Dec 31, 2007

Happy New Year, 2008!

Naturally flocked Christmas trees on top of Amabalis Mountain, Snoqualmie Pass, 12/31/07

Thank you all for your interest during the first year of this blog. Plagiarizing my mentor (CHS: Capitol Hill Seattle) I note 16,494 visits to the site from 8,031 unique visitors, who spent an average of about 2 minutes on the site. The busiest day (Feb 22, 502 visits) was the day I noted that "Club Chocolate City loses liquor license" and the Stranger added a link to it. Most days a few people drop by, but if I circulate details of recent posts by E-mail, then about 100 come and have a look.

Here's wishing you all a happy, safe, peaceful, prosperous New Year.

Dec 30, 2007

Happy New Year, El Gallito!

Seen in The Stranger this week:

Photo of the weekphoto by KELLY O
Happy New Year El Gallito! 12/23/07

The Stranger has lots good to say about El Gallito ( 1700 - 20th Ave), our neighborhood Mexican restaurant. One comment notes the increase in business after Club Chocolate City closed. A longer Stranger review is similarly positive. Citysearch reviews are mostly positive.

El Gallito has been there for most of the 25+ years I've lived here. It's suffered from some of the Madison Street side-effects (had all its liquor stolen soon after it got a license) but has soldiered on through it all. I'm glad that they're reaping the benefits now.

Dec 28, 2007

New Year's Day at the Bottleneck Lounge

Erin Nestor, owner of the Bottleneck Lounge, writes:

Could you please let folks know that we’ll be offering some fabulous hangover cures at The BottleNeck on New Year’s Day? We’re opening early -- 1 PM – we’ll have board games and lots of salty snacks – and folks can wear their pjs if they want. The specials are listed below:

BottleNeck New Year’s Day Specials:

Grilled Cheese and Bloody Mary Combo $10
Your choice of cheddar, havarti or Swiss and
our pint-sized Bloody Mary.

The Holy Shit!! Bloody Mary $10
Garnished with all the usual suspects AND
smoked cheddar, salami and bacon.

Tomato-Basil Soup w/ Goldfish Crackers $10
Comes with an icy cold draft beer.

We’ll also be serving up nachos, our hummus plate and Panini sandwiches into the night…..

(Honesty compels me to point out that alcohol is no real cure for a hangover, and a better long-term strategy might be found up Madison Street at CHAC. Here's a map & notes. Andrew )

Dec 25, 2007

And you thought you got strange stuff for Xmas

"Playmobil makes little figurines in the shape of hundreds of different professions, but only the Hazmat disposal crew provides children with the stark reminder that mankind's excesses will eventually doom us all"

says, in its roundup of The 25 Most Baffling Toys From Around the World

All the others are weirder (and less presentable) than this example, and many of them seem to be Japanese and fecal in nature (don't say I didn't warn you). But if you do need to get your little one a stripper pole for Xmas, this site will guide you.

But wait, there's more! Radar Magazine looks back at the most dangerous playthings of all time. Don't miss #4, the "Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab" (includes Uranium ore).

Dec 24, 2007

Awesome Christmas Card!

Yesterday's mail brought this truly awesome card from Capitol Hill realtor Marlow Harris, who also runs the Seattle P-I Capitol Hill blog, and the aptly named "Unusual Life" blog. She's also heavily into Elvis (is "Elvi" really the plural of Elvis?)

But where is the Nelson Updike Annual Letter? (If you have one, can I read it?)

Dec 23, 2007

Twilight of the Twilight

Prompted by the Capitol Hill Triangle blog's recent post about the Twilight Exit bar on Madison Street, I remind you that the location is in the process of being redeveloped by neighborhood developer Jim Mueller (who also is developing at 23rd & Union, and would love to redevelop Dean Falls' properties).

Better go there while you can (though recall that my dire prognostications about the Fratelli's cows have not yet come to pass).

Find out more:

Dec 22, 2007

Winter Solstice

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the the year: the days will now start getting longer again. This event has been celebrated by mankind for at least 5,000 years.

