Laurelhurst Community Club                                       

Serving Seattle’s Laurelhurst community since 1920


Land Use Goals for Laurelhurst

Adopted in the ‘80’s


                            Laurelhurst today means all the houses, apartments and businesses west of the community of Windermere and south of Sand Point Way.  It is bounded on the west by the University of Washington and on the south by water.  Laurelhurst is primarily a residential community with many fine older homes mixed with new construction.  The style of many of the homes reflects the intense high density development of the community in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  There is a broad spectrum of home styles and lot sizes and there is a clear trend to preservation of older quality housing both small and large.  Water and territorial view, garden rockeries and hillside patches of forest are all amenities resulting from the community’s hill topography.  The community has diversity in its natural and man-made characteristics and in its resident population.  In addition to the residential areas, there is a peripheral business area generally running along Sand Point Way.

                            In an effort to preserve the best characteristics of this community, the residents have identified a number of land use goals.  As goals, they represent the community’s aspirations to achieve stability and preserve the residential characteristics of the community without preventing change.  The community recognizes that change is inevitable in any community.  In the Laurelhurst neighborhood, there is constant pressure for redevelopment to more intensive uses.  However, this community wishes to retain and improve those characteristics that have made Laurelhurst a desirable residential community; moreover, it wants to participate in the planning of proposed changes to the community.  The development of Laurelhurst land use goals is important to assure recognition of the community objectives.

                            As a statement of its development preferences the following goals have been adopted:


Preserve and Enhance the Family-Oriented Residential Nature of the Community

                            Discussion.  Laurelhurst is a mature, urban residential community of low density housing.  There is considerable diversity in the size and age of the dwellings and many have remarkable marine and territorial views.  Virtually all the dwellings are owned by their residents.  The residential nature of the community is supported by shopping, recreational and cultural facilities in Laurelhurst and in the nearby business districts.

                            The community is bounded by water on more than half its perimeter.  Major thoroughfares flow around Laurelhurst skirting its perimeter without destroying its cohesiveness or impacting its residential areas.  Laurelhurst is an integral part of the “inner city” while at the same time being insulated from some of its impact.

                            The Laurelhurst population is heterogeneous and stable comprised of a variety of ages, income levels and walks of life.  Laurelhurst has developed a sense of identity and achieved neighborhood cohesiveness through the cooperative efforts of its residents.

                            As a result of its location, diversity and physical characteristics, Laurelhurst expresses a particular residential character.  To support this attribute, a program should be established to guide land development in a manner that will protect and strengthen its characteristics.  Land use policy should assure that new development will enhance the community and recognize the need to protect the single family stability against the increasing pressures of intensive land use.  Laurelhurst supports the “Goals for Seattle 2000” report stated goal:  “The City of Seattle shall protect community uniqueness and identification with local landmarks and facilities.”  The “Goals for Seattle 2000” report was developed by a citizens’ committee and adopted by the Seattle City Council in 1973.


                            Policies.  The following policies are adopted in support of Goal Number One:



Control the Development and Growth of Institutions to Minimize Community Impact

                            Discussion.  The more successful institutions are in fulfilling their responsibility to the community, the greater the danger becomes that they may have adverse land use consequences on their neighborhoods.  There are two types of institutional development which are of particular concern to neighborhoods:  expansion of larger existing institutions, which in Seattle has involved problems with universities and hospitals, and the location of new institutional facilities within a neighborhood, a trend that has become much stronger in recent years with the move from larger institutions to community-based facilities in these areas.  The City of Seattle has become increasingly concerned with both types of development in recent years.  Goal C of the Community Goals of the Seattle 2000 Report, and several subgoals under that goal address these problems:

Goal C . . . The City of Seattle shall encourage the establishment and preservation of adequate and compatible public and private services, facilities and institutions.

Institutional subgoals . . . centralized institutional facilities such as hospitals, universities, port facilities, often tend to have adverse impacts on their surroundings.

“7.  The City of Seattle shall accordingly set limits to and establish criteria for institutional growth; weigh their anticipated benefits to the public against their intensities of use and scale; and study the available alternatives, including the alternative of dispersing institutional functions and facilities.”

                            Policies.  The following policies are designed to prevent institutional expansion or overconcentration if such overconcentration or expansion degrades property values and threatens the security of neighborhoods:



Preserve, Protect and Augment Greenbelt and other Open Space Areas

                            Discussion.  Recent increases in high density land use have significantly diminished the quantity of open space areas.  Greenbelts, and most of the smaller open space areas such as publicly owned rights-of-way, must be retained in a semi-natural to natural state to maintain the desirability of urban living.  These lands, though undeveloped, are vital to the public interest for the following purposes:


The City of Seattle recognized the value of these open areas by including them as elements of the Comprehensive Plan for Seattle adopted by the City Council in 1057.  Open space considerations were also addressed in the Seattle 2000 Commission Goals Report.