Friday, December 15, 2017

Tips To Keep Packages And Mail Safe

The Laurelhurst Blog has received an increase in reports of packages stolen from porches with the holidays approaching. 

Some recent reports of stolen packages came from homes located near Laurelhurst Elementary School and on the south side of the Park. 

The Seattle Police reported:

We are at a time of year when we see an increase in package thefts from homes.   Some package thieves will follow or watch for delivery trucks and then target a home after a delivery is made; other thieves may just happen to see the package left at the doorstep of the home, in plain view of the street, and help themselves.

Here are Seattle Police holiday prevention tips:

Package prevention:
  • If you are having packages delivered from an online order try to get them sent to your place of work if that's allowed. If not, there are some companies that have lockers available as a pickup location.
  • If you are leaving presents out to look at until it's time to open them, try to make sure you can't see them from a window or door in your home.
  • If you see someone suspicious checking out mailboxes for deliveries call 911. We need your help on this one, get a good description of the person and their vehicle if they have one.
  • Track your shipment: All of the major delivery companies offer package tracking, some providing free alerts letting you know where your package is in the shipping process. 
  • Require a signature upon delivery.
  • Pick up the item(s) from the carrier’s local hub.
  • Ask the delivery service to hold your package for customer pick-up at their local shipping facility.
  • Request the package be left with a trusted neighbor who has agreed to accept the package for you.
  • Arrange to have the package shipped to another location where someone can receive it.  This could be your workplace, a friend or relative’s home, with a trusted neighbor, the leasing office at your apartment complex or even the local “mailbox” business that may agree to accept shipment of your item for a fee.
  • If none of the above are viable options, at the very least request the package be placed in a discrete location not visible from the street.

Car Prowl Prevention
  • When you exit or enter your parked vehicle, take a moment to look around the area.
  • Turn off and lock your car whenever you have to walk away from it.  This includes at gas pumps, ATMs, coffee shops, etc.  Never leave your car idling and unattended.

    Before leaving your parked car, always remove the keys, roll up the windows and lock the car.
  • Leave No Valuables in Your Car.  Never leave valuables in your car.  Items of little or no value to you still look inviting to a thief.  Even pocket change is enough of an enticement for some thieves.
  • If you must leave valuables in your car (say you’re out shopping and still have some stops to make), make sure that nothing of value is within plain view.  Place items in your car trunk out of sight.  Do this when you get to your car, rather than waiting until you park at your next stop.
  • Don’t leave accessories visible in your car.  You may have taken the Laptop or IPod in with you, but if you leave the USB cables for your laptop or earbuds for the IPod in the back seat, the offender may think those items are in the car and break in anyway.
  • If you have a GPS, think about how it is mounted in your car.  If the mounting for the GPS is visible, the thief may think the GPS is in the glove box or under the seat and may break in to try to get it. Have removable mounting for the GPS and put that out of sight as well.

Personal Safety
  • Before you leave home decide what you actually need to take with you rather than automatically taking your entire handbag or wallet out of habit.  For example, if you are going to the grocery store for a few items, you can carry cash, a single check, or credit/debit card, I.D. and keys in a pocket.
  • Wear clothing and shoes that are comfortable, low profile and appropriate for the weather.  This may not be the most fashionable choice but it is the safest.
  • Always plan your route and stay alert to your surroundings.  Avoid shortcuts.  Walk confidently.  Scan your surroundings and make eye contact with people.
  • Carry your keys and ID separately.  If someone gets your keys and ID, they may go to your home or business and access that location with the keys.
  • Always maintain positive control over your items.  Don’t tempt a thief by leaving your purse, wallet or packages unattended.  It only takes a second to grab them.  Never leave your purse unattended, even if it is in a shopping cart.
  • If you carry a purse, don’t dangle it from your arm.  Carry it very close to you, preferable with the strap over your shoulder and the purse to the front of your body.  Even better would be to carry the purse over your shoulder across your body and under your coat.
  • Take a friend along when doing holiday shopping.  Using the buddy system reduces your chances of being a victim of robbery.
  • When paying by cash, only take out the amount needed and keep the remainder out of view.  It’s always a good idea to carry minimal amounts of cash, regardless of the time of year.
  • Beware of strangers who bump, shove or get too close. Pickpockets may use these diversions to lift your wallet.
  • Be cautious of those you don’t know who offer to carry bags and packages for you.  Depending on where you shop, store personnel or mall security may offer assistance in carrying packages to your car or escorting you to your vehicle.
  • Before returning to your car, make sure you’re not over-burdened with packages.  Have your car keys in hand to avoid searching for them when you reach your car.
  • If you are attacked on the street, make as much noise as possible by calling for help or blowing a whistle.  Do not pursue your attacker.  Call 911 and report the crime as soon as possible.

