Laurelhurst Community Club

Minutes for February 12, 2007

St. Stephen's Church, Seattle WA


Attending: Barb Bender, Nan Haigwood, Jeannie Hale, Brian McMullen, Lora Poepping, Stan Sorscher, Maggie Weissman, Leslie Wright, Marian Joh, Don Torrie, Joe Herrin

 Excused:  Susan Bennett, Jennifer Biely, Heather Newman, and Bonnie Zinn (leaves of absence), Susan Rupp, Mark Trumbauer, Mark Holden, Liz Ogden

 Meeting called to order at 7:05 PM.

 Street Lighting:  Barb Bender briefed the board on the responses she has received from Seattle City Light regarding upgrading Laurelhurst street lighting.  Her email exchange with Seattle City Light is included in the correspondence packet.  Samples of street lighting options and schematics are included in the packets.

 Ed Smiley at City Light said our lights are in relatively good shape. If fixtures must be replaced over time, we can ask for a particular style, from among the standard choices. The default replacement style is "Promenade." Some fixtures create more glare, and others reflect more light downward. Ed keeps records of how many lights are replaced per year. Jeanie hale recalled that neighbors were sensitive to lighting issues in the UW golf range and Magnuson Park projects, and we might want to check out different options.

 Treasurer’s Report:  Marian Joh passed out an annual review of the budget in the form of a profit and loss statement and income and expense report. We should be thinking of future projects that will benefit the community.

 Minutes:  The board reviewed the January 8, 2007 minutes.  Motion by Barb Bender, seconded by Nan Haigwood to approve the minutes. Motion passed unanimously,

 CALLS AND CONCERNS:

1.    Sidewalks:  Iola Groth contacted Sorscher last week re their sidewalk that needs repair.  Arnold Groth (Iola’s husband) called on 2/08 about a sidewalk problem.  LCC will follow up. Karl Weyrauch had collected an inventory of blocks needing repairs. Dermott Noonan had prepared a brochure explaining the project.  

2.    Talaris:  Kate Hokanson emailed on 1/14 and 2/10 with questions regarding rentals at Talaris.  Sorscher has followed up.  On 2/06, Jean Schifferman called to ask if leasing space at the Talaris site is consistent with the restrictions in the Settlement Agreement.  Sorscher responded that Roy Mann at CB Richard Ellis understood that  permitted use of the site is "Institute of Advanced Study" and that major institutions were not suitable tenants. The Midwifery School already occupies space on the site, but the range of other potential tenants is relatively limited. Jean Amick emailed on 1/29 to inquire about the legal status of leasing on the Battelle property.

3.    Maintenance on 43rd Boulevard:  Bill Allen emailed on 2/10 to provide an update on the efforts of his neighbors in working with SDOT for additional maintenance on the 43rd Avenue boulevard.  Shane Dewald and Win Abelsen of SDOT met with neighbors on 1/30 to discuss improvement opportunities and the impact of construction in the area (e.g. construction and other service vehicles driving over the curb and on the grass of the planted median).  It is Allen’s understanding that if neighbors continue to mow and edge the Boulevard, the City will test and repair the sprinkler system on the perimeter, thus allowing watering in the hot summer months.  The plan is that the City would remove all the dead plants in the clusters and reexamine the tree between the clusters at about NE 38th and remove it if it is determined to be unhealthy and at risk of blowing over in the next windstorm.  Once the clusters are cleaned out, neighbors would take over the maintenance.  Allen and his neighbors would also like the City to consider creating public spaces between some of the clusters, adding some kind of barrier at the ends of the Boulevard to eliminate the ability for trucks to drive over the grass and exploring better lighting.  Ogden will continue to monitor and participate on behalf of LCC in the neighbors’ efforts.

