Laurelhurst Community Club
Serving 2800 Households and Businesses in Seattle’s Laurelhurst Neighborhood
March 17, 2008
Department of Neighborhoods
P.O. Box 94649
Seattle, Washington 98124-4649
RE: March 18th CAC Meeting
On March 7, Jan Kirkwood from the Laurelon Terrace Board requested time on the March 18 CAC agenda to present information about “the genesis of the Laurelon deal with Children’s and the opportunities presented by acquisition of Laurelon” by Children’s. After LCC learned of this, we also requested time on the agenda. Since then, we received a copy of March 14 correspondence from Laurelon’s attorney Peter Buck to Laurelon residents who support Children’s buyout of Laurelon. That correspondence, which might more appropriately be called propaganda, includes inflammatory statements and encourages Laurelon residents to attend the upcoming CAC meeting and “stand up to be counted” (see enclosure). Unless LCC is also provided time on the agenda to respond, the CAC will not have a full understanding of the issues.
The correspondence from Pete Buck is hostile and antagonistic. It includes misleading and inaccurate statements—some directed against LCC and some against the Children’s Action Coalition, an organization that is separate from LCC and provides a blog supporting reasonable expansion of the hospital and a tool to keep the community informed about the master planning process. The letter incorrectly attributes statements of a group known as Smarter Neighbors, which has its inception from the Wedgwood Community Council’s land use committee, to the Children’s Action Coalition. It seems grossly unfair to allow LCC only three minutes to respond to this during the public comment period.
We suspect that what the Laurelon board has in mind for the CAC meeting is similar to what happened at the recent public hearing before the Senate Consumer Protection and Housing Committee on House Bill 3071. A bus was chartered and about 40 or so Laurelon homeowners made the trek to Olympia. Lawyers supporting the bill, including Jan Kirkwood, a Laurelon property owner, the well-respected paid Laurelon lobbyist all testified, along with one Laurelon property owner who had a compelling story about what a difference the premium offered by Children’s would make to her family. At the conclusion of the hearing, Laurelon residents in the audience were asked to stand to express their support. Well, who wouldn’t support an offer of almost three times the value of one’s property? This is the scenario that we think will likely happen at the March 18 CAC meeting. And, there will be little opportunity for LCC to respond.
LCC, made up of numerous community volunteers, has worked on issues relating to Children’s for over three decades. Mr. Buck, who in this case is being paid by Children’s, rather than the community, now dismisses community concerns as just “A small, but powerful group …of activists…attacking the plan.” Rather than using pejorative labels, the CAC and the process would be far better served by sticking to the merits of the actual planning and policy issues.
Even where the Buck letter touches on a real issue, it misinforms. Mr. Buck states, “They also attack the plan of expanding Children’s onto the Laurelon property, suggesting that new facilities for Children’s Hospital should be built in far out suburbs like Issaquah” as if pediatric facilities in the suburbs is a wrongheaded concept cooked up by Children’s neighborhood opponents. In fact, well-respected regional health care institutions have suggested that demand for pediatric services should be met on the Eastside. Children’s has actually brought litigation before a state administrative law judge to block Swedish Hospital from providing new pediatric beds on the Eastside. For its part, LCC has never advocated that all new facilities for Children’s should be built elsewhere. LCC has pointed out that, for the public welfare, some facilities should be and that Children’s proposed plan does not properly take this into account. Giving Mr. Buck the benefit of the doubt, we will assume that Children’s has not shared this information with him.
When LCC contacted the CAC chair about the March 18 agenda, we suggested that the meeting would be a good opportunity to address possibilities for replacement housing and to hear from Children’s in this regard. We thought that the CAC might like to hear about partnership opportunities with the city or the county to help share the cost of the replacement housing or other matters in this regard. These are important issues that the CAC will likely address in its final report.
The role of the CAC as it relates to Laurelon is whether the major institution boundaries should be expanded, what conditions the CAC recommends regarding replacement housing and other issues that are the subject of the environmental impact statement that may relate to Laurelon. These issues are appropriate for the Laurelon representative to address—not the private negotiation regarding purchase of the property.
LCC has a different, but also a similar role regarding the master planning process—and we will be involved for the long haul—much beyond the role of the CAC. We received a summary of Children’s offer to Laurelon residents, which we provided to you, along with our preliminary analysis of the offer, as the CAC received information from others supporting the state legislation. We spent a lot of time analyzing the offer due to our concerns about expansion of the major institution boundaries, the loss of a large segment of moderate income housing in the Laurelhurst/Sand Point area and out of concern for neighbors who don’t want to lose their homes.
The Laurelhurst Community Club encourages the CAC to provide equal time on the Laurelon issue at its March 18 meeting to ensure fairness and a good public process.
Jeannie Hale, President
3425 West Laurelhurst Drive NE
Seattle, Washington 98105
206-525-5135 / fax 206-525-9631
cc: Stella Chao, Director, Department of Neighborhoods
You and your friends are needed to defend against a demeaning and untruthful attack on Laurelon Terrace’s Plans
Dear Laurelon Terrace Property Owner:
As the attorney for Laurelon Terrace, I want to warn you of an attack being launched against your plan to sell to Children’s Hospital. Your help is needed to defend the plan by attending and getting your friends and relatives to attend a meeting Tuesday night that will discuss this issue.
A small, but powerful group of Laurelhurst activists are attacking the plan. They are doing this through mistaken information while showing disdain for Laurelon Terrace owners. We believe they are a small minority of Laurelhurst residents, but they have obtained the power to use the Laurelhurst Community Council letterhead. They are seeking people to attack the Laurelon plan at a Citizen’s Advisory Committee meeting at the Talaris Conference Center next Tuesday evening, March 18, at 6:30 p.m.
If you want to see some of their mistaken and demeaning statements, go to their website: www.childrensaction.com. One of their main anti-Laurelon writers calls himself or herself “Smarterneighbors.” Having gotten to know you Laurelon Terrace owners I would definitely suggest that the Laurelon Terrace residents are the smarter and much more honest neighbors. That person or persons should change their tag line from ”Smarterneighbors” to “Misguided/Misinformed/Activists.”
A typical demeaning comment they make about Laurelon Terrace is: “The Hospital has spent almost a year intimidating the heck out of [residents of Laurelon Terrace].” I have watched and grown to know you. You are a smart, powerful, and articulate community. To suggest you have been intimidated is insulting as well as demeaning. In my opinion you do not need a few Laurelhurst activists attempting to protect you. You are as tough and capable as them, and certainly a lot more in touch with reality. If anything, Laurelon Terrace residents should be protecting Laurelhurst from the intimidating tactics of certain of Laurelhurst Community Club “leaders.”
They also attack the plan of expanding Children’s onto the Laurelon property, suggesting that new facilities for Children’s Hospital should be built in far out suburbs like Issaquah. As of today, they suggest that Children’s buy a Group Health site in Redmond. So they definitely want to kill the Laurelon Terrace sale. Again, just look at www.childrensaction.com.
Please make every effort to stand up and be counted on Tuesday night. Help each other get there and get your friends and relatives there who care about the community’s future. YOU DO NOT NEED TO SPEAK. Just show your presence at the meeting to counterbalance the anti-Children’s anti-Laurelon Terrace activists. Talaris Conference Center, Cedar Room, 4000 NE 41st Street, Seattle, WA 98105. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18.
Peter L. Buck