July 16

Multiple family yard sale; Waldo property, too



Sharon emails:

I would like to spread the news of a block yard sale this Saturday, July 19. It will be on Northeast 89th Street between Fifth Avenue Northeast and Latona Avenue Northeast from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please stop by!!

Also, several people have asked if we have news of the old Waldo Hospital property on 15th Avenue Northeast.

“Have you heard anything about the MMSC Day School property? There is a for sale sign on the property at 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 85th Street.”

No, we are annoyed to say we haven’t heard anything useful about the Menachem Mendal Seattle Cheder Day School, now apparently closed.

And we’ve looked around, too.

“Waldo Woods property for sale? I noticed a big for sale sign in front of the school/property on my way home today.”

And, “haven’t yet seen this in the Blog: the old Campfire building is for sale now. The Jewish school couldn’t make a go of it and is totally gone. There is a big for sale sign on 15th.

“Now that whole big discussion opens up again? Bummer.”

The big discussion concerns the fate of the property and the 80 mature Douglas fir trees there, dubbed “Waldo Woods” by the Maple Leaf Community Council, which spent four years trying to save them. The council and the Jewish school were honored by Seattle Audubon in 2010.

Originally Waldo Hospital, the property was long occupied by Camp Fire Puget Sound. There’s a raft of background here.

About the author 

Sara W

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  1. Oh, and Thomas, we have done online surveys before, I think thru Survey Monkey. The challenge is letting people know about the surveys in a timely manner.

  2. Oh, and for visiting the tables on Night Out, we have a big neighborhood and many streets that participate, so if we haven’t visited your street it is because there is more parties than there is time. We do try!

  3. #49 (or anyone else) – If you have any suggestions on how to reach people who don’t attend the meetings (or ways to encourage them to attend meetings), please share! We put information in our newsletter; encourage folks to sign up on our email lists; post notices in the coffee shops and local businesses, in the kiosk at the park, on our website, on the Maple Leaf Community Council Facebook page, and on the Friends for a Greater Maple Leaf Park Facebook page; and host tables from time to time at the coffee shops (and we thank them for letting us do so) and now in the park. Every year on Night Out one or more of our board members walk around the neighborhood, visiting block parties to hand out information, answer questions, and get input and ideas on neighborhood issues. We also offer babysitting at our meetings to help accommodate parents.

    One suggestion given at our table at the Summer Social is contact the schools and have it added to their school calendars that get sent out to parents. Once schools open again, we will see if the schools would be willing to do this.

    We would love to hear and consider ideas or suggestions that we may not have covered.

  4. For instance, how would you like it if your next door neighbor built a garbage dump or a sewer treatment plant next to you?

    Zoning takes care of that. The issue here is neighbors micromanaging each other with what they can do to landscaping or the color of their house.

  5. Hi there;

    I was on the committee that worked to save the Waldo property – 2006-2009. All of our efforts were totally legal. We fought this with the law on our side, which is more than I can say for our local government. Unfortunately the government itself (City of Seattle) and the developer circumvented the law every which way they could. This is why it was such a long battle.

    Property ownership is not as simple as some people seem to think it is. What you do to your property often affects other people and their rights. For instance, how would you like it if your next door neighbor built a garbage dump or a sewer treatment plant next to you? Or maybe a nuclear power plant? These are extreme examples but I’m trying to make a point.

    And keep in mind that the Campfire organization avoided many thousands of dollars in property taxes while there because of non-profit status. Non-profit status requires giving something back to the community.

    Now for my update. I phoned James and Donna who live in the house just south of the Waldo property to see what they know about Waldo selling again. Theirs was the original farmhouse homestead in out neighborhood. They think Waldo may already have sold to developers but they didn’t seem to have many details.

    I’m sad to say that James and Donna have given me potentially bad news about the area near Waldo but without their permission I can’t say now what that is.


  6. It would the interesting if the Maple Leaf Community Council would do a survey, either online or sending the form with their newsletter, so they could hear from people who don’t come to the meetings.

  7. Hi –

    I’ll clarify a bit of what Meg was referring to regarding the park (and Meg, if I get what you were trying to say wrong, please correct me).

    The park as it is now would most likely been vastly different without the direct efforts of myself, David, and the support of the Maple Leaf Community Council. I can say that with confidence because I was responsible for securing almost half the money from the Levy that was spent to design, develop, and construct the park (not the burying of the reservoir — that WAS thru rate payers and included federal funds too — but the funding of the park itself).

