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Downtown Bellevue livability is a big lie | Letter

“Bellevue livability” is a big lie. Livability is deteriorating. Growth is rampant. Traffic is horrid and will become worse.

After years of meetings, maneuvering by developers and drafting by staff, the Bellevue City Council is on the brink of deciding whether to approve recommendations buried in a 696 page staff report with attachments cleverly titled “Downtown Livability Amendment.” Downtown livability sounds good but is a big lie.

Of course, everyone is just doing their job. The developers and staff have worked full-time on the project. The City Council is doing their best to do the right thing. And, oh yes, the public is taken care of by the title of the project — “Bellevue Livability.” The fact that the developers and builders are the only beneficiaries and the “livability” title is an oxymoron is beside the point. Say “livability” frequently enough and it must be true. Actually it is a big lie.

The fact is that there was very little input from actual Bellevue Downtown residents or greater Bellevue inhabitants, and what input Bellevue Downtown residents had was mostly ignored. Improving Bellevue Downtown livability is simply a lie — a big lie.

On page 532 of the staff report document is a “Determination of Non-Significance” dated Feb. 16, essentially stating the proposed changes represent no environmental impact and no appeal to the changes may be made. What a joke. Who is kidding who? Of course there is an environmental impact. Traffic and pollution are obvious adverse environmental impacts and that is merely scratching the surface. Saying their isn’t an environmental impact is clearly a lie, a big lie.

I’m looking out of my window at Interstate 5, glutted traffic at a near standstill as it is each weekday from 6:30-10 a.m. and 3:30-7 p.m. and wondering how anyone can overlook the impact of increasing traffic by 50 percent on an already-glutted system. Bellevue Downtown already suffers from traffic glut and there are already approved projects being built that will increase traffic by 25 percent. Saying there will be no traffic problems is a big lie.

We have been told there may be pushbacks on some of the proposed changes by developers. Of course there will be pushbacks, that’s what developers are paid to do. Does a pig wallow? Once the developers’ job is done, they will move on to another community to do similar disingenuous, damaging, self-serving work. Of course they will label it “livability.” After all, it worked in Bellevue even though it was a big lie.

Why not take a breather and let existing approved projects build out, before proceeding off of the cliff into the unknown. Getting actual input from Bellevue Downtown residents and greater Bellevue residents after publicizing proposed changes, rather than hiding them in a voluminous, 600-plus page document only staff and developers understand, would also be a fair and good idea.

If changes must be made now, they should be more restrictive, i.e. lower building heights, greater setbacks, more open space, smaller footprints, greater financial contribution by builders/developers for alleviation of traffic congestion, etc. Further, it would be nice to do an actual, truthful, environmental impact statement. One that would avoid lawsuits and shed some light and honesty on the subject.

Only then a decision that would actually improve livability could be made.

Tom Lovejoy

Downtown Bellevue