Friday, May 19, 2017

LCC Update On SR520 Impact Issues

After photo with only the new SR 520 floating bridge on Lake Washington



The Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) recently included this information in their newsletter:

Fine Tuning Continues on SR520 Project Noisy expansion joints

On April 12, LCC met with WSDOT officials and neighbors from Medina to hear a proposed solution to reduce noise on the large expansion joints on the new SR520 floating bridge.  
The project engineers worked with Mageba, the manufacturer of the expansion joints, and recommended a pilot program to replace the joint seals with a new design and fill them with one or three durable foam materials to absorb the sound. The solution is similar to the Vancouver Bridge, but the durability of the foam and continual maintenance are negatives. Washington State allows studded tires and chains, which may also deteriorate the foam installation.  
The cost of the installation is estimated at $2 to 6 million after an initial pilot program to determine if it will work. The three-way movement of the floating bridge precludes using the “sinus plate” system that muffles expansion joints, which will be installed on the WABN section of the bridge in Union Bay. Lighting fixtures. 
A group of Laurelhurst neighbors have been working with WSDOT to test types of shields to re-direct the glare lighting on the north side of the SR520 floating bridge downward and away from the spill onto Lake WA and nearby residences. WSDOT has worked with the lighting fixture manufacturer to produce various prototypes that can be retrofitted onto the existing fixtures.  
Two new improvements are being tested with feedback given to WSDOT. The fixtures include enclosing the sides of the louvered shield to capture spilled side light. The second one allows light to shine from the bottom of the fixture.  
A May public meeting is planned to determine the best solutions, and participating neighbors are encouraged by the progress and teamwork from WSDOT.  
Noise variance request by WSDOT from the City of Seattle for night noise construction for seven years More than 230 public comment letters were submitted to the City in opposition of allowing a seven-year noise variance up to 80 decibels (twice the EPA standard) by WSDOT while they demo and construct the “Rest of the West.”   
LCC opposed it as well and asked that only EPA-level decibels be allowed for short terms for targeted work throughout the project. On April 27, Seattle DCI DENIED the request and will require WSDOT to re-submit for any/each noise variance. A big win!  


LCC Asks City to Deny Noise Variance

LCC wrote a letter to the City of Seattle to recommend strongly that the requested SDOT increases in nighttime decibel limits on SR520 construction be denied.  
LCC maintains that these noise level increases are not justified considering the amount of disturbance to area residents. SDOT filed an application for a Major Public Project Construction Noise Variance (MPPCNV) for at least the next seven years for the build out of the “Rest of the West” – the connection of the new SR520 bridge to I-5 – which includes demolition and construction in Lake Washington, Union Bay, in and across the Montlake Cut and though Portage Bay.


(photo courtesy of WSDOT)

All About The Various Ducks At Union Bay


Here is a recent post from the Union Bay Watch Blog published by Larry Hubbell, long-time photographer and birder. 

Here also is an in-depth article about Larry and his work.


Housing Crisis
What is your first thought when you see a photo of a male wood duck?

You might think 'Wow, what a colorful bird' or you might categorize it as a 'dabbling duck' as opposed to a 'diving duck.' Wood ducks are wetland birds who generally feed by tipping over and searching below the surface for flora.

I would be a bit surprised if you immediately thought of a northern flicker or...

...a pileated woodpecker. It may seem odd that in the natural world woodpeckers play a critical role in wood duck procreation. Unlike mallards and other dabbling ducks which build their nests near water and close to ground level, wood ducks need safe prebuilt elevated cavities created in trees near water. Around Union Bay, woodpeckers may be the only native creatures who make holes in trees large enough for wood duck nests.

In fact, among our local wood ducks I suspect the lack of tree cavities is most likely the primary limiting factor in their reproduction. Their need to reproduce is so strong that female wood ducks will often leave eggs in neighboring wood duck nests. Males will often inseminate females other than their mates. Basically, wood ducks strive to pass on their genetic material by any means possible.


Around Union Bay we also have diving ducks in a similar situation. The competition for pre-fabricated nest holes includes buffleheads...

 ...common goldeneyes....

...common mergansers and...

 ...hooded mergansers. None of these birds are capable of creating their own nest sites. 