    As a member of the Maple Leaf Community Council I can say we work hard to listen to our neighbors on what we work on. There are times in which we work for issues in the community that we personally not be a fan of, but if the vast majority of opinions want something that is what we work on. Outreach is important (and time-consuming, especially since we all have jobs) and we work on it consistently. We hold community meetings, we ask for opinions via email and on our Facebook page, we have hosted “neighborhood tables” at the local coffee shops and now in the park to answer questions and hear concerns from our neighbors. And for myself, I work in the neighborhood and I hear comments and concerns from community members several times a week. We also read the comments on Maple Leaf Life and are grateful for the hard work and stories Mike puts into it.

    Not everyone agrees on every issue and we have never taken a position on an issue that hasn’t had majority support. EVERY issue has someone against it (in fact, I was taken aback during the park discussion when there were two individuals — not related and not at the same meeting — who argued we should remove all the playground equipment! The one argument I thought I would never hear!). We do our best to listen to everyone, represent neighborhood supported issues, support and provide information for neighbors when they are having problems, and generally want to make our neighborhood a lovely place to live.

  8. David has put in a lot of time as an unpaid volunteer. Whether you agree with the outcome of his efforts is up to the individual. But Meg, unless David personally paid for the lidding of the reservoir I think you should give the shout out to rate payers like you and I. I could google it I suppose but I think the lower playfields and parks probably existed before David came on the scene. Regardless, David I thank you for your efforts.

  9. Just because David has volunteered hundreds of hours doesn’t mean his actions are the best thing for the community.
    David used his leverage as the MLCC president to pressure SDOT to not build bike lanes. This morning on Roosevelt I passed more bikes than cars (my bike included). He’s clearly out of touch with the community on some issues. Thankfully SDOT didn’t listen to his tired anti-bike drivel and constructed a bike lane I use to get up the hill every evening.

  10. @Tim
    David Miller has worked hard for more than a decade, unpaid to protect the Maple Leaf neighborhood. He protects my interests, and for that, I’m grateful. You have no idea how many hours David and his wife have spent making our neighborhood better, and it is better. The park would have never happened without their tireless involvement. And I’m happy the Waldo trees are saved. Not everyone thinks like you. David has been our best president by far for the 10 years I’ve lived in Maple Leaf. Without him, I’m not sure it would continue to be a place I want to raise a family. Why don’t you cut him some slack, at least until you put in equal man hours on these issues.

  11. Some folks don’t mind communities with covenants and some covenants can be pretty strict. The craziest thing I read recently was about this family in California that was fined by their homeowners association for not keeping their lawn green and then also fined by the city for watering their lawn.
    Its not that uncommon to be told what color paint you can use, what cannot be in your front yard, or maybe you have historic property or property in a designated critical are. There is certainly no one size fits all. There are no doubt areas of the county with less restrictive codes, some areas have more. Seattle loves process. Its not the right fit for everyone.

  12. Here’s a thought experiment for people who want to control the Waldo property without buying it:

    1) Post your address on this site;
    2) We’ll all come over, charge you a fee for inspecting your property, and tell you to change your landscaping, paint, impervious area, etc.;
    3) When you protest we’ll say “that’s what you wanted to do to the Waldo property – turn about is fair play,”
    4) You’ll change your mind about bossing other people around with their own land.

    So who wants to be the first to volunteer to let people micromanage their own property?

  13. I don’t have an opinion on apodments and therefore could have never expressed one on this blog so I’m at a loss as to where people are getting the idea that I’m pro-apodment.
    Let the record show that I am neither for nor against apodments.

  14. 300 feet is bigger than the 150 sq feet apodments I referenced earlier that Tim doesn’t like either.

    Simply put its a community that has laws. People should have a responsibility in how to behave in society but they don’t. Money and space are at a premium at the expense of the goodwill of the people. Socialism, communism, etc. have nothing to do with it. It should be our civic duty to look out for our neighborhood but its not, its developers with money that look after their pockets. That’s business, but when business impedes society where do we draw the line? Money over society has been going on forever and people have been standing up against it forever as well.

  15. Sounds like Tim wants to live in the U district. Please move Tim so we don’t have to read your asinine comments anymore. There are very few trees, lots of trash on the streets and sidewalks, a lot of concrete and 300 square foot Apodments you can live in. Sounds like the perfect place for you

  16. Communism!? Sheesh, slow your roll. There was a lovely stand of many trees just a couple blocks from me when I moved into the Northgate area. Old timers may remember, it was probably 25 years ago on 3rd Ave just a bit north of the Northgate Apts. A developer cut down every single one of them, there was nothing but dirt left. The city gives not much more than a slap on the hand. None were replaced.
    I am so glad that there are now rules and consequences for such acts. Just because you buy a property does NOT give you license to do whatever you want to. Often if a concerned citizen doesn’t report something it goes unnoticed until its far too late.

