Laurelhurst Community Club

Minutes for March 13, 2006

St. Stephen's Church, Seattle WA

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

 Attending: Maggie Weissman, Jennifer Biely, Bonnie Zinn, John Clark, Joe Herrin, Mark Trumbauer, Nan Haigwood, Heather Newman, Lora Poepping, Susan Bennett, Pat Wright, Jeannie Hale, Tom Maider Stan Sorscher

 Guests: Judy Thornton, Jim White, Kate Lloyd, Kathy Gehrt, Louise Luthy, Mary Jo Gasparich, Barb Bender, Wayne Wentz, Seattle Department of Transportation

 Wayne Wentz spoke about the new traffic signal on NE 45th St at the University Village entrance. He said the light is meant to address problems with left turns into and out of the shopping center. Accidents tracked over five years exceed the threshold to put in a signal. An Alternative action considered by Seattle DOT was to allow right turns only. Wayne said this would redirect traffic through the five corners intersection. The new signal will be triggered by cars waiting to turn. That means traffic on 45th will not be stopped unless someone needs the signal to get in or out. The light timing will change depending on time of day, and it is coordinated with the nearby signal at the bottom of the viaduct.

 Neighbors told Wayne that QFC promised, 10 years ago, not to ask for a signal at that entrance. Wayne said QFC wanted the signal installed to help traffic flow through that entrance.

 Another issue for neighbors is the closed or hidden nature of the process for setting up the new signal. Wayne said SDOT followed their normal process, and that they do not normally seek comments from individuals or groups. Wayne said the August LCC minutes showed we were aware that a signal was being considered. [Secretary's note: in the August 2005 minutes, Don Torrie mentioned he had spoken to Wayne Wentz, and neighbors could comment on the signal plans.] SDOT would consider comments in the planning process, if anyone offered them. However, once the project is complete, they have no standard method of taking comments or feedback from the community. 

Wayne said SDOT will track performance of the signal, an 3 and 6 months time. Wayne said he would be surprised if the signal affected traffic flow significantly on NE 45th St.  

Treasurer’s Report:  John Clark referred to the spreadsheet included in the packets, showing year-to-date expenses and income. John is looking for a volunteer to take over the Treasurer's position. He will help update the document describing the Treasurer's duties. This would reflect collecting checks and other mail from the mail box, recording dues, paying bills, and depositing funds. Lora Poepping volunteered to help John. One or two advertisers are in arrears in paying for their ads in the Newsletter.

 Minutes:  The board reviewed the February 13, 2006 minutes.  Several trustees were uncomfortable with the minutes regarding Board processes on page 5 in the section titled "Meeting Process and Procedures." Motion by Maggie Weissman, seconded by Bonnie Zinn to truncate the minutes of that section to include only the first paragraph, and approve the minutes as amended. Motion passed unanimously.

 CALLS AND CONCERNS

1.      Waterway #1: Kate Lloyd prepared a letter to neighbors, asking them to become more involved in deciding how the Waterway #1 will be landscaped and maintained. Kate would like the site to leave an open view of the lake, and she wants to limit encroachment on the public space. Shane Dewald, a city arborist, planted shrubberies that are 8-10 feet tall, citing safety concerns. Bill Smith, a neighbor in the area proposed much shorter plantings that would meet all the requirements he is aware of. Kate observed that neighbors could volunteer to help maintain the plantings, and asked the Board to support that effort.

 Jeannie Hale said that Liz Ogden has been working on the Waterways but could not attend tonight's meeting. Jeannie asked that we wait for Liz to be present before taking a position.

 Jim White spoke to the Board, making the point that he was more concerned with encroachment on the public space, and less worried about the plantings.

 2.      Planted median:  Ed Curtis emailed on 3/07 with questions about the planted median.  He hadn’t seen the February newsletter and he was updated about the new plantings and tree replacement.