4.    Playfield:  Most of the concerns from neighbors regarding disturbances at the Playfield are listed in the January stats from the Police Department.  On 2/09, Al Hovland emailed at 10:15 to report 25-30 young people at the fire pit.  The park is open until 11 p.m.  Hale suggested that Hovland call 911 if he is witnessing any illegal activity.  Glen Hermannsfeldt emailed the community center on 2/02 to report that he has in the past used the fire pit with school and sports groups for gatherings and picnics.  He hopes the fire pit will remain and that any illegal activity can be controlled without fire pit removal.

 Miriam Muller emailed on 2/11 to report that the two preceding nights have not been quiet on surrounding streets around the school and the park.  She said that last weekend a box of empty bottles of alcohol was left outside the basketball court on the south side of the school and broken glass was on the sidewalks on both sides of the street at the south end of the school.  She said that Friday night there was a big party at the fire pit and on the way to their cars the kids knocked over a school sign just outside the west side of the playground.  A neighbor told her that he had called 911.  The next night there was another party at the fire pit.  Then, at about 10:30 p.m. another disturbance—four cars pulled up with extremely loud music in front of her house and the church.  Car occupants were milling about outside their cars while the music was playing.  The kids were all high school age.  She got the license plate numbers and another neighbor took photos the following morning at the fire pit of the leftover trash and destruction.

 On 1/31, Muller sent LCC a copy of her message to Sergeant Pendergrass.  She reported that she had heard noise and fireworks coming from the Playfield and the school, saw kids loitering on the school grounds and kids leaving the park.  She noted that four others on her block and off of NE 47th Avenue NE also commented on this disturbance.  She added that the night before an older model two-door car, very unkempt, with a very loud muffler, circled our block several times with lights off parking in front of our house each time.  On the same day, Muller emailed police, public officials and others regarding the disturbances at the Playfield and in the vicinity.  That message and LCC’s response is included in the correspondence packet.

 On 2/9, Al Hovland reported 25 to 30 kids at the fire pit around 10:30 p.m.

 R.A. Ruidl emailed on 2/01 thanking LCC for its recent letter to neighbors about the disturbances at the Playfield.

 Several other neighbors emailed back and forth about problems at the Playfield.

 5.    Flooding:  Sara Mockett emailed on 2/08 to inquire as to whether LCC was aware of the massive flooding at St. Stephens.  Susan Marten emailed on 2/05 to report flooding by her neighbor Diana Doran.  Diana lives in the vicinity of 43rd Avenue and 38th NE.  The Merlino construction crew had covered up the storm drain, which caused water to be diverted west to an 80-foot long pile of sand and then onto the Doran’s property.  Thirty feet of water flooded the main floor of the Doran’s house.  Diana’s husband bailed water, but the 1927 hardwood floor was ruined.  Damages were about $70,000 and the insurance only covered $5,000.  Claims are pending with Merlino.  The Doran’s contacted the City who wrote to Merlino telling them the damage was Merlino’s responsibility and to pay up.  Merlino has been very slow in responding.

 Kimberlee Brillhart emailed on 2/03 to tell LCC her flooding story.  She owned a home just north of NE 38th Street near the Dorans,’ close to where Merlino was storing its gravel.  The flood was 12/14 and the next day her home was scheduled to close and her family was in the process of moving out.  Around 5 p.m., the floor drains at the bottom of the outside stairwell started bubbling up, and water seeped into the basement room.  Water was also coming up from floor drains in the other areas of the basement as well.  Within a matter of minutes water had filled up the room close to 5 inches deep.  They had their sump pump going, and borrowed another sump pump as well.  They contacted neighbors to the south and north and learned that their basement floor drains were backing up also.  She thinks several homes on the east side of the boulevard had similar situations.  They had extensively remodeled their basement over the past 15 years.  They had built an addition, including new basement space, in 2004, and while hooking up the new sewer line from the house to the city line discovered that the sewer and storm drains in the area are one and the same.  Fortunately the house sale did close, but they are still dealing with the extensive damage the flooding caused. Our Windermere agent (Tom Maider) came by the next day and hauled all the damaged carpet to the dump.  We had a $4,000 bill from COIT for drying out the basement areas.  The bill for reconstruction of the rooms (wallboard, baseboards, painting) is close to $9,000 and $3,000 to replace the carpet.  Brillhart indicated that she would file a claim with the city.  She is glad that LCC is tracking these issues in the neighborhood

