• On April 3, the city of Bellevue took another step toward solidifying a plan to allow year-round men’s homeless shelters within city limits.
City staff held a community workshop where the public was invited to learn about and give feedback on permanent land use code regulations that would allow for homeless shelters throughout the year. Staff answered questions and took feedback on several topics that night, including questions regarding what type of zoning a shelter can be located in and what types of services should be nearby.
Seasonal shelters have operated in the city since 2008, but the increasing desire for more permanent shelter locations on the Eastside led council to take on the task of establishing clear regulations.
In 2017 the city put interim regulations in place that permitted homeless shelters in districts where hotels and motels were allowed. When the city made the interim designation, it stated that it intended to develop more thorough, permanent regulations that would clearly address the operation of homeless shelters. That time is drawing near.
In addition to community feedback, staff has also researched how other cities around the region define and implement codes that regulate land use for homeless shelters.
A full draft of the code is expected to be completed and submitted to the council for an April 23 meeting where they will discuss the matter. Examination of the draft will continue in study sessions throughout May, before a public hearing planned for June. Deputy City Manager Kate Berens said the city hopes to have the code approved by the council in June or July.
“Our goal here is to try to find a way that the shelter can be located in Bellevue and operate successfully in the community,” Berens said. “Hearing from the community and having them engage with us on this is very important.” Bellevue Reporter
• Signs of progress in downtown Bothell are most often of the industrial sort, as the city’s downtown revitalization plan proceeds with numerous road and building projects. But there is beauty to be found between the traffic cones and cranes, as the city has woven public art into its vision for the future.
First came three bronze sculptures that now populate the fountain area and back staircase at City Hall, which is located in the heart of downtown Bothell.
Last year, the Bothell City Council made a more formal commitment to the arts by establishing an Arts Commission, joining 23 other cities in King County that recruit citizen volunteers to advise on arts programs. Now the commission has brought the art inside City Hall, where it is curating a rotating gallery of 2D, 3D and media art on the first floor. The first exhibit was installed in February and features the work of Dennis Wunsch.
The origins of the gallery go back to the construction of the new City Hall, which opened in 2015. It was during that time that the council formed an ad hoc art committee, commissioned the bronze sculptures and installed a hanging system in the gallery space. The Arts Commission later purchased four screens to display media art and a case for 3D pieces.
“We were trying to figure out what our assets are, and one of the most obvious was the great space here in City Hall,” McGee said. Bothell-Kenmore Reporter
• Stricter regulations for importing recyclables to China is affecting the processing of recyclables in some Eastside communities.
Republic Services, an Arizona-based company that collects waste or recycling throughout the Puget Sound area, recently requested that the city of Bellevue send mixed paper collected through April 20 to the landfill. The city granted the request.
This decision stems from regulations recently imposed by China, in which a .5 percent contamination limit on mixed paper was implemented. This has led to mixed paper accumulating at Republic Services’ collection facility in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood and has resulted in a potential public health hazard. Officials say that Bellevue produces 1,000 tons of mixed paper each month.
Sammamish has also granted Republic Services a similar waiver.
Bellevue Utilities spokesperson Michael May said the city’s decision was a recognition that the Chinese recycling market had essentially been closed. As a condition of allowing the waste management service to landfill mixed paper, which includes items like magazines, letters and other paper products, the city is directing Republic Services to seek out an alternative buyer for recycled goods.
Republic Services is also changing how it sorts recycled materials by slowing processing lines, adding employees and improving optical sorting equipment with the goal of hitting the .5 percent contamination mark. May said the new regulations have been effecting not only Bellevue, but the whole West Coast recycling industry.
Contamination comes in many forms, ranging from uncleaned spaghetti cans to water damage. If recycling material is rained on, it is considered contaminated as well.
May stressed the importance of properly recycling materials, namely cleaning, emptying and drying recyclables.
“Just recycle right; if in doubt throw it out,” he said. “Don’t just put anything in there and I think that’s a lot of it, people can do more harm in their recycling.” Bellevue Reporter