Staff gets more time on affordable housing

Opportunity available for city staff to recommend changes.

Deputy Mayor Lynne Robinson has requested council support to waive the city’s eight-hour rule to have staff conduct additional work on affordable housing.

The city’s eight hour rule dictates that staff work on a project for an individual councilmember may not exceed eight hours. However with authorization from the city council as a whole, staff can continue working.

Robinson asked for staff to review the progress of the Affordable Housing Strategy and develop a proposed time frame for when the remaining strategies would be implemented. She also asked staff to prepare an analysis on the currently adopted strategies to see if they are on track to produce the goals the council expects.

Robinson also asked staff for an analysis of the implementations and timeline with the stipulation that if progress isn’t keeping up with the timeline of the housing strategy, staff would be asked to bring the council recommendations on possible modifications to certain strategies.

“I think that we have an amazing opportunity with all the development going on around our light rail stations,” she said. “I feel a sense of urgency that we assess our progress so that if we are not making our goals we can implement other strategies that we haven’t already implemented to make sure we do achieve our goals of affordable housing in Bellevue.”

Councilmember Jennifer Robertson agreed with most of the proposed work, but she was not supportive of possible modifications to the adopted policy. She said the council has a long history of adopting changes and returning to them with possible changes after they have had enough time to take effect, and that it is too soon to make changes as the strategies were only adopted in June 2017.

Robertson was also concerned about work going into possible revisions or modifications of adopted policy, citing transparency as a key issue to keep in mind.

The rest of the council were supportive of the request because it specifically states for staff to bring back any recommendations for modification to strategies for council discussion. Mayor John Chelminiak reiterated that the policy could not be changed by staff and any modifications would have to come before the city council.

The request was passed by a 6-1 vote with Councilmember Robertson casting the dissenting vote. The early estimate for the requested work to be completed is nine months to one year.

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