Two dozen speakers, a mix of homeowners in neighborhoods near Bellevue College, along with some students, spoke at a public hearing Monday on an interim zoning ordinance. The ordinance addresses impacts of renting multiple rooms in single-family homes to unrelated people.
The City Council passed the six-month, emergency zoning ordinance on Sept. 23 and the required public hearing gave people an opportunity to express their opinions.
Following the hearing, the council voted 6-0 (Deputy Mayor Robertson was absent) to keep the emergency ordinance in place for the full six months, giving the Planning Commission time to develop permanent regulations to address rental housing issues. They also approved a set of principles to guide the commission’s work.
A majority of the public hearing comments came from homeowners in the Spiritwood neighborhood and other areas near the college. Their concerns included maintaining the family and residential character of neighborhoods, the need for more affordable housing, and parking impacts stemming from homes with many tenants. Several speakers, as well as some councilmembers, expressed an appreciation of Bellevue College students and the contributions they make.
A few students commented that the ordinance could make it harder for them to find affordable housing. Advocates for a rental housing association urged officials to be thoughtful in crafting a permanent ordinance.
Budget adjustment time
As the city approaches the halfway point in the 2013-2014 budget cycle, the council reviewed options for a mid-biennium budget adjustment. Fine-tuning the city’s two-year budget at this time is a routine process for the city council, required by state law.
Among the budget changes proposed by the finance department are: reducing anticipated cost of living adjustments for staff salaries because of a lower-than-expected inflation forecast; appropriating funds for up to 24 positions in Development Services to meet a rapid increase in development activity in Bellevue; and fee adjustments.
Additional study sessions on the mid-biennium budget are planned in November, if needed, with a public hearing scheduled for Nov. 18. The council will be asked to approve the budget adjustments at its Dec. 2 meeting. More information on the budget is available in the council agenda (http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/City%20Council/PacketStudySession11-4-132a.pdf).
Planning for areas near light rail stations
The council heard an update on planning efforts for the areas that surround light rail stations that will be located in Bellevue as part of the East Link project. The first of six station area planning meetings took place in October for the south Bellevue station. The remaining meetings will take place over the next two years.
Limiting abusive comments
Also on Monday, the council approved a new rule that allows the mayor to reduce or eliminate the amount of time that a member of the public has to speak during the "oral communications" portion of the meeting. The 6-0 vote was in response to speakers who repeatedly comment on the same issue or use abusive language during their allotted time.
Video of the council meeting is available on the Bellevue TV webpage (http://www.bellevuewa.gov/bellevue-tv.htm), along with a video archive of past meetings.
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