 3.      Beach Club:  Toni Clayton called on 3/07 to get contact information about the Beach Club.  That information was provided.  On 2/27 Betsy Conrad was put in touch with the Beach Club to donate beach toys.

 4.      Community Center safety issues:  Chris Graves and Robin Pierce emailed about construction at the playfield and the need for safe access for strollers on NE 41st and 48th Avenue.  It is hard and unsafe to get strollers down the steps to get out of the park.  Going up the stairs is also unsafe with a baby in a stroller or leaving the baby on the hillside while taking the stroller up.  Dan Johnson from the Parks Department forwarded the concerns to the Parks Department Operations Division.  Johnson walked the site on 3/08 and noted that there are three ramps at the north end of the playfield that are accessible and wide enough for two strollers side-by-side. 

 5.      U Village/QFC stoplight:  Louise Luthy has been in touch with Jean Amick re this issue.  Mary Jo Gasparich and Barb Ragee have also expressed concerns. 

6.      Break-ins:  Barb and John Bender emailed on 3/05 expressing concern about the number of neighborhood break-ins in the past six months.  They wanted to know why kind of dialogue that LCC is having with the police department and what can be done to get more police patrolling our streets.  Hale responded that LCC has successfully lobbied for more police officers, that Pat Wright works with the North Precinct on behalf of the community and the LCC was now considering whether to put information about break-ins on its website. 

 7.      Waterway No. 1:  Rex Thompson from the state Department of Natural Resources forwarded a message he had received from neighbor Judith Thornton about the phase 1 Waterway No. 1 improvements.  Although Thornton has initially been complimentary about the first phase of the project, in her message she states that she thinks that the local transportation department (SDOT) actions were illegal.  SDOT received a permit from the Department of Planning and Development to install flat rocks to make it safer for launching kayaks.  The permit also required installation of shrubs on the water’s edge for safety reasons so kids don’t fall over the bank and also to protect the bank.  Ogden has responded to Thompson.

 8.      Chain link fencing:  John and Eugenia Smith emailed on 3/01 to inquire whether there were any restrictions to installing chain link fencing in Laurelhurst as their neighbors have plans to install a chain link fence.  They live in the 5100 block of NE 55th Street.  They are concerned that other neighbors will also choose to install this type of ugly fencing.  Ogden provided a link to King County’s website where property records can be accessed.  There are no covenants prohibiting this type of fencing.  The Smiths were advised that the land use code restricts fences to six feet in height.  The Smiths were encouraged to work with their neighbors.   

9.      Historian:  Neighbor Steve Camp emailed LCC on 3/05 to get contact information for Laurelhurst historian Chris Barrett for a project he is working on.  He was interested in photographs that were not included in the history book.

 10. Boulevard:  Neighbor Lucille Barrett is 89 years old and lives on the 4300 block of NE 44th Street.  She is concerned that the city does not adequately maintain the boulevard on 43rd Avenue NE. Dixie Wilson is also concerned about maintenance on 43rd Ave NE.

 11. Website:  Alison O’Caroll emailed LCC webmaster Susan Rucker on 3/08 to tell her that she was pleasantly surprised by the new, updated look of the website.  She thanked Rucker, telling her she had done a great job, and said she would be visiting the site more often.

 12. Median plantings: Jennifer Biely said some plantings in the median on Mary Gates Way must be replaced, partly because of pedestrian traffic cutting across the medians, partly because of poor maintenance, and partly because the plants are getting old.

 13.  Magnuson Park: John Clark asked about a letter written by LCC to the Department of Planning and Development regarding playfields at Magnuson Park. John's concern is that the letter was sent without the Board vetting the question and requests discussion at the next meeting.

  Thank you!  Thanks to Tom Maider and Heather Newman for distributing this month’s agenda packets.  

 

1.      Montlake webcam:  Over three years ago, LCC started working with the city, the state and the UW to get a traffic webcam installed on Montlake Boulevard.  LCC garnered unanimous support from the Northeast District Council.  The project was eventually added to the city’s capital improvement program.  Neighbors can now go to http://www.seattle.gov/trafficcams/Montlake_25th.htm to see if Montlake is backed up before leaving home.

