City of Bellevue to address housing ordinance on Nov. 4

On Monday, Nov. 4, the Bellevue City Council will hold a public hearing in order to consider the extension of Ordinance No. 6128. The public hearing will start of 8:00 p.m. at Bellevue City Hall in the Council Chambers, 450 110th Ave NE, Bellevue, Wash. The purpose of the public hearing is to provide an opportunity for the Bellevue City Council to take written and oral comments regarding the interim official zoning control.

Passed by the Bellevue City Council on Sept. 23, the interim official zoning control regulates the rental of multiple rooms in single-family dwellings to unrelated individuals. The council has a six month window from Sept. 23 to hold hearings and to consider, draft and adopt permanent regulations. The ordinance will go into effect July 1, 2014.

The adoption of Ordinance No. 6128 has raised concerns by some members of the Bellevue College community over its impact on students. The interim ordinance reduces the number of people not related to each other that can live in a house from 6 people to 4. Additionally, it defines rooms rented for profit as boarding houses thus limiting renting rooms from  more than two rooms to  more than two people. It also requires renters to provide off-street parking for each room.

In an email, BC’s Director of the Office of Sustainability Deric Gruen expressed his concern that these new regulations will have an adverse effect on students. Gruen believes that the reduction of unrelated individuals who may reside in a dwelling will restrict student’s ability to share housing and associated costs. Also, he is concerned that the regulations will also limit the free market and small business entrepreneurs’ ability to serve housing needs.

“In the past, these types of restrictions have been used to marginalize certain communities, in this case its students and lower income people,” said Associated Student Government Environmental and Social Responsibility Representative Alex Clark. “Without addressing the amount of students that are using these types of rental agreements, [the City of Bellevue is] really going to cripple the local’s a thriving area because of the college. We’re a huge piece of the community and I feel like we’re being attacked by the community and by the system.”