In addition, our local barred owls also lack the ability to excavate nest sites.

Even though flickers can create new nest holes, occasionally even they consider the secondary housing market. In February I found this female checking out the view from the upstairs balcony of this obviously pre-owned site.

While I watched, she moved downstairs and inspected the main floor entry.

I concluded that she liked the site when she began taking out the trash.

Imagine my surprise a few weeks later when I found the main entry filled with leaves and a new tenant watching the world from the upstair balcony. It turns out eastern gray squirrels are another creature participating in our Union Bay housing crisis.

Toward the end of March, Chip finished his second nest site of the year. His first was in a dead cottonwood tree which was apparently too close to the Foster Island trail. His second effort is in a quieter neighborhood with a better view, which includes looking down on the squirrel's nest.

Goldie has taken up residence, but she does find the neighbors worrisome.

Crows are nesting nearby and they often stop to rest in the top of Goldie's new tree.

Dead trees in the city are in limited supply. Whenever the crows leave the area, this little downy woodpecker returns and continues building its nest about fifteen feet above Goldie's head. In this case both species of woodpeckers are building in the soft, dead parts of an alder tree that is still clinging to life. You can see a few fresh green leaves just below the downy woodpecker.

In addition to all the other competitors, we still have the wood ducks.

They come and sit right below Goldie's front door and peer up longingly at her spacious new home.

The female wood duck appears to feel the pressing need to lay eggs a bit more acutely than the male. Here she is looking for back door access.

Next she searched for any overhead opportunities.

In a futile effort she even flew up and tried to hover outside the entry to the pileated nest. I could not see Goldie's reaction, but the female wood duck seemed rather intimidated as she flew quickly away.

A few days ago, when Goldie apparently felt the wood ducks were getting too close, she called for reinforcement. In short order Chip appeared and the two of them spent a couple of minutes evaluating the situation. In this case the female wood duck had already left the tree but the male wood duck was still hanging around on the branch behind the nest.

Suddenly, Goldie leaped out of the nest, circled the tree and chased the male wood duck away. Chip entered the nest as soon as Goldie left. I stood dumbfounded, with my camera in hand, as the action unfolded faster than I could point and click. Clearly, protecting their eggs is the top priority of the pileated woodpeckers. 

I am happy that Chip and Goldie appear to be well on their way to reproductive success. Hopefully, we will get to see young in the nest before too long. On the other hand, I am concerned about how we can insure future generations of woodpeckers, wood ducks and other cavity nesting birds around Union Bay.

I think the solution requires a two pronged approach. 

First we need to make sure that we leave places in our parks where cottonwoods and alders can grow. This is the sixth year in a row where the primary nesting tree of our local pileated woodpeckers has been in a decaying alder. It is also important to mention that all five of the previous nest sites are no longer functional because the dead trees have fallen due to the natural process of decay.

In addition to pileated woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches and other birds excavate similar nest sites in trees. In my experience trees stay 'ripe' for nesting for only a short time. I would estimate that almost half of the nest sites that these creatures build no longer exist one year later because the host trees decompose and fall.

Secondly, on an annual basis we should refresh, replace and augment the number of wood duck boxes around Union Bay. The new boxes would not be just for wood ducks. They may be used by any of the cavity nesting birds which we reviewed earlier. There are still a few old boxes hanging around on the south side of Union Bay, however many have fallen down and need to be replaced. Of the remaining boxes I suspect all need to be cleaned and repaired. 

We are lucky to live in a city where wild creatures reproduce. To maintain the local cavity-nesters and avert future housing crises, we will need to actively assist the natural processes around Union Bay.

Have a great day on Union Bay...where nature strives to reproduce in the city!

Larry


Going Native:

Without a well-funded Environmental Protection Agency, it falls to each of us to be ever more vigilant in protecting our local environments. Native plants and trees encourage the largest diversity of lifeforms because of their long intertwined history with local, native creatures. I have been told that even the microbes in the soil are native to each local landscape. My hope is that we can inspire ourselves, our neighbors and local businesses to plant native flora and to support native wildlife at every opportunity. My intention is to include at least one photo each week and visually challenge us to know the difference between native and non-native lifeforms. 

