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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

City Hearing Examiner Rejects Neighborhood Plea to Save Waldo Woods

posted by on September 3 at 17:09 PM

The City Hearing Examiner has ruled that Prescott Development can continue with plans to demolish the Waldo Hospital in the Maple Leaf neighborhood to make way for 39 townhomes and cottages.

Maple Leaf residents have been fighting Prescott’s plan since May 2007, when the developer purchased the property from Campfire USA.

The Maple Leaf Community Council (MLCC) appealed Prescott’s permit application with the city over plans to remove a number of trees at the site and concerns that demolition at the site would expose the neighborhood to lead dust.

“In our estimation [the lead dust] will reach the neighboring houses, and it will reach the [adjacent] reservoir and park,” says MLCC president David Miller. “There’s no plan to control the dust [and] there’s no plan to handle the lead in the soil,” he says. “It[’s] like the city is experimenting on our neighborhood,”

Miller says the MLCC will closely examine any further permit applications from Prescott.

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Camp Fire is two words when used in reference to the organization.

-One of those Mint Patty pushers

Posted by Organized Lightning | September 3, 2008 5:36 PM

Thank God. I did not think anything could top the terrible idea of MLCC suing Pinehurst over the Safeway rezone, but this was it. Congratulations MLCC for taking NIMBYism to new heights. Yes, all growth should be sent to Redmond and Seattle should dry up and die.

Posted by StrangerDanger | September 3, 2008 10:34 PM


Oh, that's right, although many houses built prior to the 1970's have lead in paint, none of them have ever been demolished.

What, what's that? Many have been? Well shit, I guess if it's an experiment, it's not a very new one...or maybe it's not an experiment at all.

Imagine that.

Posted by derek | September 4, 2008 11:15 AM

First of all, the city folks admitted under oath they were experimenting on our neighborhood. Their testimony, not my hyperbole.

Maybe nobody complained about the toxic lead dust from those houses. Besides which, the dust from a 22,000 sq ft cement building is a bigger deal than your average wood-frame house. The last wood frame house I saw demolished fit into a couple of construction dumpsters. This project involves 400 dump truck loads.

Did I mention the soil around the building is also contaminated with lead? Not just the building itself?

We've been saying for a long time that this development is a test case, so we don't object to being the first in line if it helps develop lead dust control standards. It would be pretty cool, in fact, to help out the rest of the city that way.

What we object to is the city didn't bother to study it carefully. Instead, the city gave the developer a blank slate. Unsurprisingly, the developer didn't come back with a plan that addressed how to control dust -- only how to monitor for it after it escapes into the neighborhood and covers adjacent homes and the park. The developer gets to decide what to do if the dust reaches the action level. There is nothing in the plan on how to deal with the lead in the soil.

Think there are city, county, state, or federal regs to deal with this? Nope. Each regulates lead levels, and some regulate lead exposure for workers. None regulate lead exposure to the community. It is not like the control for asbestos.

The developer chose to use worker protection lead exposure thresholds for the action levels. The workers are wearing protective gear, are given facilities to remove the lead dust, and instructed how to stay safe in that environment. They also tend to be healthy adults.

The standard should be community lead exposure standards. They are orders of magnitude lower because they assume children, elderly, and those without specific hazardous materials handling will be involved.

It's easy to call us NIMBY, but it is wrong. We've approached (and been approached by) several developers who have a better plan for the site (save the trees, reuse the building, put units around the western edges). We secured a $300,000 King County grant to help save the trees. We spent well over a year trying to convince the developer to build their $800,000 town homes on the 2/3 of the site that doesn't have trees instead of the 1/3 that does. We've proposed land swaps twice. We located two potential tenants for the building, with cash to remodel it so people can walk to their jobs from our neighborhood instead of traveling to downtown.

You can accurately say we've done more project development work on this site than the current owner or the developer.

We've known since 2006 development would happen on the site. We simply want one that doesn't suck and hurt our neighbors.

Posted by David Miller | September 4, 2008 1:25 PM

David Miller: Many thanks to you and your neighbors for sacrificing the long hours, while bearing significant costs, in combating well financed developers and our own “public” employees in defending your neighborhood through pursuit of true smart growth and intelligent density alternatives.

It’s an effort not only in Maple Leaf’s interest, but in all neighborhood’s interests as well.

Through efforts such as yours and others the past couple of years, the “density” myths, mis-representations and outright lies perpetuated by many developers, the Mayor, some on Council and most of all by corporate supported so called “green” groups such as “Futurewise” and “Cascade Land Conservancy”, are being exposed for just that: Self interested myths.

Fundamentally good ideas are now cynically hijacked for the benefit of developer profit, politically expediency by Nickels and a shallow Council, and the perpetuation of green group funding and staff salaries, with the original green philosophy and mission long since lost in the pursuit of self interests.

(Not the first time this has happened in the pursuit of otherwise laudable goals: See "professional poverty industry).

Seattle needs to get back on the path of truly smart growth and well thought out density for a livable, financially and environmentally sustainable City, in a manner that challenges fraudulent “green” claims used in the pursuit of developer generated profit through unregulated and uncontrolled and counterproductive

It starts with supporting electeds and candidates willing to step up and implement smart growth and density policies in a transparent manner that includes neighborhoods and citizens.

Not behind Council’s closed doors with developers and their corporate “green” allies.

As the residents of SLU recently discovered in the developer generated plans for their part of town (now proposed city wide with little review); a plan in which their views were deliberated excluded in favor of a shamelessly phony front created and funded by Vulcan, with the blessing of Mayor and Council.

We need more of what is now – refreshingly –starting to happen: Broad based debates on “green” policies that accommodate facts and views other than those expressed by “Seattle’s State Religion”; controlled by developers and cluelessly co-opted, self appointed “green priesthood” that tolerates no questioning or expression challenging their cherished beliefs.

And, in very Bush and neo-con like fashion, can’t begin to admit to the possibility that they could be wrong, even in the face of inconvenient truths and contrary facts.

Some of these people would seem to be right at home with the Republicans this week in Minne, such is their level of tolerance for anyone who dares express a contrary opinion.

See above comments, for example.

The Mayor’s apologists and pr flacks would rather ignore the inconvenient truths about his “greenwashing” policies and instead believe in simplistic, shallow and vague generalizations about “density” and “green” that in practice ironically bring about the opposite results that they are claimed to prevent: Environmental degradation on an urban scale.

Instead of doing the occasional hard work of thinking, and learning the facts about how the practice of public policies based on legitimate “green” concepts - when implemented by electeds as favors for well heeled contributors and special interest groups - often deviate from the theory.

Keep up the good work, David.

It’s through efforts like Maple Leaf CC and others that the destructive myths of density - as rationalized by the Mayor and his sycophants - will be openly debated.

Only then can truly progressive, sustainable and smart green policies get a chance to compete in the marketplace of ideas.

Posted by Geof | September 5, 2008 3:07 PM

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