The majority of the Bellevue City Council members apparently still don’t understand the concept of “permitting”. I attempted to explain the issue to them at their November 13th “extended session” (See 11/10/13 post for my comments.) The January 25th Bellevue Reporter article on the issue prompted me to send the below “Letter” to the Bellevue Reporter Jan 26th rather than to try again with the BCC. I hoped they might relax their “word limits” because of the permit issue’s importance to the area. They declined to include it in this week’s BR so I decided to add it to this blog.
The January 25th Bellevue Reporter front page article “Second meeting set on amending code for light rail” is another example that the majority of the Bellevue City Council still doesn’t get it. Their plans to “complete work on the overlay by the end of February” is an abdication of their responsibility to their constituents as well as the entire eastside.
There surely is no need to rush this issue since serious East Link construction is at least three years away. Any agreement should be predicated on Sound Transit dropping the requirement for a maintenance facility in Bel-Red area and for Bellevue paying $200 million for a tunnel through city center. ST recently agreed to tunnel from the University to Northgate without any such surcharge. (The BCC still hasn’t explained how they intend to get the $200 million.)
Any East Link permitting agreement may be nullified by either of two legal actions aimed at stopping East Link. The Freeman/ETA suit attempts to block Sound Transit from using the I-90 center roadway for light rail. The Building a Better Bellevue lawsuit argues Sound Transit violated federal environmental law when it refused to consider a tunnel from South Bellevue through the city or bus rapid transit (BRT) for I-90 Bridge. Both lawsuits have very good chances for success. (See the 1/25/13, 12/12/12, 12/07/12 posts on blog http://stopeastlinknow.blogspot.com for details).
For far too long the BCC has kowtowed to Sound Transit demands and deadlines. They need to refuse to accede to ST latest demands to relax permitting requirements for the East Link debacle.