 2.      Update on Short Plat Application:  Ogden reported that the city’s land use planner on the project across from Laurelhurst School told her that the decision to approve the short plat had been made prior to the public hearing.  The Department of Planning and Development apparently does not want to go out on a limb in interpreting the 75/80 percent rule in the manner advocated by Laurelhurst because there is no precedent.    

 3.      Laurelhurst Playground Project:  The Laurelhurst Elementary School PTA has been awarded a $15,000 neighborhood matching fund grant for the playground project.  The grant will be matched by $15,471.00 in community contributions and labor.  The money will be used to hire an architect to design the playground renovation.

 4.      SR 520 Op Ed:  On Tuesday, March 7, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer featured an op ed entitled “We can't afford delay on 520 fix” signed by the presidents of Montlake, Laurelhurst, Roanoke Park/Portage Bay, Eastlake and North Capitol Hill.  Special thanks to Joe Herrin and Jean Amick for contributing to the piece.  On the day of the op ed, UW president Mark Emmert emailed Hale saying he appreciated the op ed.  He said the sooner we begin serious planning, the better.  He concluded in thanking us for our encouragement of the Mayor and the City Council to take action.  Montlake leader of the Pacific Interchange alternative was featured in the real estate section of The New York Times on March 5, 2006.

 5.      Newsletter Editor:  John and Judith Clark will work on the next edition of the Laurelhurst Letter.  Judith has experience producing newsletters for nonprofit groups.  John Clark has met with John Burge to discuss newsletter editor responsibilities.  In the meantime, three people responded to the article in the newsletter advertising for a newsletter editor.  Leslie Wright, who attended last month’s LCC meeting and the recent public hearing on the short plat across from Laurelhurst School, is a freelance graphic designer.  Leslie is a communications specialist for the Center for Creative Change at Antioch University, where responsibilities include production of two newsletters per year including writing, editing, design, print and mailing coordination.

 Kathy Gehrt is a retired AT&T executive and is now a freelance writer.  Both Leslie and Kathy were provided trustee agenda packets this month and invited to the meeting.  They were encouraged to contact John Burge to find out more about the requirements of the position.  Diana Brement contacted LCC today also expressing interest.  She lives in View Ridge and her mom told her about the vacancy.

 When John Burge first decided to retire, at the time the board decided to have a committee interview those interested in the position.  The committee at the time was Barb Ragee, Kate Lloyd and Hale.  Ragee, who was instrumental in selecting John Burge, is still interested in serving on the committee, as is Hale.  Anyone interested in being on the committee should call Jeannie Hale.

 6.      Community Center Groundbreaking:  Saturday, March 25 from 1-2 p.m.  The Mayor and Councilmember David Della have confirmed they will attend.  There will be speeches and refreshments.

 7.      Accessory Dwelling Units:  A summary of the February Seattle Neighborhood Coalition which focussed on the Mayor’s pilot program to legalize detached accessory dwelling units (DADUs) is included in the member organization packet.  Kate Hemer attended this meeting for LCC and provided the schematics that are enclosed in the packets.  The drawings demonstrate the great decrease in open space that will result from legalizing DADUs.  LCC has a long history of opposing both accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and DADUs.  ADUs are legal, but must be permitted.  One off-street parking space must be provided, although parking waivers are allowed in certain circumstances.  LCC has been successful in getting many restrictions on these units.  There are many illegal ADUs in the neighborhood.  If a complaint is filed, the ADU must be removed or legalized through the permitting process.  Complaints are subject to a $75 per day fine and additional $1,000 fine for those who refuse to comply.  The fine can be reduced if the owner permits the ADU.

