Laurelhurst Community Club                                                     

Serving 2800 Households and Businesses in Seattle’s Laurelhurst Neighborhood

 

SEPA Scoping Meeting

Children’s Draft Concept Plan, Project No. 3007531 / 3007696

Department of Planning and Development

August 23, 2007

 

            The Laurelhurst Community Club offers the following preliminary comments on the Children’s Hospital Concept Plan and environmental scoping.  The Community Club is in the process of developing its own development alternative to address the height, bulk and scale issues that will be submitted to the Department of Planning and Development.  We hope to present this option to the master plan advisory committee in the near future.

 

The Issues

 

1.      Height issues:  Increasing the height limits at the scale proposed by Children’s Hospital is unreasonable and un-mitigable.

·          Unprecedented height increase:  The proposed 240-foot height far exceeds any height increase requested by other hospitals in or abutting single-family zones.  For example, the height limits for Northwest Hospital, bordered by single family zoned and developed property and Lowrise 3 (30-foot height limit), are 37 feet, 50 feet and 105 feet.  The height limits at Swedish/Cherry Hill (formerly Providence), also similar to Children’s setting, are 37 feet, 65 feet and 105 feet.  

·          View blockage and shading:  There is no way to mitigate the view blockage and shading that would occur with 240 heights on the main campus and a 120 height limit at the Hartmann property across the street.  The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should superimpose buildings and views from ground level on all sides of the Children’s campus and the proposed expansion of the major institution boundaries.

 

2.      Scale issues:  Adding 1.5 million square feet of development to the Children’s Hospital campus and expanding the major institution boundaries would forever change the character of the Laurelhurst neighborhood.  There is no conceivable way to mitigate the impacts.

 

3.      Access issues:  Both alternatives proposed by Children’s would add two new access points that will direct high volume traffic onto Laurelhurst’s residential streets.  During the last master planning process, Children’s promised there would be no entry points to its campus from Laurelhurst residential streets.  Children’s should keep its word.

 

Need for Additional Alternatives

 

These are just a few of the reasons why alternative development scenarios should be required.

·          The proposed alternatives are essentially identical, adding massive square footage and heights and impacts that are not capable of mitigation.  There is no basis for an alternative analysis.

·          An alternative that redirects traffic away from the quiet single family and low-rise multifamily should be developed.

·          An alternative to the internal access road along the east boundary and within the buffer or “garden edge” area should be developed.  New development should maintain the existing buffer areas, not destroy them.  The buffers provide protection and privacy to Laurelhurst neighbors.

·          There should be a realistic alternative for development at the Hartmann site.  Full development to 120 feet is too massive.  A lower height of 40 feet should be studied.  This would be more compatible with the surrounding zoning and development of property to the north.

·          Because Children’s campus is located in a single-family area, alternatives should be explored to make better use of below-grade development opportunities to minimize the impacts.

·          An alternative should include pedestrian tunnels and skybridges that connect campus parking facilities with the hospital.  This will minimize pedestrian crossings on Penny Lane and avoid pedestrian-vehicle conflicts referenced in the concept plan.

·          The north parking garage should be redesigned to permit vehicles to travel between levels without exiting and re-entering via Penny Lane.  This will reduce pedestrian-vehicle conflicts and reduce traffic volumes.

·          The level of square footage added should be dictated by the ability to mitigate the impacts.  While we are studying the appropriate level of expansion, it would seem at this point that limiting square footage expansion to no greater than 250,000-300,000 square feet would be possible.

·          Children’s master plan/development program must disclose and evaluate future development plans, including plans to acquire Laurelon Terrace and other nearby properties.  This is a requirement of Seattle’s Code.

·          Expansion of Children’s boundaries to include the Hartmann property would leap frog over a portion of Laurelon Terrace and other property.  This expansion, Children’s ownership interest in and leasing of a portion of the Springbrook Building have the potential to impact the viability of the neighborhood business district.  These impacts must be studied with the aim of protecting the commercial development that serves the Laurelhurst and surrounding communities. 

·          The EIS should fully evaluate the cumulative impacts of Children’s concept plan and alternatives.  In addition to the impacts associated with the alternatives proposed, the cumulative impact analysis should include pending development of the 18-acre Battelle property and other projects in the vicinity.

·          A thorough traffic analysis for the proposed alternatives and any additional alternatives must be undertaken.  It is not sufficient to describe existing and proposed parking facilities and access points.  Travel volumes must be studied, particularly on surrounding residential streets.  Detailed information about Children’s transportation management plan must be provided.

·          The noise impacts of relocating the helipad from ground level to a rooftop location should be studied in the EIS alternatives.

·          Drainage should be included as an issue for study.  The serious drainage issues along the west side of Children’s campus from past development have not been resolved.  It can be predicted that the drainage issues will be exacerbated by the massive proposed expansion.