Laurelhurst Community Club                                                     

Serving 2800 Households and Businesses in Seattle’s Laurelhurst Neighborhood

  

July 20, 2007

 

 

Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck, Chair

Urban Development and Planning Committee and

Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Richard Conlin

Members of the Committee

600 Fourth Avenue, 2nd Floor

P.O. Box 34025

Seattle, Washington  98124-4025

 

RE:  Children’s Master Plan Advisory Committee

 

Dear Councilmembers Steinbrueck, Rasmussen and Conlin:

 

            The Laurelhurst Community Club Board of Trustees has closely monitored and participated as permitted in the process developed by the Department of Neighborhoods (DON) for appointment of a Master Plan Advisory Committee for Children’s Hospital.  We have interviewed candidates expressing interest in serving on the committee, submitted our recommendations to DON and met with representatives from DON on two occasions with representatives from Children’s involved in the second meeting.  In light of this experience and our in depth familiarity with the Major Institutions Code, we offer the following comments on the proposed resolution and memorandum of agreement.

 

1.  The number on the committee should not exceed twelve.  The Major Institutions Code calls for a committee of “at least six (6), but no more than twelve (12) members” SMC 23.69.032B1.  The City Council may confirm those recommended to serve on the committee or make changes in the size and/or composition of the committee, or remand the matter back to DON for further action SMC 23.69.032B5.

 

DON is asking the Council to increase the number of committee members to 15 with four alternates, yet has provided no compelling reason to deviate from the Code.  The DON director stated in her memorandum to the Mayor of June 7th that the expansion is warranted to ensure diversity and to provide representation to neighborhoods indirectly affected by the institution.  Diversity is, of course, important and to our knowledge every person of color that applied with one exception is included on DON’s recommended list.  It is inconsistent with the Major Institutions Code, however, to allow representatives on the committee who are not directly affected by the actions of the institution, other than inclusion of one citywide representative.

 

2.  Residents from View Ridge and Montlake should not be included on the committee because those communities are not directly affected by the actions of the institution.  The Code requires that those selected to serve on the committee be “directly affected by the activities of the institution” SMC 23.69.032B3.  As noted above, the DON director’s memo to the Mayor expressly recognizes that those neighborhoods are only indirectly affected.  We urge you to strictly adhere to the Major Institutions Code and exclude these nominees. 

 

Approximately 150 people attended each of the two widely-publicized community meetings hosted by Children’s on May 19 and June 7.  Most of those attending the meetings were from the Laurelhurst community as would be expected because Children’s is located in Laurelhurst and Laurelhurst residents and business owners are directly affected.  Only three View Ridge residents attended each of the meetings (other than Councilmember Godden who attended the May meeting).  Children’s had recruited those serving on its advisory committee for its recently completed office complete on NE 70th abutting the View Ridge neighborhood to apply to serve on the committee.  The Montlake nominee to serve on the committee was the only Montlake resident to attend the meetings.  Lack of interest in attending these meetings on the part of View Ridge and Montlake residents is a good indication that these neighborhoods will not be directly affected.

 

Montlake residents are far removed from Children’s Hospital and only enter the vicinity via Montlake Boulevard, the primary route to University Village, and along Sand Point Way for neighbors frequenting Magnuson Park.  Similarly, View Ridge is not directly impacted.  Most residents access the freeway via NE 65th due to congestion on Montlake Boulevard.  View Ridge played a major role in shaping the development of the Children’s office complex across from Magnuson Park in the past and that was appropriate as they were the most impacted by that development.  That is not the case in the current master planning process for the Laurelhurst campus. 

 

The purpose and intent of the Major Institutions Code is, in part, to “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” SMC 23.69.002B.  Residents from View Ridge and Montlake do not live in adjacent neighborhoods.  They may have views on land use issues, open space, view blockage, traffic and transportation; however, allowing them a spot on the committee means exclusion of others in the adjacent areas who are directly affected.

 

It is appropriate to include representatives from Laurelhurst, including the Laurelhurst business district and the Laurelon Terrace segments of the community, and the Bryant and Hawthorne Hills neighborhoods.  These are the areas directly affected by the proposed new master plan.  While individuals from View Ridge and Montlake might have an interest in the master planning process, they are not directly affected and will have other avenues to provide input and to participate in the process. 

 

3.  Committee applicants should be required to adhere to DON’s application process procedures.  The Department of Neighborhoods established an excellent process for soliciting individuals to serve on the advisory committee and reviewing applicant qualifications.  Its letter seeking applicants was widely distributed.  The individual recommended as the citywide representative did not meet the application deadline.  The other person who did not adhere to the application process requirements presents a dilemma because there is a critical need to have a resident of Laurelon Terrace as a voting member on the committee. 

 

Yvette Moy was solicited to serve by representatives from Children’s after the application deadline as a possible citywide and patient representative.  While Yvette would add to the diversity of the committee, she did not adhere to the deadline to submit a letter of interest.  On the other hand, Angela Kerwin, also solicited by Children’s to apply did meet the deadline as far as we know.  Angela would provide a valuable economic development perspective.  As an alternative, Robert Rosencrantz could be designated as the citywide representative due to his broad background.  There are others on the list of recommended committee members such as Miriam Muller and Gina Trask who could fulfill the role as patient representative.

