Friday was the filing deadline for candidates running for office in Washington State. One surprise was the decision by civil rights attorney James Bible to seek a seat on the Bellevue City Council. Bible is running against incumbent Jennifer Robertson, an attorney who has served three terms on the council, for Position 7. Bible is the former president of the King County NAACP. He is now in private practice, representing clients in civil and criminal cases.
IN THE NEWS
As the end of King County’s six-year parks levy approaches, the county is working on bringing a renewed levy to voters to invest more in the regions parks, open space and recreation. Director of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks Christie True presented an overview of the upcoming levy to the Bellevue city council at its work study session on March 25. The councilmembers had a chance to ask questions and give feedback to True to take back to the county council as they work on preparing the levy to come before voters for the August 2019 election.
Is discussion, Councilmembers John Stoeks and Jennifer Robertson asked how a regional pool facility could be funded under the new levy. The proposed grant program has a $5 million cap on each application, Mayor John Chelminiak added. Robertson said there are three cities who all want to work together on a pool, so it would be the most beneficial if each could apply for a grant — a single grant of $5 million would not be as beneficial to the project compared to a combined total of $15 million.
Over the last two years, Amazon has amassed a real-estate portfolio in Bellevue in excess of 1 million square feet, room enough for several thousand employees. A swirl of factors is driving Amazon's expansion in Bellevue. Many tech companies, including Amazon's top competitors for talent, have or are developing large offices on both sides of the lake to appeal to workers who would rather not commute.
Amazon in a statement praised Bellevue, where Jeff Bezos founded the company in 1994, for its amenities, quality of life, talent pool and "business-friendly environment." Bellevue leaders cheered the news.
At the Leadership Gathering, "Talking about Trees" on Feb. 26, Jennifer Robertson was in attendance. One resident brought up the 300 trees that Puget Sound Energy (PSE) plans to cut down on 148th Avenue this year for the Lake Hills transmission line. This directly contradicts the city’s tree canopy goals to reach 40 percent tree canopy. I missed an opportunity to point out that Robertson was the only one on the council to vote against the project originally back in 2015. One of the best ways to increase the tree canopy in Bellevue is to re-elect Jennifer Roberson this November. She stays true to her principles, and fights for residents — and trees. Her presence on the council is crucial to help Bellevue take real action to increase our tree canopy — and to avoid more PSE projects that negatively affect citizens at our own expense.
More than 300 trees are planned to be removed from the Lake Hills area of Bellevue to accommodate Puget Sound Energy’s new transmission line, with $856,740 dedicated to an environmental impact and tree replacement plan. Puget Sound Energy’s *(PSE) Lake Hills-Phantom Lake transmission line project has taken another step toward completion as the Bellevue City Council recently approved four easements for construction and operation along the project path.
Bellevue will pursue a "Lid Park" for the Grand Connection. At the Nov. 19 Bellevue city council study session, the council directed staff on their preferred location for the Grand Connection project to cross Interstate 405. The Grand Connection is a city project established to create a non-motorized connection from Meydenbauer Bay Park, across I-405, and into the Wilburton Study Area where it will connect to the Eastside Rail Corridor.
Councilmember Jennifer Robertson said, with the current value of land in Bellevue, the ability to create almost four acres of parkland is extremely valuable. The rest of the council agreed, citing benefits like transportation connections, park land, place making and economic development.
In the last few years, Seattle has moved to eliminate parking requirements for new developments, citing the potential impact on affordable housing. Now there are efforts to cut Bellevue parking, too. But Bellevue City Councilmember Jennifer Robertson believes that moving towards this system is not the solution to affordable housing. Rather, it will hurt the economy and traffic. "Parking is what makes a city livable," Robertson told The Jason Rantz Show. "The city has superblocks, so that means we have much larger pieces of property with fewer blocks between, and not as much on-street parking. If a development is going to generate parking, that developer should provide parking on site."
At their extended study session on July 23, the Bellevue City Council agreed to study the expansion of an interim year-round men's shelter programming at Lincoln Center on 116th Street Northeast. Council member Jennifer Robertson made the proposal to council to direct the staff to bring back a study on the scope, schedule, budget and outreach that would be necessary to upgrade and support the temporary shelter to run year-round. "The thing I would like to have accomplished, the purpose of this, is that we do not come to May 1, 2019, and have to turn people out again," she said. "That we find a solution on a temporary basis for a shelter to operate while the permanent shelter is being planned, funded, permitted and built."