 On 1/30, Barbara Mahoney who lives in the vicinity of 40th Avenue and NE 38th emailed to say that during the height of the rain her drains backed up after her son put on a load of wash.  They system backed up sending water into the main floor laundry room.  The water ended up going through the ceiling in the family/rec room in the basement.  Despite their efforts, the carpet had to be ripped out and there is ceiling damage.  She filed a claim with the city within a day or two.  The city’s first step was to come out and make certain there was nothing wrong with the drain.  There wasn't.  She thereafter received a letter from the city noting her case number.

 Larry Crites emailed on 1/30 to thank LCC for its efforts on the flooding issue.

 Julie LaFleur emailed on 1/29 to report her flooding problems.  She lives in the vicinity of NE 45th and 48th Avenue NE.  We did not file a claim with the city as their insurance has covered all the damages.  The water came up through the basement shower drain as well as through a basement door where there was an overwhelmed drain at the bottom of a set of steps.  She estimates that there was about five-six inches in the basement.  All the carpet was destroyed and the bottom 12 inches of the drywall, insulation and base molding had to be replaced.  So far, they have collected around $18,000 from their insurance carrier.  LaFleur was put in touch with Dermot Noonan who lives nearby as Noonan has expertise in flooding repairs.

 On 1/22, Dermot Noonan reported that he applied for FEMA relief for the storm damage.  He should be hearing back soon.  Noonan had called on 1/18 to report extensive flooding damage.

 Loren and Tammy Kaneshige emailed on 1/17 to report that their home was hit in the sewer line backup on 12/14.  They filed a claim with the city and LCC sent them a copy of the letter about the problem that was sent to the city.

 6.    Bin on Sidewalk:  Sara Mockett emailed on 2/08 to inquire about the large metal box on the sidewalk in front of Varlamos.  LCC will follow up.

 7.    Lights Out:  Betty Patterson called on 2/06 to report three street lights on West Laurelhurst are out or flickering constantly.

8.    Babysitters and Nannies:  On 2/05, David Yanez emailed to request information on babysitters and nannies in Laurelhurst.  Info re the nanny who advertises in the Laurelhurst News was provided, as well as a link to LCC’s babysitting network on the website.  Zinn was asked to respond.  The babysitter list on the website has not been updated. Lora Poepping volunteered to speak to Bonnie and Maggie Tai Tucker about the future of the web project.

 9.    Traffic Light Synchronization:  Mike Mathieu emailed on 2/04 to report that the changes to the crosswalk on NE 45th and 36th Avenue NE aren’t working out.  The original design was much better.  You push the button and the light would change immediately to yellow, then red to allow pedestrians to cross.  This made the crossing to the Burke-Gilman trail very pedestrian friendly.  With the change in mid-December, there is now always a one to two minute wiat for the walk sign to change, even when there are no cars in the vicinity.  Hale and Ogden responded.  Ogden pointed out that in  December, SDOT completed a signal optimization project stretching from Montlake and 25th to Sand Point and 70th.  Because of this a number of signalized intersections that previously ran independently have been grouped with nearby intersections to reduce the number of stops drivers have to make, as well as to reduce the overall time it takes to travel the network.  Odgen asked Mathieu for his overall assessment of the changes in the area and will follow up again.

 On 1/26, Nancy Oblanas emailed to ask if the light by ProRobics has been reprogrammed.  She said that the line is often 10-15 cars deep coming out of Laurelhurst.  This means that one car can sit through two to three lights to get onto 45th.

