Laurelhurst Community Club

Minutes for July 10, 2006

St. Stephen's Church, Seattle WA

Attending: Joe Herrin, Mark Holden, Susan Rupp, Leslie Wright, Heather Newman, Mark Trumbauer, Liz Ogden, Don Torrie, Pat Wright, Jeannie Hale, Stan Sorscher, Nan Haigwood, Maggie Weissman, Susan Bennett, Brian McMullen

 Excused: Barb Bender, Jennifer Biely, Marian Joh, Lora Poepping

 The meeting was called to order at 7:05 PM.

 Sympathy Card:  A sympathy card was passed around for all to sign for Christie Santos who recently lost her two-month old baby to SIDS.  Christie works for the transportation department and LCC has worked closely with her on shoreline street ends.

 Treasurer’s Report:  Marian Joh could not attend tonight’s meeting, but provided a written report that was distributed.  She is reviewing the files and learning the accounting processes and will provide an updated budget and reconciled bank statement in August.

 Advertisers have asked for an online payment option. Stan Sorscher checked with the service that collects online dues to confirm that this is consistent with their operation. While the dues/contribution format is not ideal, it can serve to collect advertiser's payments online.

 Minutes:  The board reviewed the June 12, 2006.  Motion by Susan Rupp, seconded by Susan Bennett to accept the minutes. Motion passed unanimously.

 Updated Roster:  An undated rosters of trustees, committee members and others was distributed.


1.      Volunteer:  Toni Clayton emailed on 6/12 offering to volunteer for short-term Laurelhurst projects.

2.      Memorial Tree Project:  Sorscher spoke with Margie Rose in mid-June about the memorial tree project.  Rose had purchased a tree.

 3.      Hazardous Tree:  On 6/17 LCC notified the UW that one of its trees on Surber drive had split and fallen over the sidewalk.  Luckily, no one was hurt.  The UW promptly took care of the problem.

 4.      Absentee Landlord:  Guy and Maureen Krause emailed on 6/18 regarding the condition of property at 4524 East Laurel Drive.  The property is weed infested with junk all over the yard and driveway.  LCC emailed back and will follow up on this. 

 5.      Pocket Park:  Dale Sherrow emailed on 6/19 with questions regarding the proposed pocket park across from Laurelhurst School.  Amick responded.

 6.      Fire and Vandalism:  Emily Wilson reported that on 6/22 around 7:30 p.m., the hedge at Dan and Nancy Evans house was set afire.  This is were NE 45th meets 52nd NE.  Luckily, the adjacent neighbors were home and put the fire out with a hose.  Lighters and wadded up debris were found nearby.  Later that evening, around 11:30 p.m. teen noise was heard in the area.  Another neighbor had alerted Wilson that she had found a burned spot on her lawn with an aerosol can that could have been used as a propellant.

 7.      Racing Cars:  Barbara Hack emailed on 6/29 to report that at about 3 a.m. that day, two cars were racing southbound on the 43rd Avenue boulevard (yes, one driving against the traffic).  One car was a stolen Honda and it hit a car causing major damage to both cars and then went into someone’s front yard.  The driver ran away.  The other car took off.

8.      Dry Trees:  Jean Colley reported on 6/30 that two of the trees on the 41st Street median seemed to be dying due to lack of water.  SDOT responded that the battery in the irrigation system had to be replaced and the system which had been down for a few days is now up and running.

 9.      Waterway No. 1:  Lloyd called Hale on 7/5 to inquire about a large barge blocking Waterway No. 1.  Hale looked into the matter and learned that the barge was at the location temporarily to make repairs on the Lewis’s dock.  After the work was complete, the barge was gone the next day.  Lloyd called again on 7/9 to inquire whether LCC has gotten information about expenses associated with Waterway No. 1 improvements.  Hale responded that the information had been requested, but is not yet available.  This means that the item will not be on the LCC agenda until at least August. 

10. Sidewalk Safety:  Mary Jo Gasparish called on 7/8 and her husband Jim followed up with an email regarding the sidewalk in front of their house on 47th and NE 39th.  They have just spend 10 hours and two days breading up their sidewalk with a sledge hammer and hauling away the concrete in a wheel barrel to dump it.  The section of sidewalk in question was in very bad condition, raised up several inches in places with numerous cracks and raised edges.  The Gasparish’s inquired if this project qualifies for the sidewalk safety program.  LCC is checking on this to see if the sidewalk is on the inventory list.  Dennis Stewart from the transportation department came out to look at the sidewalk.

