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FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
OF THE HEARING EXAMINER
FOR THE CITY OF SEATTLE

In the Matter of the Petition of

Children's HOSPITAL
and Medical CENTER
Application No.
8405870 and 9106441
C.F. NO: 297288 and 298740

for Council Conditional Use permits

Introduction
Findings of Fact
The Proposal
Medical Necessity for Helistop
Safety
Noise and Vibration
Use restricted to occurrences involving life-threatening emergencies
Alternative Sites
DCLU Analysis and Recommendation
Public Comment
Conclusions
Recommendation

Introduction

The applicant has requested council conditional use permits to allow a helistop accessory on the campus of Children's Hospital and Medical Center (CHMC) and at the Intramural Activities Field on the campus of the University of Washington.

For purposes of this recommendation, all section numbers refer to the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) as amended, unless otherwise indicated.

The Director's report, submitted by the Department of Construction and Land Use (DCLU), recommended that the conditional use permits be granted with certain

The hearing on this matter was held on June 23, and June 24, 1992. The record was left open for additional public comment, for the applicant to submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions and for the Deputy Hearing Examiner (Examiner) to conduct a site inspection. The Examiner visited the CHMC campus, the surrounding neighborhood, the IMA field, and toured AIRLIFT NW II and the fixed-wing aircraft. The record closed an July 1, 1992.

Parties present at the proceeding were: John Keegan mid Craig Gannett, attorneys at law for the applicant CHMC; and Faith Lurnsden Land Use Specialist, for the Director.

After due consideration of the information presented by the applicant and provided by the DCLU report, and all evidence submitted during the hearing process, and as a result of the personal inspection of the subject property and the surrounding area by the Examiner, the following shall constitute the findings of fact, conclusions and recommendation of the Hearing Examiner.

Findings of Fact

1. The applicant, CHMC submitted an initial application on November 13, 1984, for a helistop on the CHMC campus. The proposed location for the helistop would be north of the emergency room on a site known as the Kitchen Garden. DCLU issued a Determination of Significance on January 13, 1986. A draft Environmental Impact Statement was published an September 2, 1986. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was published on April 25, 1991. No appeal was filed to the Final EIS.

2. During the course of public hearings an the draft EIS and during the written comment period, alternative locations for the helistop were recommended. One of the alternative locations involved landings at the University of Washington Intramural Athletic (IMA) Field also known as Graves Field. As a result of the public comments a new proposal emerged which became known as the "Preferred Alternative". Under the preferred alternative only the most critical patients would land at the Kitchen Garden site on the CHMC campus. The less critical patients would land at the IMA location and be transported by ground to CHMC. On December 5, 1991, CHMC submitted a new application to include the IMA field site.

3. The CHMC campus is a 25-acre site located In the Laurelhurst neighborhood in north Seattle. The CHMC campus is located approximately one-mile east of the University of Washington. The campus is situated on a west facing hillside. The campus consists of several interconnected buildings, ranging from one to five stories above grade, that generally follow the site topography.

4. The IMA site is located south of the golf course driving range near the northwest corner of the sports field. The site is relatively flat. The site is northeast of the north parking lot for Hec Edmundson Pavilion and Husky Stadium

5. The neighborhood surrounding the CHMC campus is primarily zoned single-family and developed with single family homes. To the east of the CHMC campus is the Laurelhurst Elementary School, the Laurelhurst Playfield, the Battelle Memorial Institute and Villa Academy. The area to the north and west of the campus is developed with multi-family residences. Across Sand Point Way is a large Planned Unit Development. There are commercial uses along Sand Point Way.

The Proposal

6. CHMC proposes, to construct a helistop which would be a 40 ft. X 40 ft. concrete pad surrounded by 48-foot radius of unobstructed grass area. The center of the pad would be marked with a white cross with arms 30 ft long by 10 ft. wide. A 6 ft. by 10 ft. red "H" would be in the center to designate the helicopter landing site from the air. A 20-inch tall fence with a locked gate would surround the circular area.

Ground light, which would "glow" rather than emanate direct light, would surround the site and would be turned on for nighttime landings. Other safety light features will be included for safe night landings on the target. (EIS p. 48) The proposed site would be 142 feet away from the entrance of the emergency room. Several trees on the site and along Penny Lane will be removed.

