The Laurelhurst Letter

July/August 2004

LCC backs restored limit on UW leasing

Community center project picks citizen advisor team

Children’s agrees to pay half cost of repaving 45th

DSL service coming soon

Protect your home from fire

Exhibit to focus on history of northeast Seattle neighborhoods

New director appointed for UW horticulture center


LCC backs restored limit on UW leasing

The LCC is continuing its efforts to safeguard the overall residential character of the Laurelhurst neighborhood, as well as to protect the many small businesses that thrive on Northeast 45th Street.

On July 27 and Aug. 3, trustees testified at two public hearings before a city council subcommittee considering proposed changes to the City-University Agreement.  The changes concern whether or not there should be limits on the amount of property the University of Washington can lease in adjacent residential neighborhoods.

Councilmembers are currently examining two alternatives: The first alternative places no restriction on the amount of property the university can lease in adjacent neighborhoods but explicitly prohibits it from leasing the Battelle site in Laurelhurst.  It also prohibits it from leasing ground-floor space in buildings located in “pedestrian overlay zones” (which include the Laurelhurst business district).

The second alternative reimposes an earlier restriction on the amount of nearby property the university can lease, but it raises the limit from 550,000 square feet to 750,000 square feet.

The LCC favors the second alternative, but with amendments to incorporate the first alternative’s explicit protections for the Battelle site and for the Laurelhurst business district.

“We believe that retaining leasing restrictions is the best way to provide the balance necessary to allow the university to meet its needs while addressing the impacts upon surrounding communities,” LCC president Jeannie Hale told the council subcommittee.  “The generous square-footage increase … will provide the university with the flexibility that it desires to fulfill its educational, research, and public service mission.”

The city is again dealing with this issue little more than a year after it arbitrarily overturned a 25-year-old limitation on university leasing in adjacent neighborhoods in June 2003.  Citing the lack of public process, the LCC and seven other community groups immediately asked the Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board to review the city’s action.  In March 2004, the board ruled that the city had violated the state Growth Management Act and ordered it to rewrite the relevant legislation, this time taking into account the neighborhoods’ concerns.

Both of the alternatives currently being considered are more restrictive of the university’s leasing powers than was the policy put into place in June 2003.  So whichever one the city council eventually adopts, “it’s a home run for our community,” Hale told the LCC trustees at their Aug. 9 meeting.

Meanwhile, the LCC is continuing to negotiate a settlement with the university in regard to litigation over city approval of the 2002–2012 Campus Master Plan.  The club has offered to drop its pending appeal of the plan’s adoption in exchange for, among other things, written assurance that the university has no intention of trying to acquire the Battelle site.  An agreement is expected soon.

The effect of both these efforts by the LCC will be to provide almost ironclad protection for the single-family zoning of the Battelle site, something Laurelhurst neighbors have long considered a priority.  In addition, the reimposition of restrictions on the university’s leasing powers will help small businesses by giving them a leg-up in the competition to find affordable premises.

Needless to say, the cost of these activities has been substantial.  Over the past year, the club has spent more than $50,000 on legal fees and court expenses.  Accordingly, at their Aug. 9 meeting, the trustees decided to initiate a special appeal for more funding.  A letter soliciting contributions will be mailed in September.®

Children’s agrees to pay half cost of repaving 45th

Representatives of the Laurelhurst Community Club, Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, and the Seattle Department of Transportation met last month to discuss repaving a portion of Northeast 45th Street between 43rd Avenue and the bottom of the hill.

The roadway there received considerable wear during excavation for the hospital’s new parking garage, when up to 100 dump trucks a day passed by.  The hospital has agreed to pay half the estimated cost of the repaving, or $70,000.  The city has committed to pay the other half, provided funding is available.

Currently, the condition of the roadway is rated 40 out of 100, on the line between “fair” and “poor,”  according to a SDOT survey.  However, given the already huge backlog of routine maintenance required throughout the city, it is doubtful this project would have gotten off the ground without the hospital’s contribution.  Councilmember Richard Conlin also was instrumental in moving it forward.®

Protect your home from fire

In view of the recent spate of arsons, the Seattle Fire Department has issued the following tips to help homeowners avoid being victimized:

•Clean up wastepaper, long grass, weeds, litter, or anything that could fuel a fire from around buildings and carport areas.

•Trim shrubbery away from doors and windows to improve visibility.

•Leave your indoor and outdoor lighting on during hours of darkness.

