Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year's Resolution: Real Change

Last time I checked, Real Change was still working toward it's big winter fundraising goal of $150K (so...familiar...). Real Change's goals of creating a more humane Seattle, creating more low-income housing, having enough shelters for everyone who's still stuck on the street and so forth are great.

Do you know what I like even better?

Their newspaper.

They write good articles. They cover super-local social justice issues that in other papers are covered briefly, not covered at all, or buried on a back page. And they hire the people they're trying to help to sell the paper.

Therefore, my first New Year's resolution is to keep them in business. Want to help?

In the two weeks before Christmas

It was no one's fault it snowed, and the City can't be expected to be fully prepared for such a ridiculous (1861!) meteorological event. But Mayor Nickels did do a fairly wretched job of dealing with Snowmegeddon...and then proceeded to give himself a passing grade on his handling of the situation.

I think it's time for some satire.

Below is a poem that was posted up in the Seattle PI blog: it showed up in Councilmember Rasmussen's office, no author named.

Twas the night before Christmas, and next to the Sound, not a creature was stirring for all were snowbound.
Greyhound buses quit running, no matter the fare, and mailmen and garbagemen said they just couldn't get there!
The children were sliding Queen Anne Hill on their sleds.
While roofs were collapsing on old peoples' heads.
And Mama in her boots and I in my cap, were stuck in the snow and ice and such crap.
When at the Home Depot there arose such a clatter, I trudged from my car to see what was the matter.
A group of sad souls were waving their cash. They couldn't buy shovels, they sold in a flash!
Tires were spinning and just wouldn't go, and chains lay broken in the dirty old snow.
Then, what to my surprise did my eyes look over and see?
Eight representatives of SDOT,
With a politician so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it was Mayor "Salt Nick."
More rapid than gun bans, his excuses they came, "To save our environment the roads stay the same!"
On Broadway! On Boren! On Yesler and Denny! To clear off these roads would cost such a penny!
Sliding down Thomas and onto a wall.
The buses hung over I-5, ready to fall.
Still, he insisted it wasn't his fault, as the world's greenest mayor he wouldn't use salt.
That stuff's corrosive, could hurt the fish.
But Puget Sound is salt water, you ignorant kish! So snowy Seattle continued to stew, but Mayor "Salt Nick" just hadn't a clue.
While I stood there astonished, on nearby TV sets, I saw the airport was packed, no de-icer for jets.
Since others could get down the roads to the ferry, the city decided to close Denny and Cherry.
An accident closed the I-90 bridge.
And people couldn't drive down Phinney Ridge.
Shovels, and salt had just flown off the shelf. And I laughed when I heard Mayor "Salt Nick", in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, he tried to convey we had nothing to dread.
Then thumbing his nose at his citizens' plight, he turned to the crowd and exclaimed, "We've done alright."
And then to his SUV refusing to yield, he left to get solar panels installed on Qwest Field.
But I heard him exclaim, as he skidded past me, "Happy Christmas to all. Heck, I give myself a 'B.'"

1861

The ice age we just braved was the longest period of freezing temperatures and snow in Seattle since 1861. Holy crap.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holly Jolly Christmas

For Life on the Hill's special Christmas post, I've decided that I'll share a little family tradition: really terrible jokes. Every year my mom brings Christmas crackers to Christmas dinner. The little paper hats and prizes are fairly amusing, and pulling the crackers open to make a loud noise is fun. Dry British humor paired with really dumb jokes: priceless.

Q: Why didn't the skeleton go to the Christmas party?
A: Because he had no body to go with.

Q: What do you need to know to be an auctioneer?
A: Lots.

Q: What do you get if you cross a detective with a skeleton?
A: Sherlock Bones

Monday, December 22, 2008

Escape from Seattle

I can't believe it. I caught a flight out of SeaTac this morning. I kid you not.

Mind you, I had to heff my butt down to the bus tunnel with all my baggage because no taxi driver in their right mind was out on the road. Metro drivers, on the other hand, are fuckin' hardcore.

I only had to wait an extra hour for the flight. I swear I got out on one of exactly three flights that left the city today. I was sitting next to two different families who had been stranded at the airport for three days. One woman was in tears because she finally got a chance to go home.

There was jubilation when we took off. There was an ovation when we landed.

My mom got the best Christmas present ever.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pictures of the Snowpocalypse

Around the Hill at 2am with Blogazar

Flickr: Snow Seattle, December 20, 2008

Flickr: Snow Seattle, December 21, 2008


Snowpocalypse 3: Bring it!

I braved the new ice age and headed with my roommate over to The Mercury, the best little goth club in Seattle. Tonight was the night to go. Not only was it "Snowpocalypse 3: Bring it!", Santarchy came to visit. A dozen goths + a dozen Santas + 80s and industrial music = priceless.

{Pictures forthcoming}

PS I've been rickrolled many a time, but I have never before been buttrolled. Until tonight.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

CHS Giving Snowball to the Park

I appreciate that the CHS Giving Snowball 2008 was awarded to the park-to-be at John & Summit/P-Patch Trust for two reasons:

1) When you're raising $150,000, every dollar donated counts.

2) I got to write the title of this blog post.

Buspocalypse

Camera One

Camera Two

I am so happy nobody got hurt when this happened on Friday, especially since at least one of the buses was full of students. How Thomas St. looked like the way to go, I will never understand.

Public Service Announcement

The full version, courtesy of King County and SeaDevi.

The short version, courtesy of hillku.

The names for all this just kill me. The most serious-sounding one is Hanukkah Eve Storm III. Then there's Cap Hill Snow Deathwatch 2008. I prefer "The Snowpocalypse", or even better..."Snowmegeddon".

This is even better than when the news stations freak out in Southern California when it rains. I mean, they have special music and "Storm Watch (present year here)", but nobody gets to stay home and there isn't any weather-induced camaraderie. Also, no sledding.

Kidding aside, stay close to home tonight. I just got in from walking across the Hill - still passable, but it's supposed to get nasty later. It could just be meteorologists having panic attacks, but I prefer to be on the safe side.

{Snowmedgeddon...hee hee hee}

Woohoo, I'm famous :D

Guess who got posted on WorldChanging Seattle again?

The 7 penny snowman

Where there's a will there's a way - as I was heading out for lunch Thursday the folks at EHS Design were putting the finishing touches on the 7 penny snowman. This is the first decent-sized snow person I've seen so far and he was downtown of all places. I figured I should share the niftiness.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Solstice Sunday

The longest night of the year is almost upon us. Since it falls on a Sunday, and there's SNOW, I plan on celebrating. Since I can't have a discreet bonfire and drum circle anywhere closer than Alki, I figured I should look up some parties closer to home.

Shop local - celebrate with the 1300 block of Pine St., 12/21 from 4-7pm
  • Bootyland, The Copper Vine & Whimsy invite you to join them for a Solstice evening of cider, cookies & great deals on last minute gifts:
    + Buy 2, Get 1 Free on Holiday Items at Whimsy
    + 10% off Gifts at Bootyland (Offer Valid WITH Other Coupons)
    + 20% off Any Item Purchased as a gift at The Copper Vine.
  • My favorite part (besides the cider) - For each customer that mentions Unpaving Paradise when making a purchase, The Copper Vine will donate $5 to the park-to-be at John and Summit!
Yule - Public Yule ceremony at Edge of the Circle Books, 12/21 at 7pm
Fiery drama - Winter Solstice Fire Festival at Seattle Center, 12/20 & 21 from 4-9pm
  • To quote the website:
The spectacle begins at 4pm with a performance recognizing the Winter Solstice. Orbis and Solaris create a dynamic outdoor performing art installation that weaves together words, movement, music, fire performances and large luminaries to transform the Seattle Center International Fountain into a stunning celestial wonder.

There are all the events that I know about. If my faithful readers know of any other nifty solstice celebrations, tell me in the comments so I can post it up.

If you didn't get a chance to go sledding...

