Honest, Rational Decisions
Bellevue is a good city - the local economy is strong again, quality of life is high, schools are good to excellent. But we do have challenges. Challenges that, if not met will erode that quality of life, and ultimately the economy as well. Let us meet those challenges together to make the rational decisions that will keep Bellevue a great place to live.
Bellevue is growing fast. That growth brings challenges as well as opportunities; we cannot take advantage of the opportunities while ignoring the challenges. We need to manage our growth, keeping an eye on human priorities. Beauty, open space and long term livability have long term value, in human dimensions as well as in the bottom line. Managing growth will take everyone, but it also has the strongest impact on our other challenges.
Every one of us has suffered from our traffic snarls and they are truly regional. From the mid 70’s when I started driving the population of the region has more than doubled. Miles driven have increased much more, and it shows. More roads, more lanes are very limited solutions. Not only is the cost staggering but it seems traffic will expand to fill any projected roadway expansion. Public transportation will certainly be important and smart cars will play their part, but we don’t have all the answers yet. It will take time to find those answers, especially as changing attitudes and values of our people play an important part.
Like many parents I find my children still living at home - returning to school for additional education or just unable to afford even a studio in the city. Some of their peers feel they will never be able to afford to live here, and current statistics bear that out. Our house is happily paid off, but at the current market price I could not afford to buy it now - even if my wife were not retired. some are worried about foreign investment in housing that shifted from Vancouver, others point to an overheated market and make comparisons to 2006 and 2007. This just makes the transportation problem worse. We need affordable and low income housing in a reasonable mix, and do so without tearing down every tree and building multi block canyons 6 and 10 stories high.
How to define livability? Certainly this is not easy. Architects talk of ‘human dimensions’, and a balance of buildings and free space. It includes easy access to business and work from home, places to play, art, literature, theater. It is different in older style bedroom communities than it is in city centers, and our ideas of livability will evolve as the city and population evolves. We need to keep all these in mind to keep Bellevue a city we can love to live in.