•Consider installing devices that automatically turn on outdoor lights when they sense darkness or movement outside the home.

•Test your smoke detectors once a month to make sure they will work in a fire.

•Plan and practice a home fire drill.

•Make a map showing two exits from every room.

•Obtain an escape ladder for bedrooms located on the second floor.

•Make sure windows and screens can be opened easily from the inside if needed for escape.®

New director appointed for UW horticulture center

On June 16, the local gardening community bid a fond farewell to Tom Hinckley, who stepped down as director of the Center for Urban Horticulture after a tenure of almost five years.  Happily, Prof. Hinckley is not going far: he returns to his former teaching and research duties in the U.W. College of Forest Resources.

Prof. Hinckley’s replacement will be David J. Mabberley, currently a professor at the University of Leiden and an honorary research associate at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.  Dr. Mabberley’s botanical interests include economic botany, tropical flora, plant systematics, and botanical art history. He is perhaps best known for reclassifying strawberries under the genus Potentilla.  His work “The Plant Book: A Portable Dictionary of the Vascular Plants” is a standard reference text.

Dr. Mabberley will take up the appointment as soon as he receives a work visa.  In the meantime, John Wott, director of the Washington Park Arboretum, will act as interim CUH director.®

DSL service coming soon

Qwest Communications has informed the LCC that it will undertake a construction project to provide DSL high-speed computer service to a portion of Laurelhurst starting in late September or early October.

The company describes the service area as “the middle third” of Laurelhurst, but it has not yet announced the exact boundaries.  Additional work will be needed to provide service to the other two-thirds of the neighborhood.®


Exhibit to focus on history of northeast Seattle neighborhoods

Laurelhurst residents have been invited to contribute photographs, artifacts, memorabilia, and family memories to an upcoming exhibit of northeast Seattle neighborhood history sponsored by History House of Greater Seattle.

The exhibit will feature displays from a number of northeast neighborhoods, including Lake City, Hawthorne Hills, Meadowbrook, Ravenna-Bryant, View Ridge, Wedgwood, and the University District.  Contributors include community organizations, businesses, churches, schools, and individuals.

Among those that have so far committed to participate are the Arboretum, Campfire Boys and Girls, Children’s Hospital, the National Archives, the Northwest Puppet Center, Sand Point/Magnuson Park, the Seattle Genealogical Society, the Thornton Creek Alliance, UW Sports, and the Laurelhurst Community Club.

The Laurelhurst display will be coordinated by local historian Christine Barrett.  Barrett is the author of “A History of Laurelhurst,” published by the LCC in 1981, revised in 1989, and reprinted in 2001.  Anyone who wishes to participate or has items to contribute (lend) may email Barrett at or phone 524-3706 and leave a message.

The exhibit, to be located at History House, 790 N. 34th St., in Fremont, will open with a special ceremony from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 6.  It will then run Wednesdays through Sundays, from noon to 5 p.m., until Jan. 30.  Admission is free.

The northeast Seattle exhibit is one of a series in History House’s Neighborhood Community Focus Program.  Previous exhibits have focused on the Central Area, north central Seattle, and southwest Seattle (currently on view).  Each exhibit has featured between 30 and 50 displays.

More information about History House and the Neighborhood Community Focus Program can be found at®

Community center project picks citizen advisor team

The Department of Parks and Recreation has announced the make-up of the Project Advisory Team (PAT) that will monitor and provide recommendations on the upcoming renovation and expansion of Laurelhurst Community Center.

Citizen appointees of the PAT are local historian Christine Barrett, author of “A History of Laurelhurst”; high-school sophomore Nate Benjamin, an active participant in community center programs; Antonio Diaz, who has been involved with coaching and special events at the center; Kathleen Herbert, a mother of two children who use the center; architect and LCC trustee Joe Herrin; Alan Hovland, a six-year member of the Laurelhurst Community Center Advisory Council; Steven James, who has been active in coaching soccer, basketball, and track at Laurelhurst and other facilities; Julie Kelly, a community member with two young children; community volunteer and Advisory Council member Kent Mettler; and Lendy Duda Vail, a Block Watch captain and mother of three.

Staff members are Northeast Parks and Recreation Sector Manager Maureen O’Neill and Laurelhurst Community Center Coordinator David Yim.

Charged with reviewing the scope, budget, schedule, and progress of the project, the PAT’s composition is intended to reflect the diversity of community stakeholder interests.  It’s recommendations will be given “substantial weight,” says project manager David Goldberg.®

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