I was lucky enough to run into some friendly neighbors with toboggans on Little Olive. (Thanks guys! You made my snow day!) However, I realize not everyone got that chance. Now you can, at least virtually - ride along with jseattle as he risks life and limb riding down the Aloha sledding run.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thundersnow Day

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic
Thanks to jseattle for this photo of Aloha as an idyllic sled run.

For more pretty, pretty Thundersnow pics, head on over to CHS blog.

Help, I'm trapped in a giant snowglobe

The view from the 10th floor of the One Union Square Building is crazy. Snow is flying in all directions as far as the eye can see. If we have an earthquake, I will know we are trapped in a giant snowglobe. Wait...there was thunder last night....SNOWGLOBE!

CHCC Holiday Potluck - Snow Cancellation

Sadly, the Capitol Hill Community Council Holiday Potluck will not be tonight because Parks's is keeping certain facilities (like the Cal Anderson Shelterhouse) closed due to snow. It looks like it will be rescheduled to January 8th, same bat time, same bat...place.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What you should do tomorrow

  1. Play in the snow!
  2. Go to Vino Verite's free wine tasting - it starts at six. Have a glass of wine and then...
  3. Run over to the Capitol Hill Community Council's delicious holiday potluck! It's from 7-9pm at the Cal Anderson Shelterhouse. There will be tasty cider, a little gas fireplace all aglow, and the friendly and informative Capitol Hill Community Council.
    Because I'm sure someone will ask: The Shelterhouse is the cute little bungalow right across from the bathrooms, right next to the brightly lit soccer field. The closest street is 10th.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Again with the Viaduct

The Times and the PI have written about it, WorldChanging Seattle has written about, hell, I've even written about it. But time to decide what we're going to do about the Alaskan Way Viaduct, so I will sit down to my keyboard once more.

The surface/transit option may not be shiny, Frank Chopp and Christine Gregoire and Greg Nickels may not be fond of it, but it's effective, relatively inexpensive, and sustainable. It's also quicker to build and we'll get our waterfront back when the project's done.

This post is a little late, considering that the viaduct project team's public meeting was last night at Town Hall. However, we can still all make Cary Moon and Julie Parrett's day by writing to Ron Sims, Christine Gregoire, and Greg Nickels and telling them how important it is that they endorse the surface/transit option to replace the Viaduct. The People's Waterfront Coalition's form letter as well as the contact info of the aforementioned public officials is below. If you want more resources, just click around this post.

PS If you completely disagree with my opinions on the matter, you should write to Gregoire and Sims and Nickels too. If you think the surface/transit idea is crap, write to your public representatives! The most important thing is that the people who make this decision hear from those who will be most affected.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear Governor Gregoire, County Executive Sims, and Mayor Nickels,

As you prepare to select a preferred alternative for viaduct replacement, I am taking this opportunity to express my views.

I believe the surface / transit / I-5 option is the best choice for future Seattle for three reasons.
1. Transportation experts at the three Departments of Transportation have concluded that surface / transit / I-5 will effectively move people and freight where they need to go, both locally and regionally.
2. Surface / transit / I-5 is the least cost approach, important in these tough economic times.
3. Surface / transit / I-5 provides the greatest long-term benefits to our community, economy, and environment. Reconnecting Seattle to the water, providing new public space downtown, improving transit and regional mobility, and creating new opportunities for economic development together can create a prosperous future Seattle less dependent on cars.

It would be a terrible shame to waste this opportunity by erecting a barrier between Seattle and the water for another 100 years.

It is time to head in a new direction with transportation investments. We need a solution that is pragmatic from an economic standpoint, responsible from an environmental standpoint, and constructive of the future city we want Seattle to become. This will be the legacy you leave to future generations. Please select the surface / transit/ I-5 option.

Thank you for your leadership on this difficult and important decision.

Contact Information

Mayor Greg Nickels
600 4th Ave, 7th floor
PO Box 94749
Seattle, WA 98124
206-684-4000
http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/contact.htm

King County Executive Ron Sims
701 5th Ave Ste 3210
Seattle, WA 98104
206-296-4040
email: exec.sims@kingcounty.gov

Governor Christine Gregoire
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504
360-902-4111
http://www.governor.wa.gov/contact/default.asp

Geek of the Week: Raspberries

I've always wondered why making farting noises was called "blowing raspberries". Now I know, thanks to my wonderful boyfriend and the glory that is Wikipedia.

The term originated in Cockney rhyming slang; terms are derived from taking an expression which rhymes with a word and using the first word of that expression to replace the original word. Example: When entering a dangerous area, watch out for barney. Barney comes from Barney Rubble, which rhymes with trouble - watch out for trouble.

So where did "raspberry" come from? Raspberry comes from raspberry tarts, which rhymes with...you guessed it, farts.

22 Doors: Lemon Conjunction

I found out about 22 Doors upcoming all-staff art show when me and the housemates were up there for brunch this Sunday

(We braved ice and snow for their delicious breakfast foods!)

Our waitperson, Mandy, just happens to be the 22 Doors curator so she could tell us all about the amazingness that is Lemon Conjunction. Apparently, "the whole staff is pretty artistic in some way" (Mandy is a painter and printmaker herself), so it just made sense to put together a show of their work.

Lemon Conjunction
22 Doors Presents: Our Staff Show
Showing 12/15/08 - 1/15/09

Opening Reception:
Wednesday, Dec. 16th, 6-9pm

Art by:
Eli
Will
Elmer
Mandilla



Trivia Question: What does Lemon Conjunction mean?

Answer: Nothing. Mandy said she was having trouble getting her colleagues to come up with a theme, so she asked two people to give her a word each.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More weekend fun

Two events are coming up this weekend that I really want to attend: Rainbow Natural Remedies' tasty snacks workshop and a lecture at Edge of the Circle Book on the historical use of runes. (Rainbow's workshop is actually called "Herbal Holiday Balls", but I like my title better.)

Rainbow's snack class is this Saturday from 1-3pm and is absolutely free. "Rune-Magic in the Eddas and the Sagas" is on Sunday from 1-4pm and is $5 at the door - email irisgately(at)vib.org to reserve a spot.

CHS Giving Snowball 2008



Jseattle of CHS fame just started a community collaboration fundraiser. Throw in some money by clicking on the widget (which takes you to paypal), then make a comment on the thread to vote on where the money goes. Nonprofit with the most votes gets the money. I have no money, but I still managed to donate twenty-five bucks. If I can do it, you can do it. Get clicking - the fundraising ends on Dec. 19th.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Capitol Hill Light Rail Station Construction Update Meeting

Nifty things learned from the CHLRSCUM:
  • There will be surface activity on the site 24/7 to support tunnel construction. 40-60 workers will be on site during any given shift. Pro: The site will be continuously occupied, eliminating the public safety issue of a nocturnally abandoned jobsite. Con: Noise issues at night. Sound Transit said they'd limit the use of vehicles during night shifts, but they haven't come up with a detailed noise abatement plan yet.
  • Where will all the construction workers park? ST says they have a potential parking site on First Hill, and the workers will be shuttled to work from there.

  • Demolition will start in January 2009. Tunneling and excavation will take place from January 2010 until December 2012. During tunneling and excavation, Denny and parts of Nagle will be closed to traffic. Sidewalks will remain open except for a few short term closures.

  • One side effect of the tunneling and excavation activity are the large empty trucks coming to the site and large dirt filled trucks leaving the site. They will be coming up Olive and down Denny ever few minutes for three years. Pedestrian safety issues (the need for more crosswalks on Denny and Olive) were noted, but have not been resolved. I'm still waiting for a reply back from the SDOT's bike and pedestrian group on the matter - last time I checked they were still doing research.

  • Sound Transit says that the project's financing is secure. Apparently, the only side effect they will see from the bad economy is more competitive bidding from contractors.

  • Someone besides me brought up the issue of tree removal on the light rail station site. ST confirmed that 73 trees are to be removed from the site in the course of demolition. NRC Environmental, ST's demolition contractor for the project, is working with Big Trees, Inc. to identify and remove trees that can be relocated to new homes. Since trees will be evaluated when the demolition contractor needs to work around them, ST doesn't presently have any information about the number of trees that will be salvaged. Stay tuned for updates.