7. The IMA Field referenced in the preferred alternative is the existing site for the University of Washington's Medical Center helistop. The IMA field helipad would have a 76 ft. diameter circular pad centered in a 150 ft. asphalt apron. The lighting would be similar to the proposed lighting for the CHMC campus helipad.

8. There would he significantly mom landings at the IMA Field than at the CHMC campus, if the proposal is adopted as recommended by DCLU, because of the limitation placed on landings at the CHMC campus. For example, if it was necessary to transport medical staff to accompany the patient to the emergency room, the staff would be dispatched from the IMA Field. The IMA Field is also the site of the University Hospital's medical flights.

9. SMC 23.84.005 establishes the criteria for a helistop accessory to a major institution.

  1. A helistop may be permitted as a Council conditional use if the Council finds that:

    a. The helistop is needed to save lives:

    b. The helistop Is located so as to minimize impacts upon surrounding residential property;

    c. Use of the helistop will be restricted to occurrences involving life-threatening emergencies.

  2. The Director's report shall examine alternative locations for the helistop, including sites outside the institution's boundaries, which would accomplish the purpose of the helistop with a lesser impact upon residential areas.

Medical Necessity the Helistop

10. CHMC has indicated that the primary reasons for helicopter transport are to reduce the time before appropriate advanced treatment can begin and to decrease patient manipulation.

11. CHMC is one of three pediatric tertiary care centers in the state. The other two others are Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma and Sacred heart Medical Center in Spokane. CHMC is the largest, in terms of staffing numbers and size, and is the best equipped to offer full service tertiary care for children. (EIS p. 11)

12. CHMC is a part of a regional tertiary care system for a four-state region including Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana. This informal "regional medical referral system" is a part of a health care referral system. The system allows for specialized health care to be delivered to patients throughout the region without duplication of services or competition for patients.

13. In addition to the regional medical referral system, Washington hospitals have organized as Washington Emergency Medical Service (EMS), which ensures an appropriate hospital referral during emergency situations. The EMS is composed of a helicopter service, trauma, burn and pediatric care center.

14. Historically, approximately 90% of the children who am transported to CHMC by helicopter enter one of the intensive cue units at the hospital. Approximately one-fourth of the children are so critically ill that they die. (Exhibit 10) Volume III of the Final EIS contains a complete listing of the key characteristics of the critically ill patients brought to CHMC by helicopter from August 1985 through March 1989, and Exhibit 10 extends the listing through March 1992. The diagnosis of the patients include: respiratory failure, drowning, asphyxia, seizures, ingestion of toxic substances, cardiac arrest and viral encephalitis.

15. In some other emergency situations, helicopter transport is necessary because ground transport is infeasible such as when the distance to the emergency center is too long or where transportation such as the ferry is not practical.

16. Airlift Northwest helicopter services is the primary air transport service for patients destined for Children's Hospital. Airlift NW, started in 1982, is operated as a non-profit service by a hospital consortium composed of CHMC, Harborview Medical Center, and Providence Medical.

17. Helicopter or air transport comprise a very small per percentage of emergency room visits at CHMC. In 1991, only 76 patients (0.3%) arrived by helicopter compared to 23,080 emergency room visits in the year. Emergency landings at the campus is also a small percentage of the total number of air transport patients.

The helistop is located so as to minimize impacts upon surrounding residential property;

18. The two primary, impacts on the surrounding residential community are anticipated to be safety and noise and vibration from the helicopters. A very detailed analysis of these impacts is discussed in the Final EIS, however, for a clarification of the issues raised by the scope of these impacts as well as to address the community's concerns, a summary of the EIS follows:

Safety

19, In addressing the issue of safety to the residents in the vicinity surrounding the CHMC campus helistop, the EIS looked generally at the history of medical flights, the accident history of Airlift NW, the primary helicopter service used by EMS and a review of the information available for the accident history of military helicopter flights. The EIS also addressed the probability of accidents an Airlift NW helicopter flights to the CHMC campus.

20. The final EIS analysis of the probability of an accident at the CHMC campus is based on what is considered the worst me scenario of 20 flights per month including all flight segments. (The average of 20 flights includes take-off from base, landing to pick up patient, take off with patient landing at CHMC and take-off from CHMC). Under this analysis, an accident would be statistically expected to occur less than once every 59.1 years. Under the preferred alternative, landings at the CHMC campus would be restricted to landing with the patient and take-off, with a corresponding reduction in the probability of an accident to once every 177 years.

