MLCC in green

roosevelt looking north
waldo 15th
5th looking south
community garden
Mt Rainier view
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We've populated this page with facts about the development and its potential effects on the environment.

  • A City of Seattle arborist and an independent arborist – everybody but the arborist hired by the developer – say Waldo Woods is healthy enough to save if it is saved intact. Shouldn’t this be enough for the Mayor to take action? The Mayor's Department of Planning and Development didn't even mention these reports, instead choosing to pay attention only to the developer's arborist.
  • 39 units on other sites might serve the public well. 39 units on this site results in the loss of over 70 trees/big shrubs and endangers the drinking water supply from lead during demolition.
  • Seattle’s tree canopy has decreased from 40% in 1972 to about 18% currently. The proposed Urban Forest Management Plan wants to bring this to 30%. This will be much more difficult if we keep losing trees like Waldo Woods.
  • There is no discernable public benefit from this development. The housing will be over $100,000 above the median price in Maple Leaf, the resulting development will have twice the carbon footprint, and we lose over 70 trees/big shrubs.
  • The city should have required a full Environmental Impact Statement for this site due to the loss of trees, dangers from demolition, and the availability of preferable alternatives. This unique property deserves the unique protections of an EIS. Instead, the Mayor's Department of Planning and Development broke it own rules and rushed to issue a Determination of Non-Significance as a favor to the developer.
  • If the community had not participated in this effort, the Mayor’s permit granters would never have known the developer missed lead contamination, extensive asbestos, and potential heavy metals. Before you criticize the neighbors for being “NIMBYs” thank them first the next time you have the occasion to drink a glass of tap water in the north end or your kids breathe the air around the nearby park.
  • The Mayor has been heralded nationally for his green initiatives. It is time for him to earn the fame and kudos by working actively to find a better solution at Waldo Woods.
  • Flooding in Thornton Creek last December can partially be traced back to uphill development. Replacing mature, native evergreens with tiny deciduous trees is not green and it will not present the same environmental benefit even 30 years from now when the replacement trees are mature.
  • Sesame Street teaches children “one of these things is not like the other.” Replacing mature Douglas firs with 2” caliper deciduous trees and calling it an even swap is ridiculous. It is obvious this replacement is not comparable on any level except it allows the developers to be able to check off a box stating they are planting trees.
  • Why would people want to bring up kids in a place that is losing so many trees? If you want families to move out of Seattle, keep on letting trees be unnecessarily ripped out like this.

  • Air pollution and the need for a healthy water supply has resulted in our need to cover our reservoirs – why is the dust from the destruction of a building full of lead and asbestos, a demolition that will take place 50 yards from a reservoir and less than 300 yards from a public park not being taken into consideration.

Adhere to Mayor's four-point "Environmental Action Agenda"
The Mayor has received positive publicity for his "Action Agenda". The proposed development violates three of the four basic principles he proposed. Pointing this out in a letter to the Mayor will emphasize the stakes involved if the Department of Planning and Development, which is an executive department controlled by the Mayor, approves this project as currently designed. The best way to ensure the spirit of the Mayor's Environmental Action Agenda is upheld in terms of the project is to require the developer complete a full Environmental Impact Statement.

Here is a link to the Mayor's Environmental Action Agenda.

Prevent destruction of Maple Leaf’s Waldo Forest
Waldo Forest is a 108-tree, contiguous urban forest located in Maple Leaf at 8511 15th Ave NE. Camp Fire sold to the highest bidder instead of the best bidder, and the buyer they chose plans to cut down most of the trees in this unique urban forest. Waldo Forest contains nearly two dozen trees over two feet in diameter and a pair of trees 100 feet high which are nearly three feet in diameter. According to surveys done by our arborists and experienced community volunteers, Waldo Forest is in excellent shape --provided the stand of trees is not disturbed. Bald eagles and other wildlife regularly visit this beautiful site.

Will our air and drinking water be safe?
Dust and debris from the demolition of Historic Waldo Hospital and subsequent construction could find their way into the reservoir. Airborne particles will include lead paint dust, asbestos, and heavy metals. A full “Environmental Impact Statement” (EIS) should be required before construction starts so alternatives can be considered and precautions taken to avoid adverse effects on our neighborhood’s health.