 11. Rowdy Conduct at the School and in the Vicinity:  Miriam Muller emailed on 7/10 to report the following activity around Laurelhurst School since school got out:  basketball being played at the elementary school till 2 a.m. sometimes, fireworks going off for long periods of time until midnight for the last few weeks, skateboarding at the Seattle Community Church until late at night, lots of trash every single morning, lots of drinking and loud parties at the school and in the park and very loud music from cars cruising the street and parking at the school.

12. Ronald McDonald House:  Joyce Halldorson from Ronald McDonald House emailed on 7/10 to thank LCC for running the article in the newsletter advertising for volunteers.  Halldorson said they’d already gotten calls in response.

13. Trees on NE 41st:  Ken Shang emailed on 7/10 to inquire about the trees on the NE 41st median near the intersection of NE 41st and 42nd Avenue NE.  He said that the trees make it difficult to see the traffic coming down the hill as he turns into the alley behind his house on 42nd Avenue, north of NE 41st.  Speeding down the hill acerbates the problem.  He said the trees are also now blocking his view.  Shang said there is also a tree with overhanging branches at the house on the corner which obscures the view of cars coming down the hill as we leave.  He believes that there are at least half a dozen families that use this alley regularly and thinks that something needs to be done about these trees before there's an accident.

Susan Rupp will check with other neighbors.

14. Playfield Project:  Coco Sherman emailed 7/10 to thank LCC for the newsletter article about the Laurelhurst Elementary School playground project.

15. Neighborhood Skatepark:  Jon Norelius emailed on 7/10 to say he thought a skatepark at the Playfield is a bad idea.  He cited three reasons:  1) it is not a sport that needs to be encouraged for a lot of reasons (not a lifetime skill for many kids, injury rate, etc.), 2) very limited use by a small percentage of local kids, and 3) he doesn’t have the stats, but said the combined-cost for liability insurance, supervision and maintenance/cleanup has to be higher than the typical playground.

16. Lost dog. Leslie Wright reported a lost dog, described as small and black. It could be one that lives on Liz Ogden's block.

17. Vandalism. Maggie Weissman reported spray-painting by children and vandalized trees.

18. Speeding. Mark Holden will look into borrowing a car-speed unit to detect and display speeds of cars as a traffic calming option.


1.      Thank you!  Thanks to Don Torrie for coordinating distribution of the agenda packets and to Heather Newman for assisting.  

2.      Resignation:  After a 9-month leave of absence, Dan Becraft has decided to resign from the LCC board due to other commitments. 

3.      New Name:  Laurelhurst Moms has changed its name to Laurel Tree Moms: An Online Gathering Place for NE Seattle Parents.  The new website address will be


Crime Prevention:  Pat Wright provided a written report that was distributed at the meeting.  There was no July North Precinct Advisory Council meeting, but Diane Horswill from Seattle Police Department Crime Prevention provided unofficial crime stats.  Wright also shared a magazine called Real Simple that featured a story about four Laurelhurst families that work cooperatively on projects, help each other out and have frequent potlucks.  Neighbors featured live in the vicinity of the 4700 block of 48th Avenue NE.  They include the Symes, the Thomas’, the Pittack and the Donnelly’s.

SR 520 Issues:  Joe Herrin briefed the board further on SR 520 alternatives and issues.  Ted Lane from Portage Bay/Roanoke Park has invited Laurelhurst to join with other neighborhoods on the Seattle SR 520 Advisory Committee for a press conference to say that none of the SR 520 alternatives on the table are acceptable.  Montlake is not expected to participate because they support the Pacific Interchange option.  No other community group supports that option.  So far, Eastlake, the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association, the U District Community Council, the Arboretum Foundation and the University of Washington have gone on record opposing the Pacific Interchange alternative. 

 The "Better Bridge" team published a memo on the project.

 A press conference will be held in the next week. All neighborhoods except Montlake will be involved. The theme will be that the groups want more analysis of options, especially a tunnel that can reduce the footprint, environmental and noise impacts. The current alternatives are unattractive in one way or another. The 4-lane alternative lacks HOV lanes. The baseline 6-lane alternative is bad for the arboretum, and is noisy. The 6-lane alternative with Pacific interchange is very wide and noisy. While each alternative has drawbacks, Sorscher said the Pacific interchange alternative is acceptable, because it integrates with existing and planned transit, and would provide a mass transit alternative to get commuters out of their single-occupancy cars.

 Motion by Jeannie Hale, seconded by Maggie Weissman, to join with other neighborhoods for a press conference on State Route 520 to say the current alternatives are unacceptable in their current form and to urge that alternatives that more successfully address environment, noise and traffic issues be studied. Motion passed 10-2.