  17. If you go in and keep naming issues until you get one that sticks it makes it sound like you’re trying to halt development for the sake of halting it, not correcting issue(s).

  18. As someone who has been at the Hearing Examiner a few times with neighborhood business I’ll tell you what happens. You go in with maybe 6-10 different issues. By the time the developers attorney gets through with you, you are left with one or two that can go forward if you are lucky. Sometimes what is left may sound frivolous. Honestly, until you have been in that position its really hard to relate. Developers and the city needs to know we are watching, we do care.

  19. Regardless of what you call the legal maneuver, it’s ridiculous to waste the court’s time to halt construction over something so silly as garbage cans. If it was, say, the distance from the sidewalk to the dwelling, then yes, absolutely construction would need to be halted as that is difficult to change after it’s constructed.

    A few blocks north–in the 9600 block of Roosevelt, there are a dozen townhomes that occupy a similarly sized space. For the last 7 years, they’ve managed to get by with their 36 garbage cans occupying their 130 frontage on Roosevelt (with parking!). I haven’t heard David fly off the handle about them, but then again they’re on the edge of the “business district” instead of the middle of it so who knows.

  20. I think David is accurate when he says the media likes to “sensationalize” and that is exactly what they did in the article you refer to. It ends with “The council has asked a judge to revoke the building permits and require design and environmental reviews be conducted before construction can proceed”. To ask DPD to act in a responsible manner and “follow their own rules” is hardly saying we don’t want that development period.
    We all have our opinions. Mine would be I don’t really see the point of having the Waldo building a historic landmark. But that’s just me.

  21. Tim —

    MMSC was paid for the development rights they gave up. That’s how the trees were saved.

    Expressing your opinion is fine, but I suggest you learn something about the issues before throwing stones.

    We’ve never filed suit to “block” development since I’ve been on the Council. There have been dozens and dozens of developments in Maple Leaf since I’ve been on the board, and we got involved legally in 3. We’re not anti-density, we just have this silly idea DPD should follow the law.

    The Waldo Hospital proposal violated proper demolition standards, and the judge agreed. If they wanted to tear it down properly by containing all the dust, they could have. They didn’t want to, so they abandoned the development. Then MMSC bought the property.

    No neighborhood can “block” development. The idea we can is a convenient lie by those who like to paint anyone who wants developers to follow the rules as “NIMBYs”. It’s used by media as a sensationalistic headline for clickbait. But it isn’t accurate, at least as far as the MLCC is concerned.

    We settled the suit at Northgate with a great family of responsible developers and secured 5x more affordable housing than DPD was asking for. We settled the suit on Roosevelt to reduce the impact of DPD’s illegal interpretation of the land use code on our business district. Waldo we won, were happy to welcome MMSC, and worked with them to get them a significant sum to help them with their remodeling while preserving the tree grove.


  22. David:
    In an article dated April 12, 2013:

    The Maple Leaf neighborhood council has sued to stop a proposed development

    You’ve been on the council since (at least) 2011, so are you still going to stand behind the statement that the MLCC has “never filed suit to ‘block’ development since I’ve been on the Council”? Or are you going to pick nits and tell me that stopping a development and blocking it are different?

    As I explained above, I have no problem with the MLCC helping to enforce dust-control demolition practices. But your post in #4 started to get a bit ridiculous: “We rallied to save some trees from getting cut down, we tried to mark the building as a landmark, we sued the city/developer, then we got frustrated because our lawsuit made no difference”. Again, I agree with your actions on the last one–but do you realize it sounds like the MLCC is out to control every aspect of the neighborhood?

  23. It is completely reasonable and in fact required that the infrastructure be adequate before adding more density. Having been an activist for many years I have found what happens AFTER the fact can be the most damning. The development stage itself is usually highly monitored . Once its done people quickly forget the requirements for transparency, landscaping, on and on. If you see something that doesn’t seem right it probably isn’t, especially in new construction. Make a complaint.

  24. Maple Leaf today is not the same as it was in 1980. More people have moved in, and the neighborhood has changed. More people will continue to move in, and the neighborhood will continue to change. You can try to oppress it, but the thousands of people that move in to Seattle every year will have to live somewhere. Maple Leaf is not exempt–especially when it’s top 10 lists.

    Also, your neighbors aren’t too different from yourself. They wouldn’t want to buy a 10×12 cube, and by the law of supply and demand, developers don’t build them.

