Two quick hits on Eastside issues:
- The Mercer Island Park-and-Ride that opened eight months ago is already full most days, despite having twice as many spots as the park-and-ride it replaced.
- In this DJC interview Bellevue’s Mayor, Grant Degginger, talks about walk-ability, environmentalism and transit. It’s behind a pay-wall, but here’s a short excerpt:
Q. What are your plans to create affordable housing in Bellevue?
A. We are acutely aware of that challenge. We’ve been a part of an organization called ARCH (A Regional Coalition for Housing). Over the last 15 years, they’ve preserved or created 2,200 units of affordable housing on the Eastside. In Bellevue, we’re looking at delivering more units in the Bel-Red Corridor. The switch is to a mixed use focus with transit orientation and we’re hopefully including some workforce housing in there. It is very, very tough for people to work at Bellevue Square and live in Tacoma and Federal Way and try to make ends meet.
Q. What tools will you use? Incentive zoning? Requiring affordable housing?
A. We’re working with the same challenges as the city (of Seattle). We’re trying to see whether we can find the right mix of incentives to provide some of those projects. We’re working very hard on that. We had a citizen advisory committee spend months putting together a plan for Bel-Red, (making sure the) incentives will provide enough lift to deliver units. It’s a challenge, especially when you’ve got an economy that’s slowing down, to see what the right mix is. The other question is, over what period of time? You don’t get all the benefits in the first year, nor all the houses.
Q. What role does transit play in Bellevue’s future? What is needed and when?
A. Yesterday. There’s been a tremendous increase in the use of the transit in Bellevue and the Eastside. There’s just a huge need for additional transit. There’s a lot of people that need to get from Redmond to downtown Bellevue. The council has agreed to work with Sound Transit to get a circulator through downtown in 2010. We are really working very hard to see what else we can do to be creative. It’s the number one issue on the Eastside. The Sound Transit measure (on the ballot in November) is a good long-term goal but won’t deliver trains until 2018. There’s a lot to do between now and then. Increase bus service and make downtown Bellevue more walkable.
Q. How do you make Bellevue more walkable?
A. Bellevue was laid out as a suburban city and one of the legacies of that is these superblocks that are too long. We’re adding mid-block crossings … and updating and making (downtown) more visible and interesting with more artwork. I think it’s going to be very exciting to have a more walkable downtown. We’re also identifying more bike corridors, running both north to south and east to west.
Q. It’s just so easy to park and drive in Bellevue. How do you make Bellevue less car-centric?
A. The nature of the parking is changing. There are more and more lots where people are being charged. If we can make it easier for people to get out of their cars, (then they will) not hopscotch drive through downtown. We’ve got a huge neighborhood developing in downtown Bellevue, so it’s really important for people to be able to walk to the grocery store, walk to the cleaners and not make those short trips that clog up the streets.
Good stuff. The whole region needed transit yesterday.
Thanks to Ryan for the links.