Laurelhurst Community Club                                                     

Serving 2800 Households in Seattle’s Laurelhurst Neighborhood

February 23, 2005

 

Scott Ringgold

Department of Planning and Development

700 5th Avenue, Suite 2000

P.O. Box 34019

Seattle, Washington  98124-4019

 RE: Children’s Hospital Application for Park and Pool at Magnuson Park, Project #2405908

 

Dear Mr. Ringgold:

 

The Laurelhurst Community Club Board of Trustees has reviewed application materials submitted by Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center for a park and pool at Warren G. Magnuson Park.  We do not believe that Children’s application complies with the requirements of SMC 23.44.030 or that it is an appropriate use of park property.  We appreciate the efforts of Children’s to avoid parking overflow in the Laurelhurst community as mandated by its master plan.  We, however, believe alternatives should be explored.  We offer the following comments.

 

First, we address the Code requirements.  The Code allows you to “authorize a park and pool lot under the management of a public agency responsible for commuter pooling efforts” if certain conditions are met.  In its application materials, Children’s asserts that SDOT would be the responsible public agency.  We disagree that SDOT has responsibility for managing park and pools on park property. 

 

The Code, specifically SMC 23.44.030, lists conditions to consider in determining whether a park and pool permit should be granted.  One of the conditions is that the lot is not needed by the principal use or its accessory uses during the hours proposed.  We disagree with the Parks Department in its assessment that the area in the old commissary parking lot is not needed for other uses.  The 375 spaces requested for the park and pool by Children’s are adjacent to the boat launch area in a location that is heavily used in the spring, summer and fall by park users. 

 

The Code provides that the park and pool must not interfere or conflict with peak hour activities.  We understand that the Parks Department has indicated that the proposed location will not be needed until 2007 for park development purposes, but the Department’s assessment does not take into account current usage of the area.  Activity at the park has substantially increased since the 2001 parking study submitted with the permit application.  Thus, the onsite parking utilization cited in the study is underestimated.  As noted above, there is a conflict with current usage of the park.  Neither SDOT nor the Parks Department has made the case in this regard.

 

We are aware of how vigorous the Parks Department has pursued all efforts to raise money from whatever source possible to support its operations.  In its zeal to raise funds, however, we believe the Parks Department has exceeded its authority in allowing Children’s to use its parking facilities for the past 18 months and now to support Children’s application for a permit to use the area by the commissary. 

 

The Parks Code (SMC 18.12) does not authorize park and pools in our public parks.  Management at Magnuson Park is aware of this and has recently sought to modify the Magnuson Park Supplemental Use Management Guidelines to expressly authorize “interim weekday use parking facilities,” despite the absence of Code authority to include this provision. 

 

Should this permit application move forward, it is important to comply with the mandates of Initiative 42.  Initiative 42 provides that all parklands must be preserved for park uses unless a specified process is followed.  Because a park and pool is not a park use, the initiative requires a public hearing to address the necessity of the change in usage, enactment of a city ordinance finding that the transaction is necessary because there is no reasonable and practical alternative, and an exchange of land or a facility of equivalent or better size, value, location and usefulness in the vicinity. 

 

Initiative 42 provides exceptions to the replacement property provision, but none apply.  Even the exception for “franchises or concessions that further the public use and enjoyment of a park” would not cover a park and pool.  Initiative 42 provides no exception or exemption for temporary or interim uses.  This means that approval of the permit application must be preceded by some kind of exchange to benefit the community in the vicinity after a finding of necessity by the city council.  The park and pool rental fee—20 cents per day per car—is no substitute for the replacement value required by the initiative.

 

Aside from issues relating to the Code, impacts of a park and pool at Magnuson Park must be addressed.  Rainwater runoff is a problem in the commissary parking lot and will become more so with vehicle oil contamination that will flow into the Lake.  With development of the park and the growing need for parking for park users, these issues will be addressed.  In the interim, however, they cannot be ignored.  There is routine flooding on adjacent streets used by pedestrians.  The park and pool ingress and egress interferes with pedestrian safety.  Speed limits and signage must be addressed to promote public safety. 

 

Until the issues we have raised can be resolved, we urge you to deny the application for a park and pool at Magnuson Park.  Alternative locations should be explored.

 

Sincerely,

                                                           

Jeannie Hale, President                                     Kate Lloyd, LCC Magnuson Park Liaison

3425 West Laurelhurst Drive NE                                  4303 NE 35th Street

Seattle, Washington  98105                                          Seattle, Washington  98105

525-5135 / fax 525-9631                                             522-8822 / fax 526-5525

jeannieh@serv.net                                                        katelloyd@myhealthcheck.net