Home Prevention Tips
  • Don’t openly display wrapped or received gifts so they are easily visible from the street.  You increase the possibility that a burglar will be tempted to gain entry and steal the gifts.
  • When disposing of the packaging in which gifts and other purchases come, realize that when you place these out for recycling or trash collection, those boxes sitting out on the curb on collection day give a passer-by a pretty good indication of what’s in your home.  Recycle the packaging, yes - but break the boxes down first, turn them inside out so the exterior writing does not show, and don’t put them on the curb until collection day. 
  • Burglars often enter through unlocked doors or windows.  When exterior holiday light extension cords are run inside through a window, this prevents the window from being secured, and this unsecured window is visibly noticeable.  Consider installing an inexpensive exterior outlet for your holiday lights so you don’t provide an opened and unlocked entry to your home. If you are going to be away, let your trusted neighbors know that you plan to be out town so that they can watch your home for you.  If they see suspicious activity while you are gone, they will know to call 911 for you.

Seattle Police recommend that citizens should always call 911 if they see a crime in progress or are a crime, no matter how small a person may think it is.  Crimes can also be reported on-line here.

SR520 Bike Lane Opening Wednesday

WSDOT published this information:

SR 520 bicycle and pedestrian trail opening to Montlake Wednesday, December 20

WSDOT is opening the SR 520 Trail all the way across Lake Washington at 3pm on Wednesday. On Wednesday morning, crews will put the finishing touches on the trail. The trail will connect cyclists and pedestrians across the bridge for the first time.
Check out this drone video for a sneak peek of the newest section of the SR 520 Trail, connecting the Eastside and Montlake. 
WSDOT;s blog post has more information about the construction of the path and how it fits in with regional trails.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Children's Hospital Gives Unique Name To Phase 2 Of Expansion, Another 8 Story Building

Children's Hospital recently posted on their Construction Blog that the upcoming Forest B expansion has a name: "Building Care." The building recently completed, Forest A, along NE 45th Street, was named "Building Hope."

The Blog post said that groundbreaking for Building Care is scheduled for fall 2018, with anticipated completion in 2021. 

The Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) published information in their recent newsletter about Children's Hospital's plans for the newest building, "Forest B," which will be located on the existing surface parking lot near the Emergency Room, at an angle to Building Hope.

The LCC October newsletter article said:

Children’s Forest B Plans Take Shape 
Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH) has applied for approval of its June 2008 Master Use permit #3028028 for Phase 2 of its expansion, Forest B. Their EIS addendum evaluates a range of changes and impacts from the original project data and plans that will affect bordering neighborhoods. LCC has worked with SCH in its development of the Master Plan and will continue to do so in a cooperative relationship seeking outcomes that both meet the hospital’s needs and address neighborhood impacts. 
The build out will add an eight-story structure and includes diagnostic and treatment facilities (primarily out-patient cancer and others), labs, new state-of-the-art operating rooms, 20 inpatient beds, and a lobby. Two floors underground are for parking and sterile processing. This will bring SCH bed total to 409, up from 200 before its expansion 2012 plan. 
Outside surface parking at that location will be eliminated and 323 parking places will be located under Forest B – a net increase of 137 spaces. There will be exits to Penny Drive and 40th Ave NE, which is already heavily congested and is the main entrance to Laurelhurst for the nearest fire and emergency vehicles. To relieve construction, shuttles would shift north to an internal loop road exiting to Sand Point Way NE. 
The helicopter landing pad will move temporarily to the roof of Forest A (176’). Lighting will be as low as permissible; however, each patient transport takes a minimum of 20 to 45 minutes. Noise likely will be louder than the ground-based helipad. When Forest B is complete, the helistop moves to its permanent location on top of Forest B (same height). Noise levels will remain increased at nearby residential sites in Laurelhurst. LCC will continue to monitor. 
LCC has always supported and will continue to support the need to transport critically ill children via helicopters at the helistop. In 2015, there were 111 landings (44% more than predicted in the original EIS); in 2016, 85 landings, more than anticipated using 2007 projections and with fewer beds. 
The biggest change in the Construction Plan for Phase 2, Forest B, is the sheer number of trucks per day that will impact the streets around the building site, particularly, along 40th Avenue NE. The original proposal was 27 to 84 trucks daily for seven to 10 months. Now the plan proposes to shorten the schedule to four months, but that would be 94 trucks per day. SDOT will need to evaluate such a change to ensure that 40th Avenue NE can remain open for neighborhood egress and emergency vehicles. 

