Laurelhurst Community Club                                                     

Serving 2800 Households in Seattle’s Laurelhurst Neighborhood



May 7, 2003


Council President Peter Steinbrueck and

Members of the Seattle City Council

11th Floor, Municipal Building

600 Fourth Avenue

Seattle, Washington  98104-1876             Fax 206-684-8587

 RE:  Council Bill 114502, Reducing Open Space Requirements for Residential Housing in Commercial Zones

 Dear Council President Steinbrueck and Members of the Council:

 The Laurelhurst Community Club Board of Trustees urges you to reject Council Bill 114502 which would reduce the open space requirements for residential housing in commercial zones. 

 Departures from the open space requirement are already allowed under the City’s Design Review Program where the departure would result in a better overall building design.  The examples provided by the Department of Design, Construction and Land Use (DCLU) indicate that these departures have resulted in 62% less open space than currently required under the Code.  Council Bill 114502 would allow further reductions in open space. 

 In an increasingly densified urban environment, residents are entitled to breathing room.  Balconies, decks, usable open space at ground level, roof gardens, solaria, and greenhouses contribute to a quality environment for residents.  These types of urban spaces are also attractive to passing pedestrians and motorists.  Decks with hanging flower baskets, potted plants, herb gardens and the like help to maintain the character of neighborhoods.  Because parks and open space in commercial areas are lacking, these small urban spaces are increasingly important. 

 DCLU has indicated that the purpose of the proposal is “to standardize the amount of open space required for residential uses that are located in multifamily and commercial zones.”  This viewpoint does not take into account that setback requirements and lot coverage restrictions do not apply in commercial zones.  An alternative would be to increase the open space requirement in multi-family zones.  If you choose to move forward with this proposal, at a minimum, provisions allowing the Design Review Boards to further reduce open space should be eliminated. 

 We urge you to reject Council Bill 114502 and to reaffirm your commitment to providing open space in our commercial zones.  Thank you for considering the views of the Laurelhurst Community Club.



Jeannie Hale, President

3425 West Laurelhurst Drive NE

Seattle, Washington  98105

525-5135 / fax 525-9631


cc:  Mayor Greg Nickels