[This is a live-blogging post from Bellevue City Hall.  Keep refreshing for continued updates.]

5:57pm: I’m at the Bellevue City Council extended study session for tonight’s decision on the B segment of East Link.  Thank goodness there’s wi-fi.  Turnout is mediocre.  So far, I don’t recognize any attendees from our meet-up, but I may be wrong.

5:59pm: Conrad Lee, deputy mayor, opens the executive session.

6:02pm: There’s pending litigation items, so the meeting won’t start for another 30 minutes.  Check back soon.

6:05pm: Surrey Downs is, by far, showing the largest contingency.  Martin Paquette, an Enatai resident who has spoken out against B7 in the past, has joined me.

6:26pm: I’m now hearing that representatives from Surrey Downs are giving some kind of a presentation on B7.  That would explain the extraordinarily disproportionate representation of residents we see.

6:36pm: The Council is still in executive session.  Things should be telecast on BTV, so check the link in the post below.

6:41pm: The council is finished with executive session and has entered the conference room.  Whether we move to the main council chamber for comments remains to be seen.

More below the jump.

6:42pm: Don Davidson, mayor, opens up the session and comments.

6:43pm: Bill Hirt, someone I recognize as having written anti-ST and anti-Link letters to the Bellevue Reporter, goes off on ST.

6:44pm: Bill Hirt says no current development in Seattle will show TOD potential for Bel-Red.  He also says the 41st and 48th voted ‘no’ against ST2.  Completely untrue.

6:45pm: “East Link is a fraud,” says Bill Hirt.  Sorry, a pretty funny albeit tense way to start off the session.

6:47pm: Some non-Link-related comments from the school district are being made.  There’s a long line of people waiting for comment.

6:48pm: Scott Lampe, from Surrey Downs East Link Committee, is up.  He’s openly opposing B7 modified, citing environmental reasons.  Okay, we might agree with that.

6:51pm: Lampe wants a city-sponsored study of environmental impacts of B3, B7, and company.  More taxpayer money and more studies!

6:52pm: Stacey LeBlanc (sp?) cites Surrey Downs historical significance and homes eligible to the historical register.

6:53pm: LeBlanc cites the condemnation of one business, a law firm if I’m hearing right.  She also says noise, dust, grime, etc. are blights to these historic properties.

6:56pm: Betsy Blackstock urges the council to “consider carefully.”  It sounds like she wants more study.  And it sounds like she’s inferring that B7 modified will be the best choice.  She cites a 4-3 vote in favor of B7 as dangerous.

6:59pm: An Enatai resident, who says he has personal experience with ST, slams ST for not listening to him.

7:01pm: I’m going to line up to fire a few comments.  Stand by.  I won’t cover the comments from now until I go up.

7:20pm: Martin Paquette, a younger fellow for B3, another gentleman from Mercer Slough were all considered pro-B3.  Since they only allow “three” comments “per side,” I had to make it look like I wasn’t endorsing any alignment outright.

7:21pm: I also add that the council says it is “unsure” whether or not they’ll vote on B7.

7:22pm: Comments are closed, the council has moved on.  East Link discussion will resume later.

7:47pm: A lot of non-Link-related items up for discussion.  I’ll be back once they get back to East Link, or later if my battery dies.

8:18pm: A ton of delay.  Mayor Davidson has called for a 5-minute break, which he thinks in reality will turn into a 10-minute break.  We’ll be back soon.

8:26pm: We’re back.  Council is reconvening.

8:28pm: The Transportation Board will respond to earlier questions on B and C segments.  Goran Sparrman is briefing the council on Segment C.

8:30pm: Sparrman is going over the traffic analysis.  The analysis models did not assume signal pre-emption for the trains.  The priority for signaling would be for the NE 4th and NE 8th crossings.  Work on models that would include the signal priority would take 2-3 weeks.  Basic assumptions: vehicle travel times slower with train priority, trains are faster.  No brainer.

8:34pm: Points made from the workshop are being made.