Sidenote: I got interviewed by KUOW about the community's response to tree removal and construction-related pedestrian safety issues. Super awesome!

A festive evening

Last night's 12th Ave holiday walk was the most fun and effective marketing campaign I have ever participated in. I had a great time and now I want to hang out on 12th more often. Thanks to whoever thought it up and put in the time to make a really nice event.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hollow Earth Radio

Wowzers. These people are great. They literally record their radio shows in the basement of someone's house in Ballard.

From the DIY lookin' pamphlet I found in the literature stand at Kaladi Coffee/Gay City:
HOLLOW EARTH RADIO is the Pacific Northwest's freeform online radio station that provides a forum for underrepresented music, sounds, and perspectives. When you "tune in" to H.E.R. online, you can listen to a slew of local artists, new and old music usually ignored by other media, live recordings of house shows you may attended, interviews of favorite and unknown artists where earnest questions are asked, mountains of found sound and field recordings, and a lot more you never thought you'd hear on a radio broadcast.
They are not fuckin' kidding. This thing is crazy and aurally addictive.

Attn: Frank Chopp

Dear Frank Chopp:

Viaduct Update: Surface/Transit is Cheaper

Please listen to us. It's the people of Seattle: you know, the ones who live right next to the Alaskan Way Viaduct. We want a surface option to replace the Viaduct. It will support the traffic flow we need it to support, it will shorten the period of time that downtown Seattle is a giant traffic snarl, and it will be cheaper.

Our economy is in a shambles and we needed rebuild the Viaduct ten years ago. We can't afford to wait, but we'll hardly be able to afford to build the replacement. Do you realize how important it is that there's a viable option for the viaduct that hugely less expensive than the others? Do you realize how much we'll need those hundreds of millions of dollars for other important city and state services, like public transportation, education, housing aid, parks, public libraries, and infrastructure maintenance?

So, please, work with us on this one. We know how important giant freeway malls are to you, but now is not the time and our waterfront is not the place.

Go Local!

Don't forget - tomorrow (today?) is the last day of Seattle City Stimulus. There are a lot of really good sales, so if you haven't yet finished your Christmas shopping (like me), now's your chance.

22 Doors

My boyfriend and I recently found ourselves a new favorite breakfast spot on the Hill. 22 Doors has been up on 15th Ave for a few years now, but I'd never been in since I tend to stay closer to home for bar food and brunch. Last Saturday my sweetie pie and I found ourselves wandering around in search of breakfast food - our first choice only did brunch on Sundays and the Coastal Kitchen was packed to the gills, as usual. 22 Doors was a block away, had tasty looking foods, and lo and behold - there were open tables.

We went back again this weekend because it was so good and so not crowded. Collectively, my significant other and I have had the cowboy beans, mushroom omelet, breakfast sandwich and the cheesy biscuit. All of them were great except for the breakfast sandwich, which was only so-so. Do you know which one was the best? The cheesy biscuit. I kid you not. I was expecting Velveeta with a name like that, but the creamy cheddar sauce is amazing and made with real cheddar.

The coffee is good, the wait people are quick and friendly, and the atmosphere is hip yet inviting. They even have a lovely open air courtyard for the summer and a little gas fireplace for the rest of the year.

The coolest thing about the decor is that a lot of it is salvaged. Their weirdly retro chandeliers are from a Red Lion Hotel and the booths are from a Chinese restaurant (nobody seemed to know which one). The bar is made up of the 22 doors the place is named after. They're all mahogany, and they came from one of the redecorations of the Camlin. It's irritating to think some dumbass would want to get rid of amazing doors like that, but I'm happy they found such a good home.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Straight from the horse's mouth

I can't believe its already December. Sparkly lights season is upon us, and Christmas and New Year's are just around the corner. Among the plethora of community events the holidays bring is the Sound Transit Construction Preparation Meeting for the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station. Not terribly festive, but since construction on the Cap Hill Light Rail Station will be going on for years, I figure it's best to be prepared. The meeting's next Wednesday, December 3rd from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Seattle Central, Room 1110. If you don't make it, don't worry too much: this meeting is the first of many.

Speaking of demolition on the station site - turns out that Sound Transit's demolition contractor is looking into salvaging trees on the light rail station site all by itself. The contractor is working with Big Trees Inc. to evaluate the trees on the site and see if any are good candidates for moving to a new home. It looks like Big Trees only takes trees that are up to 30ft. tall, so that still means plenty of wood will be coming out of that site. Benches for John and Summit anyone?

Info meetings, tree salvages - next, signalized crosswalks on Olive and Denny? The bike and pedestrian arm of SDOT is still looking into it, so...maybe sometime next year. Hopefully before all those giant construction trucks show up.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Straight from the bulletin boards

The event-a-thon continues...well, actually begins this Saturday. For some reason December 6th is just jam-packed with holidays festivities. Here's the best from the posters and fliers:

The bulletin board bonanza starts out with the Holiday Health Fair at the Union Center for Healing (2100 E Union) from 11am - 4pm.

Why you should go: The Union Center for Healing is all cool and alternative and holistic, and I think they'll also be giving away free herbal tea.

South Park Arts is having the 'Art for Under $100' sale from 4-10pm down at the Old Fire House (8201 10th Ave S).

Why you should go: Affordable original art, tasty foods, and two art raffles an hour. Also, local gift shopping just in time for the holidays.


The Annie Bonny (the best little vintage store on Olive) is hosting the 'Bald Man Show' opening reception from 6-9pm.

Why you should go: Now we will finally get to meet the man who has been putting these funny little stickers up all over town.

And so begins the holiday event marathon...

I usually try to avoid most of the holiday event-a-thon, but the 12th Ave. festivities as well as the Seattle City Stimulus are all about supporting small local businesses, so I think I'll end up attending both.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

December 10th - Day Without A Gay

I saw a sign for this on Broadway, and I couldn't resist looking it up and seeing what it was about. This is what DayWithoutAGay.org says about itself:
This page was started by a couple of concerned homos but is really just a liaison to organizations that know what they're doing. Your volunteer work will help mobilize existing non-profits so that we're ready to fight even harder moving forward for a better Gay America.
I like this idea: GLBTQs and friends call in "gay" and spend the day volunteering for GLBTQ-supporting nonprofits. This gives gay the connotation of socially conscious and socially indispensable, it channels frustration and anger toward constructive work, and it reminds everyone that denying the right to marry to homosexual couples is pissing a lot of good people off. Eat that, homophobes.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Your Park Needs YOU

On the heels of Michelle Eggers well-timed Seattle City Stimulus article on the CHS blog, I decided to write on of my own: Capitol Hill (Park) Stimulus. Sadly, there was a major economic downtown right after we the community learned that without $158K, all we'd get at John and Summit would be a lawn. So we're (well, Parks is) still short $158K. And like I said in my article, we need everyone's help to raise it.

What does that mean? Well, if you have money, donate some - you can find a paypal link at the "Friends of" site for John and Summit, Unpaving Paradise. If you have friends and acquaintances, tell them about the John and Summit dilemma and see if they can pitch in. If you (or your friends) have time, volunteer. We can always use help planning fundraising events, putting up posters, getting the word out, etc. Just bug me and the other UP volunteers at unpaving.paradise@gmail.com and we'll get you in the loop.

If you have none of these things, I feel bad for you and hope that you can at least get some friends very soon.

Happy Thanksgiving from Rick Astley

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade performed the world's largest and most amazing rickroll in the history of humankind today. Just wanted to share this little bit of zeitgeist with you all.


P.S. I picked this particular video because 1) the sound is decent and 2) it's hilarious to listen to the guys in the background have massive nerdgasms. Thank you to Speedskater 114 and his super nerdy friends.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sucks to your asthmar

I was just looking at the front page of the local section in the Times, minding my own business, and then Danny Westneat has to go and remind me that some people are still high on the viaduct.

