Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mayor Marchione gives "State of the City" address

The City of Redmond is not the same as how it was when Mayor John Marchione was growing up — or even from 5-10 years ago.
In 1970, Redmond was described as a "bedroom community," which Marchione said means people would commute to work outside of Redmond, returning at the end of the day.
"We have become a different city," Marchione said.
The mayor discussed how things have changed in Redmond during his State of the City address at a OneRedmond breakfast Tuesday morning.
One area where the city has changed is in its demographic makeup. Marchione said the city is about 35 percent people of color and "we blend our diversity." This means while people are different, they are welcoming of each other — different cultural groups hold festivals and events that are open to all to attend.

Marchione's speech was also interactive, with audience members taking surveys, using their smart phones to answer questions the mayor asked them.
One of those questions was about traffic in Redmond. Marchione asked whether people thought their travel times around the city are better, worse or the same as they have been in the last few years. The live results showed that most thought traffic is either the same or worse, but there was a small percentage who responded that traffic has improved.
Seeing the results, Marchione asked if some people were just being polite, admitting that even he wouldn't say traffic has improved in Redmond — even before Interstate 405 was tolled and people started to use side streets and back roads to avoid the tolls.
"Red-Wood Road gets the most complaints," he said.  
Marchione said one contributing factor for the city's traffic is its imbalance when it comes to the population and jobs — the latter surpassing the former, with about 84,000 jobs to the city's estimated population of about 59,000. He said once the two numbers are more equal, traffic should improve as there would be fewer people commuting in or out of Redmond to get to and from work.
For this to happen, there needs to be a variety of attractive jobs and companies where people want to work as well as housing for all price ranges so people can actually afford to live in the town where they work, Marchione said. He noted that each time he visits schools and meets with educators, teachers seem to be living further and further away from Redmond because they can't afford to live closer.
In addition to housing at all price ranges, Marchione noted the importance of having housing for all stages of life — from apartments and condos for young professionals, to single family homes, to senior living.  Read More >>
"We want you to stay," he said about residents.
But people need a reason to stay in town and Marchione said one way the city has been doing this has been through developing its urban centers in downtown and Overlake.
While much of the focus has been on downtown — with the completion of the Redmond Central Connector, the increase in multi-use buildings that have brought in residents and businesses alike as well as the soon-to-come Downtown Park and two-way conversions of Cleveland Street and Redmond Way — Marchione said there is also work being done in Overlake. The city recently completed the South Detention Vault and there is ongoing work at Esterra Park, the 3-million-square-foot project on the old Group Health Cooperative site.
"We don't give Overlake the attention it deserves sometimes," Marchione said.

He also discussed the importance of light rail coming to Redmond and stressed the importance of people voting in November to pass Sound Transit 3, a ballot measure that represents the next set of mass transit investments for the region, including the three-mile Redmond extension from the Overlake Transit Center into downtown.
The mayor also acknowledged some of the issues the city faces such as homelessness.
"It is a regional issue and there are many causes," Marchione said.
He discussed the community meeting the city hosted last year, the task force that was formed following the meeting as well as a few of the recommendations that group made to council.
Some of the lower-cost recommendations such as police officers on bicycles to patrol local trails and more communication and work between police and the library on enforcement have already been implemented, Marchione said.
While the city is doing what it can to support businesses and create a community where people want to live, work and play, Marchione said it is a group effort. He noted some of the efforts local businesses have already made such as DigiPen Institute Technology, pointing out that the popular multi-platinum video game "Guitar Hero" began as a DigiPen student's senior project. Marchione also acknowledged Aerojet Rocketdyne, the city's first aerospace business that helped put Redmond on the map — literally, as each rocket part that has gone from being built in Redmond to taking off into outer space has the city's zip code on it.
"When the Martians come, they're coming here because we gave them the address," Marchione said.

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