Many years ago I visited the Maeshowe, a neolithic burial chamber in the Orkney Islands in the very north of Scotland. I was intrigued to learn that the long entrance passage to the burial chamber had been carefully aligned to allow the setting sun to shine into the inner chamber at sunset on the winter solstice. Thanks to the (slightly more modern) wonders of the internet, you can now watch it live by webcast or see it recorded by YouTube.

While the stone age people in Orkney were apparently late risers, those at Newgrange in Ireland were early risers: their most famous "passage tomb" is aligned with the winter sunrise. "Heritage Ireland" broadcast it as a live webcast, and has posted a very interesting recording of the event (details).

Dec 21, 2007

Holiday Greetings

What's Andrew getting for Christmas?

This package arrived from my daughter in Ann Arbor. What do you think is inside? (She works at Trader' Joes and at a shoe store).

The answer (click picture for big version)

Dec 17, 2007

Share a thought for our neighbors to the south

When Club Chocolate City closed many of the problems associated with it surfaced around 23rd & Union, especially outside the long-suffering Thompson's Point of View.

Things seemed to have quietened down for the winter, but there was another shooting there on Sunday evening, as noted by KIRO TV (which apparently thinks that 23rd & Union is part of Capitol Hill), by the P-I and by the Stranger's SLOG (don't miss the readers' comments on the SLOG post).

The neighbors are wonderfully sanguine, however. One even responded with a haiku:

Rain falls on warm shells
Cops search near teller machine
for clues while man points
The neighbors meet regularly for dinner at Thompson's, followed by strolls around the neighborhood. If you'd like to join them, join the Central Neighborhood Association Google Group to be alerted to the next opportunity.

Dec 16, 2007

Steepest street in Seattle

Yes, we do have some pretty steep streets between 23rd and the arboretum, and one of them (Roy at 25th, 21% grade) is the STEEPEST street in Seattle (the red marker) according to this map of the steepest streets in Seattle (plotted from City information).

Dec 15, 2007

Land Use Decision: 2331 E. Madison Street

Land Use Application to allow one live-work unit and one, 2-unit townhouse structure at 2331 E. Madison Street has been accepted. Residential parking for two vehicles provided, one within the structure and one surface.

Here's the official decision and here's how to appeal it.

The application has been accepted, subject to these conditions:
The following appealable decisions have been made based on submitted plans:
Conditionally Grant - Variance to allow vehicular access of Madison Street.
Conditions: Conditions have been placed on this project. You may view the decision through our web-based Land Use Information Bulletin, and may contact the Public Resource Center (206-684-8467, ).

Holiday party at Miller : many thanks!

Many, many thanks to everybody who donated presents or volunteered their time at the Miller Community Center / Country Doctor holiday party on Saturday. Many hundreds of people and their kids enjoyed fun, games, presents and a holiday meal (courtesy of Lake Street Catering and lots of volunteer servers from Kirkland).

I had time to take some pictures. There's a slide-show available, should you wish to see more.

A volunteer painting faces

Officer Kim Bogucki painting faces:
she used to be our Community Police Team Officer

Lake Street Catering people making LOTS of mashed potatoes.

Dec 14, 2007

Local Boy Makes Good

A reliable sign of the impending "holiday season" is the annual gathering at Julie Renick's house on 22nd, where I get to catch up on what other Miller Park Neighborhood Association veterans have been up to. For most of us it's "same old, same old", but it has been wonderful to get annual updates on what Schott Schuldt has been up to.

Scott's been a resident and member of the neighborhood association since its inception (see his article on page 6 of the [first ever] Miller Times) and shared the MPNA Chair with Julie for a while (see page 2 of the Sept. 91 newsletter). Back then he was an engineer and avid cyclist, commuting by bike to his job at Boeing. I recall hearing of his bike adventures in Iceland at previous parties.

He's recently turned his avocation into a career and become a full-time artist, working with beadwork and mixed media. He's got a show on in Portland right now. You can read about him, and see some of his work, both on the gallery website and on his own website. There are descriptions of the inspirations for many of the amazingly varied pieces on Scott's own site.

Scott does all the beadwork himself, but I note, from the description of one piece, that there's still an engineer lurking somewhere inside the artist.

The piece shown here is entitled Immaculate Reception, features St. Clare, the patron saint of television, and contains a working television (assuming he's had time to go down to Portland and fix the TV). And yes, if you don't buy his interpretation of Saint Clare, you can get one from Archie McPhee.

