Bellevue, WA 2021 Finalist

City in a Park Welcomes the World

The Story of the Bellevue Community

Over the past several decades, Bellevue has grown from a quiet, suburban community into a dynamic, international and multicultural city. 

Bellevue has a resident population of 148,100 and a daytime population of approximately 190,000, which includes workers, students and visitors. The community has diversified in age, race and ethnicity, income, and abilities. There are now over 98 languages spoken in our schools and people of color represent over 50 percent of the resident population.

In the past five years, Bellevue has seen tremendous growth and economic investment. Major transportation projects, such as light-rail transit, are connecting the city and the region and bringing major employers and housing to our Downtown corridor.

However, not everyone has benefited from the growth and opportunities. Bellevue is struggling with the pains of growth, including a lack of affordable housing and increasing homelessness. As property values have risen, more seniors struggle to afford “aging in place.” With increased development, concerns about environmental sustainability and maintaining our “City in a Park” have also grown. And there has been a drop in residents’ “sense of community” and an increase in cross cultural tensions.

Bellevue’s commitment to building an equitable and resilient community is shaped by our guiding principles to enrich the quality of life for all through . . .

  • Access: Build an environment that values the abilities of all, by proactively removing barriers and providing accommodations for full participation.
  • Equity: Create a fair and just community where equality is the outcome by recognizing and correcting historic and systemic inequity.
  • Inclusion: Foster a welcoming city, by providing a safe and gracious space where the entire community can engage in civic life.
  • Opportunity: Share prosperity by connecting residents, schools, businesses, faith and nonprofits to work together for the common good.
  • Understanding Cultural Competence: Produce equitable policies and practices, by developing skills and knowledge that facilitate effective interactions across diverse cultures.
  • And, always: Why?

“Bellevue welcomes the world.
Our diversity is our strength.
We embrace the future while respecting our past.”

-City Council Vision, 2014


Over the past seven years, these principles have been tested and put into action. Some examples of our commitment to equity include:

  • A community gathering and continuing response to an arson fire of the Islamic Center of the Eastside mosque.
  • Preservation of Highland Village apartments as affordable housing, and adoption and implementation of Bellevue’s Affordable Housing Strategy.
  • Addressing the community’s need for a permanent, year-round men’s shelter.
  • Building Inspiration Playground, Meydenbauer Bay and Bellevue Youth Theatre.
  • Adoption and implementation of the Diversity Advantage Initiative.
  • Community Listening Sessions and Review of Bellevue Police Department’s use of force policies.
  • And over the past year, Bellevue’s Covid-19 response and ongoing recovery.

 Moving beyond words: Bellevue continually reinvests in the work of becoming a more equitable and resilient community. We understand that there are profound challenges to overcome in becoming a more just and equitable community, and that work will never be finished.

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