Laurelhurst Community Club                                                     

Serving 2800 Households and Businesses in Seattle’s Laurelhurst Neighborhood

          

March 29, 2007

  

Dr. Tom Hansen

President and Chief Executive Officer

Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center

P.O. Box 5371

Seattle, WA 98105-0371

 

RE:  Expansion at Children’s Hospital

 

Dear Tom,

 

            The Laurelhurst Community Club Board of Trustees appreciated the briefing that you and your staff provided at the March 12th Trustee meeting.  While it was interesting to hear about the mission and philosophy of Children’s and its many accomplishments, we were surprised that so few details were provided about your proposed expansion, your concept plan and the alternatives—information that must be provided to the Department of Planning and Development.  There was mention that a new master plan advisory committee would be formed, but again no details and no information about the deadline for neighbors to submit letters of interest.  The Community Club has worked very hard over the last decade to nurture a good relationship with Children’s after an extremely rocky several year period.  We would like to continue to work with you all in a positive manner to enable you to accomplish your goals in a manner consistent with the guidelines in the Major Institutions Code.

 

            At this point, we have two concerns.  The first is about the master plan advisory committee.  The deadline to submit letters of interest is set for April 13th.  We notified your office and the Department of Neighborhoods (DON) that the Laurelhurst community newsletter that is mailed out will not reach neighbors until right about the date of the deadline to submit letters of interest in serving.  We asked that the date be extended until the end of the month and have heard nothing from your staff, although we are quite confident that DON would be willing to extend the deadline.

 

            The other thing that we have heard is that you are interested in a citywide master plan advisory committee, rather than a committee composed of members impacted by your expansion.  In this regard, the Major Institution Code calls for only one citywide representative.  That portion of the Code specifically states:  “One member of the Advisory Committee shall be a general community or citywide organization representative.”  The impression of neighbors is that you all are basically trying to stack the deck with your supporters.  We hope that is not the case because this type of strategy will be contrary to promoting trust, good community relations and a successful and productive master planning process.

 

            We believe that the master plan advisory committee should be truly an advisory committee—rather than an advocacy group for your interests.  The group should be representative of the impacted communities with the expertise noted in the Code in such areas as “neighborhood organization and issues, land use and zoning, architecture or landscape architecture, economic development, building development and educational or medical services.”  As you make your recommendations for those selected to serve on the committee, we hope you will keep in mind the purpose and intent of the Major Institutions Code, which states in part that it is intended to:

 

A. Permit appropriate institutional growth within boundaries while minimizing the adverse impacts associated with development and geographic expansion;

 

B. Balance a Major Institution's ability to change and the public benefit derived from change with the need to protect the livability and vitality of adjacent neighborhoods…

 

            We have been in touch with the Ethics and Elections Commission about the recently adopted changes to the ethics code and how those changes apply to the master plan advisory committee.  The ethics code now applies to boards, commissions and advisory committees.  The code prohibits anyone with a financial interest from participating in decision-making, including discussion and voting.  For those with an appearance of a conflict of interest, disclosure on the record is required prior to participating in decision-making.  The person with the appearance of a conflict must also file a full written disclosure of the circumstances giving rise to the appearance with the Ethics and Elections Commission director.  We have asked DON to advise applicants of the city’s strong ethics code.

 

            The other concern that has been raised is your lobbying activities with public officials seeking support for expansion at Children’s.  As you know, master plan approval is a Type IV decision and ex parte contacts with city councilmembers are prohibited after the notice of intent has been filed with the Department of Planning and Development.  While you have not filed your notice of intent yet, the appearance is that this has been delayed to avoid the restrictions on contact with councilmembers after it is filed.

 

            We hope you will keep our concerns in mind as you move forward with your expansion plans and setting up a new master plan advisory committee.  Our goal is to work together cooperatively in an open manner. 

 

                                                                                    Sincerely,

 

Jeannie Hale, President

3425 West Laurelhurst Drive NE

Seattle, Washington  98105

206-525-5135 / fax 206-525-9631

jeannieh@serv.net

 

cc:  Suzanne Petersen, Desiree Leigh, Children’s Hospital; Steve Sheppard, Department of Neighborhoods; Wayne Barnett, Ethics and Elections Commission; Peter Eglic