8:36pm: Sparrman goes over LOS (level-of-service) for each intersection.  He mentions that traffic will be horrendous, whether the alignment is grade-separated or not.

8:41pm: The main point seems to be that vehicle travel times are worse with signal pre-emption for the trains.

8:46pm: My battery is close to conking out, so if my updates suddenly stop, that’s why.  Discussion is slow.  Mostly about delays at each intersection.

8:48pm: Claudia Balducci asks if vehicle travel times would be the same between the grade-separated alignments and no light rail at all in 2030.  Sparrman says no due to the number of trips that light rail would take away from downtown roads.  He estimates traffic could be up to 20% as bad.  Commenter Eastside Regionalist says that Goran put the estimate at much higher than 20%.  I must have misheard.

8:55pm: Sparrman says that at-grade would lock in the street capacity of downtown Bellevue.  He cites Houston and Phoenix as examples for light rail-car accidents.

8:57pm: Growth forecasts are being discussed.  Between the downtown subarea, hospital district, and Wilburton subarea, the Wilburton subarea has the least potential for development, with 1.7 million sq. (commercial and residential) in 2030, as opposed to 39.5 million in the downtown subarea.

9:01pm: I’ve got no battery left so I will be signing off for now.  We’ll have more with the decision on the B segment.  But do follow the BTV site for live coverage.

29 Replies to “Live-Blogging Bellevue City Council Session”

  1. Darn it! Why are all these important meetings and meetups on days that I work? Why can’t these things be on Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays?

    1. Seconded — I’m stuck at work (a whole block away, dangit!) due to a deadline, otherwise I would have walked over. I did email the Council a comment supporting the previously-selected alternative, so hopefully that’ll help a wee bit.

      1. Third, I missed this one and I’m on the mailing list that should catch them all. Unfortunately it sounds like the same waste of time that the last Study Session turned out to be.

        Point to clarify, the Council position has always been B7 if B3 modified wasn’t accepted. B3 modified was not the position ST choose to advance so ST are really the gamers here in producing their own B3 modified and ignoring the original council preference for B7. By law B7 should have been advanced to the same level of engineering as the ST alternative of B3. Instead, ST choose to use public funding to advance their own alternative of B3.

    2. No problem. I’m considerably frustrated at how short notice this was, at least for people not from Surrey Downs.

      1. Before you attend another City Council meeting please clean your ears. You obviously did not hear or understand the presentation by Surrey Downs. They were speaking about the environmental impacts of all B segment alignments and asking council get an independent study so that they had real information to work from.

        Ms. Blackstock did NOT advocate for any specific alignment. She cautioned council to make their decisions very carefully so that any information sent to Sound Transit is clear and comes from a strong and united council. [ad-hominem]

        The Enatai resident who spoke after Ms. Blackstock did NOT slam Sound Transit for not listening to him. He slammed Sound Transit for trespassing on private property, which the last time I was aware is illegal.

        Hmm, interesting that your comments are not recorded here.

        [ad-hominem] You have some ridiculous conspiracy theory going on here where you think Surrey Downs is getting special notice. All anyone who really cares needs to do to be informed is check the city council website prior to the meeting to find out what is going on. It is called being prepared. I’m so sorry that you are frustrated, imagine how the people from Surrey Downs must feel with so many outright lies being told about them. Have you even ever spoken to any of those people to find out what they are doing? Nope, it is easier to make stuff up than it is to care about real people.

  2. Da** I wish I could be there (being preggo sucks, but looking forward to twins – and these are my first children)

    Adam can’t be there because he’s taking care of me (I’m still on bedrest)

  3. “6:52pm: Stacey LeBlanc (sp?) cites Surrey Downs historical significance and homes eligible to the historical register.”

    (directed to Stacey) And…

    My cousin lives in Denver in a historic house right next to a light rail station

    1. (responding to the updated post, 6:53 PM)

      Danny (my cousin) takes the train to work every day and purchased a house next to the station specifically to ride the train to work (he’s a no-car family like me)

  4. And I have a cousin who lives in Europe with heavy rail running below, above, and through the historical districts.

    Well, I don’t have a cousin in Europe, but you get the idea!

