Laurelhurst Community Club                                                     

Serving 2800 Households and Businesses in Seattle’s Laurelhurst Neighborhood



June 14, 2005



Diane Sugimura, Director

Alan Oiye, Supervisor and Land Use Planner

Department of Planning and Development

Seattle Municipal Tower

700 5th Avenue, Suite 2000, P.O. Box 34019

Seattle, Washington  98124-4019


Re:  Laurelhurst “Rooming House” and other Land Use Issues


Dear Ms. Sugimura and Mr. Oiye:


            Thank you very much for attending last night’s meeting of the Laurelhurst Community Club Board of Trustees to brief us about the many issues relating to the housing project at 3608 NE 44th Street and to respond to other land use issues.  We appreciated your explanation of Code provisions relating to the “rooming house” and your willingness to follow up on other issues that surfaced at our meeting.


            The Board of Trustees especially appreciated the detailed written response you provided to concerns from our neighbors about the project on NE 44th prior to the meeting.  This enabled Trustees to study the issues and ask pertinent questions during your briefing.  The copies of the plans that you provided at the meeting were extremely helpful for us to understand the project and the magnitude of the impact upon our community.  While we thought the project involved a nine bedroom single-family home, including the accessory dwelling unit on the lower floor, the plans and layout revealed that there could be twelve bedrooms on the upper levels.  This was quite a surprise.  We were encouraged to see repeated references on the plans stating that no “congregate residence use” would be allowed.  We agree with the Land Use Code that rooming houses, or congregate housing, have no place in single-family zones.


Our concerns about lack of parking for the NE 44th Street project remain.  One off-street parking spot, plus one “tandem” spot for the accessory dwelling unit, is insufficient for this development where it appears to us that there could be as many as a dozen residents with cars.  We have found that the Code provision allowing tandem parking for accessory dwelling units unworkable.  It simply doesn’t make sense to expect that the property owner would be willing to change parking spaces in the tandem arrangement with a renter—or in this case many renters—to get in and out of the driveway. 


We were encouraged that the Department of Planning and Development will monitor usage of the property on NE 44th to ensure compliance with the Land Use Code. 


We were amazed at the property owner’s ingenuity in pushing the limits of the Code and to learn of the extent of the nonconforming structure.  Our board has consistently monitored and commented on proposed changes to rules governing nonconforming uses and structures.  This project—over four times the size of the original structure—demonstrates why.  The building towers over the Laurelhurst business district and only has a 2.9-foot side setback and a ten-foot front setback.  At least the Code provisions requiring a five-foot side setback and a 20-foot front setback provide some assurance of open space and sense of neighborhood.  To us, this development demonstrates that changes need to be made regarding the rules governing nonconforming structures.  This is something we will continue to work on.


We appreciated your responses to other land use issues such as the junk storage Code provisions, noise issues, vegetation overgrowth and hazards on residential property that surfaced at the meeting.  We look forward to hearing back from you about the following issues and questions:

·        What is the process for “renewing” the conditional use permit for relocation of the helipad at Children’s hospital? 

·        Who is the DPD person responsible for monitoring the master plan for Children’s Hospital?

·        What is the maximum leasing allowed outside the major institution overlay district for Children’s Hospital?


Thank you again for your excellent briefing of our Board of Trustees.  We look forward to working with you in monitoring Code compliance of the structure on NE 44th, on other Code and major institution issues and on future Code and Comprehensive Plan changes.



Jeannie Hale, President

                                                        3425 West Laurelhurst Drive NE

Seattle, Washington  98105

206-525-5135 / fax 206-525-9631