Bellevue seeks public input on homeless shelter land-use code amendments

Action needs to be taken before emergency ordinance expires in August.

City of Bellevue staff will be taking an unconventional approach for the citywide land-use code amendments as they relate to a permanent homeless shelter.

That approach includes a citywide survey, which was released online Wednesday and a community workshop in April to get feedback on the amendments, staff told the Bellevue City Council during a shelter update on Monday.

The survey can be found at

The survey will run from March 7-21 followed by a community workshop from 5:30-7:30 p.m. April 3 at Bellevue City Hall. Information from the survey will be shared at the workshop in addition for another opportunity for the community to give input on the code amendments.

There is currently an emergency ordinance, also known as an interim official control, in place that will expire in August. The emergency ordinance requires applicants looking to build a shelter to include a conditional use permit, which could provide more transparency.

The emergency ordinance was first approved in August 2017 and renewed in January.

Whether the temporary requirement of applicants submitting a conditional use permit becomes permanent, however, is all dependent on feedback city staff hope to get from the community. After that information is gathered, they expect to be able to deliver a draft recommendation to City Council sometime in the spring.

Kate Berens, the city of Bellevue’s deputy city manager, said at the Monday meeting that many jurisdictions are struggling with how to regulate homeless shelters and have been having the same conversations as the Bellevue community.

The city, thus far, has taken a three-pronged approach: 1. investment in services for citizens to prevent or get out of homelessness, 2. looking at facilities from day centers to shelters and learning how they work, and 3. enforcing and changing provisions around camping on public land, littering and overnight parking laws.

Berens said the city has also identified key issues of importance, which include the location of the shelter and proximity to other uses, clear definitions as related to shelters, submittal requirements, city review process, standards for use requirements, designs and guidelines and facility operations – or, specifically good neighbor plans and safety.

A good neighbor plan would include best practices and research for optimal safety, including a requirement for the shelter operator to provide information on code of conduct; security measures, including whether a front desk is operated 24 hours a day; whether supportive housing is separate from the shelter portion and more.

A proposal for an Eastside Men’s Shelter drew backlash from residents with more than 2,800 having signed a petition against the shelter in April 2017. They cited increased crime as their No. 1 concern.

Establishing a permanent Eastside shelter was a 2016-17 City Council Vision Priority, however that was put on hold in the later half of 2017. The project was initially proposed to be in partnership with King County, the coordinator of regional funds for homelessness and affordable housing; Congregations for the Homeless, the operator of the shelter and day center; and Imagine Housing, the service provider and developer of the supportive housing component.

For more information on the shelter, visit and search “Eastside Men’s Shelter.”