Council Roundup: Downtown Livability Initiative heading toward adoption

Downtown from across the highway

Council Roundup: Downtown Livability Initiative heading toward adoption

On Monday night, the City Council was given a sixth in-depth briefing on the Downtown Livability Initiative. Adoption of the Land Use Code package is planned to take place on Oct. 16. The initiative marks the first comprehensive update to the downtown code since 1981.

Councilmembers focused their Oct. 2 discussion on four major topics. These included:

Floor plate reductions. At an earlier meeting, staff was directed to draft an alternative provision that would prevent office floor plate reductions from going below 20,000 square feet when taller buildings are constructed in the DT-MU and DT-OLB districts that exceed trigger heights. The initially proposed version mandates a 10 percent reduction in floor plate size in these cases. Councilmembers were unable to come to a consensus on which code option to proceed with, but will discuss the issue further on Oct. 16, prior to adoption.

Increased trigger heights. The council agreed with the Planning Commission’s recommendation to set the nonresidential building trigger height at 115 feet in the DT-OLB Central and DT-OLB South areas. This helps ensure economic parity between other downtown districts.

Linear buffer. The boundary setback provides a 20-foot landscaped linear buffer at the edge of downtown. When adjacent to a right of way, this setback is measured from the back of curb in certain instances and back of sidewalk in others. Modest changes were made to the linear buffer development standards achieve the commission’s intent.

Residential tower setback. The council agreed to proceed with a 20-foot interior property line setback for towers above 80 feet.

Councilmember presentations on possible shelter location

Later, during the regular session, Councilmember Kevin Wallace gave a presentation detailing his views on how city-owned property at the Sound Transit Operations & Maintenance Facility: East (OMF East) in BelRed could be used for the proposed Eastside Men’s Shelter and Supportive Housing project. Deputy Mayor John Chelminiak also provided a presentation, including perspectives on both the council’s priorities and actions around siting the proposed men’s shelter, as well as the history of negotiations with Sound Transit and vision for transit-oriented development for the area immediately adjacent to the OMF East.

Both presentations are available to watch online.

Since August 2016, the council has taken a number of actions in support of their priority to establish a permanent location for an Eastside Men’s Shelter. Shelter services for single homeless men on the Eastside are currently provided at an interim location in Bellevue’s Wilburton neighborhood. The facility operates from roughly November through April.

Earlier this year in April, councilmembers directed staff to continue to work with identified partners in carrying out the provisions of a Letter of Agreement regarding the King County-owned property located at 14350 SE Eastgate Way as a site for a permanent shelter. In June, the council also directed staff to open discussions with Sound Transit regarding the property, envisioned for transit-oriented development, that’s adjacent to the OMF East.

Councilmembers are scheduled to have a broader discussion at next week’s extended study session, Monday, Oct. 9, beginning at 6 p.m. The meeting will touch on trends in what Bellevue is seeing with respect to homelessness, how the city has increased funding for services over time to address the issue and provide additional context for this ongoing community challenge. No decision on the appropriate location to site the Eastside Men’s Shelter and Supportive Housing project is expected at the meeting.

Published on 10/04/2017
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