21. Airlift NW has not had a helicopter accident in eight years. During this period Airlift NW has flown approximately 9,000 flights. There was a non-injury "incident" at Harborview in 1989. ( An "incident" is an event causing minor damage for minor injury.)

22. National Transportation Safety Association (NTSA) conducted a study on the major causes of helicopter accidents. Listed as contributors to helicopter accidents are: human error (68%); adverse weather (30%); mechanical failure (25%). Airlift NW engages in preventative measures to ensure that Airlift NW maintains it safety record. Airlift NW has a safety committee to ensure that safe Operations we integrated into the Emergency Service (EMS).

23. Airlift NW maintains high standards for its pilots by requiring them to meet higher safety standards than are required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The pilot training program includes "factory training" by the Augusta manufacturer, and annual training time. Airlift has sought to minimize weather-related accidents by keeping its pilots "instrument current" and "instrument rated" which allows them to fly without ground visibility. Another policy which allows for safer pilot decisions is to give pilots the discretion to decide whether they want to fly in adverse weather conditions.

24. The designated flight path raises issues of both safety and noise. To the greatest extent possible the flight path follows bodies of water and arterials. The current flight paths are designed to reduce flights over residential neighborhoods, by flying over SR-520, Montlake Blvd and I-5 when coming from the south. The flight path to the IMA was altered when Airlift NW pilots expressed concerns regarding large numbers of birds on the athletic field during certain times of the year. According to the EIS, the possibility of a bird strike has been reduced but not eliminated by the change in flight paths.

25. The EIS also noted several locations in the vicinity of CHMC that could be used for emergency landings. In additions to parking surfaces and streets, the University campus, and the Sand Point Naval Station could be used.

Noise and Vibration

26. A full analysis of noise and vibration appears in the Final EIS at pages 105 through 121. A variety of different terms are used to measure noise and the effect of noise on people. Sound levels are measured in decibels (dB). Environmental noise is measured in A-weighted decibel levels (dBA). To evaluate the effect of noise on people. Sound levels at measured in decibels (dB). Environmental noise is measured in A-weighted decibel levels (dBA). To evaluate the effect of noise on people, a day/night average sound level (Ldn) with a penalty for noise occurring between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. "Lmax" is used to measure the maximum sound level and the probability of sound interference from single noise events.

27. Sound measurements for noise impacts from the proposal were analyzed from five residential sites in the vicinity of the CHMC campus. The measurements in the EIS are based on the original proposal which would have increased the number of flights landing and taking of from the campus. The study showed the original proposal would increase the Ldn sound levels by between zero to three. A "worst one day Ldn" assuming two daytime and two nighttime flights (a total of eight trips including crew pickup) would show an increase of 0 to 5 dBA.

28. Exhibit 20 (Table 16, p. 106 of the Final EIS) is a chart placing the sound levels of the Augusta helicopter in the context of other noise sources and conditions.

Sound level (dBA) Source or Condition

140 Hearing damage risk for short exposure
130Threshold of pain
120Race car at 50 feet
110 Orchestra fortissimo; rock and roll concert
100 Ambulance siren at 50 feet
90 Occupational noise limit for 8 hour/day exposure
85 Accelerating truck or bus at 50 ft; lawn mower
84Augusta helicopter, measured at receptor location closest to CHMC
80 Ambulance siren at 500 ft., average downtown traffic
75 Inside auto, accelerating
70 Inside auto, steady speed
65 Typical auto measured at residential setback; urban residential average noise
60 Normal conversation
55 Suburban residential average noise
50 General office
45 Typical residential
40 Quiet indoor
20 Whisper
0 Threshold of hearing

29. SMC 25.08.530 of the Seattle Noise Control Ordinance, lists the sounds which are exempt from the Noise Control Ordinance. Relevant to this proposal, exempt sounds are

1. Sounds originating from the aircraft in flight, and sounds which originate at airports and are directly related to flight operations;

4. Sounds created by emergency equipment and emergency work necessary in the interests of law enforcement or of the health, safety or welfare of the community;

30. There are no local, state or federal noise regulations which set a standard for acceptable noise levels for helistops. The review of the standards outlined in the Final EIS are summarized in the footnote below.

