The Bellevue City Council has approved a new Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) after acknowledging earlier this month that the original slate of nine members could be more thoroughly vetted for conflicts of interest. All but one were reaffirmed in the Monday night vote.
The committee was adopted alongside the Light Rail Overlay District, to govern permitting of the East Link project. Members were intended to represent community, citywide and neighborhood interests and a breadth of professional experience as urban planners, artists, engineers, transit riders and residents impacted by the alignment, though not directly abutting it. The first nine were appointed on Aug. 5 right before council went on summer break and neighbors soon raised concerns about possible conflicts of interest, and a lack of neighborhood representation.
Under the newly appointed commission, Clay Wallace, whose property along 112th Avenue is condemned by Sound Transit, will be replaced by Siona Van Dijk, a member of the Surrey Downs Neighborhood Association. Wallace’s proximity to the alignment makes him ineligible.
Though the final vote was passed 6-0, discussion strayed to include other amendments to the commission. Mayor Conrad Lee originally suggested a replacement of Wendy Jones, president of the Enatai Neighborhood Association; and councilmember Kevin Wallace introduced a motion to expand the commission from nine to 11 members, suggesting that in addition to Wendy Jones, the council appoint Dijk and Howard Katz. Wallace asked that alongside the motion the commission criteria be revised to allow for neighbors abutting the alignment, which would have required a change to the land use code.
Katz has served on Bellevue’s Network of Aging and as a resident of the Lake Bellevue neighborhood, has property abutting East Link.
“When this came up, it was really important to me for the neighborhoods of Enatai, Surrey Downs and Lake Bellevue to have one voice each on the committee,” said Wallace. “Growing it to 11 from eight original members [achieves that].”
After some back-and-forth, the council agreed on the final nine: Dijk, Erin Derrington, Richard Line, Don Miles, Ming-Fang Chang, Susan Rakow Anderson, Marcelle Lynde, Joel Glass and Doug Matthews.
“We have to make decisions in a timely manner so Bellevue doesn’t get left out of the permitting process,” said Lee.
“I’m proud of our council for finding common ground again,” Wallace later said, “but I feel strongly that neighborhoods and seniors need a voice on the CAC, so I’m disappointed that my motion didn’t pass. I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure the city protects our neighborhoods as the light rail project moves forward.”
The new commission will begin meeting in October. Sound Transit expects to start submitting permits this fall. The council also emphasized that though the commission was limited to nine, neighbors have other opportunities to voice their concerns as design and construction progresses.