Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Children's Hospital, neighbors still at odds over expansion

November 31, 2007

Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center has scaled back the height of proposed buildings on its Laurelhurst campus, but neighbors still don't like the hospital's plan.

The new plan cuts the maximum heights on the main campus from 240 feet to 160 feet by making buildings fatter and reconfiguring mechanical spaces. The proposed height of a new building across Sand Point Way decreased from 120 feet to 105 feet, and the hospital's utility plant was moved away from the edge of campus to address neighbors' noise concerns.

"We want to do everything we can do to be good neighbors," said Ruth Benfield, Children's vice president for facilities, at a news conference to announce the changes Tuesday. But, she added, the hospital must balance that against ensuring it meets demands.

The initial plan, which hospital officials released this summer, would more than double the number of beds and the size of buildings on the main 21.7-acre campus and the 1.78 acres facing it across Sand Point Way Northeast during the next two decades. It included adding and expanding parking garages and creating new, secondary entrances on Northeast 45th and 50th streets.

Laurelhurst residents immediately objected to the scale of the plan, including the building heights. The tallest existing hospital buildings are 80 feet high, and the hospital's current plan allows buildings up to 90 feet high.

The adjusted plan still doesn't satisfy Jeannie Hale, who is the president of the Laurelhurst Community Club.

Buildings on the main campus and across the street still would be too tall, and hospital officials haven't done anything about the proposed new entrances, Hale said. "Those new entrances would direct high volumes of traffic into our neighborhood."

Hale called on hospital officials to work more closely with neighbors; that would include taking a closer look at how much space Children's really needs.

"They need to be realistic," she said. "They're in a single-family, low-density setting."

The changes do not reduce the overall expansion, which would add up to about 1.5 million new square feet, for a total of 2.4 million square feet.

The effect on neighborhoods was what brought about 120 neighbors Tuesday night to the Northwest Horticultural Society Hall at the Center for Urban Horticulture, where Children's leaders, their affiliates and a land-use planner from the city's Department of Planning and Development discussed proposed buildings. The hospital's new design concept was presented to the Community Advisory Council there.

Karl Sonnenberg, a representative from Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP, told the crowd the entrances are "an issue for another day," and entrances and traffic would be addressed in an environmental impact statement.

Scott Ringgold, land-use planner for the Department of Planning and Development, said the environmental impact statement has several phases, but did not give a projected date of when a final plan would be completed.

"I appreciate that they're looking at alternatives," said Greg Griffith, who lives a couple of blocks from Children's. "But I don't think they've thought about the impact on the areas outside the boundaries of their property."

At Tuesday's news conference, hospital officials insisted that Children's needs to grow on the main campus.

Hospital officials expect demand to grow by about 3 percent a year in coming years, because of community growth and ongoing care of children with chronic conditions that would have been fatal just a few years ago, said Dr. Sandy Melzer, Children's senior vice president for strategic planning and business development. New technology also demands more space, Benfield said.

Melzer and Benfield said the hospital's occupancy rate already is too high for comfort, because of the need for separate spaces for children of different ages with different conditions, and because most admissions are unscheduled -- something that's not true of a typical hospital.

The hospital is moving many functions away from its main campus, but duplicating services for the sickest children would be too costly and just plain hard to do, given the rarity of certain specialists, Melzer and Benfield said. Building an entirely new main campus elsewhere would add about $1.5 billion to the $1 billion building plan, not including land costs, they said.

Hospital officials have emphasized the need for all single rooms. It's about lowering risk of cross-infection, and making children and their families more comfortable, Melzer said.

But Cindy Lester, a Bremerton mother in a double room with her daughter Madeline, 3, said she didn't mind sharing.

"We like this room. We like the view, and we like the light," said Lester, whose daughter was born with a heart defect. "I would rather have sunlight than a private room."

A single room did make a difference, however, for Nickolet Blackstock, of Boise, Idaho, who said she has traveled with her 3-year-old daughter, Angelina, to Children's about 20 to 30 times.