31. The noise study reported noise levels in the area surrounding CHMC, without any helicopters was between 52 and 68 Ldn. Under the worst case of 40 flights the sound levels would increase to between 54 and 68 Ldn.

32. Some helicopters, primarily two-bladed helicopters, produce an "impulse" noise known as "blade slap." The noise caused by blade slap distinguishes helicopter noise from other types of loud noises. The Augusta 109 used by Airlift NW, has four-bladed rotors which reduces the blade slap noise. Some of the military helicopters such as the Huey have two-bladed rotors which make more noise and cause more vibration. Restricting the use of Huey and other two-bladed rotor helicopters from landing on the CHMC campus would greatly reduce the noise and vibration impacts on the residences in the immediate vicinity.

33. Residents in the immediate vicinity of the CHMC, would be impacted by noise from helicopters landing on the campus. The noise studies in the EIS shows that there would be sleep interference (people awakened by nighttime flights) that young children and older people are more affected by the noise. The extent to which the residents will be bothered depends on location, whether the windows are open or closed and the physical characteristics of the sleeper. There are measures to mitigate, but not to eliminate the noise impacts. The mitigating measures am included as recommended conditions of approval of the project.

34. Noise-induced vibration in structures depends on a variety of factors including construction type and the window size and type. Detectable vibration of portions of the building can occur if exterior sound pressure levels are above 65 to 80 dB. In the Final EIS, it was concluded that the vibration of the structures in the vicinity near CHMC was not expected to cause structural damage. This conclusions was based on studies that showed that the Concorde supersonic jet transport, at 104 dBA produced insignificant structural damage. The helicopters used by Airlift NW would produce significantly lower sound levels than the Concorde.

Use restricted to occurrences involving life-threatening emergencies

35. CHMC began helicopter landings on the campus in 1984. DCLU issued a notice of violation in response to complaints about the operation of the helistop but allowed CHMC to continue flight operation pending a decision on this application.

36. The decision to use helicopter is made either by the physician at the referring hospital after consultation with the receiving hospital or by the paramedics, after consultation with a physician. Airlift Northwest determines which children are transported by helicopter directly to CHMC campus according to established standards. if any one of the following conditions occur at the initiation of the helicopter or during the course of the flight, landing at CHMC is authorized. The conditions involve:

I. Unstable Airway
II. Inability to Ventilate/Oxygenate
III. Inability to Maintain Adequate Cardiac Output
IV. Inability to Maintain Adequate Cerebral Blood Pressure Flow
V. The Persistence of Unstable Vital Sign Despite Heroic Attempts to Control Them

37. In order to ensure compliance with the standards, the attending crew completes a medical justification form which is reviewed by CHMC and Airlift NW. During a review of flight landing at the CHMC Campus and a sampling of a few flights to Harborview, only one landing at CHMC and/or Harborview was found to be questionable.

38. There is a one-mile distance and approximate 10 minutes to transport a patient from the IMA Field to the CHMC Campus. In many Cases timing is of such a critical factor, that the extra 10 minutes could determine whether the patient will live.

39. In addition to the added time of transporting a patient from the IMA Field to the emergency room at CHMC, many patients am unable to sustain the manipulation, or movement that is associated with the transfer from the helicopter to the ambulance and to the emergency room. Some of the factors involved in the manipulation which could jeopardize the patient's life are changes in temperature, loss of intravenous or other tubal connections, the dislocation of monitors, and/or unnecessary movement.

40. The projected number of CHMC campus helicopter landings for 1991 to 1995 is between four or five. The Public Health Department estimated six patients per month would be transported to the CHMC campus. The projected number of IMA helistop for the same period is between 12 and 13.

Alternative Sites

41. Several alternative locations for a helistop, on and off the CHMC campus, were reviewed and rejected for a variety of reasons. A more detailed explanation is outlined in the Final EIS pages 47 through 49. The on-campus locations which were considered were landing the helicopters on the roof of the parking garage, which was not acceptable due to the time and manipulation needed to then transfer the patient to the emergency room. Landing on the roof of the medical center building was rejected because it would necessitate major structural changes to support the weight of the helicopter and extend the elevator to the roof.

