The Laurelhurst Letter

March 2001


Club turns down Metro offer to substitute vans for buses LCC supports strengthening city landlord-retaliation law
Bill would allow private company to set toll rate for public bridge Neighbor Appreciation Day draws standing-room-only crowd
Long-standing trustee resigns; Board appoints new member City gives District go-ahead to install 100-foot-tall light poles
School auction set for April 27

Club turns down Metro offer to substitute vans for buses

A tentative proposal to replace with small passenger vans the large buses currently used in Laurelhurst on Route 25 has been rejected by the LCC trustees, who prefer to see the status quo maintained.

At their February meeting, Metro Transit employee Liz Gotterer told the trustees that 18-seat vans might be an option if there is sufficient community support for them, but the trade-off is that van service would terminate at the University District, forcing passengers going to and from downtown to transfer.

Gotterer said the van offer was in response to some community members' complaints about the noise and congestion caused by full-size buses on neighborhood streets. She said Laurelhurst is the only area in the city in which there is opposition, as well as support, for public transport.

Gotterer also said that van service for Laurelhurst would cost Metro more to operate, since the remainder of Route 25, where the ridership requires a full-size bus, could not be abandoned, so an additional driver would have to be hired to drive the van.

The trustees decided that the only real advantage of van service would be to people who don't use public transport; the actual riders would be disadvantaged in that they couldn't get a direct bus into downtown. In rejecting the offer, they did, however, ask whether vans to the U. District might be available to restore the evening and weekend service hours that were cut two years ago.

In other public transportation news, the LCC endorsed the One-Third for Choices campaign, which seeks to have one-third of all new state spending on transportation devoted to "transportation choices." It defines these choices as buses, trains, passenger ferries, bike and pedestrian facilities, trip reduction programs, and the like. Two-thirds of new state transportation dollars would continue to be spent on roads.

LCC supports strengthening city landlord-retaliation law

At their February meeting, the LCC trustees voted to endorse a bill before the city council that would make it easier to prosecute landlords who illegally retaliate against tenants for reporting violations of the city's Housing and Building Maintenance Code or for otherwise exercising their legal rights.

The bill, introduced by Councilmember Judy Nicastro, seeks to prescribe civil, rather than criminal, penalities for such actions. Under the existing criminal code, the standard of proof is such that prosecutions for retaliation are rarely attempted and convictions even more rarely obtained. Under the proposed bill, a landlord's action, when undertaken within 90 days of a tenant's complaint, would be assumed to be retaliatory, unless shown otherwise, and the landlord guilty of a civil infraction.

The civil penalty for retaliatory actions would be set at not less than $100 nor more than $300 per violation, with each day a violation remains uncorrected constituting a separate violation.

At the same time, Nicastro's bill sets civil penalties for landlords who

Bill would allow private company to set toll rate for public bridge

The LCC is opposing bills in the Legislature that are designed to circumvent a Supreme Court ruling against the state's plan to fund a second Tacoma Narrows bridge by entering into a partnership with private industry. The ruling was premised partly on the fact that the Washington State Transportation Commission intended to transfer its authority to set vehicle tolls to United Infrastructure Washington, a private company.

"Public oversight of projects that will cost taxpayers millions and millions of dollars is important," President Jeannie Hale wrote district legislators. "As (these bills) move forward, we urge you to take appropriate steps to ensure accountability and public oversight in the imposition of tolls."

The Tacoma Narrows project is the only one of six public/private partnership initiatives that were proposed several years ago that is still being pursued (another was the proposal to build a second Evergreen Point floating bridge). If completed, it may become a model for future transportation megaprojects in this state.

Neighbor Appreciation Day draws standing-room-only crowd

An overflow crowd turned out for the fourth annual Good Neighbor Awards ceremony Feb. 10 at Laurelhurst Community Center. The ceremony, sponsored by the community club to commemorate Neighbor Appreciation Day, honors those of our neighbors who go out of their way to help others and to make Laurelhurst such a wonderful place to live.

As he has since the event's inception, Mayor Paul Schell appeared in person to present certificates of commendation to the 17 award winners. This year, for the first time, the certificates were mounted in leather-bound certificate holders, which were provided by King County Councilmember Cynthia Sullivan.

Certificates were presented to neighbors Kendall Aberg, Cynthia Gannett, Clark Gill, Cornelia Hull, Susan Marten, Molly Nordstrom, Bob and Candy O'Malley, Sedge and Sally Thomson, Lendy Vail, Dick Wickline, Frank and Harriet Williston, and Fred Wright.