"We've been here for two months already, and every little thing counts," said Blackstock, whose daughter has an intestinal disorder.

For more details, go to

P-I reporter Aubrey Cohen can be reached at 206-448-8362 or

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Regular Meeting
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency), Pacific Marine Center on Lake Union
1801 Fairview Avenue East
Thursday, October 25, 2007


Multi-family Code Update featuringMike Podowski, Department of Planning and Development

The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is proposing to update multi-family zoning in the City’s Land Use Code to advance the City’s growth management objectives and better achieve the City’s goals and policies for new development, and make the code easier to use and understand. How will the proposed changes affect Seattle’s low-density neighborhoods? Will incentive zoning work? Should the City reduce parking requirements in multi-family zones? Learn about the Mayor’s proposal from DPD planner Mike Podowski.

To review the Director’s Report and recommendations for amendments to the multi-family code and the proposed ordinance, go to:

The October Federation meeting will continue discussion of important issues facing neighborhoods throughout Seattle. Share your story about issues or projects in your neighborhood. Brainstorm about solutions and/or garner support for your community’s position. If you have informational materials you would like distributed at the meeting, please email electronic copies or links to Jeannie Hale at

7:00 Call to Order and Introductions
1. Changes to the agenda
2. Treasurer’s report
3. President’s report
7:10 Multi-Family Code Update—Mike Podowski, Department of Planning and Development
8:10 Round Robin: Bring Your Issues!
1. Zoo Appeal Update—Irene Wall
2. Proposed zoning changes in SODO to accommodate Starbucks—Mesher
3. City Budget Issues
4. Other Issues/Projects
9:00 Adjourn

NOAA is a federal facility on high security alert, so attendees must enter by the security gate and may need to present photo ID. If you haven't attended a recent Federation meeting, please send your name, contact information, and address to to be added to the entry list. No e-mail? Call 206-365-1267. The building is ADA compliant, with ample parking in front.


Meeting Highlights - September 27, 2007
(These are based on the editor's notes --- they are not official minutes)

Neighbors Opposing Proposition No. 1: Voters will vote on Regional Transportation Investment District ("RTID") Proposition No. 1 ("Roads and Transit") on November 6th. It's the largest local tax increase ever --- $157 billion by independent estimates, $39 billion by the P.I.'s. It extends the existing 0.4% sales tax for Sound Transit and 0.3% motor vehicle excise tax due to expire, and ups the sales tax by 0.5% and the motor vehicles excise tax by 0.8%.
There's no accountability. The RTID Board may modify, delete or add projects with the consent of two of the three county councils (King, Pierce, Snohomish). Where there's money, the politicians find ways to spend it. There's nothing at all for the Alaskan Way Viaduct or U.S. 99, nothing for West Seattle, or Ballard. The highway spending goes for adding lanes to 405 on the Eastside, for I-90, and I-5 by Sea-Tac; for expanding SR 520 to over at least double its current width; for putting two way traffic on Mercer Street in order to suit Paul Allen's South Lake Union plans; and for Highway 167 in Kent. The transit moneys extend Sound Transit from Sea-Tac airport south and from the University District north to north of Lynnwood. Only a relatively small part of the money will be spent in Seattle. County Executive Ron Sims opposes it. The State and City government opted for an expanded SR 520 with at least six lanes --- up to 13 lanes when on and off ramp, merging, bus, rail, bike, and shoulder lanes are counted. The State is pushing a plan for a Union Bay Bridge/Viaduct; an interchange on the UW Campus by Husky Stadium; making Montlake Boulevard N.E. and N.E. Pacific Street into Aurora-like arterials; converting Lake Washington Boulevard in the Arboretum to a freeway access road; and paving the crossing of Portage Bay at least 2 times wider. The traffic from the Eastside will bottleneck trying to get on I-5 and a substantial percentage of vehicles will get off, congesting local streets. It' will be a blight from every perspective (ugly, noisy, smelly, bad air, paving lakes and wetlands, etc.)
Motion passed: The Federation opposes RTID Proposition No. 1 and urges neighborhoods to do so.