LCC will continue to work with Children’s to address issues.  The scheduled opening of the new building is planned for the summer of 2021.

Todd Johnson, Children's Hospital Vice President, Facilities and Supply Chain, told the Laurelhurst Blog Staff: in July:

Forest B will be approximately 300,000 square feet (about the size of Forest A) and eight stories tall, within approved Major Institution Master Plan guidelines. During construction, we may add a temporary construction driveway on Sand Point Way.  Construction will generally be five days a week and there will be activity after hours. 
Forest B will be a diagnostic and therapeutic building designed to support the sickest children in our region and will also be home to 20 new cancer care beds (only new beds in the project) on the top floor under an approved certificate of need to the State of Washington (a formal process to gain approval for additional beds).  
The new building will also have a new outpatient clinic space for cancer and cardiac care; a new infusion center; new large, state-of-the-art operating rooms and support spaces; a clinical laboratory and inpatient pharmacy and a work space for physicians and others caring for patients in the building.   
There will be approximately 300 underground parking spaces.  The Hospital shuttles will move to the north end of the site.  The circulation of shuttles, bicycles, pedestrians and cars will be better separated.   
We will make deliberate connections to the bus stops and Burke Gilman Trail crosswalk.  We are working with Transpo Group to better understand how to optimize the flow of traffic on and around our campus.
There will be a landscaped plaza and circulation area in front of the new building.  Existing landscaping around the construction site will be preserved and/or replaced and enhanced. 
We intend to utilize the existing entrances/exits on 40th Avenue NE and Sand Point Way and will continue to use the Penney Drive entrance as the primary means for entering and exiting.  The Phil Smart Way connector will remain in place.  
The hospital determined it needed additional facilities based on growing patient volumes, innovation-driven program growth (in areas such as immunotherapy and neurosciences), and the functional obsolescence of some of the oldest buildings on campus.  
We expect a certificate of occupancy in mid-2021.  We then will then commission building systems, clean, install furnishings and equipment, and complete staff training.  We should be ready to care for patients in late 2021 or early 2022.

Additionally, the Laurelhurst Community Club (LCC) published in a newsletter that the helistop will move to Building Hope temporarily and later will be located on the roof of the Forest B Building. And the Hartman Building, the brick one-story building, located directly across from the Hospital, will become an outpatient diabetic care facility with construction starting in early 2018 and completion in 2020-21. 

Openings On City's Northeast Design Review Board

Applications are being accepted for the City's Northeast Design Review Board.   Applications are due by tomorrow end of day and the volunteer positions will start on April 4, when retiring board members’ terms expire.

Here is information:

Members Sought for Seattle’s Design Review Boards

Passionate about design or architecture?  Help shape new buildings in your communityThe Mayor is looking for qualified candidates to fill 15 upcoming openings on the City of Seattle’s Design Review Boards.

Board members evaluate the design of new buildings based on citywide and neighborhood-specific design guidelines. The boards review large mixed-use developments, multifamily housing, and commercial projects. 

Ideal candidates are professionals in the design and development fields who have proven skills and established careers. We are also seeking community and business leaders interested in civic engagement and shaping new development in their neighborhoods.

