I thought viewers might be interested in the following presentation I intend to give to the BCC during their Nov. 13th “public comments’ meeting. My hope of course is this action by BCC would convince ST to switch to cross-lake BRT.
Bellevue City Council
My name is Bill Hirt and I live at 2615 170th SE. I’m here tonight to protest in the strongest possible terms any agreement with Sound Transit that limits the council’s ability to use the permitting process to stop East Link. I don’t think the council understands the concept of permit approval. Those issuing the permit presumably agree with those seeking the permit that the project in question should be allowed to proceed. The East Link Environmental Impact Statement identifies 10 different permits or approvals Bellevue has to issue before ST can proceed.
The ability to withhold permits is restricted by Washington regulation RCW 36.70A.200: “No local comprehensive plan or development regulation may preclude the siting of essential public facilities.” RCW 47.06.140 includes high-capacity transportation systems as one of those essential public facilities.
However, the requirement to allow the siting of high capacity transportation does not mean the council cannot select Bus Rapid Transit rather than light rail from the South Bellevue P&R through Bellevue for its high capacity transportation. This option would eliminate the need to devastate parts of Bellevue including the Mercer Slough Park, a violation of federal environmental law.
The other option would be for the council to refuse to approve the permits unless ST agrees to tunnel from the P&R to the station on 116th. ST recently agreed to tunnel from the University Station to Northgate, a substantially longer distance. (Eastside taxes provide about 40% of the funds ST will use.)
Instead, the council has allowed the ST board, a bunch of unelected bureaucrats to refuse to even consider a tunnel into Bellevue, to select the light rail route through Bellevue, and to extort an additional $200 million if they want a tunnel under the city center.
It’s nearly 4 years before serious East Link construction begins so there’s no reason to limit the “permitting” option at this time. It may well be that future council members won’t be as eager to allow this debacle.