Goodwill Site Redevelopment: Goodwill Industries contracted to sell its store, warehouse, learning center, and parking lot complex on South Dearborn St. to a developer for a shopping center contingent upon the site being rezoned, keeping only a store site on the backside facing Weller St. The developer ("TRF Pacific") applied to the City for a rezone to build a shopping center 2/3rds the size of Northgate. That violates the neighborhood plan, which calls for upgrading the nearby business district as the neighborhood core. The Department of Planning and Development declined to require an Environmental Impact Statement. Neighborhood businesses, community councils, and other organizations (38 in all) formed the Dearborn Street Coalition for a Livable Neighborhood to fight the rezone and a street vacation TRF Pacific seeks.
Motion passed to support the Coalition in opposing the project and the street vacation and lend moral support for its appeal for an EIS.

Sidewalks Safety Initiative: City Councilmember David Della asked for support for putting this package of expenditures into the 2008 budget. Motorists hit about 300 pedestrians every year. Its elements are:
(1) $1,000,000 for installing red-light runner cameras at 24 intersections. The City has 6 now. The cameras photograph cars entering the intersection on a red light; the City checks the license plate with the state to find the owner; and it sends the owner a citation. The cameras are paying for themselves and then some.
(2) $250,000 will go for 2-4 speed-enforcement vans for monitoring cars near schools to reduce speeding. The vans clock vehicle speeds and photograph vehicles of speeders leading to mailed citations.
(3) $500,000 will go for technologies, such as pedestrian countdown signals, flashing in the pavement to mark crosswalks, half signals, overhead crosswalk signs, pedestrian islands and traffic calming; and
(4) $250,000 will go for a pedestrian safety awareness campaign and upping the priority for sidewalk projects in the Bridging the Gap levy.
Community representatives ("C") said:
C-1: The City Council needs to get the Seattle Department of Transportation ("SDOT") moving about ending encroachment of private walls and fences into sidewalk area. Ravenna-Bryant has been complaining for months about a newly built wall that encroaches into street right of way next to a busy arterial cutting the effective walking width from 6´ to 5', but, despite the safety hazard of squeezing school children toward heavy traffic, SDOT does nothing.
C-2: SDOT should post on the Internet the intersections with collisions so that the public will know.
C-3: Laurelhurst asked for mirrors on “suicide hill” (NE 41st Street between 42nd and 43rd Avenue NE) so crossing motorists could see on-coming traffic, but got no results.
C-4: Kenmore has electronic solar powered signs by St. Edwards Park showing speeds measured by radar and it slows traffic down. Eastside cities have mobile vans that do the same. They're effective. Accord by another rep. Motorists are frequently not aware of their speed when coasting downhill.
C-5: The City needs strong provisions for developers to put in sidewalks and crosswalks. DPD lets developers paint a crosswalk as mitigation. It's not such at all. It also needs to require developers to fix up sidewalks that their equipment tears up during construction. It doesn't do so.
C-6: The City should use community service officers (or their equivalent) for the mobile vans to give warnings. Civilian officers or police cadets could also do accident investigation. Neither task requires a sworn officer, which is more expensive.
C-7: Bicyclists are not stopping or even slowing for pedestrians on the Burke-Gilman Trail. Bicycle cops need to patrol it.
C-8: People would take buses more if there were sidewalks between their homes and the stop. People worry about walking on the edge of a roadway in the dark of night.
C-9: Bus shelters on Rainier Avenue are gone and need to be replaced.
Motion passed to write to the City Council in support the Sidewalk Safety Initiative and in our letter include recommendations by community’s representatives.