Damnit, Frank Chopp! I left Southern California because all we had were malls and freeways. Now you want to make a mile-long-elevated-mall-freeway sandwich right on the waterfront. Even Southern California has enough sense not to put those two together!

{Just putting two things together does not make it better! This is not like a pancake wrapped around a sausage link - it is not delicious!}

The other viaduct options are not bitter pills! I long for the sweet relief of a waterfront boulevard. Beautiful views, a rejuvenated waterfront...and heck, for me, less car traffic just means a break for my belabored asthmatic lungs.

Apparently, though, it doesn't matter what I (or the the City Council) thinks - Frank Chopp wants a FreeMallWay, whether we like it or not.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Almost forgot

I got another early Christmas present this past week: One Union Square (the building I work in) is going for LEED platinum certification. Woohoo! I knew that One Union Square had a green reputation; now I know why.

So excited!

What a crazy week

It's been tons of community fun all week...hell, it's been that way for the past two weeks. Between planning for everything, I haven't had time to do anything, including write for this blargh. Here's this (last) week's highlights:

  • I was lucky enough to attend this year's Opus Prize Awards Ceremony, which was hosted by Seattle University. The professor who was kind enough to get me a ticket said that this event would be "mind-blowing" - she was absolutely right. These are the best of the best of faith-based humanitarian entrepreneurs, each of them incredibly loving people doing amazing things despite horrifying circumstances. I hope I'll have some time around Thanksgiving to write more about this year's finalists.

  • Thursday brought more news on Sound Transit's plans to remove trees from the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station site. From what I've been hearing through the Capitol Hill Community Council, the tree removal count just keeps getting higher and higher - starting with "only one or two" trees this September, the numbers have gone up over time to reach a final count of about seventy trees that will be destroyed when demolition starts on the station site at the end of November/ beginning of December.

    A number of community groups have been pursuing this issue over the past several months, asking ST if the removals are necessary, and if so, if the trees could be transplanted to other locations. No real answers have been given so far, except that the removals are necessary and that tree transplanting is costly and survival is not guaranteed. The CHCC Open Space Committee is sending out a letter requesting that Sound Transit look more carefully at transplantation as an option, especially in light of the Mayor's initiative to save Seattle's canopy cover. Stay tuned...

  • This was actually last week, but it was super nifty - drinks with WorldChanging Seattle! I got to meet my fellow Seattle bloggers and the amazing Julia Levitt, editor of WC. The short story is that WC wants us all to write at least twice a month. Oh boy. Now to find the time to do it...

  • Speaking of bloggers - Seattlest hosted a little shindig at Grey this last Monday so that central Seattle bloggers could actually meet each other. I only caught the very end of it, but I still had a great time. I couldn't help thinking of Terry Pratchett's theory of L space - if enough people who are nexuses of local knowledge and information gather at the same location, will we too begin to bend space and time? B space?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Haiku at 2am

I love the long and
lonely sound of trains at night:
coming closer, gone.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fair Warning

It's winter, which means that the sun goes away and I get all thoughtful and contemplative. That means I think (and write) about the metaphysical, philosophical, spiritual and (gasp!) religious. Just thought I'd give everyone fair warning - like anything else in the blog, you can skip over it if you think it's boring.

{I was thinking about these topics, and wondered to myself. "Will they fit within the rubric of 'green/geek/Seattle'?" The answer is, unsurprisingly, "Hells yes." I'm a theology/philosophy/metaphysics fangirl, so that can all fall into geek. Also, most anything I do or think about is going to be connected back to green and/or Seattle anyway. Heh heh heh.}

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"We Catholics use every part of the Jesus"

Friday's Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger on The Colbert Report made me so happy. I love The Colbert Report anyway, but when he makes super-nerdy Catholic theology jokes at the same time... "We Catholics use every part of the Jesus" ...yeah, that just makes my day. Also day-making: environmental pollution is a now cardinal sin. For reals. Not kidding. I'm so excited! Yeah, I know it happened months ago. I'm still so excited!

More nerdy goodness: Jane Austen baseball. English high society in the 1800s explained through the analogy of the American pastime? Hells yes.

And finally: collectible Spiderman comics = Barack Obama bait.

It's a good time to be a nerd.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Now that I've gotten everything else I wanted for Christmas

After all the Obamarama, I want to reflect a moment on all the other liberal-pinko-commie wins that happened on election night. We have levies for everything, Washingtonians now have the right to physician-assisted suicide, Dino Rossi didn't become governor, and Dems now have the majority in Congress. I still feel like I got my Christmas presents early.

Now I think I'd like to ask for one more thing this holiday season: a new mayor. I haven't been fond of Mayor Nickels ever since he backed the tunnel option to replace the Alaska Way Viaduct. And then there's been all this "I haven't met a developer I didn't like" business. But Greg Nickels' recent comments on Nickelsville brought things to a whole new level.

Nickelsville may have started as a statement, but it quickly became a statement inhabited by a self-organized tent community peopled by the houseless. The city's made Nickelsville move several times, but those bright pink tents are here to stay. At least until they bring in the cops adain ... or we solve our lack-of-housing-for-the-poor problem.

Nickels reply to all this: Nickelsville is clearly peopled by homelessness advocates, not actual people who have no homes. Damn. I mean, City Council's figured it out. Why can't you?

The interview where Mayor Nickels makes his out of touch statements on Nickelsville can be found here.

Ed Jackson

A friend of mine found an article on Ed Jackson in the PI: a little more insight into a tragic end.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election: A Moment in History

You have got to see this: Obama Grabs Headlines

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

That reminds me....



This adorable lolcat reminds me: I had a nifty Capitol Hill Halloween which I have completely neglected to write about.

First off, I was a Lolcat this year, big surprise. My outfit was completed by a present I got from The Stranger - their cover with the Obama style kitten graphic complete with the caption "Cute". Some cutting and pasting, adding "you can has beleefs in", and voila, lolcat caption. Sadly, a surprising amount of people (especially those over 35) have no idea what lolcats are. Presumably because they don't spend far, far too much time on the internet.

Secondly, a mob of us went Reverse Trick-or-Treating down Broadway again this year. What is that, you ask? Twenty-somethings getting all dressed up, walking around on Broadway, and giving people candy while we yell "Reverse Trick-or-Treat!!" Some people are delighted by our altruism, others are suspicious, and there are plenty who have no idea what the fuck we're doing. Good times.

I got rid of all my thrift store prizes fast and we all had to stop to reload at QFC half-way through. I think we did a lot better this year because there were more of us - better coverage, and it gave passersby the idea we were doing some kind of flash mob/ art student thing.

Favorite moments:

+ Giving a stuffed Dem-donkey to a tiny cute baby in a stroller. His/her parents seemed really happy that somebody had a baby friendly treat on hand.

+ Treat-bombing the Starbucks at the end of Broadway. The baristas thought we were really nice.

+ Giving another Dem-donkey to a nice lady wearing an Obama pin at the aforementioned Starbucks. It seemed so appropriate. She seemed to think so too :)

+ Having twenty-somethings get really happy that they had just received a shotglass as a Halloween treat.

We hauled our footsore costumed selves over to Oasis because our primary destination of Bimbo's Cantina was packed tighter than the Showbox was when Obama won (this is only true because Bimbo's is very tiny). Worked out ok because there was actually room for the nine of us at one table, and we got to sit next to an enormous window and watch the Hill parade by in their Halloween attire.

Costumed awesomeness:

+ Our very own Lock, Shock and Barrel from The Nightmare Before Christmas. The masks were hand-made by Lock, because he's just that cool.

+ We also had our very own RickRoll. It was amazing - he dressed up like Rick Astley and had an iPhone in his shirt pocket that played "Never Gonna Give You Up" on a loop. It was even funnier when he walked up to people, started dancing around, and the rest of us waited for them to realize they'd been RickRolled LIVE.

By the way, that makes two internet memes out of nine costumes. We're just that cool.