 

Long after the application deadline, interviews of applicants by DON and Children’s and meetings between DON, Children’s and the Community Club, Kathy Higgins, a Laurelon Terrace resident was called and invited to serve on the committee.  In its wisdom, DON recognized the importance of including a resident of Laurelon Terrace on the advisory committee.  Laurelon Terrace is the portion of Laurelhurst below Children’s and near Sand Point Way and is one of the areas most directly affected by Children’s.  Christine Barrett from Laurelon Terrace was under consideration, but Children’s raised objections and refused to agree to her appointment as a voting member of the committee.  The DON director explained this to Christine and asked for her recommendations for someone else from Laurelon.  Christine recommended Kathy and the DON director called Kathy to see if she would be interested and willing to serve.  Because it is extremely important to have a Laurelon Terrace representative on the voting committee, we leave it to DON to decide whether Kathy or Christine should be the voting member and which should be the alternate. 

 

4.  The independence of DON must be preserved in its role of recommending nominees to serve on the Advisory Committee.  The Major Institution Code requires that “the institution, in consultation with the Director of the Department of Neighborhoods, … develop a list of potential members to serve on the Advisory Committee” SMC 23.69.032B3.  This cooperative process has worked well, however, the Code does not call for a joint recommendation by DON and the institution.  On the contrary, the Code requires that DON “review the list of potential members and recommend to the Council individuals appropriate to achieve a balanced, independent and representative committee” SMC 23.69.032B5.  It only makes sense that Children’s would seek committee members supportive of its plans and goals.  That is not what the Code requires.

 

The influence of Children’s in the selection process became apparent very early.  The only person from the Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) to apply to serve on the advisory committee was Cheryl Kitchin.  Cheryl chairs the Community Club’s Major Institutions Committee, served on the past Children’s Standing Advisory Committee and is the former president of our Board of Trustees.  She has historical knowledge about the master planning process and is well-respected in the community for her balanced and reasoned efforts.  Yet, Children’s initially rejected her to serve on the advisory committee.  After allegations that Children’s was attempting to stack the committee with its supporters, Children’s finally relented and agreed to recommend Cheryl to serve. 

 

There are other examples that demonstrate a need to preserve and enhance the independence of DON in the application process.  For example, the draft Memorandum of Agreement provides for an inappropriate role by Children’s in the appointment/reappointment for the continuing committee after City Council approval of the master plan.  The draft language requires agreement of Children’s for those appointed or reappointed to serve.  Children’s would essentially be allowed to reject someone recommended by DON and the Council would have no role in this process. 

 

5.  Council’s role in overseeing appointment of the standing advisory committee must be preserved.  The draft Memorandum of Agreement eliminates the role of the City Council in appointment to fill vacancies on the standing committee formed after Council adoption of the master plan.  If vacancies occur, including in the case where DON and Children’s disagree, DON would be authorized to fill the vacancies with no Council confirmation required.  In this situation, the role of the Council would be eliminated unless DON is required to select from the list of committee members and alternates already approved by the Council.  This language should be changed to preserve the Council’s oversight role.

 

6.  The initial list of voting members and alternates in the Memorandum of Agreement should be modified to comply with Major Institutions Code.  The number should be reduced to the maximum of 12 provided in the Code.  Those recommended who do not live in areas directly affected by the institution and those who did not comply with the application deadlines and process set up by DON should be eliminated, with the exception of the need to ensure a representative from Laurelon.  We recommend the following list:

 

Initial voting members:

1)      Cheryl Kitchin

2)      Delores Prichard

3)      Miriam Muller

4)      Bill Nichols

5)      Kathleen Sabo

6)      Catherine Hennings or Doug Hanafin

7)      Gina Trask

8)      Karen Wolf

9)      Michael Omura

10)  Wendy Paul

11)  Citywide representative who has complied with DON’s application process requirements

12)  Christine Barrett or Kathy Higgins

Alternates:

13)  Theresa Doherty

14)  Shelly Hartnett

15)  Kim Dales

16)  Doug Hanafin or Catherine Hennings

17)  Christine Barrett or Kathy Higgins

18)  Steven Reisler

 

 

Because of issues relating to including a representative from Laurelon and to keep the number to 12 on the committee, we recommend that one of the far-removed Laurelhurst neighbors, either Doug Hanafin or Catherine Hennings be designated as an alternate.  We leave it to the judgement of the Council and DON to decide whether Kathy Higgins or Christine Barrett is the voting member of the committee and which is the alternate.  We also recommend that Steven Reisler from the Laurelhurst business district, an applicant rejected by Children’s, be added as an alternate.

 

The Laurelhurst Community Club was impressed with the qualifications and diversity of backgrounds of all of those interested in serving on the Advisory Committee.  Our bottom line, as noted above, however, is strict adherence to the Major Institutions Code regarding the number of those serving on the committee, the requirement that those appointed be from areas directly affected by the institution and that all applicants have complied with the application process established by DON.  We hope that you will consider our recommendations and the attached suggested amendments to the proposed resolution and memorandum of agreement.

 

Sincerely,

                                               

Liz Ogden, Vice President                                         Jeannie Hale, President

5005 48th Avenue NE                                                             3425 West Laurelhurst Drive NE

Seattle, Washington  98105                                        Seattle, Washington  98105

206-517-5862                                                              206-525-5135 / fax 206-525-9631

wizzet@comcast.net                                                   jeannieh@serv.net

 

ENC.