Cascade People Center: The Cascade Neighborhood is seeking $211,000 in funding for the Cascade People Center in South Lake Union, the only social service center in the area. It is open 18 hours every day. The need is especially urgent now: development has torn down housing and older buildings in the nearby Denny Triangle and Regrade causing people to move northward. Motion passed to support the requested appropriation and authorize letters to appropriate government officials

. Lost Fork of Hamm Creek: On October lst, the City Council will vote on an appropriation to protect the Lost Fork of Hamm Creek. It flows through South Park to the Duwamish River and is part of an outdoor education center for children in a City park near Concord Elementary School. The Mayor proposed to divert its waters in order to build some wetlands required as compensation for illegally filling other wetlands at the headwaters of the "Lost Fork."
For more information, see and "Hamm Creek"

Bruce Harell, candidate for Seattle City Council Position No 3, spoke about his background and issues. He's a lawyer in a five member firm, handling civil rights law; a coach for a youth team; and community volunteer. He's for transparency in local government; incentive zoning if it provides affordable housing; and paying utility bills on line; he opposes tax breaks for the developers of the Ballard project. He's rethinking his position on the RTID tax (Proposition # 1) in light of County Executive Ron Sims' opposition to it. Check out his website at [This paragraph reports his appearance. The Federation does not endorse candidates for political office.]

Seattle Community Council Federation
President’s Report

Correspondence/Community Action:

1. Proposed changes regarding sidewalks: The Federation submitted extensive comments on the proposed Code changes regarding sidewalks. The Federation supported lowering the thresholds and reducing exceptions for building sidewalks contained in the proposal. The Federation asked that the legislation be amended to require sidewalks in all new single-family construction regardless of location. The Federation also offered a number of other suggestions on the legislative proposal: that it forbid sidewalk encroachments, address sidewalk damage due to construction, include a cumulation rule so that work planned on the site or a contiguous site within a five-year period be included in evaluating the sidewalk installation requirement, that areas that overlap Urban Villages and arterials be included, that collector arterials be included, that exemptions for remodeling be limited and that existing sidewalks be retained.

2. SEPA Thresholds: Geof Logan testified on behalf of the Federation at a public hearing on the proposal to increase the SEPA thresholds and thereby limit public review of certain development projects. In the Federation’s view, exempting projects from environmental review disables DPD from requiring a developer to correct adverse impacts that may occur and fails to account for piecemealing a project to avoid environmental review.

3. Proactive designation of historic sites citywide: On September 25, the Federation wrote to the Mayor and the City Council commending Councilmembers Steinbrueck and Godden on their proactive leadership in discovering and designating downtown historic landmarks and urging that the program be expanded citywide with adequate funding to do so. The Federation asked for a citywide assessment and consideration of possible tax relief as a “carrot” for designation. Councilmember Steinbrueck called to thank the Federation for its letter. He said that the city initiated citywide surveys a few years ago neighborhood by neighborhood and suggested that the Federation contact Karen Gordon as there is a database within the city to access surveys. Steinbrueck also said that years ago, the city worked with the UW in developing a Neighborhood Urban Resources Inventory. This was funded through the city’s Department of Community Development. This effort included buildings, resources and cultural values of different segments of the city. Victor Steinbrueck and Folke Nyberg from the UW participated in the effort. Steinbrueck hopes that the Federation will follow up. In the meantime, Councilmember Rasmussen responded and said there probably wouldn’t be any money in the budget due to predictions of an economic downturn.

4. Children’s Hospital proposed expansion: On September 16, the Federation submitted environmental scoping comments on Children’s Hospital proposed expansion. Children’s plan is to increase building heights from 37, 50, 70 and 90 feet to 240 feet, increase square footage by 1.5 million, add two new entrances to the hospital on residential streets and expand the major institution boundaries across Sand Point Way. The Federation asked that the alternatives proposed by Children’s in its concept plan be rejected outright and should not be considered for study in the environmental impact statement (EIS). The Federation endorsed the detailed alternatives submitted by the Laurelhurst Community Club as well as the scoping comments submitted by that group and asked that the Laurelhurst alternatives be studied in the EIS.

5. First United Methodist Church: On September 11, Marietta Foubert testified and submitted written comments on behalf of the Federation supporting several points for assuring historic preservation of the First United Methodist Church.