42. Three other campus locations, outside of east entrance of the campus, outside of the south entrance and in the parking lot were also considered unacceptable because all would require ground transport by ambulance after the patient landed in one of the landing sites. There was also the added factor that landings at the east entrance would place the helicopter closer to the residences to the east.

43. Several off-campus locations were suggested but only three were selected for a detailed analysis in the EIS. The three locations included the IMA Field location on the University campus, which became a part of the Preferred Alternative. Another location was the roof top of the University of Washington Medical Center, which is not under consideration by the University. The third alternative location, known as the "No Action Alternative" would provide for landings at Boeing Field or Harborview and then ground transport to CHMC. The third alternative is considered to be unacceptable because of the length of time involved in ground transport to CHMC.

44. The Preferred Alternative, requiring the most critically ill to land at CHMC and those who could be stabilized to land at the IMA Field and then ground transport to CHMC, emerged as the alternative best designed to meet the needs of reducing the time to access to specialized treatment, minimizing manipulation of the most critically ill. The preferred alternative also reduces the associated noise impacts of ground transport.

45. There are no current plans by other local area hospitals to apply for helistop permits. Consequently, there are no other alternative sites under review. In addition, concern about a proliferation of helistop request if the application under review in this matter is approved, is not supported by the record.

DCLU Analysis and Recommendation

46. DCLU recommended conditional approval for an emergency helistop at the Kitchen Garden site on the CHMC campus and a second full Service helistop at the IMA Field at the University of Washington. Conditions were recommended to mitigate impacts to the public safety and welfare. DCLU concluded that the anticipated adverse noise impacts could not be mitigated, but the benefits from the preferred alternative outweighed the adverse impacts. The recommended noise mitigation are intended to alleviate to the greatest extent possible the noise and safety impacts. DCLU made minor revisions to the conditions as they appear in the analysis. The text with the line through the words or printed in "bold" type reflect the revisions from the original text. The original conditions and the revisions are included below:

47. The DCLU recommended conditions are:

  1. Only the most critical and life-threatening medical emergencies shall be allowed to land at CHMC. All other patients shall land at the Intramural Activities field site. The initial decision whether to land at the Kitchen Garden site or the IMA field is to be made by the referring physician and/or attending medical team. For patients whose condition deteriorates in flight, the medical team an board the helicopter may decide to land at CHMC. The following conditions indicate a landing at CHMC is appropriate:

    a. unstable airway;
    b. inability to ventilate/oxygenate;
    c. inability to maintain adequate cardiac output;
    d. inability to maintain adequate cerebral bloodflow; or
    e. the persistence of unstable vital signs despite heroic attempts to control them.

  2. Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic (MAST), Coast Guard and Navy HUEY helicopters shall not be permitted to land at CHMC, but shall land at the IMA field or at Harborview in order to reduce noise impacts and reduce the potential for helicopter accidents in the CHMC area. Other helicopters, military or civilian, shall be permitted to land at CHMC only if they demonstrate a noise profile equal to or less than the Agusta 109 and meet FAA size guidelines for the CHMC helipad.

  3. A Medical Review Committee shall be established to review compliance with Condition 1 above, allowing only the most critically ill patients to land at CHMC. The Committee shall consist of the following five members;

    1) The Director of the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health, or the Director's appointee, who will serve as Committee chair;

    2) A representative of CHMC selected by the Chief Executive Officer;

    3) A physician representative of the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) selected by the President of the Association. The representative must be a qualified neonatology, pediatric intensivist. or pediatric emergency physician;

    4) A physician representative of the Washington State Society of Pediatrics (WSSP), selected by the President of the Society. The representative must be a board certified pediatrician.

    5) A citizen, residing in one of the neighborhoods in the area of CHMC, to be nominated by the Department of Neighborhoods and confirmed by the City Council.

    Committee members will be appointed for terms not to exceed three years, with replacements to be made by the original appointing authority. The role of the Committee is advisory only. The Committee meet at least twice per year to review and evaluate helicopter transports to CHMC. The Committee shall submit a report after each review meeting to DCLU, the Chief Executive Officer of CHMC, the Airlift Northwest Executive Committee and Medical Director, and the Citizens' Advisory Committee for CHMC Master Plan. Committee members will receive no compensation or other remuneration for their service on the Committee. The Committee shall adopt rules and procedures as necessary to ensure compliance with laws and administrative rules governing confidentiality of patient medical records, while also providing for public input and review of fn Committee's work.