+ Also in our party - Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon. It was great. Sadly, far too many people have not seen that amazingly cheesy movie with a great soundtrack by Queen.

+ Tom Servo, the bubblegum machine headed robot from Mystery Science Theater 3000. That one gave me a nerdgasm.

+ Someone was dressed up in a robot costume from The Flight of the Conchords music video "The Humans are Dead". Talk about meta. Also, nerdgasm.

+ A group of Waldos from the Where's Waldo series. They looked so cute in their little red and white stocking caps with a bobble on top!

Election: More Capitol Hill Victory Videos

Last ones, I swear. I borrowed these from jseattle, the founder and administrator of the Capitol Hill Seattle blog. There's lots more where these came from at the Victory Video and the Victory Video Part II posts on CHS. However, I felt the need to post up my two favorites.

First, jseattle coins the term "happy riot":



Next, a miracle occurs - a drunken Capitol Hill hipster crowd sings the National Anthem, and means it:

Because our economy is still in the shitter

Here is an adorable lolcat to interpret our present economic crisis:



Cats are awesome


The above picture is courtesy of the PI and the fact I spend too much time on the internet. The super-intense cat's name is Patch, a service cat whose comforting fuzzy presence soothes his owner's post-traumatic stress disorder-related paranoia.

Cats - more than just hilarious on the internet.

Election: Yes We Did


Shepard Fairey's amazing commemorative poster. I need me one of those.

Election: Side Note

I just want to mention that I noticed something very important amidst Capitol Hill's impromptu street party last night - hipsters waving American flags in un-ironic glee.

November 5th Haiku

A lovely post-election post from hillku.

Election: Seattle Update

From the Seattle PI:

In Seattle, crowds of thousands of people spilled into the streets near the Pike Place Market and on Capitol Hill Wednesday night to celebrate the election of Barack Obama.

A police spokeswoman, Renee Witt, says the celebrations were peaceful and there were no arrests.


Courtesy of the PI, a video that makes me wish I could've made it down to Pike Place Market last night:



Again from the PI, amazing video of downtown Seattle around midnight on the Day it All Changed:



Also, better video of what happened on Capitol Hill last night (thank you, The Slog). And yes, that is Neighbors blasting "Don't Stop Believing" from speakers on their roof.

Election: Capitol Hill

I got a text from a friend of mine (thanks Tris!) that showed ecstatic Obama supporters taking over Broadway and Pike. So I braved the cold (with a cold) and decided to see for myself.

Below is a short (and accidental) video I took when I was walking down Broadway toward the jubilant crowd.

video



In the middle





and up above.




The 44th President of the United States



Thanks to Shepard Fairey for this iconic, and now historic, image.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election 2

Just heard this from a friend of mine, who heard it through his teammates on the Quake Rugby team:

Oh, and if you hadn't already heard- after you vote, roll on over to Babeland on Pike anytime between now and November 11th for your free 'Silver Bullet' vibrator or 'Maverick Sleeve'. (So even if things go badly, you can always commiserate with sex toys.)

http://www.babeland.com/sexinfo/features/get-out-vote-sex-toys/

Damns...that is one sweet election party.

Election

First off, yet more parties for the crowd-oriented to go to and obsessively watch election results.

Secondly, this is a really bad day to have a head-foggingly miserable cold. I can feel all four sets of my sinuses, including the ones in the back of my head. History is happening, and all I want to do is take a nap.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fire: A Requiem

The man who died in the fire at 1605 Bellevue was Ed Jackson. He was a building manager who belonged to the building he had lived in for 40 years. Then he got notice that his building was going to be turned into condos. When everyone else moved out, he stayed. And on the day he was to be evicted, he killed himself.

1605 Bellevue wasn't just a fire; it was a funeral pyre for a man who left on his own terms.

Ed Jackson remembered

Threshold

Tomorrow's Election Day. Jesus H. Christ I hope Obama wins. A year or two ago, I wouldn't have minded McCain being president, but ever since he put his hat in the ring he's been on a sad downhill slide from creditable party maverick to Bush administration puppet.

Aside from that, I understand what Zaid Hassan means when he writes that he wants to linger here, in the moment before everything changes. On Tuesday the country will tip, one way or the other. I want to wait a little while and watch my world hang in the balance.

Needless to say, it's going to be an intense night. In case my faithful readers feel the need for the company of a liberal mob and/or liquor, I found a decent list of Election Night Parties on both Culture Mob and Capitol Hill Seattle. Sadly, these lists are only good for Seattlites - sorry Mom.

Did I mention that I just wrote an article for WorldChanging?

So awesome. So very awesome.

It was worth someone's time

Something useful came out of the Seattle Neighborhood Summit after all. Courtesy of Chris Leman of the City Neighborhood Council:
One outcome of the Oct. 28 Seattle Neighborhood Summit was a proposal for a City commission on disabilities issues. The present system is not working well, in which there is typically one disabled individual on the Human Rights Commission and one on the Pedestrian Advisory Board. The disabled community is extremely diverse, and would benefit from having the voice of a City commission. As reflected in the letters below [Chris summarizes them well, so I haven't included them], some individuals are advancing such a proposal to member of the City Council. Whatever your views, please consider writing to the Councilmembers about this issue. The issue is urgent right now because of the ongoing budget process.

Seattle City Council: P.O. Box 34025, Seattle, WA 98124-4025

sally.clark@seattle.gov 684-8802
tim.burgess@seattle.gov 684-8806
tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov 684-8808
jean.godden@seattle.gov 684-8807
richard.conlin@seattle.gov 684-8805
jan.drago@seattle.gov 684-8801
bruce.harrell@seattle.gov 684-8804
nick.licata@seattle.gov 684-8803
richard.mciver@seattle.gov 684-8800

Speaking of WorldChanging...

Sigh...I am so proud... my very own article on WorldChanging!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Worthwhile Information

Something I found out at the Seattle Neighborhoods Summit that made my time there a little more worthwhile: an enlightened Seattle resident used the Neighborhood Matching Grant to get funds for Pollinator Pathway, a project that transforms resource-sucking lawn-covered planting strips into tasty pollinator buffets. Read more about Sarah Bergmann's amazing project at WorldChanging Seattle.

While I was fadoodling around WorldChanging Seattle, I also found out that City Council is planning on reducing the Office of Sustainability and Environment's budget by 15%, as well as eliminating the office and transferring 5 of its 7 staff to the Office of Policy Management. It also looks like the Council wants to increase OSE's workload by giving it more responsibility for lowering Seattle's greenhouse gas emissions. So, less money, effectiveness and status, more workload and responsibility. This will go well.

I know that tough economic times mean budget cuts, but from what I heard in Stella Chao's speech to the Seattle Neighborhoods Summit, smart fiscal management in the past means that now the city just has to tighten its belt rather than engage in drastic measures. Screwing over an office that not only makes Seattle look super shiny but may also be crucial in climate change planning seems like something a few notches above belt-tightening.

A fairly worthless meeting

I almost wish I hadn't gone to the Seattle Neighborhood Summit last night. The Summit itself was a complete waste of my time - this is a feat, considering my tolerance for the community meetings I choose to attend. It was designed well - long on networking about pertinent issues, short on speakers blowing hot air. Unfortunately, the citizens then took it upon themselves to blow the said hot air.

I had high hopes for the Zoning, Land Use, Design and Planning breakout session. Then we talked about Incentive Zoning for the entire 45 minutes. From what I've gathered, IZ is pretty small affordable housing potatoes. Why did that have to be the thing that we talked to death? Why couldn't I have raised by hand faster and gotten Transit-Oriented Development on the board first!?

Which reminds me - WorldChanging would like me to write an article about T.O.D. solutions. I'm going to try, but the only T.O.D. I've heard about involves a whole lot of expensive new apartments and condos surrounding new transit hubs, which then fuels a wave of gentrification. Maybe we'll get lucky with the light rail stations that will open up in Rainier Valley next year. Here's hoping Sally Clark was serious about the Rainier Valley expedited neighborhood plan updates being meant to give the neighborhoods a headstart over developers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Save the B&O Building!

