The Laurelhurst Letter

July 2002


Subdivision layout does not meet code, LCC consultant says Hospital continues to review helicopter landings
Library closures announced Please don't speed on 41st!
LCC launches sidewalk safety program to assist pedestrians and homeowners Garden tour a huge success
Pump station fence project resurrected School reunion

Subdivision layout does not meet code, LCC consultant says

The LCC has commented on a proposal by the Talaris Research Institute to redevelop its 18-acre property at 4000 N.E. 41st St. as single-family housing if its original proposal to build a new institute for advanced study proves impracticable.

The proposal, which was unveiled at a community meeting held by the Department of Design, Construction, and Land Use on June 6, calls for developing 81 single-family building lots. The 5,000-square-foot lots would be ranged around the perimeter of the site, with additional roads and lots in the center. Thirty-eighth Avenue Northeast, currently an unopened right-of-way with large stands of mature trees, would be developed as a city street.

Speaking for the community club, land-use planner Carol Eychaner told DCLU that the preliminary lot layout "does not adequately address basic subdivision and other code requirements, design principles, and site characteristics."

Eychaner quoted specific sections of the code that require the developers of a subdivision to provide space for parks, playgrounds, drainage courses, and other open areas and to maximize the retention of existing trees. Developers also are required to observe the regulations governing environmentally sensitive areas and to establish buffer zones around wetlands and steep slopes.

In the case of the Talaris proposal, Eychaner said that some of the lots are subject to "significant constraints" caused by wetlands and/or steep slopes and their buffers, by easements, or by the required building setbacks. She said some lots have "an irregular shape and street orientation" and "cannot accommodate a reasonable development footprint."

What's more, the proposed subdivision would eliminate existing clusters of large trees, Eychaner said.

"DCLU should require modifications to the subdivision layout so that proposed lots and roads are both viable and more responsive to the code and design issues," she said.

At the moment, the project is still in the "scoping" phase, in which DCLU determines the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement that must be prepared before a permit can be issued. Eychaner asked that in addition to the institute for advanced study and the current single-family housing proposal, the EIS consider an alternative single-family proposal in which 38th Avenue Northeast is left untouched.

She also asked that the EIS take into account the impact of a single-family development on existing parks, schools, community centers, and other public facilities, as well as areawide traffic.

Hospital continues to review helicopter landings

In response to inquiries from a number of neighbors, the LCC approached Children's Hospital about an apparent increase in the number of helicopter flights over the neighborhood at the beginning of June.

Sarah Erickson, assistant director for Community, Government Affairs, and Advocacy at the hospital agreed that there have been an unusual number of landings lately. She explained that in one instance, back-to-back landings had necessitated the first helicopter taking off without its medical crew to enable a second helicopter to land. The first helicopter then had to return to pick up its crew.

Erickson assured neighbors that hospital personnel continue to review all landings quarterly to insure that they have met the requirement of medical necessity. Less urgent cases are landed at nearby Graves Field and transported to the hospital by ambulance.

The landings are also reviewed every six months by the Helistop Medical Review Committee, a group representing the city, the county, the hospital, the medical community, and the neighborhood.

The committee was set up in the late 1980s, when permission to operate the helistop in a residential neighborhood was first granted; neighbors had voiced fears that it would generate dozens of flights daily, including doctors commuting to and from work.

The committee's existence has since been reaffirmed as meeting a genuine need in the community.

Recently, Children's vice president and medical director Richard Molteni sent neighbors a summary of helicopter flight activity at the hospital over the past 11 years. The data showed that the number of landings at the hospital has stayed fairly constant during that period, averaging roughly four a month.

At the same time, the proportion of flights landing at Graves Field to those landing at the hospital has also remained stable-roughly 3 to 1.

Library closures announced

City librarian Deborah Jacobs has announced that all branches of the Seattle Public Library will close for a week in August and a week in December because of citywide budget cuts.

The two weeks, Monday, Aug. 26, through Sunday, Sept. 1, and Tuesday, Dec. 17, through Monday, Dec. 23, were chosen because statistically, the libraries are less used then than at other times of the year.

During the closures, other library services, including the computerized catalogue, will not be available. Libraries also will not accept any returns during that time.