6. Funding for Bitter Lake Hub Urban Village Linden Avenue North Improvements: On August 7, the Federation wrote to the Mayor and City Council requesting funding for infrastructure improvements in the Broadview, Bitter lake, Haller Lake Neighborhood Plan. The Federation cited numerous reasons to justify the expenditures.

7. Proposed changes to ethics rules: The Federation submitted extensive comments on proposed changes to Seattle’s ethics rules suggesting several amendments.

8. ProParks Committee: On July 30, 2007, the Federation wrote to Councilmember David Della and members of the Parks, Education, Libraries and Labor Committee enthusiastically endorsing Cindi Barker for a position on the Parks and Green Spaces Levy Oversight Committee.

9. Pedestrian Master Plan: On July 30, 2007, the Federation submitted extensive comments to the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Group recommending elements to include in the plan to enhance pedestrian safety and make Seattle a more walkable city.

10. Charter amendments: On July 27, 2007, the Federation wrote to the City Council endorsing two proposed charter amendments, one that would establish a clear process for the Mayor’s annual state of the city address to ensure citizen access to the event and full council attendance and the other that would create a preamble to the city’s charter. Both Council President Licata and Councilmember Steinbrueck responded and thanked the Federation.

11. NOAA: On July 27, 2007, the Federation wrote to Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher supporting keeping NOAA at its Pacific Marine Center on Seattle’s Lake Union. Admiral Lautenbacher responded thanking the Federation for its letter and providing an update on the proposed move. King County Councilmember Larry Phillips also sent the Federation a copy of the letter he wrote supporting the Federation’s position.

Neighbors Opposing Prop. One

This is an impressive flyer from Neighbors Opposing Prop. One, a local group that argues against the proposed road and transit tax, which would, among other things, fund an unacceptable expansion of SR-520 and the interchange with I-5. They are looking for volunteers who could help them and the Sierra Club hand out fliers in the Eastlake neighborhood and other nearby areas, 8:30 a.m. to noon this Saturday, Oct. 20, or other times and days at your convenience. If you would like to help, please contact Fran Conley, 322-0427 or e-mail her at, with a copy to me.

Chris Leman (206) 322-5463


We are a grassroots group of neighbors, and we need your help:

To volunteer a few hours, call 328-4444 or 329-2696. To learn more, please visit

To help get the word out, please make a financial contribution to:
Neighbors Opposing Prop 1
2500 Canterbury Lane East #301
Seattle, WA 98112

[photo of proposed expansion of SR520 through Union Bay]
Do you want this next to the arboretum? VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 1
This roads plan makes things worse!
NOV. 7th is the only chance citizens will get to SAY NO.

. Increases pollution & dependence on autos without solving congestion.
. Traffic jams are moved from SR-520 to I-5, not eliminated.
. There is no commitment to use rapid bus lanes.

. A 13-lane wide bridge across Portage Bay.
. A 15-lane wide bridge over and through the Arboretum.
. More cars will fill Seattle streets.
. More problems for bicycles and pedestrians.

. High, wide and totally out of scale concrete structures near our homes.
. More cut-through traffic on our neighborhood streets.
. More noise and air pollution in our neighborhoods.

. No one elected person is in charge. Oversight by committee won't work.
. If costs go up, the taxes can continue indefinitely. It's a blank check!
. If Prop 1 passes, no additional citizen votes are needed to impose tolls, change designs, or change which roads actually get built.

. Prop 1 provides $1 billion for expanding 520 - total costs will likely be $6 billion.
. Tolls on the 520 bridge are planned, and additional taxes not yet identified will be needed.
. It uses up our region's taxing capacity without addressing other big transportation projects that need to get done. like fixing bridges.

. Prop 1 forces one vote on a plan for both roads and Sound Transit.
. Sound Transit can come back on the ballot at the next election.

This roads plan makes things worse!



Support Neighborhood-friendly Development!

