Council Roundup: Safe injection site ban approved

Council Roundup: Safe injection site ban approved
Posted on 08/09/2017
City Council and attendees at Aug. 7, 2017, meeting

During the Monday night meeting, the City Council officially banned safe injection sites in Bellevue, effective Thursday, Aug. 17. In a 6-0 vote (Councilmember Kevin Wallace was absent), the council adopted an emergency ordinance that imposes a citywide ban on safe injection sites, also referred to as Community Health Engagement Centers (CHELs). King County has proposed safe injection sites as a way to address the ongoing opioid addiction crisis.

The emergency ordinance allows the city to act quickly while permanent regulations are being drafted. Since April, councilmembers have expressed a strong interest in pursuing a ban. As per state law, a public hearing will be held within 60 days.

Additional information can be found in an earlier new release.

Eastgate Land Use Code Amendment items

Also during the regular session, the council approved several agenda items related to the Eastgate Land Use Code Amendment (LUCA) and the Eastside Men’s Shelter and Supportive Housing project, initially proposed for the King County-owned Eastgate Public Health Center property.

Through 6-0 votes, the council approved the Eastgate LUCA and the associated Eastgate legislative rezone. The council also passed another emergency ordinance, effective citywide, which outlines the permitting process required to establish a homeless shelter. As a result, a conditional use permit and general development requirement will be mandated for shelter uses.

In response to concerns voiced by the council and residents, the ordinance separates the “homeless shelter” use from the “hotel/motel” use where it is currently embedded. The change increases transparency while creating a consistent approach to permitting shelters where the use is allowed in the city.

None of the actions taken Monday night change where a shelter can be sited.

Environmental Stewardship initiative update

Earlier, during the study session, councilmembers were updated on the Environmental Stewardship Initiative’s (ESI) latest achievements. The program, created in 2007, was envisioned as a way for the city to coordinate and lead key environmental efforts. Recent developments include: 

  • Participation in the Urban Smart Bellevue program, which aims to help downtown businesses reduce their energy waste. To date, 98 organizations have signed up for the program, with an average energy savings of 7 percent.
  • The formation of an interdepartmental tree canopy working group. The goal is to continue to mitigate and pre-plan for tree loss involving major infrastructure projects. Supporting the efforts, the city has obtained $25,000 in funding from the King Conservation District to create a tree preservation outreach and education campaign.
  • Development of an advanced “Green Building” incentive program. ESI is working closely with Development Services to further encourage environmentally sustainable building practices. Currently, staff are in the process of developing program recommendations and will gather input from key stakeholders. Examples in other cities include expedited permitting and fee reductions. Specifics on any proposed code changes, fee or rate changes will be presented to the council for direction at a later date.

More information on ESI can be found on the city’s website

Making the transportation system smarter

The council later reviewed efforts to update the city’s Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) master plan and to develop an ITS implementation strategy that incorporates the work of a recently hired transportation technology partnership manager.

Both the ITS plan update and the transportation technology partnership manager are part of the city’s Smart City framework aimed at delivering a transportation system that “moves people smarter, safer, faster, while providing more choices, better real-time information, lowering emissions and raising efficiencies.”

The first project scheduled under the plan is an upgrade of the transportation communications network, using funds from the Neighborhood Safety, Connectivity and Congestion Levy, approved by voters in November 2016.
The update of the plan, first created in 2004, is scheduled for completion by the end of this year. The technology partnership manager is now working on an ongoing basis with companies and public agencies to advance projects identified in the updated plan.

More information the strategy is available in the council agenda materials.

Video charts progress on BelRed mobility projects

Councilmembers had a chance to view a short video that highlights the work underway on key transportation projects in the city’s BelRed area. Specifically highlighted are ones linked to a recently secured, low-interest $99.6 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovations Act (TIFIA) loan.

NOTE: The council will be on summer recess during the month of August. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 5.

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