The cuts will not affect the Libraries for All building program, which is funded by a separate taxpayer-approved levy.

Library staff will not be paid or accrue benefits during the closures, but they will prevent the laying off of approximately 30 employees.

Please don't speed on 41st!

Neighbors who live at the bottom of the 41st Street hill are becoming increasingly alarmed by how fast cars are traveling in front of their homes. The speed limit at the intersection with 43rd Avenue Northeast is 15 mph, but as one neighbor says, "Nobody goes that slow!"

Speeding cars are especially dangerous for pedestrians trying to cross 41st, including children who play on the lawn in front of the Aljoya Conference Center.

If you live at the top of the hill and 41st Street is your main access route, please respect your neighbors at the bottom of the hill and SLOW DOWN!

LCC launches sidewalk safety program to assist pedestrians and homeowners

Most of us are familiar with the sting of iodine on a skinned knee. Who hasn't, at one time or another, taken a tumble on a cracked sidewalk?

Thankfully, few are as familiar with the anguish of a broken hip. Yet cracked sidewalks are responsible for many serious injuries, especially among the infirm and elderly.

Many homeowners don't realize they are required by law to maintain the sidewalks in front of their houses in good repair. Those who do know are often deterred by the cost and red tape involved.

If a homeowner installs a new concrete sidewalk, he or she must make sure the walkway meets the city's standards, including wheelchair ramps at corners and proper drainage. This can be expensive. It also requires a permit.

Now, to help homeowners deal with these problems, as well as to ensure a safe environment for pedestrians in our neighborhood, the LCC is initiating its Laurelhurst Sidewalk Safety Program. The goals of the program are (1) to identify and prioritize sidewalks that need repairing, (2) to reduce the cost of repairs by batching them together, and (3) to share the cost of repairs among homeowners, the LCC, and government (the city Department of Transportation has expressed interest in funding part of the program, and money for wheelchair ramps is available from the federal government).

The program will also address the danger to pedestrians of slippery steel manhole covers, the lack of ramped curbs at corners, and overgrown shrubbery. As to the latter, homeowners are responsible for cutting back vegetation so pedestrians will not be forced to walk in the street. The LCC will arrange help for seniors on fixed incomes who are unable to do the work themselves.

Already, work has begun in implementing the first goal of the program-identifying the problem areas. Students with community service requirements are encouraged to help make the inventory (contact trustee Karl Weyrauch at 525-5562 or or president Jeannie Hale at 525-5135 or if you are interested).

Brochures about the program are available at the Laurelhurst Community Center, and information is also available on our web site (

Garden tour a huge success

More than 900 people attended the Seattle Milk Fund's July 6 walking tour of Laurelhurst gardens.

At $25 a head for adults and $10 each for children, a considerable sum was raised to benefit needy families in Seattle. And despite the large crowds, no damage to any of the toured gardens was reported!

Organizers say they plan to make the tour an annual event.

Pump station fence project resurrected

Readers with long memories will recall the proposal from King County Department of Natural Resources to build an elaborate fence around the Belvoir Pump Station, located on the west side of Surber Drive at Belvoir Place. Neighbors were asked to comment on the design, which included brick pilings, wrought-iron railings, and bird-identification plaques.

The plan was finalized after several meetings, but before construction could begin, the community was notified that funds for the project were no longer available.

Now, the county is again proposing to fence the facility, but in a much less grandiose fashion. A simple chain link fence, coated with dark green plastic, will be erected around the base of the building. It will not be visible from street level except by looking down over the railing.

Neighbors across the street have been apprised of the county's plan and are happy with the design, which should not impact them unduly. It will, however, help prevent the illicit partying that goes on from time to time on the access road below.

School reunion

The Friends of Laurelhurst School Foundation is sponsoring the 75th All School Reunion at Laurelhurst Elementary School. It is going to be held at the school on Friday, Sept. 20, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Come and enjoy reconnecting with fellow classmates and neighbors, tour the school, and listen to live jazz. Class photos will be taken and appetizers will be served!

Order your tickets now by sending $25 per ticket to: Friends of Laurelhurst School Foundation, 4603 N.E. University Village #406, Seattle, WA 98105 For more information, call 394-6263.

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