The Northeast Design Review Board description: 
  • Design profession representative
  • Business/Landscape Design profession representative
Applicants should have:
  • Knowledge of, or interest in, architecture, urban design, and the development process
  • The ability to evaluate projects based on the city’s design guidelines
  • The ability to listen and communicate effectively at public meetings
  • A passion for design and community development
  • The ability to work well with others under pressure (prior experience with community or neighborhood groups is a plus)

Board members should expect to work approximately 15 hours a month attending and preparing for board meetings, held twice a month in the evenings. Board members are expected to attend at least 90 percent of the meetings.  

Download an application and email it (preferred), along with a cover letter and resume, to Lisa Rutzick at

If emailing is not an option, applicants can send their applications via U.S. mail to:
Lisa Rutzick, Design Review Program Manager
City of Seattle, Department of Construction and Inspections
700 – 5th Ave, Suite 1800, P.O. Box 34019
Seattle, Washington 98124-4019

The City of Seattle encourages applicants from all backgrounds and those with diverse life experiences.

For more information on the Design Review Board and the City’s Design Review Program, go to SDCI’s Design Review website or contact Lisa Rutzick, Design Review Program Manager at (206) 386-9049 or

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Check Out Neighbor's Extensive Holiday Lights Display At Corner Of NE 41st Street And 42nd Avenue NE

4103 42nd Avenue NE


Don't miss checking out the holiday lights and displays at the corner of of 42nd Avenue NE and NE 41st Street, home of the Rupps.

Jim Rupp was born and raised in Laurelhurst. His parents lived in the neighborhood from 1938 to 1986. Jim bought the house in 1983 and lives there with his wife, Susan.

The Rupps told the Laurelhurst Blog Staff that the work to decorate the house begins around Thanksgiving when Jim starts assembling everything in the garage and testing lights. It takes about three weekends to get everything prepared, up and working.

The display includes: Icicle lights along the gutters, 3 deer, 3 snowmen, two stars, a shooting star, 3 wreaths, 3 Christmas trees, a little moose, 2 polar bears, lighted candy canes, a Santa, a collection of net lights, and lots of other lights.

"Jim stays off the roof, so no decorations there, and we don’t include inflatables," the Rupps said.

The tradition of decorating the house started before  their kids were born, prior to 1996, when they had just a few outdoor lights.

"Then Jim inherited a long ladder from his parents, and in 2000 when we remodeled the house got longer and we added more outdoor outlets and built the raised garden. The display gradually grew and grew," the Rupps said.

The display has evolved over the years and a basic plan is drawn out on a set of house drawings left over from the construction of a new addition.

"Every year the arrangement changes a little, mostly on a whim or because older pieces no longer work. In many years we’ve added a new piece. Last year it was a snowman. This year it’s a new deer. In many cases pieces have been early Christmas gifts from Susan’s mom," the Rupps added.

The Rupps also told the Laurelhurst Blog staff :
People always ask how it affects our electric bill. We don’t pay any attention to that. It would take some of the fun out of it. We enjoy looking out the window and seeing cars slow down as they pass.  
When the kids were young we’d invite a group of friends and their kids over for the first lighting. Jim would turn on the lights, then the kids would all come outside and see them for the first time. Many children remember the display from the year before and can point out what’s new or what we’ve done differently.  
Many times at neighborhood parties when we talk with people we don’t know, they ask where we live. Once we say it’s on the corner at the bottom of the hill, many say, “Oh, you’re the house with the Christmas lights!” At one party a dad called his little boy over to meet Jim. The kid was impressed. It was pretty cute.

The Rupps don't decorate for other holidays "except for a seasonal flag."

The house is located at 4103 42nd Avenue NE.

If you know of other houses in the neighborhood that neighbors would enjoy seeing, please send the information to

December UW Gardens Plant Profile: Sweetgum

Each month the UW Botanic Gardens' Newsletter, E-Flora, posts in detail about a specific plant, among many other interesting posts about events and general information.

This month's feature is Liquidambar styraciflua or sweetgum.  .

Here is the posting:

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Andrei, Homeless Man, Spotted In The Neighborhood Recently

picture from last year

Andrei Peter Strejac, a homeless man that was frequenting the neighborhood from the fall of last year through Spring of this year, has been seen again in the neighborhood, neighbors report.

