Laurelhurst Community Club                                                     

Serving 2800 Households in Seattle’s Laurelhurst Neighborhood




Public Forum on UW Lease Lid Restrictions and Noise Ordinance Changes

April 8, 2003


            Good evening.  My name is Jeannie Hale.  I am president of the Laurelhurst Community Club which represents 2800 households in a neighborhood located in the University’s primary and secondary impact zones.  We are here to oppose elimination of the UW lease lid and to support the proposed changes to the noise ordinance.


            The proposed elimination of the UW lease lid has been characterized as a means to revitalize The Ave.  This is a laudable goal and our community agrees that it is important to improve public safety and stimulate private investment in The Ave.  But, there is no assurance that eliminating the longstanding lease lid will accomplish its intended purposes.  We see the following problems with the proposal: 


1.      Elimination of the UW lease lid will allow University leasing in ALL of the surrounding communities—Laurelhurst, Ravenna, Roosevelt, Montlake, Portage Bay and other neighborhoods located in the primary and secondary impact zones.  The Mayor and proponents of the change have ignored this fact.  Not just the University District would be impacted.  Yes, underlying zoning would apply, but there are many exceptions in the Code that would allow inconsistent uses and there would always be the possibility of a rezone.  The lease lid was established almost three decades ago as a means to protect the surrounding communities from the adverse impacts of University expansion. 


2.      The lease lid proposal eliminates the role of CUCAC in reviewing University leasing.  It would do this in two ways:  Under the proposal, CUCAC would no longer have the authority to review leasing proposals through the major amendment process outlined in the City-University Agreement.  In addition, each year, CUCAC reviews the University’s annual report which must include proposed leasing activities.  This requirement to disclose proposed leasing would be eliminated under the Mayor’s proposal.  The lease lid proposal thus essentially eliminates any citizen oversight of University expansion into the surrounding communities.


3.      The lease lid proposal eliminates a current provision that restricts UW leasing at street level in commercial zones to certain customer-oriented uses.  A requirement that the University comply with the underlying zoning will not protect or promote the rich diverseness of The Ave.  It will merely serve to displace these uses in favor of institutional uses.


4.      Blanket removal of the lease lid will result in piecemeal development:  Northeast Seattle communities have experienced the piecemeal development that has taken place at University Village with no environmental review or mitigation of the major traffic and transportation impacts and infrastructure needs.  This could occur with removal of the lease lid.  This is particularly true in light of the University’s desire to pursue new construction, rather than lease existing space. 


5.      There is no assurance that eliminating the lease lid would revitalize The Ave.  As noted, the University’s property office has indicated that it intends to pursue new construction projects and that these projects would not be built on The Ave.  The City’s economic analysis of the lease lid proposal has not been completed and there is no way of knowing how the area would be impacted.  The only information that we do know at this time is that there is a critical need for housing in the University District and an imbalance between jobs and housing in terms of meeting growth management targets.  It is premature to consider eliminating the lease lid at this time.


6.      The Council should wait until the current appeal of the UW Master Plan is competed prior to acting on the lease lid proposal.  The petition on this matter, filed by Laurelhurst and joined by Northeast District Council, the University District Community Council, University Park Community Club and Friends of Brooklyn, will address many issues relating to the recently adopted UW Master Plan.  The petitioners have asked that the University’s land acquisition policies and issues related to the lease lid, among other issues be included in this review. 


We have outlined only a few concerns with the proposal to eliminate the UW lease lid.  We urge you to work with us to develop a compromise. 


Jeannie Hale, President

3425 West Laurelhurst Drive NE

Seattle, Washington  98105

525-5135 / fax 525-9631