 10. Hoops at Laurelhurst School:  Cary Lassen emailed on 2/01 to say that the hoops at Laurelhurst School have become a nuisance to families that live nearby, especially at night in the summer.  She and her neighbors have to tolerate noise, swearing, trash, cars and vandalism.  He said the thumping of the ball sometimes extends until 2 a.m. and that she doesn’t think this is an appropriate activity for an elementary school.  She recommends portable hoops that fold down and can be locked at night.  Weissman responded.  The Parks Department and the School do have a joint operating agreement.  This means that the gym and the basketball area are available for both park and school uses.  Miriam Muller emailed on the same day to raise concerns about the hoops and to convey her desire for a good quality of life in the neighborhood.  R.A. Ruidl also raised concerns about the basketball court on the same day.  Both of these neighbors do not want the basketball court to be a part of the playground project.  Coco Sherman responded to explain details of the playground project. 

 11. Car Theft and Unattended Running Cars:  On 1/31, a neighbor who lives a block south of the Playfield, emailed to alert neighbors to the practice of warming up their cars on cold mornings.  He takes morning walks and has counted five cars every morning unattended while running.  Two weeks earlier, he had his car stolen while warming up.  A couple of weeks ago, this neighbor’s stolen car was found in a parking lot at a Ballard apartment house.

 12. Seattle University Project:  On 1/15 Britten Stark emailed about a journalism project at Seattle University.  She is assigned to report on an issue in our community.  Hale responded and is waiting for a reply back.

 13. Worn Out Asphalt Walkway:  Les Podgorny emailed on 1/29 to ask LCC about contacting the UW regarding the asphalt walk on the west side of Mary Gates Boulevard from the Horticulture Center north to the corner of the Ceramics Building.  He said and it has been confirmed that this walkway has been deteriorating for several years.  Ogden took photos of the walkway and they are included in the agenda packets for discussion later in the meeting.

 14. Alarm Companies:  On 1/29, Les Podgomy also followed up on a concern he raised last  year with LCC—he suggested that LCC ask the police department if the various private alarm system companies must meet certain standards for their service. 

 15. Rental Sought:  A neighbor called on 1/29 to report that the rental home where she lives will be torn down and she is looking for another rental in the neighborhood. 

 16. SR 520:  Don Kennedy called 1/24 to talk about the SR-520 bridge replacement.  He lives on Webster Point, and objects to noise from the bridge.  He suggested that a lower speed limit would help, based on his experience with fast and slow traffic on the current bridge.  Kennedy also pointed out that dirt and material from the roadway collects on his windows, so a bigger bridge would worsen that problem.  He is in favor of widening Montlake Avenue, possibly shifting the roadway away from the steep hillside to preserve trees along the Burke-Gilman Trail.  Kennedy and Sorscher also talked about transit options to get cars off the bridge.

 17. Community Center Expansion:  Tim Bueneman emailed on 1/24 to ask why it was taking so long for completion of the community center expansion.  He misses the round-the-park track for jogging and dog walking.  Ogden responded agreeing that the project is behind schedule.  She explained that the bulk of the delay (several months) was caused by the concrete workers strike last summer when concrete work for the community center was scheduled.  She added that when things got underway, there were a series of weather related delays (it has been quite a year for weather) which extended the completion date even further.  Ogden let Bueneman know that the official opening date for the remodeled and expanded Laurelhurst Community Center is March 31st at which point the work will be substantially completed although it is possible some finish work will still remain.

 18. Neighborhood Eyesore:  Susan Avery emailed on 1/17 to write again about the burned out bicycle shop on NE 45th.  She complained that no action had been taken to clean up the site.  Last year, LCC did file a complaint with the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) regarding violations of the Junk Storage Ordinance.  There was debris all over from the fire and left over tree limbs from a Christmas tree stand.  DPD immediately responded and a big garbage bin was soon on site.  The owner was given a short period to clean up the site or face daily penalties.  This information was again passed along to Avery.  There is nothing that can be done about the upper story of the bicycle shop that is still burned out. 

