In every Bellevue City Council candidates forum that I have attended since 1969, each candidate pledged to “protect the neighborhoods.” This promise was obviously political rhetoric but it was also an impossible commitment since one would never know what the neighborhoods might need protecting from until it was too late. Today, however, there is an opportunity for the current council to fulfill this pledge.
The city is approaching the end of a multi-year process to build Fire Station 10 in a residential neighborhood, Northtowne. This will require seizing several homes for the chosen location. Not only was the process totally opaque to the community until the location was chosen, but it appears that the choice was made on flawed criteria. Paul Braillier presented this allegation to the council in October, in which he described flaws in the analyses such as apparent disregard for wetlands, traffic and bridge design.
The chosen property, which is north of the corner of Northeast 12th Street and 112th Avenue Northeast, is very near that which was described in Catherine Brallier’s September letter, describing some of the history of the northern boundary of downtown Bellevue (Northeast 12th Street). As she states in that letter: “When the City Council finally voted to draw the line at Northeast 12th between business and residential, we thought that problem was permanently solved,” a vote that was in response to neighborhood pushback to potential business incursion north of Northeast 12th Street.
It has been reported that the city acted in all respects within the law in the selection process and while that may be true, I don’t think that, in light of the history and the flawed criteria on which the analysis was done, the process was done in good faith. The result clearly does not protect the neighborhoods; wetland interference could increase storm runoff peaks, traffic congestion will become more severe and property values in the nearby homes will be reduced. Bellevue City Council, please fulfill your pledge to protect our neighborhoods.