To some degree or another, Bellevue and Sound Transit have been making headway on their agreements to expedite East Link construction and fund a downtown rail tunnel. Though the surface alignment is still our preferred candidate, failure to uphold the Memorandum of Understanding (pdf) at this point could deal a major setback to the project. One of the MOU agreements is a stipulation for the City to advance a land use code amendment package (pdf) that would make rail-specific provisions in city code.
The legislation of the code amendments is rather lengthy, but an informative technical read for anyone who can spare the time and interest. What the package will do, bottom-line, is implement a light rail overlay district in Bellevue, and in so doing streamline the project’s permitting process, establish development and design standards, and fill the gaps in existing code that might be in conflict with rail implementation.
We’re well beyond alignment battles here, so any firm opposition to the code amendment package that transpires will be an attempt to obstruct or kill East Link entirely. By rule of the MOU, the amendments have to be adopted by the end of the year or else ST will have the right to exercise an off-ramp to opt out of the agreement.
Bellevue will host a public hearing on the matter, which is set for tonight at 7pm* at Bellevue City Hall’s Council Chambers. If you’ve got time, testifying in favor of the land use code amendments is a great way to show the City Council that public interest in getting East Link done is as high as ever.
*Testimony will be first-come, first-serve on a sign-in basis, so earlier is better!