Bellevue city skyline, seen from across Lake Washington
The skyline of Bellevue, Washington, seen from the Mount Baker neighborhood of Seattle on an early autumn day (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Between three-fourths and nine-tenths of adults resid­ing in Belle­vue sup­port a range of ideas to stream­line per­mits and pro­ce­dures for hous­ing devel­op­ment projects in the city, a poll recent­ly con­duct­ed for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute and the Belle­vue Hous­ing Research Coali­tion has found.

The most pop­u­lar of five ideas — remov­ing unnec­es­sary approvals and make the per­mit­ting process more straight­for­ward — was endorsed by 85% of respon­dents, with the least pop­u­lar idea — low­er­ing per­mit fees for afford­able hous­ing projects — still got the sup­port of 79% of respon­dents, or near­ly eight in ten. 

The Belle­vue Hous­ing Research Coali­tion — a project of NPI, Com­plete Streets Belle­vue, the Sight­line Insti­tuteEast­side For All, and the Hous­ing Devel­op­ment Con­sor­tium (HDC) — set out this past sum­mer to gain a bet­ter under­stand­ing of how peo­ple in Belle­vue feel about the local hous­ing mar­ket and pro­pos­als being stud­ied by city staff and the Belle­vue City Coun­cil to make it eas­i­er for peo­ple in Wash­ing­ton’s fifth largest city to find attain­able and afford­able homes.

We released our ini­tial find­ings on Sep­tem­ber 12th and a sec­ond set of find­ings last week. Today, we have more illu­mi­nat­ing data to share.

These fig­ures clear­ly demon­strate that there’s scant oppo­si­tion to the ideas for sim­pli­fy­ing the per­mit­ting process that city staff and con­sul­tants have been con­sid­er­ing as part of the city’s “Next Right Work” hous­ing strat­e­gy update.

Col­lec­tive­ly, these “Next Right Work” ideas received aver­age sup­port of 80.20%, or eight in ten Belle­vue res­i­dents sur­veyed. That’s about as close as you can get to una­nim­i­ty in a city as large and diverse as Belle­vue is.

Here’s the ques­tion we asked and the respons­es we received:

QUESTION: Please indi­cate whether you sup­port or oppose each of the fol­low­ing poli­cies about per­mits and pro­ce­dures for hous­ing developments.


Remove unnec­es­sary approvals and make the per­mit­ting process more straightforward

Sup­port: 85%Oppose: 10%Not sure:

Reduce per­mit turn-around time for afford­able hous­ing and/or hous­ing projects

Sup­port: 80%Oppose: 15%Not sure:

Sim­pli­fy zon­ing changes for projects that cre­ate sig­nif­i­cant addi­tion­al hous­ing and oth­er pub­lic benefits

Sup­port: 79%Oppose: 15%Not sure:

Sim­pli­fy Belle­vue’s land use code where it adds dif­fi­cul­ty, costs, or exces­sive time to devel­op­ment, to opti­mize hous­ing production

Sup­port: 78%Oppose: 14%Not sure:

Low­er per­mit fees for afford­able hous­ing projects

Sup­port: 79%Oppose: 16%Not sure:

Our hous­ing-focused sur­vey of 475 Belle­vue city res­i­dents was in the field from Mon­day, August 15th, through Fri­day, August 19th, 2022.

The poll was con­duct­ed entire­ly online for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute and its part­ners by Change Research. It has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 5.2%.

Fol­low this link if you’re inter­est­ed in a detailed primer on the survey’s method­ol­o­gy along with infor­ma­tion about who took the poll.

Bellevue city skyline, seen from across Lake Washington
The sky­line of Belle­vue, Wash­ing­ton, seen from the Mount Bak­er neigh­bor­hood of Seat­tle on an ear­ly autumn day (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Before we asked this or any oth­er ideas ques­tions, we offered an open-end­ed prompt to our respon­dents, which read as fol­lows: What do you think the Belle­vue City Coun­cil should do to make hous­ing more afford­able?

More than one respon­dent explic­it­ly brought up permitting.

One, a Cougar Moun­tain / Lake­mont home­own­er in their senior years, summed up the sen­ti­ments of the vast major­i­ty who would lat­er enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly respond to the ideas in the ques­tion shown above by opin­ing: “The first thing that comes to mind is for a build­ing per­mits to be issued much quick­er than currently.”

They added: “I also think they should change zon­ing in many areas espe­cial­ly around com­mer­cial areas to allow more units and high­er high risers.”

A younger home­own­er between the ages of eigh­teen and thir­ty-four in Bri­dle Trails agreed: “Stream­line devel­op­er per­mits for high den­si­ty housing.”

Stream­lin­ing per­mits and pro­ce­dures may sound like a no brain­er — and our polling cer­tain­ly con­firms that the vast major­i­ty of Belle­vue res­i­dents think it is — but the City Coun­cil needs to take action if these “Next Right Work” ideas are to leave the draw­ing board and ben­e­fit peo­ple want­i­ng homes in Bellevue.

If you haven’t yet seen our pre­vi­ous find­ings from this sur­vey, you can learn about the first set of find­ings here and the sec­ond set here.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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