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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Council Roundup: Planning how to best serve a diverse population

Also, Environmental Stewardship update, smarter traffic lights and commendation for former mayor  

"Bellevue welcomes the world. Our diversity is our strength." These words lead off a 20-year vision for Bellevue the City Council adopted in May. On Tuesday, the council reviewed a draft plan detailing how the city can best support and take advantage of its increasing diversity.

Over the past several decades, Bellevue has grown into a dynamic, international and multicultural city. The population has diversified in age, race and ethnicity, income, ability and other factors. There are almost 85 languages now spoken in Bellevue schools, and minorities represent more than 40 percent of the resident population.

While that diversity provides the economy with competitive advantages, enriches the city's culture and provides new leadership, it challenges all residents and local institutions, including the city. Collectively, residents and city staff must learn to communicate across multiple cultures and languages, and improve access to basic needs, such as public safety, education and human services.

In 2010 the council launched the Bellevue Diversity Initiative, asking staff to study the city's diversity and recommend actions to ensure cultural competence in the government, community and economy. 

Staff from the Parks & Community Services and Planning & Community Development departments presented a draft diversity plan with more than 60 recommended actions the city can take to improve services for people of all cultures, and that the community can take to adjust to and make the most of living in a multicultural city.

Mayor Claudia Balducci led councilmembers in endorsing the draft plan for the outreach involved and its "meaty recommendations."

"Our city has changed significantly, so this was really due," she said. "It's a great, very thought-provoking and very meaningful piece of work."

Staff will make some additional changes to the plan, with input from the council and city boards and commissions, before bringing a final version to the council for approval, likely in November.

Questions or comments about the plan can be directed to Diversity Program Coordinator Kevin Henry (khenry@bellevuewa.gov or 425-452-7886).

Citywide progress reported on Environmental Stewardship Initiative
The city launched its Environmental Stewardship Initiative in 2006 with a goal of bringing a more focused and integrated approach to Bellevue's environmental efforts.

Much of the ESI work concentrates on city operations, but there has also been significant progress made throughout the community. On Tuesday, the council heard a report on efforts and accomplishments over the past two years. Highlights include: 

  • Electric vehicles: The city operates 22 electric vehicle charging stations, which experienced a 240 percent increase in use in 2013 compared with 2012. There are more than 75 charging stations now available for public use in Bellevue, including ones installed by Bellevue businesses.
  • Solar energy: Bellevue's first city-owned solar energy system was installed recently at the Bellevue Service Center building. In addition, a program called Solarize Bellevue is underway to help reduce costs for new residential solar systems citywide.
  • Tree canopy: Bellevue's tree canopy experienced a 20 percent loss from 1986 to 2006. Staff is developing a method to better track and map tree canopy losses through development reviews and permit processes. 
  • Greenhouse gas emissions: The city reduced its municipal greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 25 percent since 2006, while communitywide emissions increased 2.3 percent. Both levels, however, fall short of targets set by the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which Bellevue signed in 2006.
  • Partnerships: Examples of ESI-related work with other organizations include membership in the King County Cities Climate Collaboration, competing for the Georgetown University Energy Prize of $5 million, and work by the Utilities Communications and Environmental Outreach Team to facilitate waste reduction in Bellevue schools.

Traffic lights in Overlake and Bel-Red to get smarter, safer
The council approved $424,000 to improve accessibility and safety at 43 signalized intersections in the Bel-Red and Overlake areas, including traffic lights along 148th Avenue. In addition to the pedestrian upgrades, signals along Bel-Red Road, 156th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 20th Street will receive new signal controllers with "traffic-adaptive" technology, so the signals constantly adjust to traffic.

The upgrades are funded with a federal City Safety grant.

The pedestrian accessibility and safety improvements include "countdown" pedestrian signal displays, which let pedestrians know how much time is left to cross the street, as well as audible tones to assist pedestrians with sight impairments.

When the project is complete, the percentage of signalized intersections with accessible pushbuttons in Bellevue will increase from 40 percent to 57 percent. It is anticipated that this project will be complete by the end of the year. 

Commendation for former mayor
The council issued a commendation for former mayor Richard Foreman, who served on the council from 1970 to 1982, and was one of just two people to serve three terms as Bellevue’s mayor.

Foreman is credited with leading the effort to dramatically rezone downtown, and is cited in the commendation for his "legacy of leadership, his caring nature and his commitment to planning for Bellevue's future."

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Contact Information

450 110th Ave. NE
P.O. Box 90012
Bellevue, WA 98009
Contact: Claude Iosso
Phone: 425-452-4448
E-mail: ciosso@bellevuewa.gov

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