The Lorax Strikes Back
"A grove of trees near Ingraham High School received an 11th-hour reprieve Wednesday when a King County Superior Court judge ordered a temporary hold on school district plans to fell them."
"Chief Civil Judge John Erlick's decision Wednesday afternoon bars the district from felling the trees until Aug. 27 at the earliest and gives neighbors a chance to seek a permanent restraining order against removing the trees. Erlick also ordered the neighborhood group to pay a $7,500 bond to offset damage to the district if its case is found not to have merit."
The district now has some new things to say about why they withdrew their city permit request, things they never said before.
"District officials say they plan to cut 63 trees to make way for an expansion of Ingraham High School. The district had applied for city permits to build a new wing at the school but has since withdrawn the request. The district plans to submit the request after it has felled the trees.
Zemke and other critics of the plan have argued that the district doesn't believe it will be granted city construction permits if the project includes the tree removal. But the city can't stop the district from removing the trees before applying for building permits.
Addressing Judge Erlick, school district attorney Shannon McMinimee said the district was "trying to avoid a gray area" when it withdrew the permits."Additionally, the district spokesperson says there's "ambiguity" in the city ordinance.
Really? Tell us more and, in particular, tell us why there was no mention of this previous to this hearing.
Or is it that the district was trying to an end run around BOTH the neighborhood and the city.
Also, just to add to this, there was a meeting in West Seattle (reported at the West Seattle blog) about the Denny/Sealth project (one issue was what is going to happen to the Denny property). The West Seattle blog had a conversation about getting notification of hearings relating to projects with Ron English, who is a district legal counsel as well as Property Manager: From the blog:
"We also asked English where appeal hearings like the one in this case are posted for public access. Short answer to a long discussion - they’re not. He says the public certainly COULD attend - but public comments are not allowed, and the district considers them to be something of an “appellate court” type proceeding, and doesn’t post notice of them. Not ANYWHERE, we pressed - not even if we came down to district headquarters and combed through stacks of paper somewhere. No, he repeated. We pointed out that court calendars are publicly accessible in most jurisdictions where we have worked, often online, and if not online, then you can at least go to the courthouse and see what’s posted for the day. He eventually allowed that he “wished” they provided public notice. We will follow up on this one, as it doesn’t seem quite right for a publicly funded entity to be conducting this type of public business without the public having any way of finding out about it." (italics mine)
And so, what is stopping Facilities from posting this information? Nothing. Nothing but their own stubborn belief that they and only they know what is "best" for this district. It's just plain crazy talk.
Then there was this in the article:
"Meeting attendee Susan McLain added, “Our concern is that the decision has already been made, that the intention is that this (the Denny site) will be more of the athletic center, more citywide fields that don’t truly serve the local schools and the community.”Sundquist said, “I’m not cynical enough yet at the 8-month mark of my term to believe it’s all been decided.” But he also said he doesn’t know why the timeline is so tight, but he expects the school district to enter discussions from the standpoint of wanting to hold the land for a possible future school some years down the road, as its properties on the West Seattle peninsula don’t have as much room." (italics mine)
Don't worry, Steve, you'll get there. And yes, you should wonder, why the district is ALWAYS in a "hurry-up" mode on their timelines. And, yes, the district (via Facilities) likely has already decided what they want to do with the Denny property and are already doing their best to line up their ducks to make it so. Thank goodness, West Seattlites are a feisty bunch who do their homework.