Eastside homeowners worried about impact of light rail construction

BELLEVUE -- Sound Transit says they’re ready to begin light rail construction on the Eastside. But some homeowners living near the proposed tracks are worried about the dramatic changes that could be coming to their neighborhood.

David Applestone is glad light rail is finally coming to Bellevue. But he doesn’t like what it’s doing to the Surrey Downs neighborhood he grew up in.

“To be honest with you, it feels like nobody’s listening, nobody cares about the residents of this neighborhood,” he says.

Sound Transit already bought 22 properties in the neighborhood, displacing some longtime residents. Now they’re asking the homeowners who are left to lift their housing restrictions, so construction can begin.

David’s father, Dick, is hesitant. He says he doesn’t understand all the legal documents that Sound Transit delivered to him this weekend.

“This is big,” he says, as he flips through hundreds of pages. “This is insulting to get something this big. I can hardly read it in 20 days, much less respond to it in 20 days.”

The Applestones are worried that if they give Sound Transit control now, they may not have a say on future development in their neighborhood.

“It’ll be up to them and if they decide their change their minds, we have no power then,” says David.

Tonight, they joined their neighbors at the Bellevue City Council meeting, to ask for help protecting their homes.

“I want the City Council to step up and do something on our behalf,” says Dick.

He doesn’t want to stop the light rail. He just doesn’t want to be railroaded out of his own home.

The Bellevue City Council didn’t make any decisions tonight, on whether they’ll get involved in this issue.

As for Sound Transit, they say they’ve been reaching out to homeowners for several months, trying to explain the light rail project and what it will mean for them. They hope homeowners will give their consent so construction can begin this spring, as planned.