Where will they all park?
The proposed 39 townhomes on the site will, at our neighborhood averages, come with nearly 70 cars not including visitors. There is parking proposed for 48. There is no visitor parking on the site. The development will eliminate some street parking.

Who pays for needed traffic improvements?
The intersection at 15th NE and Lake City Way is already an identified trouble spot. The proposed 39 new townhomes will, by neighborhood averages, generate over 290 additional daily vehicle trips. There also have been numerous traffic accidents and even a fatality at the intersections of 85th/86th and 15th, and these intersections must be improved to handle the increased traffic. Traffic in this area of Maple Leaf is already bad and this development will make it worse. Shouldn’t the developers, who will gain the most monetarily from this development, pay part of the costs?

What can I do?
Development will happen at the Waldo Hospital site. We’re working together to have a positive effect on the development plans. There are three easy things you can do to help:

  • Write the Mayor and city Councilmembers. Ask them to require the developer to do a full EIS. Ask them to be creative in saving all the trees in Waldo Forest. Ask them to require appropriate mitigations to handle the increased traffic pressure
  • Donate. We need funds to help defend Waldo Woods and the Waldo Hospital site.

Click here to e-mail Save Waldo committee head David Miller

Waldo Forest Facts & Figures

  • There are 108 trees and prominent shrubs identified on the site survey. The developer will remove all but 36. Many of the most noticeable trees on the site will be removed by the developer, including two trees designated as "exceptional" according to the City's own rules. Of the 36 remaining, over 1/3 of them will be endangered because planned units are so close to their root structures. Both an independent arborist hired by the Maple Leaf Community Council and the City's own arborist have stated the best chance for any of the trees in the grove on the eastern 1/3 of the site to survive is if the entire grove is left intact.

  • A full Environmental Impact Statement is the best way to ensure meaningful alternatives to cutting Waldo Forest are explored. In addition to the environmental value of Waldo Forest, the site’s proximity to Maple Leaf Reservoir (immediately adjacent) and the toxic materials (asbestos, radon, lead, and mercury) that would be released during demolition pose unique environmental hazards. To see the Maple Leaf Community Council's detailed comments on the proposed development, click here.
  • Green Seattle, the Urban Forest Management Plan, and the Seattle Climate Change Initiative are programs and policies already in place designed to improve the environment in Seattle and the surrounding area. When any of these plans run up against development interests, development always seems to win. Waldo Forest is a test case for how serious our elected officials are about preserving the environment.
  • Contiguous stands of trees are particularly environmentally significant. During the recent windstorm, Waldo Forest survived intact. A recent court decision faulted the City for looking only at individual trees instead of an entire grove (
  • Seattle’s tree canopy has decreased from 40% in 1972 to about 18% currently. The proposed Urban Forest Management Plan wants to bring this to 30%. (Mayor’s staff presentation to Seattle City Council EEMU Committee, July 10, 2007).
  • Lost tree canopy in Seattle during 1972-1996 translates to 35 million more pounds of pollutants in the atmosphere annually (American Forests 1998).
  • Large trees are freestanding anti-flood reservoirs. Larger trees intercept more than 1,500 gallons per year, evaporating that volume of water instead of it having to be handled in stormwater systems. Seattle’s Urban Forest Management plan notes additional stormwater costs due to loss of tree canopy exceeds $1.3 million per year.
  • Preserving Waldo Forest still leaves about 2/3 of the site available for development. With the right political leadership and proper environmental analysis of thep project via an Environmental Impact Statement, Seattle can have its cake and eat it too.
  • The current owners, Camp Fire Puget Sound, rejected community offers to help raise money to repair the existing building to extend its useful life. They rejected community offers to help find a developer who would respect the significant historical and environmental aspects of the site, saying their only goal was to maximize the amount of money they would get from the sale. They spent $65,000 to hire lawyers and expert witnesses from around the country to combat a volunteer effort to designate the building and the site as a Seattle Landmark.
  • “’We are at risk of becoming ‘the city formerly known as Emerald,’ Mayor Greg Nickels said while launching his ambitious Green Seattle Initiative back in April [2004]. ‘ We must take action now to restore our public forests, build healthy neighborhoods and thriving business districts, and keep our city green.’” (


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