Hearing Examiner has provided recommendations to Council
Children’s request for expansion
SEATTLE – Today, the Seattle City Council received scores of calls from constituents regarding the recent recommendation by the city’s Hearing Examiner on Seattle Children’s Hospital’s request for its master plan. It’s critical the public understand the process and the involvement of the City Council.
The process started when Seattle Children’s Hospital made a request for approval of a new Major Institution Master Plan (MIMP) to guide a proposed expansion of its buildings and campus. Master plan approvals are subject to the city’s quasi-judicial rules and the state’s Appearance of Fairness Doctrine (RCW 42.36). Under these rules, the Councilmembers cannot hear directly from the public about the merits of the Hearing Examiner’s recommendation, Children’s proposed expansion, comments or objections to the expansion.
A quasi-judicial decision means that the Council are acting as judges rather than legislators as they are responsible for determining the legal rights, duties or privileges of specific parties. In this case, the specific party is Seattle Children’s Hospital. The Appearance of Fairness Doctrine is intended to ensure that legislators sitting in a quasi-judicial capacity are not subject to the undue influence of proponents or opponents of a land use proposal. In essence, the quasi-judicial process is designed to ensure that Councilmembers remain unbiased as decision makers.
The Council’s decision on Seattle Children’s Hospital requested expansion will be based on the Hearing Examiner’s record. This record includes public testimony provided at the hearing as well as exhibits submitted by the proponents and opponents at the time of the Hearing Examiner’s hearing on the proposed expansion. The Council cannot consider information outside of this record, unless a valid appeal is submitted with a request for additional information. No public comment outside of the Hearing Examiner’s record or appeal process can be considered.
The Hearing Examiner provides a recommendation only. The Council will review the record and consider the merits of Seattle Children’s proposal late this year or early next year. During the review process the Council may hear appeals that are submitted in accordance to Council rules. The Council has the final decision on whether to allow Children’s to expand.
Council meetings are cablecast live on Seattle Channel 21 and Webcast live on the City Council’s website at www.seattle.gov/council. Copies of legislation, archives of previous meetings, and news releases are available on www.seattle.gov/council.