Oh, Christmas Trees

Out on a bike ride on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail last month, and came across this U-cut Christmas Tree farm near Duvall. The already sheared, but still growing, trees looked too perfect to be true.
The logistics of transporting trees by bicycle prevented us from getting one there, so Meg and I went up to Dunshee House last night, enjoyed the good pine forest atmosphere, and (remarkably quickly) selected the perfect tree from their great selection. And so can you! They've got 3 sites now.

(click on poster for a readable version)

Winter Driving Tips

OK, so there's no snow in the forecast right now, but I came across this (on the SLOG) and felt you wouldn't want to miss it. It's a KING 5 broadcast of a very icy Portland.

The slow motion ballet of cars on ice is riveting, but the pedestrians standing around watching the sliding cars are most perplexing: momentum (p) is still mass (m) times velocity (v), even if it's cold outside. v is very low here but the m of the cars is still thousands of pounds and p could do a number on anyone's limbs! Thank goodness it didn't.

Dec 13, 2007

Mailbox alert

From a neighbor:

I am a fairly new (only about a year or so) resident of the Madison Miller area. I live in one of the townhouses on 21st Ave and E. John street and noticed that someone had pried our locked mailbox open. I just wanted to mention it, because I wanted people to be aware that someone may be making "mailbox rounds" and maybe you can remind them to keep an extra eye out during the holidays!

An update from the neighbor:

The Post Office has not been helpful one bit! Along with the recent event I have tried to address the issue of the mail delivery person sticking everyone's mail 1" into the slot on all of the boxes lately as well. I have found my mail, medical bills, bank statements, mortgage bill and all sticking right up for anyone to grab! It's a bit frustrating, but I have indeed been trying to address the proper channels. We did not, however report it to 911, as I didn't think of that at the time. Next time, however, I will certainly do so!

I get the feeling that the postal service is a bit overwhelmed during this time of year.

We were able to repair the box, and are now sure to get the mail as soon as we arrive home each afternoon to lessen the time it spends in (or half in as it may be) the box.

The next step is either a different type of locking box, or a PO box address.

And another neighbor chimes in:

I live in a townhouse on 21st Ave and E. John as well, so quite likely I am this person's neighbor. I never lock my mailbox. I have noticed the mail sticking out sometimes as they describe, and it does appear that the other boxes may have been pried open at some point.

Maybe I should start locking my mailbox. Maybe we should invest in more secure boxes all around. Maybe it doesn't matter. Why would someone steal bills and junkmail, and if they do is it any more than simply an inconvenience to us?

I'm not at all surprised the post office isn't cooperating. I was the first of the 4 units to move in, and had several months of dealing with the post office before they would deliver mail at all! They are wholly uncooperative. Initially, the builder put up a box at each door since the townhouses are two separate structures of two units each. Apparently, the law states that buildings with 3 or more units need a central mailbox. This is two separate lots, two separate addresses, each with two units so it should be ok. The post office agreed. The mailman did not, and refused to deliver the mail or even tell us. It took a while to even figure out what was wrong - I left the mailman a note at a different house's mailbox to come see me since I was receiving no mail, and I skipped work one day. He came over and practically yelled at me for 15 minutes about the builder not following the rules, and that is how I found out about the problem. I had no opinion in the matter, and said they should put the box wherever they wanted so I could receive my mail. Eventually the builder moved all the mailboxes to one unit and now the mailman begrudgingly delivers. The mailman was in an argument with the builder and post office, who neither would do anything, and in the meantime I (illegally) received no mail. I don't have much confidence left in that system.

Think BIG: the City has big bucks for you

The Neighborhood Matching Fund is getting ready for the 2008 Large Projects Funds process, part of the Neighborhood Matching Fund program. The City will be hosting 2 Technical Assistance workshops for community groups interested in learning more about the Fund and the process.

