The Laurelhurst Letter

August 2001

Articles:

Seattle Mayoral Candidates Forum UW drops plan for private sidewalk in Magnuson Park
City issues permit for multistory garage Area-wide traffic plan needed
Consultants to review Battelle-site plans Laurelhurst project ranked Number One
LCC lends support to tenants' efforts to keep own homes Community expresses support for CUH


Seattle Mayoral Candidates Forum

A preprimary forum for candidates in the Seattle mayoral race will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 5, at Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center.

Mayor Paul Schell, Seattle City Attorney Mark Sidran, and King County Councilmember Greg Nickels have all agreed to appear, and other viable candidates have also been invited.

The event, hosted by the Laurelhurst Community Club and seven other northeast Seattle neighborhood groups, will be moderated by KOMO News 4 personality Emily Langlie.

The evening will begin with an informal gathering of neighbors and candidates at 6:45 p.m., followed by the forum at 7 p.m. sharp.

Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center is located at 6535 Ravenna Ave. N.E., one block north of Northeast 65th. On-site parking is limited.

This is your chance to decide whose names you'd like to see on the November general-election ballot. Come early to get a seat!


UW drops plan for private sidewalk in Magnuson Park

The University of Washington has abandoned a plan to build a sidewalk linking its Radford Court married-student housing complex at Sand Point to the intersection of Northeast 65th Street and Sand Point Way Northeast.

Access to the student housing complex is via Northeast 64th Street. The proposed sidewalk would have given residents a pedestrian "short-cut" to the main road.

As a number of community groups pointed out, the sidewalk would have crossed property belonging to Magnuson Park, thereby violating Initiative 42, which prohibits the taking of park property for private use unless a land exchange has been arranged.

"It appears to us that the sidewalk will principally serve the residents of the Radford Court Apartments and function basically as a private sidewalk for residents," LCC President Jeannie Hale told Theresa Doherty, UW assistant vice president for regional affairs.

Hale also objected to the university's plans to landscape the triangle of property that the sidewalk would have crossed. "We have been told that (the university) intends to install grass. This would make the triangle of land look as if it were part of the Radford Court complex," she said.

Hale pointed out that the intersection of Northeast 65th Street and Sand Point Way Northeast has been designated as a main entrance to Magnuson Park. As such, it "should be welcoming to all of those who visit the park."

What's more, there is a strong desire among community groups to use native trees and plants for landscaping throughout the park, she said.


City issues permit for multistory garage

The Department of Design, Construction, and Land Use (DCLU) has issued a "master use" permit to University Village Shopping Center for construction of a multilevel parking garage and an additional 111,000 square feet of retail shopping space.

The permit, approved on July 26, contains a "determination of nonsignificance," which certifies that the project will have no significant adverse impact on the environment. It exempts the developer from having to draw up an environmental impact statement (EIS).

Community groups have long argued that the project will have an adverse impact on the environment. They say the projected increase in traffic will exacerbate the already hazardous conditions for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other motorists on both Northeast Blakeley Street and 25th Avenue Northeast. In addition, they say the failure to provide on-site parking for employees will generate an even greater spill-over of employee cars onto neighborhood streets.

Neighbors also take issue with the height, bulk, and scale of the proposed parking garage, which is six stories high and has blank walls on three sides. They say an attempt should have been made to divide it into two sections to make it appear less massive and to preserve views from the Burke-Gilman Trail.


Area-wide traffic plan needed

The LCC has applied for a $10,000 Small and Simple Grant from the city's Neighborhood Matching Fund to help develop a comprehensive transportation plan for the northern portion of the community. The plan would define existing traffic, parking, and safety issues and recommend how to address them.

Over the past few years, a number of problems have surfaced in this area, which is home to three churches, two schools, a hospital, and a playfield. Those problems include

Possible solutions to these problems include changing the traffic patterns; installing traffic-calming devices, such as traffic circles, curb bulbs, and chicanes; improving signage; and introducing measures to encourage trip reductions. The purpose of having an area-wide transportation plan is to make sure that any of these solutions applied on one street will not adversely affect conditions on a neighboring street.

The major expense in developing such a plan will be in hiring a professional traffic engineer. One consultant estimated the cost of the project at $13,300. In addition to the $10,000 applied for in the grant, the LCC has committed $5,000 toward the project, and neighbors and neighboring institutions have pledged another $3,504 worth of in-kind contributions.