A)

B)

C)

D)

*************




As the name implies only the Japanese Maple is a non-native plant. You can learn more about the appropriate placement of the native plants by clicking on the name and reading the information provided by King County.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Donate Now To Help With Reducing Noxious Weeds At Union Bay

The Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) recently included this information in their newsletter:

Save Union Bay Association


Now in its 47th year, the Laurelhurst nonprofit, Save Union Bay Association (SUBA) will soon survey the conditions in Union Bay and apply targeted treatments to reduce noxious weeds.  
The Invasive Weed Management Program is effective by partnering SUBA with matching funds from the University of Washington, grant money from the Department of Ecology, and environmentally safe supplies from the Department of Natural Resources. These funds are used to treat invasive weeds in the bay, making the water safer and clear for recreational use.  
The in-water treatments occur mid-May and mid-July, and sometimes in August for invasive non-native water lilies that choke out sunlight from water pathways of local fish, including juvenile salmon.  
SUBA will pay more than $28,000 for this work to benefit all residents who use Union Bay. SUBA, a 501(c)3 organization, depends on neighbors’ matching funds to perform this water quality clean up from invasive weeds.  
Please send your 100 percent tax-deductible donations to: SUBA Treasurer, 4115 NE Surber Drive, Seattle, WA 98105.


The Union Bay Natural Area (UBNA) is an undeveloped, 74-acre nature reserve and outdoor research laboratory on the north end of Lake Washington’s Union Bay, which provides publicly accessible wildlife habitat (more than 200 bird species have been sighted).

For many years, the land served as Seattle’s largest garbage dump, the Montlake Fill. After the landfill was closed in 1966, work began to restore the site to a more natural environment. The land, just east of the University of Washington (UW) campus, is now owned by the University and managed by the College of the Environment.  

Registration Underway For Pre-K Summer Camps

Registration is underway for Pre-K Summer Camps at  the Laurelhurst Community Center. 

The camps, which enroll 8 campers per session, are taught by Mr. Phillip, who has been teaching at the Community Center Pre-K program for the past two years and  the last year has been  the lead teacher of the program. He has also been a staff member of the Laurelhurst Elementary Laser after-school program for several years, according to the Community Center Coordinator.

Register online, in-person at the Community Center Monday through Friday 9-2pm or by calling 684-7529.

Here is the list of camps:


Pre-K Summer Adventurers
Our class will be about having creative and imaginative fun while focusing on core motor skills and school-age readiness.  Each week has a fun theme that our art, activities and games will be focused around.
Mon-Thurs 9am-noon    $140 per week
$15 deposit to hold spot per week, balance due two weeks prior to the week
Week 1:  6/27-6/30 Imagination Land (Tues-Thurs $105)   #166116
Week 2:  7/3-7/7  Plundering Pirates  (Mon-Fri, No class 7/4)  #166118
Week 3:  7/10-7/13  Art Explosion  #166119
Week 4:  7/17-7/20  Water Week 1  #166121
Week 5:  7/24-7/27  Little Laboratory  #166122
Week 6:  8/7-8/11  Water Week 2  #166123
Week 7:  8/14-8/17  Move Your Feet!  #166125
Week 8:  8/21-8/24  Magical Music  #166126
Week 9:  8/28-8/31  Nature Explorers  #166127


Lunch Bunch
Mr. Phillip will have a supervised lunch hour for kids registered in AM and PM programs. 
$5 per week


Pre-K Science Explorers
Does your 3-5 year old love animals, exploring, experiments and making messes?  We will learn about a different part of our planet each week and its inhabitants as well as have fun with physics, chemistry, electricity and more.
Mon-Thurs  1pm-4pm   $140 per week
$15 deposit to hold spot per week, balance due two weeks prior to the week
Week 1:  6/27-6/30 Combing the Beach (Tues-Thurs $105)   #166105
Week 2:  7/3-7/7  Under the Sea  (Mon-Fri, No class 7/4)  #166113
Week 3:  7/10-7/13  Woodland Retreat  #166106
Week 4:  7/17-7/20  Surviving the Desert  #166107
Week 5:  7/24-7/27  Climbing Mount Rainier  #166108
Week 6:  8/7-8/11  Arctic Adventures  #166109
Week 7:  8/14-8/17  Jungle Safari  #166110
Week 8:  8/21-8/25  Wading through Wetlands  #166111
Week 9:  8/28-8/31  Pond Life  #166112


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

April Laurelhurst Real Estate Report


Kim Dales has provided this neighborhood real estate activity monthly report:


4545 46th Avenue NE
Closed on 5/5, 4 offers, final price $1,015,000,
2 bedrooms, 3/4 bath.