LARGE PROJECTS FUND: Technical Assistance Workshops

Come learn about the Large Projects Fund including: The two-step process Letter of Intent and Application,
Eligible Project Ideas, Community match requirements

Wednesday, January 9, 2008
6:00-7:30 pm
Lake City Library
12501 28th Avenue NE

Thursday, January 17, 2008
6:00-7:30 pm
Beacon Hill Library
2821 Beacon Ave South

Got a smaller project for the neighborhood: Next Small and Simple Fund Deadline: Monday, January 14

Another Miller Park Neighborhood Association

This list of links to "Miller Park Neighborhood Association" includes a Wikipedia article and a link to a blog for an very similarly named association in Omaha!

Anybody have the skill and time to create a Wikipedia entry for us?


Dec 12, 2007

Help us make our Community Center even better!

( This is a flyer recently created by the Advisory Council to recruit new members. You may download a good copy to print and share with others)

Miller Community staff and advisory council welcome you to the Miller Community Center.

This facility is supported and led by staff and volunteers around the neighborhood just like you.

Miller Community Advisory Council would like YOU to join us!

It’s easy and fun! We meet the 2nd Wednesday of the month to help with program planning, special events and activities.

See how much change we can make in our community together. We would love to contact you to answer your questions and invite you to the next meeting.


Phone: ( __ __ __ ) __ __ __ -- __ __ __ __

E-mail: __________________________________

Leave this at the front desk at Miller Community Center or contact:
Zoom Piksa: • 206-684-4753

Volunteers needed for Saturday Holiday Party

The combined Miller Community Center and Country Doctor clinic holiday party, to be held at Miller Community Center from 11 to 3 on Saturday December 15th, seems like it will be a great success, thanks to all the donations of presents to replace those lost by flooding, and by the donation fo a turkey dinner by a catering company. They're fairly well set for general volunteers (though they could surely use a few more) but are seeking a few special types of help:

  1. Spanish speaking volunteers to help with the many Spanish speaking kids they expect
  2. People to help with Face Painting.
  3. People good at selecting appropriate presents for kids of assorted ages, to help in the "Present Room".
Contact Zoom Piksa at the Center at 206-684-4753 for more information. or to volunteer.

If you'd like to help wrap the presents, come along to the Country Doctor on 19th between 5 and 9 PM on Thursday and ask for Laury.

1920 East John townhouse construction

The construction of 6 townhouses, in two buildings, at 1920 East John Street has begun:

Miller Park on Facebook

Neighbor Mike writes to point out that Miller Park is one of the neighborhoods listed on an application called Neighborhoods that works within the social networking program Facebook and allows neighborhood members to find each other.

Stop any passing teenager and ask them to explain Facebook to you (then explain it to me!). Mike noted that he was the first person to register as a Miller Park member, and encourages you to do so, if you wish.

Seasonal views

Dec 11, 2007

A Christmas Movie in Space

It's a Wonderful Life meets Plan 9 from Outer Space at The Central Cinema (on Friday the 13th, among other dates).

The Central Cinema is our local movie dinner-theater. They show a wide variety of movies that you may not see elsewhere.

The (only) IMDB review notes:

This is truly the worst movie I have ever seen, but it really goes beyond that. Something this stunningly terrible simply had to be done on purpose. Every joke, every "special effect" every background, every costume is done without any kind of thought as to not looking like it was done in under fifty seconds. This film brings artistry to sub-mediocrity. Something so basely horrible defies the physics of cinematography. I could not make a worse movie if I spent absolutely no time at all making it. Someone really, really tried to make this piece of gold stink like a thousand dead scatologists. If you have a dollar on you the next time you pass by your local dollar store, do yourself a favor and revel in the worst thing you can imagine.

Only 1 review but 149 peoples' comments all seem to agree!

Candlelight Vigil at Langston Hughes, 5:30PM Tuesday

Communities Unite for Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center
Candlelight Vigil, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 5:30 p.m.
Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, 104 17th Avenue S., Seattle

In recent weeks, the community voiced its concern surrounding the mission, management and artistic direction of the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center. With planning for the Seattle Parks & Recreation Strategic Business Plan underway, it is important for supporters to continue to make their voices heard in support of the vision of Langston as a space to celebrate and showcase Black arts in Seattle and to provide opportunities for Black artists to thrive.

