On a warm evening on July 17, the Bellevue City Council held a public hearing on a proposal to eliminate appeals to the council for controversial land-use permits such as Puget Sound Energy’s Energize Eastside project, the Eastgate men’s shelter and the Northtowne fire station. Council members are uncomfortable with a process that temporarily makes them judges instead of legislators.
Although the current process is not ideal, the council’s solution would force residents to go to court against formidable legal teams representing big corporations and developers. These lawsuits can cost $100,000 or more, and success is far from certain. Today, residents get one free appeal to the council without needing a lawyer.
We asked the council not to hold this public hearing in the middle of July, when many residents are on vacation. The council did not listen. Fortunately, about 150 residents came to the meeting, and at least 30 spoke against the change.
In the end, the council decided not to vote on the proposal. No further guidance was given to staff and no date was scheduled for further consideration. The will of the people prevailed, at least for now.