 8.      Skate Park Task Force:  Hale was invited to participate on the city’s skate park task force, a group that will develop a comprehensive plan for skate parks throughout the city modeled after what Portland, Oregon has done.  Hale recommended Zinn to serve, but unfortunately all of the available slots had been filled.  In Portland, 19 regional and neighborhood skate parks are planned.  In Seattle, it is important to have siting criteria to ensure that open space is not paved over and habitat and wetlands are protected.  LCC will monitor this.

 9.      UW Golf Driving Range:  Ragee reported that the UW’s golf driving range proposal went out for bid.  All of the bids came back too high so the project has been postponed.

 10. Mixed Use Development across from U Village:  The Department of Planning and Development held an Early Guidance Design Review meeting for a project located at 5101 25th Avenue NE.  The project is to develop two buildings, a mixed-use retail residential building with approximately 95 apartments and a second building that will house approximately 130 assisted living units.  Two hundred parking spaces will be provided.  The development will cover about a full block, bounded by 25th Avenue NE on one side, NE 54th on another, Ravenna Place NE on another with NE Blakeley Street across the street.

 Over 65 attended the meeting.  The Design Review Board was very receptive to concerns that the project adheres to the Ravenna Urban Village neighborhood plan.  There are major advantages with the project due to the fact that there would be integrated development as a result of a single developer for the site.  Attendees were generally happy with the general program of assisted living, apartments and truly neighborhood-oriented pedestrian-friendly retail and services along the 25th corridor.  Some were hoping to see a low-income set-aside as part of the residential component, something the architects did not mention at the meeting. 

 There remain serious concerns about traffic bottlenecks, parking, safety and encouragement of pedestrians and bicyclists, and a great deal of concern about the proposed location of underground garage entry.  These issues and more will be addressed in an environmental review meeting.  The Design Review Board is limited to application of design guidelines, but this does include height, bulk and scale issues. 

There will be additional design review board meetings in the future.

 

REPORTS/ACTION

Crime Prevention Report: Pat Wright reviewed the crime report from Diane Horswill. A burglar entered a home in the neighborhood by crawling through the dog door. Police responded to an audible alarm, but nothing was amiss. A young girl called 911, and police responded in 2 minutes. Another neighbor reported a forced entry burglary. Pat reminded everyone to close and lock doors, and not to leave things in cars that might attract robbers. Eighty-nine Seattle police officers retired last year. Twenty one officers just finished their training programs.  

Barbara Bender met with Diane Horswill to discuss earthquake preparedness. Barbara sees a trend toward more aggressive crime patterns. Police patrols are less frequent. The Great Harvest bakery was robbed. Barbara would like to see more police presence. We understand that patrols regularly check on the park. We had priced having private security patrols, but it was expensive, and Nan Haigwood spoke about private security she's seen in other areas that did not really guarantee safety.

 Crime Reporting/Prevention on the LCC Website:  At the February LCC meeting, Seattle Police Department Crime Prevention Coordinator Diane Horswill indicated that she would be willing to provide break-in statistics for Laurelhurst.  She mentioned that this type of information was available on the Wedgwood, Wallingford and Maple Leaf websites.  Those sites also include other crime prevention tips and Block Watch Captain information.  The board reviewed pages from the Wedgwood site as a starting point for deciding whether or not to include similar information on LCC’s site. 

520-Bridge Design Advisory Group: Joe Herrin gave a quick update on the 520 Design Advisory Group. They looked at aesthetic guidelines, with the goal of enhancing the local character of the area in the new bridge design. Ed Murray is involved from the 43rd state legislative district. Ideally the new bridge project will be "carbon neutral."

 Annual Neighbors Meeting: The bylaws provide for the meeting to be held in May. Heather Newman has agreed to chair the Nominating Committee which will prepare a slate of candidates to serve on the Board. Motion by John Clark, seconded by Maggie Weissman, to appoint Heather Newman to lead the Nominating Committee. Motion passed unanimously.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:12 PM.

 

Minutes by Stan Sorscher