Andrei has been seen walking on 48th Avenue towards Sand Point Way and also walking around the Park. Neighbors report he is much "slender and more subdued".

Andre reportedly told one pedestrian in the park recently, that he was looking for his mother, and he didn't know where she lived or how to reach her. 
The Laurelhurst Blog posted about this individual in September of last year, who has reportedly been known to chase people and act in an aggressive manner.

In November, 2010 Andrei followed a North Seattle man home and tried to steal his bag from the man's porch. Andrei was charged with attempted second-degree robbery.  Here is a record of Andrei being booked by King County Department of Detention in March 2016.

Last year, in the early spring and summer, Andrei was regularly seen walking on the streets around Laurelhurst Elementary School and  usually walking around Laurelhurst Park in the early evening.

The Laurelhurst Blog received numerous reports from neighbors last year, one in particular who reported being chased by Andrei to her house in Laurelhurst all the way from the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Other reports were received from neighbors of being apprehensive of encounters with Andrei while in the Park.

Last  summer, Andrei was frequently seen sleeping in the Park near the Tennis courts, as well as sleeping amongst the bushes by the garbage enclosure near the Community Center.

For more information about Andrei and detailed list of reported previous neighbor incidents go here.

Saturday Bird Walk Union Bay Natural Area

The Seattle Audubon Society is having a bird walk from 9-11am Saturday at the Union Bay Natural Area, led by tomorrow at Magnuson Park, led by Julia Hansbrough and Jill Ericsson.

Participants are to meet at the Center for Urban Horticulture, East Parking Lot (near greenhouses, off NE 41st Street, one block beyond the place where Mary Gates Memorial Drive turns left to becomes NE 41st Street).

Go here for more information.

Monday, December 11, 2017

All About the Eagles Nesting Near The UW Washington Activity Center

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

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

A Pirate's Bounty
Our local bald eagles enjoy sitting in the tree tops just north of the Waterfront Activity Center (WAC). They spend hours gazing out across Union Bay.

On Friday, two different people asked me if the eagles were nesting near the WAC. I think the question is a good one. It most likely indicates that the eagles are being seen consistently in the area. It might even imply that the observer has noticed that the eagles are mature birds, sitting side-by-side and apparently a mated pair. (The fully white heads and tails only appear when bald eagles are mature enough to take a mate, build a nest and raise young.) Actually, seeing a mated pair consistently in the same area probably does indicate that the eagles are nesting nearby. The question is, What is your definition of nearby?

Of course, mature eagles are not the only ones that can be seen near the WAC. Friday afternoon, I spotted this third-year bird hiding among the cottonwood branches. Click Here if you would like to learn more about estimating the age of an eagle.

However, four fully mature bald eagles often hang out near the WAC. This photo shows the northern pair which prefer this deciduous tree. The southern pair (in the first photo) are consistently found in the same coniferous tree between the dock and the WAC parking lot.

In August, I watched the northern pair get excited and start calling. Surprisingly, I have even watched them call out to the southern pair of eagles when they come in off the bay. I have saw no signs of malice between the two pairs. Their calls did not sound defensive or argumentative. They actually sounded like greetings.

Occasionally, one of the mature eagles will do a solo flight.

When a eagle glides over the bay the coots and wigeons scatter and fly. The smaller birds appear to open a path across the water in front of the eagle. It reminds me of a servant rolling out a red carpet for royalty. In reality, this behavior appears to be motivated by self-preservation and a grudging respect for sharp talons.

If one mate is already at the WAC they almost always call out a greeting. I find their melodic calls sound to like a slightly syncopated descending melody to me. If I wrote music to accompany cartoons, an eagle's call would fit nicely with a happy-go-lucky buffoon tumbling down a hillside. If you would like to form your own opinion regarding the musical skills of bald eagles, Click Here, and then scroll down.

Still, it is most common to see them visiting the WAC as a pair.

They can sit surprisingly close, especially given the size and sharpness of their talons.

Occasionally, they give each other a little breathing room.

Since they mate for life, which can extend over decades, they appear to develop a very strong bond. I wonder if we will ever find a scientific way to determine whether mated eagles feel something similar to what we call love. 