19.  Traffic Circle: The traffic circle at 38th Ave NE and NE 43rd St was run over by a vehicle, knocking over a small tree and the traffic sign. Mimi Levin has offered to clean up the plantings.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1.    Thank you!  Thanks to Don Torrie and Nan Haigwood for coordinating distribution of the agenda packets this month.

 2.    Pat Wright:  Pat Wright is recovering from successful heart valve replacement surgery.

 3.    Park Board Measure:  In response to LCC’s letter supporting legislation allowing the city council equal appointment authority with the mayor for members of the Board of Park Commissioners, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen emailed LCC on 2/09.  He and Councilmember Godden were the lone dissenters on passage of this measure.  Councilmember Rasmussen said that he thinks the legislation will result in more balance on the Park Board and more community involvement in the appointment process.  In this instance, however, he felt that the Park Board had been singled out and the issue had become personalized.  He would have preferred a process similar to that followed in changing the way department heads are confirmed.  On 1/12, Councilmember McIver responded saying that he would probably support the measure, but didn’t have a strong position one way or the other.  He eventually ended up supporting it when the measure came up for a vote.  On 1/08, Councilmember Conlin emailed to say that he agrees with LCC on this issue.

 4.    Sand Point Housing Advisory Committee:  The first meeting of the Sand Point Housing Advisory Committee will be Thursday, February 22 at 6 p.m. at the Sand Point Community Meeting Room.  The agenda for this preliminary meeting will include:  an update on the transfer of ownership process at Sand Point, discussion of the make-up of the advisory committee and review of the purpose and role of the committee.  While there can be only one official representative from each group on the committee, anyone is invited to attend meetings regularly.  As of January 1, 2007, the Fremont Public Association will become Solid Ground.  Same determined mission, same dedicated staff working to end poverty in our community.  For further information, contact Kira Zylstra, Sand Point Housing Liaison, at 206-517-5499 or kiraz@solid-ground.org.  Solid Ground has requested a representative on the group from Laurelhurst.

 5.    Pre-Order Harry Potter:  J.K. Rowling's highly anticipated new book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter Book 7), is scheduled to be released on July 21, 2007 and is now available to pre-order at Barnes and Noble.

 6.    Crime Prevention Resources:  LCC webmaster Susan Rucker has added to crime prevention information and links to LCC’s website.  She has created a “Crime and Police Activity” page with LCC letters written on crime prevention issues, newsletter articles and important links.  There is a link to LCC Block Watch brochure and SPD information on the Block Watch program.  There are also links to the SPD and Federal Trade Commission websites on identity theft.  She has provided a link to the state’s free credit report site.  Rucker will later add the monthly crime stats.  Thank you, Susan!

 7.    Playfield Discussion:  In response to the escalating problems at the Playfield over the past few years, the Community Center’s advisory committee is hosting a public discussion on February 15th from 6-7 p.m. at the Laurelhurst School cafeteria.  Many of the teen alcohol and drug parties causing problems have taken place at the fire pit.  Those disturbances have spilled over into nearby parts of the neighborhood surrounding the Playfield.

 8.    Laurelhurst Community Center Grand Reopening:  Saturday, March 31st, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.  Laurelhurst Community Center will open it's doors following a year long renovation project. Don Torrie explained the art contest for children. The mayor should be there, and the event will feature balloons, ribbons, music, food and drinks.

 

REPORTS/ACTION:

 Laurelhurst Park: Maggie Weissman said a review of park incidents shows recent complaints are more or less in line with historic levels. Laurelhurst, Magnuson and ViewRidge all have problems. Diane Horswill makes the general point that exaggerated reports hurt credibility and skew the allocation of scarce resources. Royal Alley-Barnes and the Park Advisory Council are working on solutions, and investigating the idea of a removable fire pit and landscaping changes. Royal will come to the PAC meeting on 2/15/07. Brian McMullen talked to TJ Havenor, who said conditions at the park have been worse in the past.

