Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Bellevue approves ?linkage? ordinance

Council OKs legislation despite concerns over housing market

Express Staff Writer

Steve Fairbrother

Concerns about a proposed ordinance's potential impacts on Bellevue citizens and the city's housing market were foremost on the minds of city officials and residents at a public meeting at Bellevue City Hall last Thursday.

Despite this, members of the Bellevue City Council somewhat reluctantly approved the new affordable housing ordinance requiring developers to mitigate for the housing demand created by new construction, whether residential or commercial.

Halfway through the meeting, the ordinance passed with a split 5-1 vote. Councilwoman Vivian Ivie provided the lone dissenting vote against the linkage ordinance.

Last Thursday's passage of the new ordinance was preceded by the Bellevue City Council's Oct. 12 approval of an inclusionary housing ordinance. That ordinance requires developers to provide a certain percentage of affordable, deed-restricted homes in new residential housing projects throughout Bellevue.

Despite their approval of the new law, some City Council members expressed concerns about its potential negative impacts on the city.

Councilman Steve Fairbrother, unquestionably a strong proponent of adding to Bellevue's affordable housing supply, questioned whether the new ordinance will harm the city's housing market.

"Are we providing housing for Bellevue or are we providing housing for the rest of the valley?" Fairbrother asked. "Are people going to balk at coming to Bellevue and building a house? That worries me."

John Gaeddert, a planning consultant working for Bellevue, said the city could tailor the new ordinance to better address the needs spelled out by the City Council.

"You could weight the entire system to benefit those who are employed in Bellevue," Gaeddert said.

In line with the concerns they expressed, several members of the Bellevue City Council said they would prefer to review the effectiveness of the linkage ordinance within at least six months after its implementation.

Reviewing the ordinance will give the City Council the opportunity to judge its success and possibly make changes to make it more effective, Mahoney said.

In other Bellevue news:

· The City Council discussed and approved a resolution establishing fees for payment in-lieu of workforce housing under the city's inclusionary housing and workforce housing linkage ordinances.

· The City Council approved several amendments to the city's floodplain ordinance. The changes affect those sections of the ordinance concerned with the definition of riparian protection setbacks and riparian protection setback regulations.

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