The Laurelhurst Letter

December 2001 and January 2002


DCLU defines scope of Talaris EIS Consultant's report based on faulty premise
Charity unveils plan to expand housing for sick children Lifetime Learning Center has classes for seniors
Cars parked on sidewalks a hazard to pedestrians Nominations sought for
Good Neighbor Awards

DCLU defines scope of Talaris EIS

The city Department of Design, Construction, and Land Use (DCLU) has determined the scope of environmental-impact studies to be undertaken in connection with plans to redevelop the former Battelle Memorial Institute site at 4000 N.E. 41st St.

After reviewing oral and written comments received during the "scoping" period, which ended Oct. 2, DCLU identified a number of aspects of the plan as having "probable significant adverse impacts." Traffic and parking were identified as possible problem areas, as was the height, bulk, and scale of the proposed building.

In a Dec. 3 letter, Senior Land-Use Planner Stephanie Haines told representatives of the developer, Talaris Research Institute, that traffic generated by the project will affect the already congested conditions on Northeast 45th Street, Sandpoint Way Northeast, Mary Gates Memorial Drive Northeast, and Northeast Blakeley Street. She said consideration of this factor must take into account other planned and ongoing developments in the area including those at Children's Hospital, the University of Washington, University Village, and Blakeley Village.

Haines also said that unless the parking for Talaris can be accommodated on campus, it will spill over onto neighborhood streets and negatively affect the surrounding environment.

As for the height, bulk, and scale of the building, Haines said that the height is already predetermined by the zoning. However, "because of the size of the site," she said, "a structure with substantially greater bulk and scale than anticipated in a single-family zone can be built."

But she continued: "This may result in an incongruous bulk and scale ... and may have probable significant adverse impacts on the surrounding environment."

Other aspects of the plan that require study include construction impacts (noise, air quality, erosion, and increased traffic from workers' vehicles), drainage (the impact of stormwater runoff on wetlands), and the effects of land-disturbing activities on wildlife and vegetation.

DCLU also directed that the developers take into consideration the environmental consequences of noise and light generated by the new building after it is built. These, however, were considered of lesser significance because of the mitigating influence of setbacks and landscaping.

Consultant's report based on faulty premise

LCC President Jeannie Hale has questioned some of the assumptions contained in a report as to the effect on birds of the taller fencing proposed as part of the renovation of the University of Washington's golf driving range.

In a letter to the project manager, Hale pointed out that the consultant's report was premised on the installation of nylon-cloth fencing, which the plan originally called for, rather than the stainless-steel chicken wire that the university now intends to use.

"Could you please explain how a black nylon netting fence would compare to a grayish-colored chicken-wire fence in terms of visibility from a bird's point of view?" Hale asked. "Please also explain the difference between the shock-absorbing nature of the nylon fencing and the sturdier chicken-wire fencing," she continued.

Hale noted that the report singled out the great blue heron as being the bird most likely to collide with the higher fence and asked what effect the chicken wire might have on heron mortality. She also asked for more specific information on other species, such as owls, that the report rates as likely to be affected by the fence.

The Laurelhurst Community Club has consistently opposed the installation of higher fencing around the university's golf driving range both for environmental reasons and for aesthetic reasons - the visual blight of a 100-foot-tall fence and its associated lighting standards. Instead, it has asked the university to maintain the fence at its current height of 37 feet or move the whole facility somewhere else, such as Sand Point, where the university owns substantial land.

The university has responded by reducing the number and diameter of the poles required to hold up the proposed fence and by lowering the fence slightly from a uniform height of 100 feet to a graduated height of 80 to 100 feet.

But the project is still on track to be completed as part of the university's upcoming 10-year Campus Master Plan. At the last meeting of the City University Community Advisory Committee, the group of university and neighborhood representatives voted 7 - 3 to approve the project.

That could change. Hale also wrote a letter to Associated Students of the University of Washington President Danica You, pointing out that renovation of the driving range was rated third in priority among other ASUW-funded projects by a student poll. "We question whether students had the opportunity to consider (the) concerns of impacted communities," she said.

