At yesterday’s Bellevue City Council meeting, 23 people spoke for over the course of an hour during the final public hearing for the city’s 2021-22 biennium budget. Their concerns ranged across multiple progressive issues, from racial equity funding to environmental stewardship to bicycle infrastructure and Vision Zero implementation. Complete Streets Bellevue was in attendance to speak on this last point, to express both our organization’s support for budget items dedicated to safe street infrastructure, and our concerns that the funding wasn’t being rolled out fast enough. In particular, the Vision Zero Rapid Safety Build program (pictured below) is an amazing initiative that will fund rapid improvements to our city’s most dangerous streets to help make them safer for all road users.
However, the currently proposed budget would not have this funding begin until 2023!
It was only because of a question posed by Councilmember Zahn to staff that this information came to public light before the meeting, and it should go without saying that waiting until 2023 for this Vision Zero funding is not an acceptable outcome. In the last two years alone, eight people have lost their lives on Bellevue streets – in spite of the best intentions the city may have to make strides in other areas regarding Vision Zero, going a further two years without this crucial funding would represent a tacit acceptance of the unsafe status quo for people who walk, bike, and roll in Bellevue.
That is why Complete Streets Bellevue appreciates Councilmember Zahn’s leadership with her budget amendment, which would shift the $2.5 million CIP item to start in 2021 and run for all seven years of the city’s CIP. This proposal maintains the current $2.5 million in funding for the 2021-2027 CIP plan, but spreads it across all seven years instead of just five. While introducing her amendment, Councilmember Zahn touched on several key points that CSB wholeheartedly supports (watch below).
Councilmember Barksdale, Deputy Mayor Nieuwenhuis, and Mayor Robinson went on to express their mutual support for Councilmember Zahn’s proposal, which represents a majority on the seven-member council. It is important to note that nothing is finalized yet – staff will take the Council’s proposals to review and present a summary of their scope and feasibility on December 7th. Council will further deliberate the budget on that date with an expected adoption of Monday, December 14th. However, we are optimistic because of the stated support of multiple Councilmembers that this proposal will stand, and we appreciate Councilmember Zahn’s leadership in introducing this important amendment.