I, for one, welcome our new pediatric overlords

From January 2000 until a few weeks ago, I lived (and worked, when I was a freelance consultant) in a townhouse-style condo in Seattle in the Laurelon Terrace complex. I sold it to Children’s Hospital in January to allow them to tear it down and turn it into more condos. It was a good time for me to leave, our family had outgrown the small townhouse, and we had a guaranteed buyer in a down housing market.

This, of course, is why nothing gets done in Seattle. If you tear down a beloved institution (such as Ballard’s Sunset Bowl) to build more condos, people complain bitterly. If you tear down condos to build more beloved insitution (Children’s hospital), people complain bitterly. You think I’m joking about complaining bitterly. Check out the tone of the posts at childrensaction.com. Hell, people even complain bitterly about parking lots being turned into condos. Really.

I’m sad to leave (some parts) of the Laurelon community behind. There’s a lot to be said for shared-space medium density. Getting to know your neighbors, hanging out in the courtyard and and parking lots.

The other parts that I’m not as sad to leave behind? The constantly rising HOA dues brought on by years of neglecting upkeep. The HOA board, generally staffed by misanthropic busybodies whose default response to any idea is “no”. The neighbors who would blur the lines between personal and shared property. Hey, that’s MY bucket you’re using!

I looked into contemporary townhouses, but they are both antisocial and anti-family. Antisocial in that they all seem to be built with an ethic of minimizing shared property/interactions (why have one usable yard used by four families when you could have four unusably tiny yards each used by one family?) Anti-family in the ubiquitous “two bedrooms on the 3rd floor, one bedroom in the basement” floor-plan. You can’t put a small kid all the way down in the basement next to the garage, calling those rooms “bedrooms” isn’t particularly honest.

Note that the bedroom count inflation problem isn’t limited to townhouses. I toured a lot of 3BR houses that were actually “2BR + crappy basement closet”.  In fact, our 3BR home was listed as a 4BR even though it only has three usable bedrooms. Oh well, at least we have a space to store our boxes as we unpack.

2 thoughts on “I, for one, welcome our new pediatric overlords

  1. William Raddford says:

    With all due respect – you are way off base. And I have to say you appear a bit hypocritical saying you have outgrown Laurelon but then say you can’t find a place that fits your needs in a townhome. That shouldn’t be a surprise! And you have sold your unit – so of course you don’t care what happens to Laurelon. Go back now and talk to your neighbors – and you’ll hear a different story. These folks are going through a lot of turmoil right now.

    “pPople are not complaining bitterly” about Laurelon being town down. This is not an emotional issue. The offer that has been presented to Laurelon homeowners is based on contingencies – one of them being that the hospital gets everything they want in the Master Plan before the pay outs begin to the homeowners. This is putting the cart before the horse. Getting their master plan approved means getting rezoning approved, upzoning approved, boundaries expanded, etc. This will not be decided for at least another year and there will probably be many appeals. So this is just not people “complaining.”

    In addition – check out the facts about how much the hospital really needs to grow. Their additional bed need they are requesting – 600 beds ( 10 times more than what they have now) is way off. And actually the Dept of Health decides how many beds they get and according to year over year growth – it’s only about 200 beds. The DOH will issue the hospital a Certificate of Need notifying them how many beds they can attend. The hopsital does not decide this themselves.

    You can check out these charts taken directly from the DOH site on the Childrensaction.com site. There are many facts there to review before making a post. This is a complicated issue – not just people “complaining.”

    I invite you to go back to Childrensaction.comand read the facts – the docs from the hospital lawyer are posted there with the offer – you can read it yourself then I invite you to post again with your comments. And many other documents are there as well. The hospital has bought 8 homes on NE 45th as well, all sitting empty. So ss you can see – this is not just a Laurelon issue. Construction has not even started and people are getting out, many people who thought they would live out their lives in Laurelhurst and as you said enjoyed having a sense of community as you did at Laurelon. It’s slowly being destroyed.

    This is a 2 year process that the hospital is going through to finalize their master plan. Citizen Advisory Committee meetings are held monthly where the expansion and specifics are discussed and public input is welcomed. It is managed by the Department of Neighborhoods. I invite you to atttend a meeting and hear the facts. Again there is no “complaining” people stick to the facts and comment on them.

    Laurelon is a great community – I lived there myself. If it is destroyed 20 % of low income housing will be gone. And it can’t be replaced in that same area.

    The hospital is a wonderful hospital and serves thousands upon thousands of children. There is no disputing that. Everyone supports their mission. However, does an expansion of that magnitude – 1.5 million square feet (size of Bellevue Square), 20 years of construction, 3 – 14 story towers – belong in a residential neighborhood? As well as people being forced out of their homes.

    Read the facts then post your comments. Here is another site to read up on the facts – and there is no one “complaining bitterly” on this site either. http://www.laurelhurstcc.com/issues/CHMC/CHMC.html

    Thank you.

  2. Martin Cron says:

    I guess I’m just going to have to disagree about what the phrase “complaining bitterly” means. All I meant to do was point out the irony/symmetry about how people in this city oppose change. It was kind of a joke, but since I’ve been called a hypocrite and way off base, I’ll give some more context.

    Such as this nice bit of context: Laurelhurst is the same neighborhood that originally fought the helipad. Sure, it’s better to have kids die in transit than to have Laurelhurst homeowners deal with occasional noise. Isn’t that nice?

    This really comes down to an excellent example of a pervasive kind of intellectual dishonesty where you make your mind up first and then find whatever arguments fit your model after the fact.

    “I don’t want a bigger hospital near my house” becomes “They don’t need so many beds!” “The offer has contingencies!” “People are getting forced from their homes” “We’ll have longer waits at stoplights” “OMG Eagles at Talaris!” “We’re losing the affordable housing in Laurelhurst”

    Seriously, does anyone really believe that the residents of multi-million dollar homes in upper Laurelhurst care about affordable housing in their exclusive neighborhood? Imagine the outcry (and bitter complaining, surely) if Talaris/Batelle would be turned into high density affordable housing.

    I was originally against the hospital expansion (“They’ll block our my morning sunlight”) but actually thought it through and changed my mind. The vast majority of Laurelon homeowners (we’re not talking 50% + 1, we’re talking closer to 90%) agree with me on this.

    The thing is, we seem to be on the verge of a win-win scenario. The hospital gets to expand and continue its mission to, you know, save lives. The wider footprint means shorter tower and less impact to skyline. Construction closer to Sand Point Way means less noise for residents. Proximity to Sand Point Way means less traffic impact further into the neighborhood by the elementary school. The generous payout package means that owners (and even former owners like me) get compensated and can now afford to stay in the neighborhood or use the money however they see fit.

    I guess that if I were more cynical, I would even say that having less affordable housing and fewer renters in the area is seen as a benefit to some Laurelhurst residents, whose name-brand neighborhood gets that much more exclusive. But I’m not that cynical.

    The only people who lose are the (few) residents who really never wanted to move again as well as the (many) renters who will have to move and won’t get the same windfall the owners do. That’s just part of the nature of renting, I guess.

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