    CHMC shall provide administrative and staff needed by the Committee. The necessity for, and performance of the Committee shall be evaluated by DCLU after two years and a recommendation shall be made to the City Council regarding whether to continue, reorganize or discontinue the Committee's work.

  4. CHMC shall continue to report on a quarterly basis to the community regarding the number of transports to the campus. The report shall also include the number of helicopter landings at the IMA/Graves Field site for the given quarter.

  5. Helicopters shall not be allowed to land at CHMC to pick up medical staff prior to patient transport.

  6. DCLU shall review the quarterly reports of CHMC and the reports of the Medical Review Committee. If it appears that inappropriate or non-medically necessary landings have occurred, DCLU shall work with CHMC, the Public Health Director, the Medical Review Committee and ALNW to revise guidelines or procedures to ensure compliance with the limited landings requirement stated in condition one (1). Failure to demonstrate clear improvement in implementation of the limited landings criteria may result in suspension of the permit for landings and shall be subject to enforcement action pursuant to Chapter 23.90 of the Land Use Code.

  7. Only helicopters with a four-bladed rotor shall be permitted to land at the CHMC campus helistop. Should Airlift Northwest or other aeromedical vendor seek to establish regular flights to CHMC in helicopters other than the Agusta 109 studied In the EIS, a showing must be made to DCLU proving the noise impacts of the alternative equipment are no greater than for the Agusta 109. Technological features (twin engines, navigation equipment, etc.) must equal or exceed the Agusta 109. DCLU must give approval of the now equipment prior to its regular use for flights to CHMC.

  8. The flight paths for approach and departure to the CHMC and IMA/Graves Field helistops shall be strictly maintained as described in the Final EIS and shall to the greatest extent possible avoid residential areas. Airlift Northwest and any other regular carrier shall establish a training program to introduce all pilots to the approved flight paths. ALNW or other regular carrier shall confirm in writing to DCLU its commitment to the training program and to ensuring the approved flight paths an followed.

  9. Prior to beginning regular use of the Kitchen Garden helistop, all ALNW pilots shall make at least one test landing and take-off at the site. CHMC and ALNW shall schedule the training/test flights for a weekday between the hours of noon and 3:00 P.M. Advance notice of at least ten days shall be given to the surrounding communities of the test/training time, date, and expected number of flights. The number of flights shall be held to the minimum necessary to provide adequate training.

  10. New pilots shall make at least one landing at CHMC under supervision of a pilot experienced in landing at CHMC prior to unsupervised patient transport landings. Non-patient transport training flights, if desired, may be scheduled no more than twice per year without approval from DCLU. Notice shall be provided to surrounding communities as stated in Condition 9.

48. CHMC does not oppose any of the conditions recommended by DCLU. In response to concerns raised by neighborhood, CHMC recommended that Condition 3 and 4 be revised to exclude appointment of salaried physicians from Children's as members of the Medical Review team.

Public Comment

49. The proposal has generated a significant quantity of public comments, during the eight years the matter has been pending. DCLU estimated hundreds of letters, and telephone calls were received by DCLU during the review period. There were well organized campaigns by parties on both sides of the issue, resulting in substantial public awareness and commentary on the issues. In addition to comments by the public, Volume II of the Final EIS contains responses from City and State agencies who were given the opportunity to review the EIS. They are generally in agreement that the proposal would not have any significant adverse impacts. Concerns ware raised by many community group representatives as to noise, safety, vibration. medical necessity and whether the proposal was consistent with the City's land use policies.

Favorable

50. The number of comments in favor of the project vastly exceeded the number opposed to the project. Health care professionals all across the state wrote in support of the helistop and offered statements as to the vital need for the service in providing prompt specialized tertiary care to children. Several parents whose children were brought to CHMC campus by helicopter testified at the hearing in support for the helistop. The numbers of commentators who indicated that they resided in the Laurelhurst neighborhood were also overwhelmingly in favor of the campus helistop and expressed their belief that the benefits outweighed the inconvenience of the noise.

