Hearing underway as neighborhood group tries to curb expansion of Swedish Cherry Hill

Screenshot-2015-01-11-at-8.19.34-PM-400x284A city arbiter’s office is the latest arena for the drawn out struggle over the planned expansion of the Swedish Medical Center’s Cherry Hill campus.

On Monday, the city’s Office of the Hearning Examiner started day-long hearings to resolve an appeal neighbors filed against the city for approving an environmental study of the hospital’s plans, drafted by developer Sabey Corporation.

Concerned Neighbors of Swedish Cherry Hill claim the Department of Planning and Development failed to fully assess the impact of the hospital’s expansion on the surrounding area. Ultimately, the group is hoping the appeal will force Swedish to heed neighborhood concerns.

The most pressing concern for neighbors is that the building plans are too big and too tall to fit into the largely residential area. Lack of parking, obstructed views, and flimsy traffic mitigation plans are also cited in the group’s appeal. According to Swedish, the 1.6 million square foot site is nearly at capacity and needs to build up in order to continue serving its growing patient population.

The hearings are expected to last at least through the end of the week.

The fight over the hospital’s planned expansion goes back two years to when members of a Community Advisroy Committee started weighing in on the hospital’s Major Institution Master Plan. During the course of those meetings, the group managed to whittle down the size of the hospital’s proposals, but a consensus was never reached.

Swedish was recently the target of a large protest over nursing shortages and the improved benefits to attract new hires. Hundreds of hospital workers, union organizers, and a handful of elected officials staged a picket outside the First Hill campus against the management of the Providence Health Services-allied hospital.

For more details on the Swedish Cherry Hill appeal and recordings of the proceedings, visit the hearing examiner’s case page

East Precinct Advisory Council gets a new leader amid SPD changes and summer violence

The SPD gang unit was on the scene of the July 2nd shooting death of Torrence Phillips (Image: CHS)

The SPD gang unit was on the scene of the July 2nd shooting death of Torrence Phillips (Image: CHS)

Troy Meyers says he’s as liberal as it gets in Seattle, including on issues of police accountability. But one life-changing experience gave Meyers a deep appreciation for just how difficult and dangerous law enforcement can be.

In 1998 Meyers’s father was killed in the line of duty while working as a Kansas City police officer. The tragedy eventually led Meyers to the Seattle Police Foundation, where he’s volunteered for a number of years. Meyers is now preparing to combine those experiences with his years of neighborhood activism in Squire Park to lead a Central Area group that some members say is too often overlooked by the community it serves.

This month, Meyers took over as chair of the East Precinct Advisory Council — the community sounding board for public safety issues in the Central Area and official conduit between East Precinct neighborhoods and SPD. With one meeting as chair under his belt so far, Meyers said he’s particularly interested in addressing gang issues around the Central District.

“Almost all of the shootings we see are gang related,” he said. “I really just want to see an improvement in relationships between the police department and the community.” Continue reading

CHS Pics | Landmark status can’t save the Carmack House

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(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

To call the battle to save the Central District’s George Washington Carmack House a seven-year fight isn’t quite right. Last week, the one-sided end of the tussle came quickly for the more than 100-year-old mansion once home to George Carmack, the Seattle pioneer and prospector credited by most with setting off the Klondike gold rush:

When Carmack and his wife disposed of their holdings in the Klondike, they moved to Seattle where they took residence at the prestigious Hotel Seattle. Kate Carmack did not enjoy living in Seattle and returned to her northern home. [46] Carmack soon thereafter married a woman named Marguerite. Carmack eventually left the Hotel Seattle, but continued residing in the Pioneer Square area. From 1905 until 1909, he lived in a house at 3007 East Denny Way, which has since been removed. By 1910, Carmack moved to 1522 East Jefferson. According to Seattle City Directories, Carmack lived at this address until he died in 1922. Marguerite Carmack continued living in the house until the 1940s. A considerable amount of development has occurred around this house, which is still used as a residential structure.

Continue reading

Capitol Hill Housing reaches agreement for 50 years of affordability in Squire Park Place deal

(Image: CHH)

(Image: CHH)

Capitol Hill Housing announced it has agreed with a Central District community organization to keep the rules governing affordable apartments in Squire Park Place for another 50 years in the building it acquired late last year.

CHS reported on non-profit developer Capitol Hill Housing’s plan to acquire the 18th and Jackson property last summer. Though the deal closed in December for $11.25 million, the, Capitol Hill Housing announced Wednesday it had reached an accord on a 50-year agreement “following several months of conversations” with the Central Area Development Association about “continuing the organization’s commitment to equitable development in the Central District.”

“Half of the apartments at Squire Park Plaza are reserved for working individuals and families earning between 50 and 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for King County,” the announcement on the agreement reads. “CHH will extend this affordability for a minimum of 50 years.” Continue reading

As 12th Ave justice center moves forward, juvenile court judge calls for racial reform

Juvenile court judge Susan Craighead.

Juvenile court judge Susan Craighead.

Justice isn’t color-blind, at least in King County.

According to a special report published last month, black youth in KC are roughly six times more likely than white youth to face a judge in juvenile court. And while the number of youth referred to juvenile court has been falling for years, the bulk of that benefit has gone to whites.

Speaking on behalf of the more than fifty judges on her bench, she says, Judge Susan Craighead is calling for a series of “listening sessions” with key players in the juvenile justice system. This includes representatives of government institutions which are “upstream” of the court—police, schools, and child welfare services — but also the families and communities most impacted by juvenile courts.