  25. Heres another idea Thomas, without checks on developers wed all be living in 10 x 12 cubes because that’s what would make the most money for them.

    As far as the NIMBYism that Tim so highly yells and proclaims at the every hint of dissatisfaction from those that don’t like something its the one thing that has kept this community like it is. Do we really want this neighborhood like Ballard? It was supposed to be a great new place to live, instead it got lots of traffic and renters and the developers made a profit and left.

  26. Developers make profit, I don’t feel sorry or thankful them. They are not a charity but work for money like any business.

    Density has to be planned and zoned properly. Too many residents and not enough local business is bad in a dense city. I haven’t seen any net new retail, restaurant, etc in many years, just more apts and houses. That needs to be fixed.

    I’m glad to see so many proponents of land rights, I can build that waste transfer station in my backyard with your help. Sorry about the smell and rats!

  27. Here’s a strange idea – without developers, we’d all be homeless. I’m actually grateful that somebody built me a nice house.

  28. I’m just hopeful that the ugly chain link fence that’s been around that property for years may finally come down one of these days.

    I think some density, especially along Roosevelt is good. It helps local restaurants, bars, and businesses survive and thrive. The reason why small businesses have such a struggle surviving in our neighborhood is because of the lack of density. But we can grow and still keep the trees.

  29. @Jim

    Just as I hardly recognize today’s Ballard from when I arrived in Seattle in 1997, I suspect 2014’s arrivals will experience similar dissonance when they compare Maple Leaf in 2031 with today.

    While I empathize with those who moved into our neighborhood decades ago that increased density in Maple Leaf probably wasn’t something they ever anticipated when they moved in, the redevelopment of Waldo Woods is just a precursor of change we’ll all be dealing with once light rail reaches Northgate at the end of this decade, and we best get used to it.

  30. @Jim:

    I agree in some regards about developers. They don’t always have an interest in the community, but some do. Some make an effort to improve a community by taking a old building or lot and giving it some new life. Also, Seattle is growing and thriving. I like some elements of that and dislike others, but it’s a reality none the less. With growth comes density and there is no way around it. Unfortunately for those who don’t like density in Maple Leaf our little pocket neighborhood is gaining more attention because of its great location close to the freeway, being close to Greenlake, and lower housing prices compared to Greenlake, Ravenna, Bryant, Wedgewood, etc… The only thing that keeps the prices from really shooting up are the negative stigmas around Northgate and Lake City that drag us down. I am not saying I agree with those stigma’s, but they exist among many people.

  31. Developers don’t care about the community, we can tell that by seeing the demo of the incinerator. If we wanted density we would have moved to Ballard a long time ago.

  32. Hear hear, Joe.

    I too have the impression that the MLCC is anti density and anti growth. And I don’t blame them either. The quietness is one of the biggest factors that drew me to the neighborhood.
    But filing frivolous lawsuits to block development is a poor way to deal with population growth. More people are coming to all corners of Seattle, and if we fend off additional development we’ll just end up with more ugly rooming houses.

  33. @Joe: well said.

    I like the trees and think they are an asset but I also believe and owner who spent the money for the land should be able to decide. If certain people in Maple Leaf feel so strongly they should pony up and make the financial sacrifice to pool their money and buy the land, but we all know its easier to let someone else make the investment. Its easy to raise a stink with no financial skin in the game.

    I hope a good compromise is reached but I see it very hard for an investor to spend that kind of money on property they can’t do much of anything with. Maybe the city should buy it and make it part of the park.

  34. It would be useful for everyone to recognize that Seattle and the Puget Sound region has been growing tremendously in recent years and is well positioned to continue to do so well into the foreseeable future.

    There are more people inside the city limits today than there were just a month ago. There will be more be more next month and the month after that and they are all going to have to live somewhere. Not all of them are going to want to live in a south Lake Union condo.

    Would you rather have 200 trees taken down outside of Monroe or Issaquah to accommodate ten or twenty townhomes, or the 80 in Maple Leaf? Because that is the essential dilemma of what this argument about Waldo Woods boils down to.

    Also, the self-righteous claim that Waldo Wood needs to be preserved reeks of NIMBYism. I feel what is being unsaid by the MLCC position is that “we want to enjoy our quasi-urban lifestyle in our corner of Seattle, but without redevelopment and increased density on private property nearby.”

    Accepting redevelopment is part of the deal we all made when we decide to live in a nearly 100-year old neighborhood in an urban city. If you want to live in the woods, move to Shelton.

  35. @Tim – As an example, what David Miller actually wrote is this: “the community was almost 100% united about a desire to save the trees”. That’s not what you quoted and that little word “almost” makes a big difference.

