Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Public Comment Deadline Today For Hospital's Pending Conditional Use Permit To Lease Space For Internal Services In Springbrook Building

At the last Standing Advisory Committe (SAC) meeting one of the issues brought before the Committee and also open to Public comment through today is the Hospital's pending Conditional Use Permit to the City to lease space they own in the Springbrook Building (4540 Sand Point Way) to their own hospital internal service, an adolescent clinic.

Seattle Children’s application for the conditional use permit is a request for approval to expand its 4,132 square footage rental space to 15,000 square feet, and in doing so the Hospital must meet certain requirements as it is leasing space outside a Major Institution Overlay (MIO) District, and within two thousand five hundred (2,500) feet of the MIO District boundary.

The leased space has been occupied by Northwest Asthma/Allergy clinic since the facility opened and it will be moving to a building in the Northgate area at the end of this month, as Children's did not renew the clinic's lease. 

At the meeting, LCC and a SAC members proposed that the adolescent clinic should be sited within Seattle Children’s boundaries and that the available space should be open to a local service,  that would serve a more diverse population to the neighboring communities, and not leased back to Children's. 

LCC also believes that this could set a precedent in the future, as Children's could potentially displace doctors, dentists and other medical services that have served the community for decades if the hospital has a need to take back even more space in the building for its own services.  Another SAC members agreed that it would be fine if the hospital leased its space to one of its internal services.

Public comments can be directed to Colin Vasquez, with the City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development at, citing MUP Application, Project # 3012995, through end of day today.

Here is a letter the Laurelhurst Community Club wrote to DPD:

Dear Mr. Vasquez:
The Laurelhurst Community Club Board of Trustees (LCC) has reviewed Seattle Children’s application for a conditional use permit to expand its 4,132 square footage rental space in the Springbrook Building to 15,000 square feet.  LCC does not believe it is possible to mitigate the impacts of this off campus expansion and therefore request that the application be denied.
The proposed adolescent clinic should be sited within Seattle Children’s boundaries.    The recent approval of Children’s master plan authorizes a 1.8 million square foot expansion within the major institution boundaries.  Siting the clinic on campus ensures that necessary ancillary services are readily accessible and parking is provided.  If, as Children’s states, adolescents do not feel comfortable returning to a location where they have had a procedure or operation for treatment, then a satellite clinic could be explored that does not encroach into a residential area.
Allowing Children’s expansion at this location amounts to a de facto expansion of Children’s major institution boundaries.  This was an important and hotly contested issue during the recent master planning process as Children’s wanted to expand its boundaries across Sand Point Way to include the Hartmann property.  LCC was successful in containing the boundaries to prevent expansion across roadways and streets.  The boundaries were established to prevent the creeping expansion into the surrounding communities now sought by Children’s and the negative impacts that would result.
There is very little parking at the Springbrook Building.  The patients and staff of current businesses at the Springbrook already park on neighborhood streets due to an inadequate parking on site.  The proposed ambulatory adolescent medical services that would be provided will serve a six state region providing psychological services, gynecological treatment and treatment for substance abuse and obesity. The proposed new clinic will exacerbate the existing problem of overflow parking as it will attract far more patients than the existing small businesses that serve local communities.
Seattle Children’s has incorrectly assumed that there will be no traffic and parking impacts as a result of the new lease.  There has been no analysis to substantiate this claim.  It is not reasonable to assume that the new facility could be incorporated into Children’s existing transportation management plan without a thorough review of the many issues.  At minimum, parking for both providers and patients must be delineated.
The intersection at NE 45th Street and 40th Avenue will already be absorbing excess vehicular traffic from ambulances, delivery trucks and ER patients associated with the new wings.  Adding additional services and traffic to the Springbrook triangle will exacerbate the strain on the limited capacity of these residential roads, and create backups onto residential streets.  Neighbors will be forced to endure exceptionally long wait times at the stoplights at NE 45th Street and Sandpoint Way NE and the new signal at 40th Avenue NE and Sandpoint Way NE, where the queuing space is very limited.  DPD should require Children’s to study these important issues.
LCC is concerned about the displacement of local medical and dental practices that have served surrounding communities for decades.  This is something that will likely continue should DPD grant the conditional use permit—basically a domino effect with Children’s eventually occupying the entire complex.  The Springbrook Building should serve families and seniors in the area who are able to walk to appointments—rather than those who lives states away.  At minimum, Children’s should undertake a study to determine the medical, orthodontic and dental needs of surrounding communities, keeping in mind the importance of walkability, transit use and Seattle’s carbon neutral goals.
LCC urges DPD to deny this application.

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