I think it was a year or so ago when I first heard that the building B&O Espresso occupies (1650 Olive Way) was going to be torn down to make way for a typical 6-story-residential-with-first-story-commercial development. B&O protested and the neighbors did too, but the DPD said the plan was ok and that was that.

For the last few months I've been seeing little yellow business cards with "Save the B&O Building" on them. And then my mom(!) sent me a link to the Seattle Weekly blogpost on the subject. Apparently the fight's still on to the save the B&O building. It's a worthy cause - the building is pretty neat looking and it's over 75 years old (a "character building" as they call it in the Pike/Pine Conservation Overlay-to-be). There are also 2 four-plex apartments on the lot, and we all know that whatever residential space takes their place will a lot more expensive than what's there now.

So, check out the Capitol Hill Organization Insuring Cultural Equity's website. It has pretty historical pictures and a convenient online petition if you feel like throwing your signature in to support the cause.

Note about B&O's new location-to-be on Broadway: I have heard that B&O is opening its Broadway location while it's still operating at 1650 Olive. So if the 1650 block is saved, we get two B&O's? Time to find out more...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fire

I woke up this morning to the sounds of helicopters, which means two thing where I'm from: manhunt or car chase. Since this is Seattle and not Southern California, it was neither. As I found out later, 1605 Bellevue caught fire early this morning, and the news choppers had been there since six-thirty or seven to catch footage of the inferno.

Good news - the building was empty because it was slated for demolition (yet another six story mixed-use project to be). Bad news - an elderly man who had lived in the building died in the fire. Why he was still in the building when the place had been vacated...well, in a Times article I just saw, Dennis Saxman states that the man had lived in the building for 40 years. I guess he just didn't want to have to leave home.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why I love having artists in the neighborhood

If you've ever seen the amazing spacewoman/Barbarella garage door mural on Olive near 12th, you too will mourn its loss to an idiot tagger who obliterated it with his(?) spray painted tag signature.

Luckily for us, the house's resident turned this stupidness into an opportunity: there is now a giant Obama mural in Barbarella's place. Luckily for me, they blogged about it here.

The new mural looks really cool - I'm going to have to go check it out in person soon. Maybe bring the poor tag-beleaguered residents some cookies...

WTF

I was talking to my mom the other day about how she reads my blog to get a feel of what's going on on the Hill (thanks Mom!). Now, Life on the Hill goes in-depth into issues that no one else but a community geek like myself would give a shit about. That means that my mom, who lives in Southern California, is better informed about what's going on community political circles than my neighbors. What the fuck.

Neighborhood Plan Update Update Update Update

Sally Clark came by yesterday's Capitol Hill (Neighborhood Plan!) Stewardship Council meeting to tell us how the neighborhood planning updates will go and to reassure us that we would actually have a role in the process.

As I've reported, the Neighborhood Planning Advisory Commitee (made up of District representatives like Dennis and also of persons nominated by the City Council and Mayor's office) is coming together now. Next year, I am presuming they will oversee the 2009 citywide status surveys of all the present neighborhood plans.

These yearlong surveys will assess each neighborhood plan to see what has been accomplished from the first plan over the last ten years and to determine the status of neighborhood elements like transportation, zoning, housing, etc. Sally Clark mentioned that the neighborhoods would have a say in what elements they would want included and focused upon in this status survey. The citywide status survey determines which neighborhoods will have their plans updated first. I believe that they will go in batches of three or four, and each batch will take several years to complete.

There will be three neighborhoods in the Rainer Valley that will fast-tracked in the updating process: Beacon Hill, Mt. Baker/N. Rainer Valley, and the area around the intersection between MLK Way and Holly. These areas will begin their neighborhood planning process in 2009 because they are scheduled to have Light Rail stations opening there in 2009. I believe the idea is to give these areas neighborhood plans before developers do it for them.

As for reassurances - the Stewardship Council has been getting the runaround from the higher echelons of the Dept. of Neighborhoods for the last few months surrounding its role in the Neighborhood Plan Updates. Sally Clark said that the Stewardship Council is a great neighborhood resource and that we should hold on a little while longer while DON figures out what the hell is going to happen during the Update process.

She also said that Stella Chao's circumspectness in regards to our role in the Neighborhood Plan Update was probably due to her desire to make sure as many people came to the planning table as possible, i.e. the Stewardship Council didn't run the show and hog the spotlight. This a problem in some neighborhoods, but as Sally Clark was quick to add, not ours. I really hope that's the case, because otherwise I would feel like such a dick.

Synthesis of Update the Third: Hold on, we'll know what the crap is going on in January. We hope.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

IZ addendum

I got a chance to talk to Sally Clark briefly about Incentive Zoning after the Pike/Pine Overlay meeting. The main thing that came across was that she was trying to figure out why there was such an extensive hooplah about IZ - to her, Incentive Zoning would only establish very modest amounts of affordable housing as compared to what the Housing Levy (coming up before Council early 2009) could create.

She also said that the average apartment is affordable to those making 110% of area/Seattle median income, which would make 80% Seattle AMI look like a big reduction. The other reason that 80% AMI was being used for affordable rentals in the IZ is because developers won't bite at 60% or 30% AMI if the only carrots are higher height allowances, etc. At that point, developers want subsidies, which means it wouldn't be incentive zoning anymore (subsidies are the business of the Housing Levy anyway).

Humour Denied

The company I work for just merged with another firm, so all our computer systems are different now. They just changed over the networks last week. I got blocked for the first time ever today, and this is what the "blocking" window said:

Access Denied

The web resource http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0602.html has been deemed by your administrator to be unsafe or unsuitable for you to access. The resource has been blocked. No further action is required.

Reason: The category of Humour has been blocked by your System Administrator

Oct. Capitol Hill Community Council meeting: Pumpkin Guns and More

I'll start with my favorite piece of information I learned last meeting: there is a pumpkin gunner loose around Cal Anderson Park. Not shooting at pumpkins, shooting out pumpkins. Apparently they're small pumpkins, but still, the gun must the size of a small rocket launcher. We got the report from a concerned citizen who found pumpkin smeared all over his deck.

Not so funny public safety note from the Michael Yatsutake, East Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator: now that school is in session, teenagers are taking to home robbery in the afternoons. They'll knock on doors to see if anyone is home, and if they aren't, they'll come in and take their stuff. Delightful.

Michael Yatsutake also does home security surveys as part of his duties as EPCPC, along with personal safety presentations and business or block watch info/organization. You can get ahold of him at michael (dot) yatsutake (at) seattle (dot) gov, or you can find him at the East Precinct Station over on Pine and 12th.

Most of the meeting was a conversation about why SDOT is removing so many street trees from the area around the future Broadway Light Rail Station. The grand total is about a dozen from Denny, six outside of Chang's on Broadway, and three from inside Cal Anderson Park. The answer is that those trees are literally inside the excavation boundary, therefore they have to go when all the dirt goes.

The CHCC VP Charlette LeFevre along with a few community members want to see if those trees can be moved to another site - more about that soon. To everyone's relief, the landmark Chinese Scholar Tree in Cal Anderson is safe, even though a few of its arboreal neighbors aren't.

Speaking of the Light Rail Station - artist Denise Henrikson is creating a set of travelling art pieces to memorialize the buildings being removed to make room for the station. The pieces will be lanterns shaped as interpretations of each of the buildings being removed. Their first appearance will be on Oct. 24th at the Artist Trust (12th and Denny) from 6-8pm. Afterwards there will be a tour of the doomed buildings themselves.

Speaking of art - the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce is still looking for help in coming up with a new "brand" for Capitol Hill. I thought they hired Kite for that, but I guess they want the neighbors to pitch in too. They meet every third Thursday, and the next meeting is on Thursday, November 20th at 6pm. The new Chamber office is in a little house on Thomas and 10th (or Federal?) right across the street from the Thomas St. P-Patch.

Also, the Community Council IS STILL LOOKING FOR A LOGO! Seriously, if you or someone you know is a graphic designer or a graphic design student, help us out.

