City council: Reflecting on 2018, looking to the future | Guest editorial

This year, Redmond welcomed two new councilmembers, made meetings more accessible to the public and more.

  • Friday, December 21, 2018 8:30am
  • Opinion
Angela Birney. Photo courtesy of Angela Birney

Angela Birney. Photo courtesy of Angela Birney

Your Redmond City Council opened this year by welcoming two new councilmembers and electing new leadership. I was honored to be elected by my fellow councilmembers as the new council president and am pleased to have David Carson as vice president. New members Jeralee Anderson and Steve Fields brought fresh perspective to the council.

As the environment is important to our community, we enrolled Redmond in Puget Sound Energy’s Green Direct program. Soon, Redmond will be purchasing all of our energy from dedicated local renewable energy. This will reduce our carbon emissions and save tax dollars.

Community members had requested that council make all meetings more accessible, so we moved our committee meetings to the council chambers. This change has allowed us to stream them online just like our evening meetings. You can also look up past meetings and watch or listen to them on demand. Thanks to our staff who overcame many challenges to make this possible.

A priority of council this year was affordable housing. In partnership with Imagine Housing and Esterra Park, Redmond is bringing below market rate housing to the Overlake neighborhood. Work on improving the accessory dwelling unit (ADU) permit process is also underway to allow homeowners ways to add housing and value to their properties.

Our 2019- 20 budget will provide new opportunities. Reducing our environmental impact will continue with funding for both an environmental sustainability program manager and study. These will allow us to evaluate programs we already have in place and investigate new ways to reduce our impact on climate change. As part of our goal to increase our tree canopy from 38 percent to 40 percent in the next 30 years, our new budget funds for an additional four acres of tree canopy.

Improving Hartman Pool is part of this budget. This investment will keep the pool working for many years and make it a much more pleasant place to swim. The city is also working with King County, and the cities of Bellevue and Kirkland on exploring the concept of a regional aquatic center. We strive to work with our partners to help to meet the needs of our community and region.

Over the past year, the city has evaluated our community involvement process. We will use this data to improve our community interaction on a council level. Our ombudsperson process is currently under review and we seek to be more responsive to the public, improve transparency in our policy development process and make changes to our neighborhood conversations to make it easier for the public to engage.

If you would like to more information about our meetings, please visit our city website at redmond.gov. We would love to hear from you about these programs and any others that you see as important to you and our community. As always, you can contact us through email at council@redmond.gov.

I am enthusiastic about what the new year will bring for Redmond. I wish you and your families a very happy new year.

Angela Birney is president of the Redmond City Council.

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