Laurelhurst Community Club                                                     

Serving 2800 Households in Seattle’s Laurelhurst Neighborhood

 

August 24, 2004

 

 

 

Council President Jan Drago and

Members of the Government Affairs and Labor Committee

600 Fourth Avenue, Floor 2

P.O. Box 34025

Seattle, Washington  98124-4025

 

RE:  Possible Amendments to the UW Lease Lid Options

 

Dear Council President Drago and Members of the Committee,

 

The Laurelhurst Community Club Board of Trustees appreciates the opportunity to comment on possible amendments to the UW lease lid legislative proposals.  We support all of the amendments that have been proposed for each option.

 

            We support Option 2, which retains the lease lid, but substantially increases the square footage sufficient to accommodate the University’s leasing needs.  We believe this option provides the appropriate balance called for in the 1998 City-University Agreement in addressing the University’s need to grow to meets its needs, while at the same time maintaining the livability and vitality of the University District and surrounding communities.

 

            Should you move forward with Option 1, we strongly encourage you to adopt amendment four.  This amendment would prohibit leasing in impact zones after seven years unless the City takes affirmative action to allow leases (either unrestricted or with a lease limit).  The amendment would give the City, the University and the impacted communities a period of time to test the waters so to speak, to ensure that there will be no adverse impacts, unmet infrastructure needs and traffic and transportation issues associated with elimination of the lease lid.  Because there has been no environmental review of the Mayor’s proposal to eliminate the lease lid, it is prudent to be cautious.  After seven years, with responsible development and leasing it is likely that restrictions on University leasing would be removed.

 

            We have reviewed the University’s letter of August 16, 2004 commenting on the possible lease lid amendments.  The University, yet again, remains unwilling to compromise.  They have basically said that they will not sign a new agreement if you include amendment four in the legislation.  They say that the University District will not revitalized and that it will be at a competitive disadvantage for future mixed-use projects.  These statements are contrary to what we have learned from both the Gardner/Johnson report and the Heartland report.  The statements also disregard the Council’s commitment to promoting mixed-use development in the District, a commitment shared by the University and a part of the City-University Agreement. 

 

            As studies have demonstrated, one of the primary impediments to revitalizing The Ave is fragmented property ownership.  It makes no sense to blame the lease lid for economic conditions on The Ave.  Neighborhood business districts throughout the City are struggling due to the sluggish economy and the U District is no different. 

 

            Without amendment four, the City will have no leverage in addressing possible adverse impacts from University leasing in the future.  This is because the University would never agree to re-implement leasing restrictions and because there is no assurance that the Department of Planning and Development will have the resources necessary to enforce development regulations.

 

            We urge you to support all of the proposed amendment to the lease lid options.  Thank you for considering our views.

 

Sincerely,

Jeannie Hale, President

3425 West Laurelhurst Drive NE

Seattle, Washington  98105