 Crime Prevention:  Weissman and McMullen briefed the board.  The January 2007 crime stats are included in the agenda packets.  Topics covered included crime statistics, slum landlords, pedestrian safety, auto thefts (note: don't leave your car unattended with the motor running), graffiti (paint it over promptly), alcohol impact zones, and gun control rules within city limits.

 Sidewalks:

1.    Worn out asphalt walkway on Mary Gates:  The walkway from the UW’s Botanical Gardens up to the Ceramic Metal Arts Compound is deteriorating asphalt.  Some portions of the walkway are barely two feet across.  It has been suggested that LCC contact the UW to see about replacing the walkway with a concrete sidewalk consistent with other sidewalks in the neighborhood.  Motion by Maggie Weissman, seconded by Lora Poepping to ask UW to replace the existing asphalt walkway near the Ceramic Arts Compound on Mary Gates Way with new sidewalks consistent with current city codes and ordinances. Motion passed unanimously.

 2.    Need for a sidewalk on 50th Avenue NE adjacent to Villa:  There is no sidewalk for three blocks along the Villa’s border on 50th Avenue NE at Ivanhoe.

 3.    Proposed changes to sidewalk rules:  The Department of Planning and Development has proposed new sidewalk rules. For new single-family housing, new sidewalks are not currently required. This issue applies to the townhouses at Sand Point Way and 40th Ave NE. A "Pedestrian Improvements Proposal" has been prepared with language to upgrade sidewalk requirements for different types of new construction.  Motion by Joe Herrin, seconded by Maggie Weissman to support the Pedestrian Improvements Proposal. Motion passed unanimously.

 Community Center Opening:  As part of the reopening of the Laurelhurst Community Center, the Parks Department is sponsoring an art contest for youth, kindergarten through grade 12.  Winning art should depict the mission of the community center and the Parks Department—to work with all citizens to be good stewards of our environment, and to provide safe and welcoming opportunities to play, learn, contemplate and build community.  Artwork could depict a scene of people playing at Laurelhurst park and playfield, walking your dog in the park, Laurelhurst summer concerts in the park, community salmon bake, children participating in athletics/dance/martial arts or other community center activities.

 All art should be done on 8 1/2 x 11 paper.  It is recommended that art be vivid in color.  Art done in water color or magic marker are best, but all formats are welcome.  Art will not be returned.  The winning artwork will be displayed at Laurelhurst Community Center during the grand reopening celebration.  The grand prize winner will receive a free art class at Laurelhurst Community Center and an art kit.  Other winners will receive prizes and winning ribbons.   Student artwork must be received by Saturday March 24th at 5:00 p.m.  Entries should be dropped off at the gym.

 Dena Schuler, manager of the community center, has asked if LCC would like to volunteer to help out at the opening event and for other assistance such as distributing flyers.  LCC volunteered to do a program for the event.  Torrie provided contact information for the Roosevelt Jazz Band.  Ideas for the opening are welcome.

 Emergency Preparedness:  The City is sponsoring Emergency Preparedness meetings.  Should Laurelhurst work with the city to do the same in response to requests by neighbors?  Information is included in the packets about a program called SNAP = Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare.  Motion by Leslie Wright, seconded by Nan Haigwood to sponsor a SNAP meeting. Motion passed unanimously.

 Little League Sponsorship Motion by Don Torrie, seconded by Stan Sorscher to support a "major" team at the $500 level and a T-ball team at the $250 level. Motion passed unanimously.

 Neighborhood Appreciation Day: Plans for Neighborhood Appreciation Day are coming together - elected officials are scheduled, and guests of honor are being identified.

 

Meeting adjourned at 8:48 PM.

 Minutes by Stan Sorscher