Opposition

51. A sizeable segment of the organized public opposition to the CHMC campus helistop location was represented by North East Families for Residential Neighborhoods (NEFRN). The members of NEFRN are primarily families living in close proximity to CHMC, and as such, are most susceptible to impacts from the helistop. NEFRN's spokes person raised several concerns regarding the helistop at the CHMC campus. First, NEFRN feels it is important to address this matter as a Land Use and not an issue of medical care. NEFRN feels strongly that the services offered at CHMC can be offered at other locations, thus it is not an issue of medical care, but an institutional decision that CHMC made to offer the care at that particular location. NEFRN's primary concerns are noise, safety and diminished property values.

52. NEFRN has offered some counter proposals to the conditions recommended by DCLU. NEFRN's proposals are outlined below because its proposals were representative of the concerns and recommendations of many of the resident commentators who opposed the CHMC helistop location. Among the proposals offered by NEFRN, which differed substantially from the DCLU conditions are:

  1. That the helistop at CHMC receive conditional approval for two years and then be reviewed again as a part of the CHMC Mister Planning process.

  2. Approval of the helistop should be limited to the proposed site only, except during construction. Location at any other site would require additional environmental review.

  3. Landings at the CHMC campus should be limited to 9 landings per month and shall not exceed 18 landings in any given month.

  4. Only Augusta 109 helicopters with a four-bladed rotor shall be permitted to land at the CHMC campus. If Airlift NW seek to use an alternative a new noise analysis shall be conducted and an opportunity for additional public comment.

  5. The Medical Review Committee shall consist of five members, including two representatives of the Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC). Committee members shall be compensated at the rate of $100 for each landing review.

  6. CHMC shall report quarterly to the Committee and the community on the number and nature of the helicopter landings at the IMA Field.

  7. The flight paths for approach and departure from CHMC and the IMA Field shall be strictly followed. All flights plans are designed to avoid flying over residential areas.

  8. Prior to beginning regular use of the CHMC campus helistop site, all Airlift NW pilots shall make at least one test landing and take-off at the site. Ten days advance notice shall be given to the community.

53. NEFRN's recommended conditions 4, 6, 7, and 8 are adequately addressed in the DCLU's recommended conditions. No persuasive evidence was presented to support NEFRN's suggestion that the review process for the proposed helistops should begin anew when the CHMC Master Plan is reviewed.

54. NEFRN has not shown how its proposal to place a limit of 9 landings at the CHMC campus helistop would be a reasonable limitation if the proposal met the requirement for a Council conditional use permit, i.e., that the helistop is medically necessary and is only used for life-threatening situations.

55. Several members of the community suggested that the size of the CHMC campus helistop should be reduced from the proposed 40 ft. by 40 ft. size to 20 ft. by 20 ft. Reducing the size of the helistop would have aesthetic benefits, as there would be a smaller slab of concrete and it would also serve as a limitation on the size of helicopters that could land on the site, since the larger noisier Huey or other military helicopter could not land on the smaller helipad. The restriction against Huey helicopter landing on the site is recommended as a condition for approval of the site. The neighbors have not shown that the size of the helipad will have any adverse impacts. The size of the helipad, with the proposed limitation on Huey landings will not decrease the anticipated impacts from the proposal.

Conclusions

  1. On a Council Land Use decision, the Hearing Examiner shall conduct a public hearing which shall constitute a hearing by the Council, and shall make recommendations to the City Council. (SMC 23.76.052)

  2. The first and third criteria for Council conditional use approval for a helistop, i.e., that it is needed to save lives and use restricted to life-threatening occurrences, have been satisfied. Both the CHMC campus helistop and the IMA Field helistop are necessary components of medical emergency response system for critically ill children. A review of medical condition of children who have been transported indicates that the children were afflicted with serious life threatening illness and that the use of ground transport could have resulted in a loss of life. The statistical data that 25% of the children transported by helicopter die despite the extraordinary efforts to save them is evidence of the seriousness of the medical condition.

  3. The standards established by Airlift NW for air transport and for landing at the CHMC campus are designed to ensure that only those children with life threatening illness are transported. It is also important to note that there is no evidence of abuse of this service under the self-monitoring system and that the likelihood of future abuse is diminished by the monitoring requirement of the Medical Review team.