“We feel like we need all hands on deck to try to figure out what more can we do with this problem,” Craighead told CHS. Continue reading

Despite protest, County Council votes to build new youth detention center


After nearly five hours of impassioned public testimony that drew an overflow crowd and a brief police response, the King County Council unanimously approved an ordinance to build a new youth detention center at 12th and Alder Monday evening.

Dozens of people packed into the County Council chambers to voice their opposition to the controversial plan to replace the county’s crumbling youth detention center with a smaller capacity Children and Family Justice Center. In the 7-0 vote, the council approved a $154 million contract with developer Howard S. Wright to construct the new facility, which is expected to be complete in 2018.

Public testimony was tense from the start. Council member Joe McDermott began by asking dozens of people who didn’t have a seat to wait outside the chambers until their name was called to comment. Most refused to leave and the meeting was recessed several times until the standing crowd was allowed to stay. Continue reading

Central District slow growth activist will challenge Sally Clark for City Council seat

As Capitol Hill prepares to dive into its first-ever City Council District 3 election, remember that two at-large races will require some attention, too. One of those is shaping up around development and land use and could have big repercussions for Capitol Hill and Seattle’s Inner City.

Last week, Central Area activist Bill Bradburd announced he would challenge incumbent Sally Clark for the at-large Position 9 seat. Clark, who was appointed to council in 2006, is a policy wonk (some would say too wonky) who has spent several years on council trying to balance developer and resident priorities on various zoning and land-use issues. Bradburd, 57, is also a land use buff, but decisively of the community activist ilk.

“All the politics in the city really boil down to land use and zoning,” Bradburd recently told CHS. Continue reading

County opts for ‘virtual open house’ on Children and Family Justice Center

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Artist rendition of the upgraded facility

King County has opted to cancel a planned Saturday “open house of conceptual designs” of the controversial Children and Family Justice Center to be built at 12th and Alder and instead will hold a “virtual open house” with information and a survey about the project, according to an announcement sent to CHS.

The detention and justice center has been the target of ongoing opposition by protesters and community groups who say $200 million shouldn’t be spent on a youth detention system that disproportionately detains African Americans.

In October, the Seattle City Council voted 8-1 in favor of a land use bill that gave King County the ability to replace its crumbling facilities.

In order to reach more residents of King County, we are replacing the open house at the Youth Services Center on Sat Jan. 24, with a virtual open house of conceptual designs of the Children and Family Justice Center. For your convenience, the virtual open house and survey will be available online from Jan. 24 through Feb. 8, 2015.

The County will post the virtual open house on the Children and Family Justice Center website late Fri., Jan. 23, and email it to project stakeholders. www.kingcounty.gov/childrenandfamilyjustice.

Please use the survey at the end of the narrated video to share your priorities as we move to design refinement in 2015 and construction in 2016 of the badly needed new courthouse and detention center at 12th Ave. and East Alder Street.

The County will schedule an in-person event after the design-build contract is signed and the design refinement process begins. Details about a public engagement schedule will be emailed to stakeholders, distributed on the County’s social media platforms and posted on the project website when they are available.

The Children and Family Justice Center will better support the policies and programs that have helped King County achieve one of the lowest juvenile detention rates in the nation. Additionally, King County is leading an assessment and developing an action plan in 2015 to further our work to minimize youth involvement and understand and better combat the causes of racial disparity in the criminal justice system, many of which occur long before youth arrive at the detention center door. For more information, visit www.kingcounty.gov/childrenandfamilyjustice.

In contentious expansion of Swedish Hospital, Squire Park neighbors struggle for balance

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Today’s Swedish Cherry Hill campus

Surrounded by soft lighting and beige carpet, the three microphones pass back and forth across the tabletops as the committee members address one another in the calm tone of an extended sigh. “The administrative errors that have been made have since been fixed,” says one member. Another asks about traffic mitigation. Soft lighting bounces off the white ceiling. Starbucks coffee marinates in urns beside a tray of supermarket cookies and a small fort of pizza boxes. On the wall, two projector screens display a screensaver.

Then the public comment period begins.

“This is one of the most depressing and terrible things that I do in my month,” resident Abel Bradshaw tells the committee. “I’m tired of coming to these meetings and seeing our neighborhood chewed away at with words.”

She’s referring to the proposed expansion of Swedish Hospital’s Cherry Hill campus, which is co-owned by the nonprofit hospital and by the Sabey Corporation, a private developer. The Community Advisory Committee (CAC) she’s addressing has spent the better part of two years considering the expansion proposal (called a Major Institution Master Plan, or MIMP), which essentially asks the city for special zoning permissions on account of the hospital’s good deeds.

The neighbors of Squire Park aren’t buying it.

“This is just absurd and should be rejected out of hand,” says resident Murray Anderson.

“It’s just too big,” says resident Ken Torp. “It is three pounds of manure in a two-pound bag.”

“I urge the CAC to reject, in its entirety…the MIMP,” says resident Jack Hanson. “Send Swedish back to the drawing board.” Continue reading

Opponents shine light on Swedish Cherry Hill expansion

unnamed (35)A protest of the planned expansion of the Swedish Cherry Hill campus will lit up the facility again on Halloween night, CHS is told.

We were sent images and video of a recent “protest projection” to call attention the hospitals “major institution master plan” process slated to be wrapped up by next summer as Swedish prepares to add to its “1.2 million square-foot specialty center” to add capacity for an expected 30 to 50% increase in patients seeking services at the E Cherry facility.

The planned expansion has drawn opposition from many including neighbors in the area who are concerned about increasing the “height, bulk and scale” of the facility.