Friday, October 17, 2008

He represents YOU

In case you missed the hubbub, Dennis Saxmann is the East District (i.e. our) representative on the Neighborhood Plan Advisory Council (NPAC). The council consists of neighborhoods and city department representatives and will the mayor's office on how to run the Neighborhood Plan Updates. Dennis is so committed to being inclusive and getting neighborhood feedback that's he's said I can give out his email address: peregrin(at)isomedia(dot)com. If you want to tell him how you think the Updates should be run or you want more info on the process, he's your man.

It's good to hear that Dennis is to committed to gathering input, because it sounds like the City isn't. I don't think many people outside of community activist circles have heard much about the Updates or how the process will be developed. It's also been notoriously difficult for the City to get the word out - they'll send out some postcards, put it up on a City website, post it in the libraries and that's it. Then there's the fact that the Mayor's office would like to see the Nickels agenda pushed through, and I know that most of the City bureaucrats want to avoid the grassroots chaos that is actual neighborhood involvement.

So, bully for Dennis - he's informed, he's cranky, he's committed, and he wants to represent you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hurray for the Pike/Pine Overlay

I have way too much fun at community meetings. I run into friends, I talk up new projects - it's the nerdy Seattle version of a Hollywood cocktail party.

Councilmember Rasmussen told us all about the Pike/Pine Overlay, which came out looking just like Liz Dunn's (local developer and neighborhood advocate) idea of it a year and a half ago. Not surprising, since she's a prominent member of the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council, the group that proposed the project to Rasmussen about two years ago. PPUNC has also been the only neighborhood group to give input for this project, something I hope will change now that it's been presented to the public.

The goals for the new PPO are nifty, as you will see below. The Capitol Hill Arts Crisis (i.e. the great migration to where housing is affordable) is being addressed by the Cultural Overlay District Advisory Committee (CODAC), and affordable/workforce housing isn't being addressed at all. There will be another piece of legislation concerning the PPO next year, so I guess we'll see what happens then.

Pike/Pine Overlay Legislation Outline as taken from the City of Seattle website:

Objectives of Amendments
The proposal calls for amending the Pike/Pine Overlay to accomplish the following:

  • Continue to promote new mixed use and residentially‐oriented development as
    intended under the original provisions of the overlay;
  • Expand the scope of the overlay to promote new development that is more compatible
    in scale with existing conditions in the area;
  • Provide incentives to retain “character structures” ‐‐ buildings that are 75 years old or older‐‐as part of new development;
  • Increase opportunities and flexibility to encourage the continued use of existing
    buildings;
  • Promote conditions that allow small, diverse local businesses to continue to operate in the area; and
  • Provide incentives for retaining existing art and cultural uses and attracting similar new activities to the area.
Highlights of the Proposal
The following actions, described in more detail in this report, are
proposed to achieve the objectives listed above:

  • Rezone the NC3 areas within the current boundaries of the overlay to a pedestrian zone designation (NC3P), while retaining current height districts.
  • Adjust the boundaries of the Capitol Hill Station Area Overlay District to exclude areas that overlap with the Pike/Pine overlay to eliminate redundant and potentially
    conflicting regulations.
  • Designate E. Pike/Pike Street and E. Pine/Pine Street, which currently require
    commercial uses at street level, as principal pedestrian streets, as well as segments of 10th, 11th, and 12th Avenues east of Broadway and north of Pike Street, which currently do not require street level uses.
  • Expand the boundaries of the Pike/Pine Overlay District to include existing NC3P and NC3 zoned areas in the Pike/Pine neighborhood along Broadway and east of Broadway and south of E. Pike Street.
  • Establish a maximum lot size limit for all new development [18,000 sq.ft. according to Rasmussen in the meeting] and a maximum limit on structure width for new structures with frontage along Pike and Pine Streets.
  • Provide incentives through exemptions from floor area calculations and/or limits on
    non‐residential use to:
    + retain existing character structures and “envelope” portions of existing
    character structures on a development lot;
    + encourage development on small lots of 8,000 square feet or less;
    + include space for small commercial uses at the street level of structures;
    + include arts facilities in existing structures and new projects; and
    + maintain economic viability of character structures by allowing the maximum
    range of uses to fully occupy these structures and limited additions to these
    structures.
  • Allow a height exception [and/or development area] for projects that retain existing character structures [buildings that are 75 years old and over] and portions of existing character structures on a development lot.
  • Limit street frontage width of street level uses in new structures on Pike and Pine
    Streets.
  • Restrict certain types of signs that are incompatible with the local business character of the Pike/Pine area.
  • [From the meeting] Require large developments with commercial area to have half the commercial space split up into small bays (in order to encourage small businesses)
Here's the biggest question: Will anyone pay attention to the Pike/Pine Overlay once it's created? Will is have "teeth", or will it languish in oblivion like its unfortunate cousins, the Neighborhood Plans?

The other main questions raised were:
  • Where the hell is the affordable housing? (Me, though I didn't say hell at the meeting)
  • Why didn't you talk to renters when you put together this plan? (Dennis Saxman, East District rep. for NPAC)
  • What are you going to do about outdated use requirements that are assigned to buildings? (Lise Stone, local business owner)
  • Why didn't we receive more notification about this process? (Brad Augustine, local building owner)
  • Where are the open/green space incentives? (Robin Peale, Member of the Braeburn condo's homeowners association)
  • Where are the tax and infrastructure incentives for the community minded (often small & independent) developer? (Chip Wall, formerly of Capitol Hill Housing)


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Neighborly Announcements: Pike/Pine Overlay Public Meeting and a Historic Preservation Workshop

A reminder to anyone who's following the Pike/Pine Overlay (i.e. conservation district) developments: There will be a public meeting discussing the project on Tuesday, October 14th. The meeting will be held at SCCC in room BE 1110 at 5:30pm. It should be interesting because I believe they'll be presenting the conservation district legislation in a more final form - I've only seen/ heard of a draft so far.

And now, a message from Historic Seattle:

Disturbed by insensitive new construction in your neighborhood?

Struggling to understand Seattle's historic preservation ordinance?

Seeking procedures for dealing with local historic properties?

Who is on the landmarks board anyway?

Historic Seattle will provide the answers to these questions and more at a full-day workshop featuring presentations by local historic preservation experts. Advance reservations are required! Workshop fees are $25 for Historic Seattle members and $30 for the general public. Please call 206/622-6952 to register or for more information. You can also register online at http://www.historicseattle.org/.

Workshop participants will enjoy a lunch delivered to the Good Shepherd Center and receive an extensive packet of useful information about local, state, and national preservation issues and opportunities.

What: Protecting Historic Sites workshop

Where: Good Shepherd Center4649

Sunnyside Avenue N., Room 202

When: Saturday, October 18, 2008, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

How to Register: Reservations required. $25 for Historic Seattle members and $30 for the general public. Admission includes lunch.

Deadline for registration at the workshop: Wednesday, October 15, 5:00p.m.

New Bar on the Hill

The Buck is adorable. The owners did a really good job of creating a Western nostalgia kitsch interior that's very cozy at the same time. Everything's covered in rustic wood paneling. They even have a tiny gas fireplace! I love it!

Not so rustic, but still nice - the big TVs showing Keith Olberman and other liberal pundits dissecting the Presidential Race. With captions. If there's a break in conversation, you can look up and see Keith making fun of the silly neocons.

Drinks and food are pricey, but good. In fact, the food is really good. The Happy Hour pizza is amazing. At 50 cents a slice, you can get a whole personal pizza for $4, which is cheapie. The service is really good too, which makes The Buck a rarity on the Hill.

The Buck's right across the street from Clever Dunne's, on Olive near Howell. They just opened up a few weeks ago, but they're already packed...which isn't that hard since the place is smaller than my apartment. But anyway, it's good to see that they've gotten popular.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Double-header: Incentive Zoning in Seattle and Next Steps for a Capitol Hill Tree Map

I started my evening attending an Incentive Zoning Public Meeting at City Hall at the behest of Elana Dix and Puget Sound SAGE. The City Council and the Mayor's Office have separately developed legislation that would create a comprhensive incentive zoning plan for the City of Seattle, IZ being the fancy way of saying that if developer's build some affordable housing into their project they'll get a carrot.