Certificates were presented also to former Laurelhurst Community Center Recreation Coordinator Malcolm Boyles and Seattle Police Department North Precinct Officer T. J. Havenor for their outstanding services to the community.

Also present at the ceremony were Pam Schell (Mrs. Paul Schell), Seattle City Councilmembers Nick Licata, Richard Conlin, and Richard McIver, Department of Neighborhoods Director Jim Diers, and a representative of Councilmember Sullivan's office.

The community club would like to thank the following businesses for their generous support of this event through the provision of refreshments, supplies, and door prizes: David Moore's Table Top Shop, Great Harvest Bread Company, Mrs. Cook's, Noah's Bagels, Quality Food Centers, and the University Frame Shop and Gallery. The Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Neighborhoods provided the location and staffing.

Thanks are due also to LCC Special Events Coordinator Coco Sherman, who has organized this event for four years in a row. She was assisted by Maggie Weissman, Andi Pepple, Liz Ogden, Karl Weyrauch, Jim Strunk, Todd Cahill, and Jeannie Hale.

Long-standing trustee resigns; Board appoints new member

Citing increased family and work commitments, Trustee Cheryl Kitchin has resigned after more than 10 years on the LCC board. Kitchin served the community in numerous capacities, including terms as LCC president and vice president. She also was the Laurelhurst representative on the City-University Community Advisory Committee and the Children's Hospital Master Plan Standing Advisory Committee.

"Cheryl is one of the hardest-working members of this board. She attends several meetings every month and knows the background to just about everything. I'm really going to miss her help," said LCC President Jeannie Hale.

Though retiring from the board, Kitchin promises to remain an active member of the club and has generously agreed to continue representing the community on the Children's Hospital advisory committee.

To fill the vacancy left by Kitchin's resignation, the trustees have appointed Susan Torrance to their board. Torrance and her husband, Mark, both grew up in Seattle and have recently completed renovating a home for themselves and their two sons on Webster Point. "It has been a very positive experience working with neighbors in what was a longer project than expected," she said. "Finding supportive neighbors has been the key element in my interest in the LCC."

Torrance would especially like to work on environmental issues, including the shoreline degradation in Union Bay caused by pleasure boats operating above the 7-knot speed limit. She will come before the membership for election at the annual general meeting in May.

Standing for reelection in May will be Trustees Kate Lloyd, Heather Newman, Barb Ragee, and Karl Weyrauch. Anyone else who would like to serve is encourage to contact a board member to express his or her interest.

City gives District go-ahead to install 100-foot-tall light poles

The city council on Feb. 20 unanimously approved the Seattle School District's request to raise the maximum allowable height of school-playfield light standards from 35 to 100 feet. The district's request was intended to facilitate the lighting of fields at Nathan Hale, Ingraham, Chief Sealth, and Rainier Beach High Schools, with other schools perhaps to follow.

Neighbors of the four high schools had fought to have the taller light standards designated a "conditional use" under the city land-use code. That way, permission to erect the standards would be granted on a site-by-site, rather than an across-the-board, basis. In the end, the council chose to apply the new maximum-height restriction across the board.

Throughout the process, the LCC supported neighbors in their quest to limit the impacts of playfield lighting. "When taller lighting is sought, applicants must demonstrate that the additional height contributes to a reduction in impacts," President Jeannie Hale wrote councilmembers.

She urged that the use of loudspeakers in connection with playfield events should be carefully controlled and that a cut-off time of 8 or 8:30 p.m., rather than 10:30 p.m., should be imposed, as it is at Bothell and Friday Harbor High Schools.

"We also support limits on the number of days per week lighting should be allowed to avoid conflicts with neighborhood activities and to allow neighbors a respite from noise and congestion," Hale wrote.

School auction set for April 27

Laurelhurst Elementary School has scheduled its annual auction for Friday, April 27, at 6 p.m. at St. Stephen's Church. This year's theme is "Auction 2001: A Space Odyssey."

The auction is lots of fun and is the school's biggest fundraiser of the year. All proceeds go directly to enrich the students' educations by providing tutors, art instruction, library books, a science specialist, vocal music, and other programs and equipment not funded by the regular school district budget.

Donations for the auction are welcome. For tickets and donation information please call Gail Klemencic at 528-0752.

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