Also, false alarm proposal, marijuana regs and other news
Councilmembers on Monday directed city staff to negotiate a contract to expand a photo enforcement program that includes red-light cameras and school zone speed cameras. The council could review and give final approval to the contract at a future meeting.
In the meantime, on a 5-2 vote the council also approved an extension of the existing program, set to expire April 12, on a month-to-month basis. Since 2009, there have been three red-light cameras and two school speed-zone cameras in Bellevue.
The Police Department recommends expanding the program to include an additional red-light camera at Northeast Eighth Street and 116th Avenue Northeast, two cameras at Northeast Eighth and 112th Avenue, along with a school-zone camera at Sunset Elementary School on West Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast.
Police note the cameras generally have changed driver behavior and increased safety where they are installed. Statistics show the overall number of infractions from both speed and red light cameras have decreased from 22,798 in 2010 to 11,956 in 2013, though not every enforcement area has seen a decline.
Photo enforcement infractions result in a $124 fine. In 2013, preliminary numbers show the photo enforcement program generated $907,822 in net revenue for the city, after the vendor, American Traffic Solutions, and King County, which operates the district court, were paid for their services.
More information on the photo enforcement program is available online (http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/City%20Council/PacketStudySession3-17-142b2.pdf)
False burglar alarm proposal moves forward
Acting on a second recommendation from the Police Department, the council directed police staff to move forward with a proposal that would change the way false burglar alarms are handled.
Police say false alarms account for more than 98 percent of all alarm calls and that patrol officers spend about 1,700 hours annually on false alarms, at a cost of more than $85,000. Over the last four years, the department has responded to 3,360 alarms per year on average.
Under the proposal, a vendor would collect an annual registration fee for the estimated 7,000 to 8,000 alarms and would also collect fines for false alarms. Projected revenue includes $120,000 per year in registration fees and $80,000 to $100,000 per year in fines. The cost of the program won’t be known until a vendor is chosen and fees are set, but it’s expected to be cost neutral. Any revenue in excess of expenses would go to the city’s general fund.
A vendor will be selected through a competitive bid process and the City Council could give final approval at a future meeting. More information on the false alarm management proposal is available online (http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/City%20Council/PacketStudySession3-17-142b1.pdf)
Marijuana interim regulations extended
Also on Monday, the council extended for an additional six months an emergency interim ordinance to regulate where recreational marijuana retailers, producers and processors may operate in Bellevue. The action followed a public hearing at which one person spoke. The Council considered and adopted an amendment to the ordinance that prohibits retail recreational marijuana outlets from locating within 1,000 feet of each other.
The state Liquor Control Board is in charge of implementing Initiative 502. According to the LCB there are 22 pending licenses for marijuana producers in Bellevue, 13 pending licenses for processors and 56 applications for retail licenses. Since the LCB has allocated only four recreational marijuana retail licenses for Bellevue, a lottery will be held to choose who receives them.
The LCB is expecting retailers and producer-processors to begin operating later this year. However, the council on Monday also directed the city’s legal staff to bring them information as soon as possible about options for banning both recreational and medical marijuana land uses in Bellevue.
More information on the interim ordinance is available online (http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/City%20Council/PacketRegularSession3-17-149a.pdf)
Nuisance properties ordinance approved
The council unanimously approved a chronic nuisance properties ordinance, giving the Police Department a new enforcement tool to address ongoing problems at a business or residence.
The ordinance stems from problems that started in early 2011 at the Munch Bar in downtown Bellevue, where police responded to 377 calls in less than two years. The bar closed in late 2012 after a fatal shooting. Police researched what other cities did to control nuisance properties and modeled the ordinance on a Seattle law.
More information and a copy of the nuisance ordinance is available online (http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/City%20Council/PacketRegularSession3-17-1411b.pdf)
Update on FileLocal
Work on a new multi-city business license and tax portal, called FileLocal, is progressing and expected to go live this fall, the council learned. FileLocal is an online service that makes it easier for businesses to get and renew licenses and to pay local business and occupation taxes. Bellevue has been collaborating with Everett, Seattle and Tacoma on the project.
In addition, the Finance Department is working to simplify the tax reporting process for businesses and recently conducted an online survey and an open house to solicit feedback. Based on responses, the tax office plans to revise tax forms and work with other cities to make the forms simpler and more consistent.
More information is online at the FileLocal website (http://filelocal.org/) or the council agenda (http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/City%20Council/PacketRegularSession3-17-145a.pdf)
New street names in Bel-Red district
The council approved six new names for streets in the Bel-Red district. They were selected after city staff asked for suggestions and people responded with nearly 300 names.
The Transportation Commission then narrowed the list to names that related to local interest and culture in the area. The new street names are: Northeast Goff Creek Way, Northeast Ichigo Way, Northeast District Way, Northeast Midlakes Way, and two segments of Northeast Spring Boulevard.
More information on the street names is available online (http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/City%20Council/PacketRegularSession3-17-1411a.pdf)
The council unanimously reappointed Loretta Lopez to a second term on the Library Board; Mark Van Hollebeke was reappointed unanimously to a second term on the Parks & Communication Services Board. Both terms expire on May 31, 2018.
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