Hale said the project is primarily a revenue-enhancing proposition for the university and "most of the people ... using the driving range appear to be retired, rather than students." She asked You to reconsider supporting it.

Charity unveils plan to expand housing for sick children

At their December meeting, LCC trustees were updated on the status of the proposed expansion of family housing for children being treated at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center.

Pat McDonald, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington, unveiled plans for three new buildings at 5110 40th Ave. N.E., where Kids' Village is located now. The two existing buildings will be torn down, and ownership of the property will be transferred from the hospital to Ronald McDonald House.

McDonald said the new facility will provide "a home away from home for seriously ill children and their families." She said that whereas in the past, Ronald McDonald House has served only juvenile cancer patients, soon children with other illnesses will be able to stay there as well.

To make room for the new buildings, all parking will be moved underground. A two-story dormitory containing 48 bedrooms will occupy the front of the site, where Kids' Village parking is now. Behind the dormitory, a two- to three-story community building with a large living area will occupy the site of one of the one-story Kids' Village buildings.

The other one-story Kids' Village building will be replaced by a two-story structure containing 10 efficiency apartments designed specifically for children receiving bone-marrow transplants. Because of the danger of infection, these children require a greater degree of isolation than do the children in the communal building.

Ronald McDonald House currently serves approximately 180 families a year. The average stay is 67 days, but some children remain in residence for as long as nine months to a year and a half. When finished, the new facility will add sufficient capacity to serve approximately 750 families a year..

McDonald said her organization plans to break ground on the project sometime this spring, with a projected completion date of October 2003. It will be paid for through a capital campaign to raise money from private donors, she said.

The LCC trustees were delighted with the plans and especially praised the provision of adequate parking underground and a shuttle bus to run patients back and forth between the housing facility and the hospital.

Lifetime Learning Center has classes for seniors

Classes in everything from Afghanistan (the history, culture, and geography of) to yoga (for seniors) are available at the Lifetime Learning Center, 6208 60th Ave. N.E.

The classes are geared specifically to persons aged 50 and older who want to experience the joy of learning and discussing great ideas without the usual stress of exams and grades. They are taught by volunteers who are experts in their fields, including many with advanced university degrees.

Other courses offered this quarter encompass subjects as diverse as history, literature, religions, music and dance, arts and crafts, computers, exercise, and contract bridge. There is even a class for seniors who wish to upgrade their driving skills (and save on their insurance)!

Most classes cost $20 a quarter, and there is a $30 registration fee. Registration forms and a complete schedule of classes may be obtained by visiting the center or calling 985-3904.

The Lifetime Learning Center operated in the Seattle Center for 25 years and moved into the Sand Point Educational Center (the former Sand Point Elementary School) in July 2000.

Cars parked on sidewalks a hazard to pedestrians

The Seattle Police Department and Laurelhurst Community Club board members have received numerous complaints about vehicles parked on and partially blocking sidewalks. It is against the law to park on sidewalks, and the police will and do ticket vehicles. The fine is $28.

Please remember that the sidewalks are heavily used by parents with baby strollers, young children on bicycles, older folks with walkers, and commuters walking to and from work.

Besides being illegal, blocking the sidewalk forces pedestrians out onto the street and into the path of moving vehicles - a dangerous and unacceptable practice.

Nominations sought for
Good Neighbor Awards

Saturday, Feb. 9, is Neighbor Appreciation Day, and for the fifth year in a row, the Laurelhurst Community Club would like to honor those among us who go out of their way to help others.

They include people who pick up litter, who monitor neighbors' vacant homes, who serve as Block Watch captains and organize parties, and who assist the sick and the elderly. Last year, the club recognized 17 such people.

If your neighbor's deeds deserve wider recognition, please drop a note to LCC Special Events Coordinator Coco Sherman at 4113 55th Ave. N.E., Seattle, WA 98115 or email Coco at

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