    1. It’s laughable that Surrey is trying to be a historic from the 50’s. Next we somebody will try to protect Issaquah Highlands as a historic 90’s ode to sprawl district

  5. Maybe we should just call buildings that are 10+ years old as “historically significant.”

    I wonder how Surrey Downs residents would react if they were given only two options: widen Bellevue Way, or add light rail.

  6. Sherwin – I think I see a correction. IN response to Claudia’s question, how much worse will this be without light rail (which is an excellent q), Goran says the unmet demand will be much more than 20%. Twenty percent is the amount of demand that cannot be met with the best case (i.e., elevated or tunnel). Things will suck, in other words, which means we really need the new capacity offered by light rail.

  7. Kevin Wallace said during the meeting that “I was just in Westlake Center last weekend and the train came squealing in and then went squealing back out again.”

    That guy is so full of it that it’s painful to watch him speak. I catch my bus in the tunnel daily and have never heard any squealing from Link. The only place I have ever heard squealing is at Mt. Baker Station and on the ramp near the operations base. Guys like Wallace that will lie just to make a point really rub me the wrong way. Granted the noise from the trains has been higher than what Sound Transit expected, but Westlake Station is not one of the places where noise has been a problem. The trains are a hell of a lot quieter than the tunnel buses.

    1. Well, but you can’t ignore the obnoxious bells that ST insists on ringing every time they enter a station. No other city in the world rings bells when entering underground stations, and of course none of the buses are honking their horns as they enter. I guess ST feels Seattle-ites are more stupid and more litigation-prone than the rest of the planet. I know I keep harping on this, but a goal should be to reduce the noise pollution associated with the system.

      1. I agree… do not understand the need for bells… busses don’t honk… why the bells? Between the flashing lights and Miss Manners on the PA… overkill… I never hear squeeling in any of the downtown stations.

        I guess if Enatai claims homes of historic significance… (I grew up in Lake Hills… as old as Enatai… I wonder if I now qualify for being of historic significance…

      2. Some of the homes in Beaux Arts are historic … the artists colony there goes back quite a ways. Not sure how much of the pre-WWII construction is left though.

  8. ^^I heard that too. Made me laugh…in disgust. The only argument that Kevin Wallace ever made in the meeting was regarding to the effects of noise from the B3 alignment. I’m glad someone else pointed out that there will also be noise impacts on surrounding condos with the B7 alignment, which somewhat nullifies Wallace’s arguments.

    Also, Wallace’s suggestion that the council take a vote before obtaining additional EIS information was absurd.

    There were some instances where I felt the council started leaning towards in favor of the B3 and the C9T after some objective discussion, but then there’s always that [probably opinion driven] comment or two in the middle that brings up the B7 and C14E.

    At least they didn’t vote today.

    Btw, the violin music (Carmen Fantasy) they played before the live webcast, that was me soloing with the Bellevue Philharmonic May of 2008 :)

    1. Props, I’ll have to catch a replay. Arts doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. It’s not off topic; it’s related to they whole “public” portion of not only transit but information infrastructure.

    1. Surrey Downs, Kemper Freeman, and Kevin Wallace do NOT represent those of us Bellevue residents who think of the future

      and BTW Surrey Downs: 1950s is not historic when compared to what my cousin lives in (dates to the 1890s I think)

  9. Tonights meeting was painful. Why do people who have never lived in a city or used light rail (or any other mode of transportation) for more than just a joy ride get to choose what gets done?

    The dirty little secret that ST probably knows is that a B7 alignment will likely mean shuttle buses to go along with more traffic through Surrey Downs and on Bellevue Way.

  10. There will be a replay of this meeting in a week, I expect, and the mayor will probably be pushing for a vote to be on the agenda. People need to be there. The council is not being influenced much by public comment at this point. Their minds are all made up. But people still need to be there. If the effect of their vote on ST (to what ever extent that is) to be upset, something a little outside the present box has to occur. The transit-riding community hasn’t been to these meetings, and they need to be there.

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