In an extended study session Monday night, the Bellevue City Council heard multiple reports from organizations updating their 2016 plans in the city.
Among these was a presentation from Dr. David Rule, Bellevue College president, giving a state of the college-type address. Bellevue College continues to look toward collaboration and possible partnership with Washington State University.
Rule said a Washington State-Bellevue reformation was a possibility. Bellevue College is the third largest higher education institution in the state of Washington, serving more than 20,000 students, and as high as 25,000 if all Running Start students are taken into account.
The college is also a major transfer institution, sending more than 700 students yearly to University of Washington’s main campus and Bothell campus and a similar number to all Washington State University’s campuses.
In other council news:
• More than 400 residents helped complete the biennial Human Services Needs Update, with 96 percent surveyed rating the quality of life in Bellevue as either “excellent” or “good.”
Where the city falls short is affordable housing, with 68 percent of respondents rating the issue as a major or moderate problem, compared to 51 percent in 2013. Housing data found that the cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment in Bellevue has risen 43 percent from 2011. Of renters in the city, 16 percent find themselves “severely cost-burdened,” paying more than 50 percent of their income for housing.
Homelessness has increased on the Eastside, and with that the number of homeless students has increased as well.
Eighty-six students were homeless in 2008 and 224 found themselves without adequate, stable shelter in 2015. More than 19 percent of students in the Bellevue School District are on free and reduced lunch programs.
Affordable health care concerns have dropped in recent years, from 51 percent rating affordable medical insurance as a major or moderate problem in 2011 to 35 percent in 2015.
More services are needed for veterans, with 72 percent of the more than 7,000 veterans who call Bellevue home are 55 or older. Mental health and substance abuse services are needed, responders said.
• The council heard plans for the South Bellevue light rail station, and how to work with the Enatai neighborhood and the Mercer Slough Nature Park while still providing space for the station and the Bellevue Park and Ride.
• Bellevue resident Janis Medley spoke to the council asking for improved safety with Puget Sound Energy transmission lines.
“Our request is simple and specific. We are asking the city of Bellevue to provide our residents with the same safety standard that the federal agency in charge of the Pacific Northwest power grid uses to plan its projects,” she said. “We ask you to adopt a land-use code that states: transmission power poles and pipelines transporting petroleum products must be separated by a minimum of 50 feet.”