  • April had four homes that sold in the neighborhood::

    4008 NE 40th Street sold for $1,340,000; $90k over asking price with multiple offers. Two years ago sold for $1,005,000.  The owners did a kitchen remodel and added a barn door in the hallway for the 3rd bedroom.

    4241 51st Avenue NE, a mid-century modern with many updates, sold for asking price of $1,385,000 and had one offer.

    5010 48th Avenue NE, (not in Beach Club boundaries) sold for $110,000 over the listing price of $1,660,00 with multiple offers.  

    3801 49th Avenue NE, located on a dead end street with big views of Lake Washington,  sold for $148,000 less than the original listing price of $2,150,000, hence the high number of days on market of 135.

    Average days on market for homes in King County was 31 versus Laurelhurst which was 7.6 days on the market excluding one home that was listed for 135 days (3801 49th Ave NE). 

    Home prices in the Western Washington market continue to rise at above-average rates  with demand continuing to exceed supply. Year-over-year, average prices rose by 9.5% but were 1.1% lower than in the final quarter of 2016. The region’s average sales price is now $409,351.  Based on the Gardner Report Q1 2016 vs Q1 2017 has had a 12.5% increase in housing price.  Price growth in Western Washington is unlikely to taper dramatically in 2017 and many counties will continue to see prices appreciate well above their long-term averages.



    ACTIVE

    List Price
    Address
    Sq.Ft
    Price per/sq.ft
    *$815,000
    4545 46th Ave NE
    1,280
    $636.72
    *$997,000
    5029 Harold Pl NE
    2,700
    $369.26
    *$1,175,000
    4530 51st Ave NE
    2,820
    $416.67
    *$1,295,000
    3921 NE 41st St
    2,509
    $516.14
    $1,500,000
    4550 51st Ave NE
    3,410
    $439.88
    $1,895,000
    3922 NE Belvoir Place
    3,890
    $487.15
    $1,895,000
    4712 NE 40th St
    3,770
    $502.65
    *$1,935,000
    3824 49th Ave NE
    3,140
    $616.24
    $3,250,000
    5155 NE Latimer Place
    3,800
    $855.26
    $6,800,000
    5135 NE Laurelcrest Lane
    4,390
    $1,548.97
    * under contract in April


    PENDING INSPECTION

    List Price
    Address
    Sq.Ft.
    Price per/sq.ft
    DOM
    *$1,935,000
    3824 49th Ave NE
    3,140
    $616.24
    14



    PENDING


    List Price
    Address
    Sq.Ft.
    Price per/sq.ft
    DOM
    *$815,000
    4545 46th Ave NE
    1,280
    $636.72
    6
    *$997,000
    5029 Harold Pl NE
    2,700
    $369.26
    6
    $1,100,000
    5308 NE 43rd St
    2,270
    $484.58
    9
    *$1,175,000
    4530 51st Ave NE
    2,820
    $416.67
    8
    *$1,295,000
    3921 NE 41st St
    2,509
    $516.14
    8
    $1,595,000
    4556 52nd Ave NE
    3,370
    $473.29
    12
    $1,895,000
    3904 NE Belvoir Place
    3,533
    $536.37
    5



    SOLD

    List Price
    Sold Price
    Address
    Sq.Ft.
    Price p/sq.ft
    DOM
    $1,250,000
    $1,340,000
    4008 NE 40th St
    2,570
    $521.40
    7
    $1,385,000
    $1,385,000
    4241 51st Ave NE
    3,370
    $410.98
    7
    $1,550,000
    $1,660,000
    5010 48th Ave NE
    2,920
    $568.49
    6
    $2,298,000
    $2,150,000
    3801 49th Ave NE
    4,990
    $430.86
    135