    I am not a member of the MLCC, and I never have been. I don’t agree with their positions all the time. But I will be the first to say, the MLCC has been of tremendous service to the Maple Leaf community over the decades. The MLCC board is a volunteer group that donates a huge amount of time as well as personal and professional skills to make a positive contribution to Maple Leaf. This community would be much poorer absent their influence. I suggest you might give MLCC the benefit of your doubt, and also give the community the benefit of your considered inputs based on complete and factual data.

  36. @Will The toxins were only one of the things that David mentioned. I believe his actions were just in that case.
    However, in this particular comment, he also mentions that the MLCC also rallied to make the building a historic landmark, and to save the trees. Apparently “100% of the neighborhood” wanted the trees saved. I wasn’t a resident at the time, but if I had been, the number would’ve been less than 100%. I’m not saying that I think they should be cut down: I’m saying it should be up to the property owner, not a bunch of people that happened to have purchased (or rent) a house nearby.

  37. Bravo for a forward thinking save of the trees. That said it seems likely that housing would be a good use of the property. To me the building should be an obvious tear down. It was probably just a money pit for the recent owners.

  38. We are very disappointed MMSC has moved out of the Waldo Hospital on 15th NE and NE 85th street. We also aren’t aware of the backstory for the departure. We do wish them well because they helped our neighborhood out when we really needed it.

    The trees that are on the east side of the property are permanently protected through an acquisition of the development rights for the grove by the King County Conservation Futures Fund. Our former King County Councilmember (and now Attorney General) and Maple Leaf resident Bob Ferguson was instrumental in this process. MMSC was paid cash by the Fund to acquire the development rights for that section of the parcel. MMSC, and any subsequent purchaser, owns the property under the trees but they are prohibited from developing the section of the property covered by the grove.

    Additionally, the grove is protected by City of Seattle regulations the Maple Leaf Community Council and the group that tried to save the trees at Ingraham High School worked very hard to pass. We were greatly assisted in that effort by former Councilmember Richard Conlin and current Councilmember Nick Licata. DPD largely ignored this legislation under Mayors Nickels and McGinn, but we’re hopeful Mayor Murray won’t allow this departments to be so cavalier about the law going forward.

    We (sort of) lost an effort to secure the building as a protected landmark back in 2006/7. Enough time has passed that we are able again to nominate the building for a landmark, so this option is in our back pocket.

    In 2009, we won a court case against the City of Seattle and the developer (Prescott Homes) concerning the inadequacy of demolition plans for the building and the old incinerator. A King County Superior Court judge told the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) neither structure could be demolished without significant controls on toxic dust.

    DPD and the developer (Prescott again) violated this Court Order by allowing the demolition of the incinerator without proper controls for subsequent development on the site. The incinerator, which was where the new homes are on NE 86th Street. The incinerator contained toxic heavy metals and was demolished with no controls over the toxic dust. the fact it was demolished while MMSC schoolkids were on the playground during recess was a terrible abrogation of responsibility by both the developer and the City of Seattle.

    We were unable to stop the demolition (the building was too small and it went down too fast). Multiple complaints to DPD and Mayor McGinn’s administration went unanswered. The Executive Board members at the time decided not to have the MLCC pursue legal action at the time due to the expected costs.

    The MLCC Executive Board is monitoring the situation closely. We’ve already been in contact with at least one group who had an interest in buying the property prior to the purchase by MMSC and they are talking with the agent.

    Where the MLCC goes from here is largely a function of who buys the property, what their plans are, how interested they are working *with* the community, and our sense of what the neighborhood wants the MLCC to do (if anything) about development at the site.

    When we went through this last time, the community was almost 100% united about a desire to save the trees. Past that, opinions differed on the proposed development at the time.

    We’ll keep our ears to the ground and let folks know what’s going on as events warrant.

    If anyone has any questions or wants to express their opinions, my inbox is always open:


    David Miller
    Maple Leaf Community Council

  39. @Tim- So is this a community or simply a conglomeration of OSB and cheap building materials in rows of housing?

  40. MapleLeafBob, the property apparently is being auctioned:

    “Property is lender owned. Offers to be reviewed July 22nd.”

    (From: http://alchemycommercial.com/offering1/)

    Also, take note of this:

    “Total parcel size is 1.303 acres (56,769 square feet) with 41,962 square feet of usable square footage for density purposes.”

  41. For the garage salers, if you live on the block or around it be sure to ask around and see what the neighbors are having problems with. Many are having problems with drug sales on that block.

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