Today at 2 p.m, the Seattle City Council will consider a request from Swedish Hospital and its partner the Sabey development company to be allowed to build higher and/or denser at their Squire Park/Cherry Hill site. Surrounding neighbors have been fighting the bulkinization of the campus for years, arguing that it will hurt neighborhood character, decrease sunlight, and aggravate already-bad traffic.
The dispute between the hospital/developer combo and their critics has been heated at times. In 2014, advisory committee chair Katie Porter told me that Swedish/Sabey “hasn’t tried to be a part of the community. They see their own needs and desires as trumping their neighbors.’” Last year, Swedish issued a cease and desist letter to WA Community Action Network organizers who’d joined forces with neighbors in the expansion fight.
Neighbors appealed the Department of Planning and Development’s approval of Swedish’s expansion plan (known as a Major Institution Master Plan, or MIMP) up to the city hearing examiner this past September, who recommended a somewhat moderated version of Swedish/Sabey’s expansion plan. Her recommendation was appealed to Council by seven different parties, including Porter’s advisory committee. Another was advisory committee member Dean Paton, a Christian Science Monitor correspondent who wrote in his appeal that over the committee’s three years and nearly 100 hours of public testimony, “not one resident that lived in the neighborhoods surrounding the Cherry Hill Campus rose to speak in favor of the Swedish/Sabey MIMP. Not one person. Ever.”
The Council’s Planning, Land Use and Zoning committee has been deliberating since February over how much to walk back Swedish/Sabey’s expansion plan in light of neighborhood concerns.