 Short Plat Hearing Examiner Appeal:  Ogden briefed the board on the Short Plat appeal.  The appeal and the decision from the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) were included in the agenda packets.  The appeal was filed on July 6.  LCC’s position is that DPD’s decision is inconsistent with the letter, spirit and purpose of the Land Use Code, including but not limited to the criteria for short subdivision approval, and development standards for lots and driveway access. 

 The deal to set aside part of the property for a park fell through, although it may be revived at some point in the future.

 LCC's appeal argued that the development violates the 75/80 rule in the code, and that the DPD hearing examiner misinterpreted that language.

 Motion by Liz Ogden, seconded by Heather Newman to authorize up to $300 for Carol Eychaner to pursue this appeal. Motion passed 11-0-1, with Maggie Weissman abstaining.

 Skatepark Siting Criteria:  The Seattle Community Council Federation addressed the skateboard siting criteria at its June 26 meeting.  The Federation will ask that the “framework for skatepark criteria” be included as part of the actual criteria.  Items in the framework include:  no sites selected will replace/remove existing active uses, no sites will impact environmentally sensitive areas and the criteria are to be developed for the benefit of neighborhoods and skateboarders equally.  The Federation endorsed the commentary on siting criteria prepared by Kristine Fuller of Lower Woodlawn.  The Federation will also ask that skateparks should be sited at locations that are already paved and that consideration should be given to the City’s Open Space Gap Analysis and other reports documenting open space and open space needs.  The Federation will also request that a needs analysis be undertaken and budget information be provided.  For example, at the Ballard skatepark, there are generally no more than five skateboarders.  District and regional skateparks are estimated to cost at least $1 million each.  Questions were raised about a future parks levy and allocation of funds for projects that would only serve a few people.


Nan Haigwood explained the 4 basic styles of skatepark. Given the layout of Laurelhurst Park, a "skatedot" (~1500 sq. ft.) Wedgwood and Dahl Fields might get larger "Skatespots. would probably be most appropriate. Some neighbors feel strongly that skateparks should not reduce existing green space. Other concerns include traffic, trash, crime and graffiti.

 Motion by Nan Haigwood, seconded by Heather Newman, to adopt the Federation assumptions and commentary, modified to remove "and skateboarders equally" and "sites distributed regionally throughout the city." Motion passed 11-0-1, with Mark Holden abstaining.

 Proposed City Charter Amendments:  Four of the dozen proposed charter amendments have generated interest from communities throughout the city.  Charter Amendment 3 would require reappointment and reconfirmation of department heads every four years where that is not already provided in the Charter.  The Charter current requires this for the heads of City Light, Neighborhoods, the Department of Planning and Development, Seattle Public Utilities and the Seattle Department of Transportation.  New department heads subject to reappointment and reconfirmation include Parks, Police, Fire, Finance and Personnel. Motion by Mark Holden and Maggie Weissman to endorse these four City Charter amendments. Motion passed unanimously.

 Charter Amendment 5 would change the way members of the Seattle Planning Commission are selected.  Currently all members are appointed by the mayor and are subject to confirmation by the council.  This amendment would state that Planning Commission members would be appointed according to ordinance.  The companion ordinance to the charter amendment would provide that the mayor and the council would each appoint seven members of the commission and the commission would appoint the 15th member.  Motion by Liz Ogden, seconded by Mark Holden to endorse Charter Amendment 5. Motion passed unanimously.

 Amendments 13 and 15 would end the oaths of office for all but elected officials and department heads.  Currently, every officer of the City of Seattle is supposed to take and file an oath to support the constitutions of the United States and the State of Washington and the Charter and ordinances of the City of Seattle and to faithfully conduct himself or herself in office.  These amendments mean that police officers, prosecutors and others would not have to take the oath of office. Motion by Stan Sorscher, seconded by Nan Haigwood to oppose Charter Amendments 13 and 15. Motion passed unanimously.

 Both the Federation and the Northeast District Council have taken positions on the proposed charter amendments.  A listing of their positions is included in the agenda packets.

 Initiative 933:  The Northeast District Council (NEDC) has asked that its member organizations consider Initiative 933 so that NEDC can address the issue at its August meeting.  LCC opposed a similar property rights measure almost a decade ago because of the impact on zoning.  It has been said that “I-933 would effectively outlaw the basic zoning laws that keep neighborhoods strong and protect property values.  I-933 says that any limit on “size” or “intensity of use,” such height and density limits for a property triggers the initiative's “pay or waive” requirement.”

 This initiative will be politically charged as the campaigns get into full swing.

 Motion by Stan Sorscher, seconded by Susan Bennett to oppose I-933. Motion passed 9-0-3, with Susan Rupp, Maggie Weissman and Mark Holden abstaining.

 Meeting adjourned at 8:55 PM


Minutes by Stan Sorscher