Both pairs of bald eagles nest next to Union Bay. Neither nest is visible from the WAC. However, from the eagles' perspective their respective nests are just a short flight away.

The southern pair (Eva and Albert) raise their young above the Broadmoor Golf Course - in this rather extensive nest. From what I have seen, most eagle's nests are made primarily of cottonwood branches. I suspect this nest may exceed two thousand pounds in weight. To give you an idea of the size, remember that the wingspan of a bald eagle is approximately six feet. I suspect the average human could sit and probably even lay down inside this nest. Although, I suspect the olfactory sensation might be less than desired - eagles love fish.

The nest of the northern pair is in a cottonwood tree on the north side of Union Bay. I find this nest difficult to view in the winter and virtually impossible to see when it is active - due to the profusion of cottonwood leaves come Spring.

Since the eagles do not nest in the immediate vicinity of the WAC you may be wondering what are they doing there?

Historically, I always thought the eagles were watching the coots, wigeons and other ducks. I suspected they were looking for careless waterfowl to consume. I imagined ducks so focused on securing their own food, that they allowed the eagles to occasionally swoop down and grab lunch. Over time, I have come to the conclusion that the bald eagles may be even more interested in the double-crested cormorants. With a dozen buoys in the water in front of the WAC, and a cormorant on nearly everyone, the eagles have plenty to watch.

Sometimes the buoys won't even hold all the cormorants. I admit that the cormorants are fairly large, cantankerous birds and I have never seen an eagle catch or eat one. I suspect the relationship between to species is slightly more complex. The eagles love fish and the cormorants are the best fishers on Union Bay.

Readers who have been following my blog for a while might ask, What about the osprey? Our local osprey are incredibly effective at catching fish, but I believe if you calculated the time spent per pound of fish caught the cormorants would win. They are a dark bird that dives down to the bottom and goes after the fish in its own element. They do not have to wait for a fish to wander close to the surface, as the osprey must.

Surprisingly, I believe the eagles are less effective at fishing than both the osprey and the cormorants. None the less, I think the eagles secure fish with less effort than either of the other two species.  

A few years ago I watched a bald eagle fly over my head, circle low just above the empty bay and then settle down into the water.

The actions were similar to what we see in this photo. After a moment, a cormorant broke the surface, just behind the eagle and flew away. The eagle slowly shook off the water and pulled itself back into the air. Eagles do not dive and are unable to reach down to where the bottom fish live, but when the eagle flew away it was carrying a large bottom fish - with obvious whiskers for feeling around in the muck. I believe, that as the cormorant approached the surface it was essentially given a choice. With an eagle waiting over head the question was, 'Your fish or your life?' At which point the cormorant choose life. 

Multiple times I have found the meatless remains of large bottom fish under the trees, where the eagles sit, next to the WAC. Given that there are plenty of fish and dozens of highly skilled cormorants on Union Bay the tax rate for each individual cormorant does not appear to be too burdensome.

Now that the football season is nearly over, and the Husky fans will no longer be visiting by boat, the buoys will be removed. This will lowered the number of perches for the cormorants, which may in turn lower the number of opportunities for the bald eagles to steal fish. I wonder if we will begin seeing less of the bald eagles in the immediate vicinity of the WAC.

Last week, I watched a third year eagle (which looked a lot like the bird I saw yesterday at the WAC) devour a fish at the Union Bay Natural Area. It makes me wonder at what age eagles learn to become pirates or is it simply in their genes. I have no doubt that bald eagles occasionally catch their own food - I have seen it happen. However, given the proximity to the cormorants and the amount of time our local eagles spend at the WAC I suspect that, at least during football season, their pirate's bounty is a major portion of their diet.

Hospital Drilling Next Two Days

Children's Hospital posted this information on their Construction Blog:

Tomorrow and Wednesday, a private geotechnical company will drill some large holes at different locations in the River parking lot on campus to take soil samples.  
Each drilling will take about a day to complete, and work will take place between 8 to 5pm.  A large drill rig will be brought in to to complete the work.   
There will be some noise and possible vibration during morning hours only. They will return on December 18-19 to do some testing.  
If you have questions or concerns, please