Neighbors and neighboring institutions will also be involved through a series of community meetings similar to the one organized by the community club in July 1999. It was at that and several subsequent meetings that the idea of an area-wide transportation plan evolved.

A steering committee of concerned neighbors, representatives of neighboring institutions, and LCC trustees will direct the project. They will participate in monthly meetings with the traffic consultant, in Speed Watch and community-education and consensus-building programs, in gaining assistance from SeaTran and the city arborist, and in obtaining SeaTran's acceptance of the plan's recommendations and its commitment to their implementation.


Consultants to review Battelle-site plans

The LCC has hired transportation engineer Robert Bernstein and land-use planner Carol Eychaner to review the Talaris Institute's plans for redevelopment of the former Battelle Memorial Institute Seattle Research Center. They will be checking for compliance with the 1991 settlement agreement between Battelle, the LCC, the city, and an independent neighbors' group. The agreement placed a number of covenants on the land that guarantee building set-backs, height limits, adequate parking, and more. Talaris has said that it will comply with the agreement.

Also, the community club learned recently that the Department of Design, Construction, and Land Use (DCLU) had set Aug. 28 as the date for a public meeting to define the scope of topics to be covered in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project. At the LCC's request, that meeting has been postponed to allow time for interested parties to return from vacation A new meeting dateĐin mid-SeptemberĐhas yet to be set, but DCLU has promised to mail notice of the meeting to all Laurelhurst residents. In the meantime, questions can be directed to DCLU staffer Stephanie Haines at 684-5014 or stephanie.haines@ci.seattle.wa.us.


Laurelhurst project ranked Number One

A new traffic circle at the intersection of 37th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 43rd Street received the most votes last month when the Northeast District Council met to rank local applications to the city's Neighborhood Street Fund. The proposed circle, stewarded by Laurelhurst neighbor Paul Klemond and supported by the community club, has already passed an engineering feasibility test and will almost certainly receive funding this year.

Other highly ranked projects in the northeast sector of the city include


LCC lends support to tenants' efforts to keep own homes

At its July 9 meeting, the LCC Board of Trustees voted unanimously to support the tenants of Provail Burke-Gilman Apartments in their efforts to remain in their homes when the complex is sold.

The apartments, located at 5020/5120 40th Ave. N.E., comprise 12 units in two single-story buildings that are specially configured and designed to provide independent living quarters for physically handicapped residents. They are owned by a nonprofit organization called Provail, which incorporates the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Washington.

Provail recently announced that it would like to sell the apartments, which were originally developed with a low-cost mortgage from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Rents are currently subsidized through HUD's project-based "Section 8" housing program, but the subsidy contract expires in 2004.

The tenants have formed an organizing committee and are trying to secure a commitment from Provail to sell only to a tenant-endorsed nonprofit organization that is willing to maintain the complex as Section 8 housing.

Since 1996, Washington State has experienced a significant decline in the number of project-based Section 8 housing units available as contracts have expired and building owners have declined to renew. Currently, more than 17,000 households are awaiting HUD housing assistance in Seattle.

In a letter to the tenants, LCC President Jeannie Hale said, "You and the Provail Burke-Gilman Apartments are a part of our community. We do not think it is appropriate that you should be forced out of the homes you love.

"Not only would it be a major inconvenience, it is doubtful whether you would be able to find similar affordable housing."


Community expresses support for CUH

A resolution reaffirming the community's wholehearted support of the Center for Urban Horticulture and condemning the "cowardly action" of the group that set fire to it was adopted unanimously by the LCC Board of Trustees last month. A similar resolution has been put before the city council at the LCC's instigation.

The resolution calls the May 21 arson a "mindless violation of the goodwill and good works that are the hallmark of the center." It urges all levels of law enforcement to commit whatever resources are necessary to catch the perpetrators of the crime.

It also pledges "support to the leadership of the center ╔ as it prepares not only to build but to expand its vision of its place in this urban area as it moves toward replacing the buildings lost to fire."

In a more tangible gesture of support, the LCC gave $500 to the center's Elizabeth C. Miller Library for the purchase of new books. Half of that amount came from the club's coffers; the other half, from an individual who prefers to remain anonymous. The donation will be matched by the Miller Foundation, making a total contribution to the library of $1,000.


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