Laurelhurst eagle landing on nest
has worked intensively for two years to promote an expansion plan for
Seattle Children's that allows the hospital to nearly double in size on
its Laurelhurst campus while preserving the livability and vitality of
the surrounding communities. Children's rejected this approach and
that the Seattle Hearing Examiner approve much more - a tripling in
the hospital's campus officially expanded for the first time to take in
property and development across Sand Point Way. All efforts at
compromise with Children's
In Seattle, Major Institution Master
Plans are reviewed by the Seattle Hearing Examiner - basically the
City's "land-use judge" and then by the City Council sitting as appeal
judges. This past summer, the Seattle Hearing
Examiner ruled that LCC's concerns were valid and that Children's plan
too much - it went past the tipping point between hospital expansion
neighborhood preservation. What followed was a flurry of appeals to the
Council by Children's and its allies as well as counter-appeals by LCC
other community groups concerned about the precedent that would be set
Hearing Examiner's well-reasoned decision was overturned.
Many neighbors have expressed their appreciation and
support for LCC's work. Others are not sure what the expansion really
involves or what impacts it would have on them or our neighborhood.
There also have been, in the months since the appeals were filed,
many public relations salvos from
our friends at the hospital (and,
we really do consider them friends and neighbors despite all that has
and the unkind words they sometimes toss our way). So, now that some of
has settled and the matter is awaiting decision by the City Council,
devoting this issue of LCC's
E-news, to remind all of our basic objectives.
First, some facts: As already mentioned,
Children's demand is for a tripling of its size. That would make it the largest
pediatric hospital in the country. The average size of the top 10 children's
hospitals in the US is 313 beds. Children's plan calls for 600. As the Hearing
Examiner observed, this is based on the idea that patients would be required to
come to Children's from all over the state rather than have their needs served closer
question LCC has raised consistently is
whether this will work in and for Laurelhurst. As is well known,
Laurelhurst is not conveniently served by an Interstate. Neighbors are
dependent on Sand Point Way and the notorious Montlake Bridge corridor
(rated the most congested in
the state). And, there are particular aspects of the Children's plan
neighborhood that were not constructive: leapfrogging Sand Point Way;
an in-scale campus with an institutional blockbuster more in keeping
downtown or Pill Hill; an 1,100-car parking garage exit onto a key
street rather than Sand Point Way.
The Hearing Examiner thought it was all too much for a
hospital campus in a residential neighborhood. That left her no choice other than to recommend denial,
because Children's refused to allow consideration of anything less. As we have
said before, Children's adamantly painted itself into a corner, while we begged
it to leave room for compromise.
LCC continues to seek a compromise
even while the City Council considers
Children's appeal. And, we still hope that Children's will be willing to
meet us halfway.
Meanwhile, the City Council's Planning, Land Use and
Neighborhoods Committee is tentatively scheduled to hear its first
briefing on Children's proposal at 9 a.m. Nov 18. The committee will
not hear any oral arguments at this meeting. Council procedures in this
matter are governed by quasi-judicial rules, which specifically
prohibit communication with council members.
Board of Trustees: Jeannie Hale, president; Emily Dexter, Stan
Sorscher, Marian Joh, Cary Lassen, Colleen McAleer, Brian McMullen, Len
Nelson, Don Torrie, Mark Trumbauer, Maggie Weissman, Kirsten Curry
Whitcomb, Adrian Whorton, Leslie Wright
|What Is LCC's Position Regarding Seattle Children's Major Institution Master Plan for Expansion?
LCC supports an expansion that would allow Children's to virtually double the size
of its Laurelhurst campus. Children's proposes to nearly triple its size, which
is more than three times the amount of development approved by the City in
Children's previous master plan.
Children's proposed master plan for expansion is in conflict with the Major
This code specifically allows for dense institutional
growth within approved specific boundaries, such as designated urban villages, to protect the livability and
vitality of adjacent neighborhoods. Seattle's Department of Planning supports overriding
these codes, but the Seattle Hearing Examiner denied approval of the proposed
Seattle Children's plan due to its impacts on the residential neighborhoods. The plan is now before the City Council.
- Expanding significantly the Major Institution Overlay (MIO) boundary to
include 6.75 new acres
(Laurelon Terrace condominium site).
- Increasing the current maximum MIO height limit
from 90' to 105'
- Enlarging the current footprint where tall tower
heights of 90' and 105' would be allowed
LCC Seeks Reasonable Changes to Children's
- Reduce the expansion from 1.5 million square
feet (plus mechanical space) to 750,000 square feet - a size that would better balance
the 20-year projected needs of Children's with those of the neighborhood.
- Eliminate expansion across Sand Point Way NE
- Limit maximum building heights to 105'.
- Provide a 75' setback along all Children's
NE 45th Street frontage.
- Eliminate proposed entrance to Children's on 40th Avenue
- Place the Southwest Parking Garage underground.
| Thank you for your continuing support in working for a sustainable and reasonable Children's expansion.
No community council relishes a battle
with an important City
institution. But, unfortunately, the hospital long ago set its team of lawyers and consultants on a give-no-ground approach with
a budget to match.
LCC has been
able to keep neighborhood concerns
in the discussion due to all of you who have contributed to the special appeal to enable LCC to pay its
consultants and attorneys.
And, it is your contributions that support our work
in the Council where Children's and City departments have allied to attack the
City's own Hearing Examiner. We are her voice because the City's Department of Planning and Development,
under instructions by Mayor Nickels, has attacked the decision of the City's
own Hearing Examiner. LCC's
success to date would not have been possible without your financial support.
This is the first time in
Seattle's history that a Hearing Examiner has ruled there was no choice
but to recommended denial of a Major Institution Master Plan. If
the Examiner's reasoned decision
is swept away, the message will be clear for every neighborhood
on the balance of development and neighborhood integrity in Seattle's
zoning laws: money talks, institutional pressure wins, the Hearing
Examiner is only respected
when she rejects neighborhood concerns.
Please make contributions through LCC's secure online
payment option at www.laurelhurstcc.com, or mail your check to LCC at 4616 25th
Avenue NE, PMB #373, Seattle, WA 98105.
Jeannie Hale, president
Laurelhurst Community Club