Bellevue launches livability initiative


The Bellevue City Council launched an initiative July 23 to develop code and design guideline changes that would ensure a “livable, memorable downtown environment.” In an effort to have code amendments in place before another construction boom, the council reallocated $350,000 from the city’s capital budget for the Downtown Livability project.

Key objectives for the Downtown Livability initiative earlier identified by staff include:

-- Updating zoning incentives that reward developers for building amenities that benefit the community. Adopted in 1981, the incentives may not reflect current market realities.

-- Analyzing building forms and heights to identify potential areas for increased height limits in return for additional public benefits.

-- Refining downtown design guidelines to improve the pedestrian environment and encourage interesting architecture and sustainable building practices.

-- Maximizing “connectivity” with the downtown East Link station to attract ridership and create an attractive, vital environment around the station.

-- Examining downtown parking standards to respond to shifts in demand and promote alternatives to driving alone.

The council will determine the scope of work and principles for the initiative after its August recess, and may add or subtract elements from those noted above. A package of proposed changes to the land use code and design guidelines could be presented to the council, possibly by the end of 2013.

The Downtown Livability initiative was proposed for the 2011-2012 budget, but the council decided against pursuing it at that time. Since then, the council and Sound Transit reached an agreement on a light-rail alignment that includes a downtown tunnel.

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