following a peaceful protest downtown on May 31. They also talked about a pledge city leaders have taken to review public safety practices in an effort to continuously improve and better serve residents.
Both said they were very inspired by the hundreds of residents, including early-rising high schoolers, who came out June 1 to help clean up the downtown area.
The city leaders also spoke about the strength of the city’s long-term management and continuity of vision, which provides a foundation for continued growth and support of ongoing development and key transportation projects.