The Dearborn Street Coalition for Livable Neighborhoods (DSCLN) has a simple mission: to provide an effective voice for the community in response to the proposal to redevelop the Goodwill site at Rainier Ave and Dearborn Street in Little Saigon. We are pro development and do not oppose the redevelopment of this site. We simply request that it be done in a manner that is respectful of the nearby small business districts and surrounding residential neighborhoods. We are for healthy urban neighborhoods, sustainable development, affordable housing, a vibrant local economy, transit and pedestrian priorities, family wage jobs, neighborhoods having a voice in the development process, and development that is consistent with the City’s Comprehensive Plan. Our broad community coalition is resolute in its call for an improved proposal for the Goodwill site.
The current proposal for redeveloping the Goodwill site
The City of Seattle is currently reviewing a proposal by shopping mall developer TRF Pacific to redevelop the Goodwill site into a regional shopping mall. If approved by the City Council, this proposal will create over 700,000 square feet of commercial space (over 2/3 the size of Northgate Mall), 2,200 underground parking spaces (21 acres), and approximately 500 housing units on the 4-block site with building heights of almost 100 feet on Dearborn Street. The project has met with opposition from a large and growing number of groups who have organized into the Dearborn Street Coalition for Livable Neighborhoods (DSCLN). Our main concerns with the proposal are:
1. the overwhelming size of the project,
2. the traffic issues it will bring to the area, and
3. the suburban mall character with its emphasis on big-box and national chain stores.

We want the site developed, however the current proposal:
• does not fit the scale and character of the area,
• does not reflect the unique cultural diversity of the surrounding urban neighborhoods,
• is a threat to our local shopping districts (such as Little Saigon and 23rd/Jackson),
• is inconsistent with the City's Comprehensive Plan and codes, and
• is inconsistent with our own neighborhood plans.

DSCLN believes there are better uses for the Goodwill site than that currently proposed by TRF Pacific.
Current Status
Since the developer is moving ahead with a proposal that we cannot support, we are using the city's land-use processes to address the concerns of the community, and to advocate for a development that is more consistent with the city's comprehensive plan, codes, and the scale and character of the surrounding neighborhoods. The city's land use process exist for the purposes of ensuring a development project is a good project for the surrounding area and for the city as a whole, through a process that allows for public participation. To make sure that this project is consistent with the surrounding neighborhoods and good for the city, we are obligated to participate fully in this process in order to affect the developer’s proposal.
A Better Project
We believe there is an opportunity for a better development to emerge from this process - one that serves the needs of Goodwill, preserves the character and cultural diversity of the area, and provides for healthier local economic activity. In the scenario that Council does not approve the developer’s proposal, we are developing an alternate proposal for the site that will be both financially viable and meet the Coalition’s vision for the area.
We have a real opportunity to influence an outcome that will define the quality and livability of our neighborhoods for decades to come.
Dearborn Street Coalition for Livable Neighborhoods (DSCLN) is:
Vietnamese American Economic Development Association (VAEDA)
Inter*Im Community Development Assn
International District Housing Alliance (IDHA)
Vietnamese-American Bar Association of WA
Jackson Place Community Council (JPCC)
Squire Park Community Council (SPCC)
Beacon Alliance of Neighbors (BAN)
North Beacon Hill Community Council
Yesler Terrace Community Council
Coleman Neighborhood Association
Beacon Hill Pedestrian Task Force
Beacon Ridge Improvement Council
Seattle Central Area Chamber of Commerce (SCACC)
Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE)
Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP)
Minority Executive Directors Coalition (MEDC)
Unite HERE (Hotel & Restaurant Employees) local 8
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) local 6
United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) local 21
Laborers Northwest Regional Organizing Coalition
Friends of Seattle
Puget Sound Sage
Community Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ)
Church Council of Greater Seattle (CCGS)
Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans (PSARA)
Seattle Displacement Coalition
Tenants Union
Community Coalition on Contracts and Jobs
Seattle Vocational Institute - Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program
Contractors Resource Center
LELO – Legacy of Equality, Leadership and Organizing
Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites (CARW)
Real Change
Casa Latina
African Youth United
Lutheran Public Policy Office
Wedgwood Action Group
Fremont Neighborhood Council
Pine Olive Way Howell Triangle Area (POWHAT)