Council Roundup: Briefing on proposed Eastgate Land Use Code Amendments

Council Roundup: Briefing on proposed Eastgate Land Use Code Amendments
Posted on 07/12/2017
Eastgate Aerial Photo

On Monday evening the City Council heard the first in a series of July briefings on the Planning Commission’s recommended Eastgate Land Use Code Amendments (LUCA). During the discussion, councilmembers directed staff to proceed with drafting language that will: 

  • Provide Low Impact Development Standards (LIDS) for three new proposed land use districts in Eastgate;

  • Clarify phasing requirements to direct how the Eastgate transit-oriented development district will be built-out over time; and

  • Permit auto sales to continue to be established after the LUCA goes into effect in locations where they are currently permitted.

In support of the Affordable Housing Strategy implementation recommendations, more information was also requested regarding the application of the Multifamily Tax Exemption to properties located in the area.

Monday’s meeting is the latest step in a process dating back to 2010. At that time, the council appointed a Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) to plan for the land use and transportation future of the Eastgate/I-90 Corridor. The Bellevue Comprehensive Plan was updated to include the CAC vision and the commission has worked to implement that vision. The commission held eleven study sessions and one public hearing on the Eastgate LUCA before transmitting its recommendation last year. 

During the presentation, the council addressed several topics that had arisen since 2016. These topics include Eastgate transportation improvements, the adoption of the LIDS ordinance, the approval of the Affordable Housing Strategy and site-specific property owner concerns.

Future meetings will cover additional items included in the draft LUCA. The council is expected to discuss the proposed Eastside men’s shelter and supportive housing project and how it fits in the area’s Land Use Code update at the July 24 extended study session.

Potential new jail option

The meeting opened with a presentation on a new, potentially cost-effective option to house inmates serving jail sentences. The City of Wapato, a small community outside of Yakima, contacted the city and offered to provide jail services for individuals with extended misdemeanor sentences. The Wapato daily bed rate, which includes all the standard jail services, is $60. More local options including Issaquah and King County have rates of $97 and $181 per bed respectively.

For years, Bellevue has contracted for jail services with a number of other local jurisdictions. These contracts have been with Yakima County (2002-2011), Snohomish County (2011-2014) and the South Correctional Entity in Des Moines (2012-2018.) Because of the ballooning rates of these facilities and lack of availability, the city began actively exploring other options.

Councilmembers were impressed by the lower cost and unanimously agreed to pursue an interlocal agreement with Wapato. An update on negotiations will occur at a later meeting.

Downtown Livability update

The night concluded with another informational session on the Downtown Livability Initiative. Prior to the briefing, Councilmember Kevin Wallace voluntarily recused himself from the project moving forward. Wallace noted that he wanted avoid any appearance of a “cloud” over the process. Wallace’s family owns downtown property and his business represents property owners and conducts business in the area.

Councilmembers studied a number of topics including the Downtown Transportation Plan, tower separations and setbacks, downtown parking flexibility, and small site exceptions and deviations. At next week’s meeting, the third held to review the Planning Commission recommendations, the council will discuss two topics: 1) floor plate reduction and open space requirements associated with obtaining additional building height, and 2) affordable housing exemption.

Final adoption of the Planning Commission recommendations could take place as early as September. More details on the proposed changes can be found in the council agenda materials.

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