Mayor's Proposal
  • Amount of BFA Required to be Set Aside for Workforce Housing: 11%
  • In-lieu Payment for BFA: Minimum=$15/sq.ft., Maximum=$18.94/sq.ft., Tiered cost schedule by floor
  • Affordability Levels: 80% of AMI for Rental Units, 100% of AMI for Condo Units
  • Replacement Housing: NA
  • Other Bonus Provisions: This bill contains regulations for achieving residential and non-residential BFA. Proposed bonus provisions contemplate provision of open space, physical public amenities, transferable development rights, and other public benefits
City Council's (Sally Clark's) Proposal
  • Amount of BFA Required to be Set Aside for Workforce Housing: 20%
  • In-lieu Payment for BFA: No minimum, maximum, or tiered cost by floor - flat $18.94/sq.ft. fee. Automatic fee escalation begins in 2010.
  • Affordability Levels: 80% of AMI for Rental Units, 100% of AMI for Condo Units. Deeper affordability down to 50% of AMI in exchange for a reduced set aside (lower % of BFA).
  • Replacement Housing: Units in buildings proposed to be demolished for which tenant relocation assistance is required must be replaced.
  • Other Bonus Provisions: Not included. The Council Chair proposes to draft a resolution outlining how these and other public benefits will be incorporated as the City considers upcoming legislative rezones. This resolution will be drafted this fall and will be a companion piece to the incentive zoning bill the Council considers this December
Some definitions:
  • BFA: Bonused Floor Area - floor area above and beyond what is allowed by regular zoning. At least that's what I gathered at the meeting. Let's say a developer puts an extra story on a building above what was usually allowed by the zoning for the area, and the square footage of that floor was 10,000 sq.ft. According to Sally Clark's proposal the area that would need to be set aside in that building for affordable housing would be 2,000 sq.ft. (20% of the BFA)
  • AMI: Area Median Income. For Seattle, it's about $57,000 to $65,000 a year depending on household size. 80% of median income is about $42,000 to $56,000 depending on household size. When the Mayor and the Council say that affordability levels are set at 80% AMI, they mean that the affordable housing will be affordable to those families of one or more making $42,000 to $56,000 a year.
  • In-lieu payment or fees: the amount of money that a developer would pay (per sq.ft.) if they chose not to build affordable housing on site.
I and most of my friends, who are not considered impoverished by most standards, make maybe 30-40% of the Area Median Income. Also, most market-rate apartments in Seattle are already affordable for those at 80% AMI (according to some of the speakers at the public meeting). This is a pretty fucking useless plan.

I'd also like to note both parties set the affordability level on condos at 100% AMI. I have a friend who's a beginning computer programmer, and she makes $60,000 a year. She'll be able to buy a condo after she's worked at her present job for three years.

She saves a big chunk of her income, mind you, but $60,000/year is about the level at which one has enough money so one can save a lot of it. I don't think that 100% AMI is "affordable housing" by any standards. It leaves poor working class peons (like myself) without any chance of owning their own homes, and gives developers a present for doing it.

Themes repeated time and again by the members of the public who spoke to the Council:
  1. Please delay immediate action on incentive zoning so that voices outside the development community/those who are most affected by IZ/the poor can be heard.
  2. The workforce doesn't make 80% AMI (I sure as hell don't). Don't give rewards to developers for creating housing that isn't truly affordable - affordability levels should be set for 60% of AMI and below.
  3. Please, for the love of God, don't let development equal displacement. We like development, but it's unjust if economic growth pushes out current residents.
Other speaker highlights:
  1. Affordable housing built on the site is preferable to in-lieu fee buyouts, which don't work. (Emily Patterson, Tenant's Union)
  2. If in-lieu fees are used, the should be set according to how much it costs to build below market rate housing (re-evaluate the present arbitrary-looking fee amounts).
  3. 11 and 20% are too low - 30% of the BFA should be set aside for affordable housing.
  4. All medium and large projects should be required to set aside 10% of their area for affordable housing. All these projects would then be entitled to a density bonus. (#2-4 = Howard from Puget Sound SAGE)
With all the issues that were pointed out in the meeting, I can't help agreeing that the City Council and Mayor's Office need to take some time and create an IZ plan that's actually useful. There is one small problem. The Housing Levy is coming up in the first quarter of next year. If the IZ legislation is pushed off for a few months, it'll have to be decided on at about the same time as the Levy.

The concern I heard at the meeting was that if uninformed Seattle voters hear that two pieces of affordable housing legislation are coming up for a vote at the same, they'll decide we only need one of them. Which is really stupid, and I hope for the sake of mankind that Seattlites aren't paying just enough attention to actually give a shit and but not enough to not know what's going on. It's a sad day when apathy is on our side.

The next stop in the evening was Office Nomads for a Sustainable Capitol Hill meeting on street tree mapping for Capitol Hill. Our ultimate goal is mapping the parking strips on the west side of Capitol Hill so we can tell SDOT all the good places to plant more street trees.

Four of us picked out test mapping areas so we could try out Brennon of SCH's mapping notation (Paved/Unpaved, Width, Wire Height/No Wire) and see how much area we could conveniently cover in one go (turns out that's about six blocks). Everybody's maps turned out well - Success! Now Brennon will run the maps by the SDOT arborist to see if he likes them, make up some more maps, and review our suggestions for locations where we can do a community tree planting event. Yay trees!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Work and Plants

It is so fucking nice out - why do I have to work today!? It is an idyllically crispy-clear autumn morning, and I am sitting at my cube with no windows doing filing. At least I have my officeplants...

Speaking of plants... Not only do they make a cubicle livable, they also improve indoor air quality (NASA say so!). Turns out that our little green buddies are really good at sucking up all the cancer causing stuff that's off-gassing from just about anything in the home or office. So if you don't want cancer, read this article and find out about the amazing air cleaning houseplants. Yay plants!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Swale on Yale

Breaking news from WorldChanging Seattle: Vulcan is partnering with the City of Seattle to build a big ole' two block biofiltration swale in the South Lake Union neighborhood. Its boundaries will be Pontius and Yale on the east and west and Republican and Thomas on the north and south. This is a super strategic spot seeing as the bioswale can catch much of the runoff jetting down Capitol Hill on its way to Lake Union. Read more here.

Ok, so Vulcan isn't completely bent on screwing up Seattle's livability. This doesn't get them off the hook for pushing for 400 ft. towers in SLU in the name of the environment, though.

LOL News: Not just for Stephen Colbert

I found Pundit Kitchen via I Can Has Cheezburger, which makes sense since the lovely Cheezburger folks make both sites possible. I think these sites prove that a funny caption can make just about anything funny. Even the collapse of a major Seattle economic institution.

Lolcats of the week

Your daily serving of adorable in 5...4...3...2...












Environmental Restoration is Fun

I got to go on my first dig-in-the-dirt field trip of the season, and for once, I didn't have to drive. Green Footprints Action Works hosted a work party this Saturday at 25th and Harrison at what they're calling the "Harrison Wet Spot". It's a designated wetland, but for now, the Green Footprints name is more accurate.

I spent most of the time excavating concrete slab that used to be a driveway, but now is simply a nuisance buried under six inches of soil. Those with more upper body strength than I (thank you Eric, Randy and sons) hefted a sixteen pound hammer and broke the said nuisance into removable chunks. Those not engaged in concrete-oriented activities laid down cardboard and woodchips for weed control. Sigh...good times.

Work parties for the Harrison Wet Spot are every first Saturday :D Guess who'll be there next month. If you want more info, contact the wonderful, wonderful organizer Eileen at Eileen.Maloney@gmail.com.

Oooh, this looks like fun

2008 Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival - October 17-26, 2008