  4. The second criterion for approval requires locating the helistop so as to minimize impacts on the surrounding residential community. It is important to note at this point, that the concerns of noise and safety impacts raised by the residents in the community are significant and important considerations. However, when compared to the substantial evidence of the medical necessity of air transport for children in life-threatening emergencies, the benefits of the availability of the service outweigh the occasional impacts (the highest anticipated number of flights was six per month) to the surrounding community. This conclusion is reached in significant part because of the safeguard which will ensure minimal impacts. The impacts to the community cannot be, eliminated, however, the recommended conditions are designed to minimize the impacts to the greatest extent possible.

  5. The following additions or changes to the conditions proposed by DCLU were made in an effort to incorporate some of the concerns raised by the community residents. Many of the conditions proposed by neighbors would have needlessly extended the review process or added additional levels of bureaucracy that would unnecessarily hamper, or in some cases defeat, the purpose of the helistop service.

    1. CHMC can temporarily relocate the helistop to another location on campus during the construction of the helistop at the Kitchen Gardens location. The temporary location,, which is subject to approval by DCLU, should be selected to reduce construction related impacts on the surrounding residential community. Once the helistop has commenced permanent operation at the Kitchen Garden site it is not subject to further review. Should CHMC decide to relocate the helistop to any other location on its campus, including the alternative sites which were specifically rejected during the EIS review process, the proposal shall be subject to an environmental review and land use approvals.

    2. The composition of the Medical Review Team should be revised to add an additional member from the surrounding community and to ensure that it is not heavily weighted with physicians who are affiliated with CHMC. The Medical Review Team as proposed by DCLU (Condition 3) is acceptable except that:

      The physician representative selected by the President of the Washington State Society of Pediatrics (WSSP) shall not be a CHMC affiliated pediatric physician.

    3. Two citizens, residing in the neighborhoods in the area of CHMC shall be selected. One representative shall be selected by the Laurelhurst Community Council and the other representative shall be selected by the Department of Neighborhoods.

Recommendation

The Hearing Examiner recommends the City Council grant the proposal for an emergency helistop at the Kitchen Garden site on the CHMC campus and a second full service helistop at the University of Washington IMA/Graves Field site, subject to the revised conditions proposed by DCLU and the revisions recommended by the Examiner in Conclusion 5 above.


Footnotes:

1. Tertiary Care, is defined as those advanced services necessary to deal with illness characterized by complex path-physiologic processes. Tertiary care requires continuous management from presentation of an illness to its resolution. Complex illness such as severe congenital anomalies, multiple organ system trauma, prematurity in newborns, poisonings and neuropsychiatric disorders. (EIS p. 10)

2. "Children"is used to refer to all patients served by CHMC from neonatal, younger than one-month, to persons twenty-one years of age.

3. United States Environmental Protection Agency (USSEPA) Noise Guidelines, Ldn, affecting residential hospital and educational activity under USSEPA Guidelines, indicates that significant impacts are considered to exist if exterior Ldn in 65 dBA or above. Increases above the 65 Ldn of 0 to 5 dBA is a slight impact, five to ten dBA is a significant impact, and over 10 dBA a very serious impact.

United States Housing and Urban Development (USHUD) Noise Standards, for USHUD-assisted projects (the proposal is not a USHUD-assisted project and those the information is for reference only) an Ldn of 65 dBA or less is "acceptable." Ldn exceeding 65 dBA, but less than 75 dBA, is normally acceptable, Ldn exceeding 75 dBA is "unacceptable."

FAA Land Use Compatibility Criteria, residential or hospital land use is not compatible where yearly Ldn is 65 dBA or above.


Entered this 16th day of May, 1992

Ruperta Alexis
Deputy Hearing Examiner

NOTICE OF RIGHT TO PETITION
FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION

Pursuant to Seattle Municipal Code Section 23.76,054, as amended, any person substantially affected by a recommendation of the Hearing Examiner may submit petition in writing to the City Council requesting further consideration. The petition must be submitted within fifteen (15) calendar days after the date of mailing of the recommendation of the Hearing Examiner, and be addressed to;

Seattle City Council, Land Use Committee
c/o Seattle City Clerk
First Floor, Municipal Building
600 Fourth Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98104

The request for further consideration shall clearly identify specific objections to the Hearing Examiner's recommendation, facts missing from the record, and the relief sought.

Pursuant to Seattle Municipal Code Section 23.76.054(D), if there is no request for further consideration, Council action shall be based on the record established by the Hearing Examiner.

The City Council Land Use Committee should be consulted for further information on the Council review process.


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