About this blog

My name is Bill Hirt and I'm a candidate to be a Representative from the 48th district in the Washington State legislature. My candidacy stems from concern the legislature is not properly overseeing the WSDOT and Sound Transit East Link light rail program. I believe East Link will be a disaster for the entire eastside. ST will spend 5-6 billion on a transportation project that will increase, not decrease cross-lake congestion, violates federal environmental laws, devastates a beautiful part of residential Bellevue, creates havoc in Bellevue's central business district, and does absolutely nothing to alleviate congestion on 1-90 and 405. The only winners with East Link are the Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington and their labor unions.

This blog is an attempt to get more public awareness of these concerns. Many of the articles are from 3 years of failed efforts to persuade the Bellevue City Council, King County Council, east side legislators, media, and other organizations to stop this debacle. I have no illusions about being elected. My hope is voters from throughout the east side will read of my candidacy and visit this Web site. If they don't find them persuasive I know at least I tried.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bellevue City Council "Ethics"

The recent Bellevue Reporter article “Bellevue City Council OKs Ethics Code” isn’t clear about any new requirements.  The ethics the BCC demonstrated in rejecting their staff’s February 11 proposed code revisions in favor of their own Alternative Light Rail Code (ALRC) revisions are surely “questionable”.

For instance, the revised ALRC didn’t include the original staff proposal requirement (Section V) to  

Develop a light rail system in collaboration with the regional transit provider that advances the City’s long-term transportation and land use objectives, minimizes environmental and neighborhood impacts, and balances regional system performance.

The ALRC also eliminated the original staff proposal Sub Section C code requirement that states

The amendment is not contrary to the best interest of the citizens and property owners of the City of Bellevue.

The ALRC changes recognized the fact that it would be very "difficult" to argue that the current East Link route into Bellevue "minimizes environmental and neighborhood impacts" or was "not contrary to the best interests to the citizens and property owners of the City of Bellevue".  The only way for light rail to meet those requirements was a tunnel into Bellevue, something ST refused to even consider. 

The ALRC did include the following requirement:

The regional transit authority has the written consent of the affected property owner to apply for the permit(s); or) from the owner of the property affected by the RLRT Facility or System

Even these requirements are “questionable” depending on who decides what it takes to qualify as an “affected property owner”.  Noise and vibration from Central Link 2-car train operation has necessitated ST incorporate major sound proofing in homes more than 400 feet away from the tracks.  The impact from East Link 4-car trains every 3 ½ to 5 minutes for 20 hours a day will surely be comparable. 

Will ST be required to get “written consent” from those living up to 400 ft from the tracks before ST can apply for the permits?  Many home owners probably won’t even be aware of the potential problem.  ST has apparently identified 70 homes as “noise receptors” (how’s that for prosaic) in the EIS that will be mitigated.  It’s not clear what criteria they used. 

The ALRC appears to require light rail alignment only provide a 60-foot clearance between the tracks and “an existing residential primary structure”.   Whatever the BCC “Ethical Standards” it’s clear the recent East Link approval based on their ALRC threatens the ambience of hundreds of residents along the light rail route into Bellevue.

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