Council Roundup: Parks funding strategy could lead to voters

The council also advances the pilot program for secure parking and adopts the plan for transport facilities by 2033

On Monday, the city council approved the park and open space system plan and continued its discussion on the possibility of including a voting measure for a park levy on the ballot for November’s general election. The measure would be a way to fund the city’s future park investments to address community needs and gaps in the park system identified in the park and open space system plan and informed through public input.

The proposed $85 million levy, structured as a nine-year regular funding mechanism for lifting the lid, would have an annual taxpayer cost of $0.15 per $1,000 appraised plus $0.05 per 1,000 US dollar estimate for maintenance and operating costs. The resulting cost of giving away a $1 million home would be about $16 a month, or $200 a year.

The council voted unanimously to continue preparations for placing the measure in this year’s general election and to maintain the existing 2008 parking levy until it expires in 2028. Council members called for wording in the proposed regulation to allow for maximum flexibility in allocating funds across multiple categories of open spaces, parks and recreation projects, based on public and Parks Board priorities.

In addition, the city is asking interested members of the public to join a committee that will develop pros and cons for the ballot measure if the council formally adopts an ordinance to continue the measure at next week’s meeting.

The full discussion is available at a repetition of the meeting via Bellevue Television.

The Council promotes the Safe Parking Scheme

In other matters, the council voted to proceed with the preparation of an implementation plan, including costs, budget analysis and legal review, for a year-long secure parking pilot program in line with a specific City Council priority to study such a program.

More than half of the homeless in King County live in vehicles. This included about 300 people in East King County during the 2020 point-in-time census. An unofficial census in Bellevue in December 2021 listed 83 vehicles that were likely home to people and families.

While a secure parking program in Bellevue would not be a solution to homelessness, it would provide an alternative to street parking, help these residents find stable housing and access services, give them access to clean water, sanitation and electricity enable them and make them safer while living in their vehicles. It also supports the city’s commitment to making homelessness a rare, brief, one-time event whenever possible.

A recommendation was made to the council for a centralized operating model for the program, in which the city would contract a single service provider to manage some or all of the secure parking lots and consider locating the pilot program on city property.

The Council unanimously approved further studies into the feasibility of the program and continued public relations work. More details are in the conference materials.

Traffic plan approved

The Council also unanimously voted to adopt the Transport Facilities Plan 2022-2033 (TFP) on the recommendation of the Transport Commission.

The TFP serves as the 12-year planning document for the city’s transportation capital investment. It includes high-priority projects from long-term plans (such as the downtown transportation plan update, the transit master plan and the pedestrian and bicycle implementation plan) as well as projects addressing emerging needs and opportunities. The TFP provides the first level of citywide prioritization of transportation facility projects recommended by long-distance studies. The plan also serves as the basis for the city’s Impact Fee Program, which asks new developments to share the costs necessary to increase the capacity of the transportation system as the city grows. The TFP is typically updated every two to three years, with the last TFP being adopted in 2019.

The 2022-2033 TFP includes 71 projects that will improve safety, meet vehicle capacity needs, improve transit mobility and continue the expansion of key segments of Bellevue’s pedestrian and bicycle systems. Each project includes a recommended budget allocation; 16 of the projects are already fully funded in the CIP 2021-2027 (including funding from the Transportation Levy program).

More information about the plan can be found on the Traffic Facility Plan website and in the conference materials.

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