• Council Roundup: Crisis assistance early results

    Published December 9 2021

    Plus, affordable housing code amendment, East Main development discussion and convention center board appointments 

    On Monday, the City Council received a report highlighting the results of a pilot program exploring alternative emergency response services for people in behavioral or mental health crisis.

    The Bellevue Community Crisis Assistance Team was deployed from May 1 to Aug. 31. The program tested multiple models of emergency response, including sending:

    1. specially trained officers not in traditional police uniforms
    2. a trained law enforcement officer paired with a mental health professional from Bellevue’s Fire CARES team
    3. once the scene is secured by police, adding two mental health professionals from Bellevue Fire CARES to the call 

    Overall, Crisis Assistance Teams engaged 239 individuals and made 1,785 contacts. Most of these engagements started in response to a call to the 911 emergency system. Data collected over the four months of the pilot program showed an increase in people diverted from jails or hospitals after the emergency call, a decrease in the number of times force was used and an increase in the time spent on calls. 

    The program is designed to improve the safety and effectiveness of responding to those in crisis by connecting them to appropriate services rather than sending them to jails or hospitals. The program also aims to reduce recidivism. 

    The team will use the data collected during the pilot to begin public engagement in early 2022 to ensure future crisis response services in the city meet the needs of the community. More information is available in the meeting materials

    Affordable housing Land Use Code Amendment

    Later, the council unanimously voted to approve a Land Use Code Amendment (LUCA) establishing a new density bonus for affordable housing development on land owned by certain religious, nonprofit and public organizations. 

    The code amendment is expected to advance the city’s 2017 Affordable Housing Strategy Action C-1, which calls to increase development potential for affordable housing on suitable land owned by public agencies, faith-based and nonprofit housing entities. The amendment is a first step in implementing Action C-1, with a second phase of work planned for consideration next year. 

    State law enacted in 2019 requires cities planning under the Growth Management Act to provide a density bonus for any affordable housing development on property owned by a religious organization. More details are in the meeting materials.

    Further discussion on East Main development

    The council also considered a package of code amendments for transit-oriented development of the area by the East Main light rail station. The council has discussed the amendments for the area south of downtown at several study sessions, reviewing development considerations related to zoning and regulations. The amendments include a Land Use Code Amendment; a rezone for parcels in the TOD; and updates to the sign and noise control codes to include East Main.     
     
    Following the discussion, councilmembers postponed action to a later meeting and asked for more information in order to fully consider a newly proposed council amendment related to block sizes. The council did unanimously approve an amendment proposed by Councilmember Jennifer Robertson, which revises the construction phasing allowances for residential and commercial projects to allow portions of residential development to occur sooner in East Main. The full discussion is available on Bellevue Television’s video replay of the meeting.

    Convention center board reappointments

    In other business, the council voted to concur with recommendations from the city manager to reappoint two members to the seven-member Bellevue Convention Center Authority Board. The city manager and Councilmember Janice Zahn, who serves as liaison to the board, cited the continuing dedicated work by board members to maintain strength and resilience through the COVID-19 pandemic recovery. 

    Ron Hofilena and Ann Kawasaki were reappointed for terms through Jan. 1, 2026.