In 2005, Langston published "The ROOTS Project," a two year community needs assessment to develop a greater understanding about existing and potential audiences and to investigate ways to enhance connections to the community. Through surveys, interviews and focus groups, more than 800 Seattle AND King County residents responded. Key findings from the report include:

  • LHPAC serves a cultural rather than a geographic community throughout Seattle and beyond;
  • Performing arts is the cornerstone of programming interest, both for current and potential participants;
  • Arts programming that draws from or reflects the African American experience is of highest importance at LHPAC for existing and potential visitors;
  • Performing artists of color believe LHPAC must play a strong and growing role in their professional sphere;
  • Programs that provide arts-related training and opportunities for youth and teens of color are a high priority for the community; and
  • Artists and partners believe that timely, streamlined and effective communication is of critical importance to their working relationships with LHPAC.

In the spirit of promoting diverse perspectives, it is time for the community to speak truth to power and demand that Langston remain true to its vision as an African American artist-centered space. Come join concerned citizens and let your voice be heard!

Check out the following press coverage of the recent public meeting held on Thursday, November 29th at Langston:
"Town Squall: Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center's Director is the Subject of an Investigation by the City—and the Neighborhood Is Pissed" The Stranger, Dec. 4, 2007

"Preserving part of home" Seattle Times, Dec. 3, 2007

Mission Statement of Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center:
[ ]

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center builds community by providing opportunities for artists and audiences to connect through the medium of art as a catalyst for community dialogue and social change.

The Center creates year round programs that enhance artistic appreciation, performance, and proficiency. LHPAC provides creative and collaborative opportunity that creates cultural competency across the aisles of our theater and across the neighborhoods of greater Seattle by honoring our tradition of featuring art by and about African Americans, youth and communities of color.

Dec 10, 2007

New Parks Superintendent and Deputy

Gregory J. Nickels, Mayor
Timothy A. Gallagher, Superintendent

For immediate release December 10, 2007
Contact: Dewey Potter, 206-684-7241


Timothy A. Gallagher, confirmed today as Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation by a unanimous vote by the Seattle City Council, has appointed Christopher Williams his Deputy Superintendent.

“Over the past couple of months I have had the opportunity to work closely with Christopher,” said Gallagher, “and I have appreciated his professionalism, integrity, fairness and his hard work. As my first official action I appoint him to the position of Deputy Superintendent, allowing him to continue in his role as chief of staff.

“Christopher is passionate about parks and recreation because he believes the work of the organization makes a difference in the lives of people in the community,” Gallagher added.

Williams, a Columbia University graduate with a Master’s of Public Administration from Seattle University, spent eight years as a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps. He came to Seattle Parks in 1993 and has served in several capacities, including safety officer, park resources manager, and director of the operations division, which oversees recreation programs and grounds maintenance. He has served as Interim Superintendent since February 2007.

Dec 9, 2007

Volunteers needed for Miller CC Holiday Party

The Miller Community Center and The Country Doctor's Holiday Party event is this Saturday, December 15th from 11 am to 3pm. This year we are expecting an attendance of 800 plus people. We have many activities for kids including picture with Santa, games, bounce toys, cookie decoration, arts & crafts, etc.

The Seattle Police Officers and the Fire Fighters will be on hand to help, but more volunteers are needed to help with set-up/take down, monitoring facility/parking, directing crowd, handing out gifts, operating game booths, greeting families, etc.

Lake Street Catering is providing free turkey dinners for the families and volunteers.

Anyone that is interested in volunteering, please email us at or call to sign-up at 206-684-4753.
(from Thavy Pen, Center Director)

(background details)

I told you by E-mail of the flooding that destroyed presents for the Miller holiday party:

The Country Doctor (low income health clinic, 19th & Republican) and Miller Community Center are planning a joint holiday party at Miller on December 15th (10 AM - 3 PM).

Their joint supply of presents for the kids was being stored in the basement of the Country Doctor, and much of it was ruined when the basement flooded during our recent storm.

They are in urgent need of new toys as presents. I'm sure you can drop them off at either location. Miller Community Center is at 330 - 19th Ave E.
The information was also posted on the CHS: Capitol Hill blog (which also chipped in) where we also learnt:

Thank you in advance for your help. We need toys for youth ages 0 to 16. This year we are particularly low in toys for the 0-3 yr old and toys for 10 and older. Older kids enjoy sports equipment, including football and soccer balls and board/card/electronic games. The younger kids seem to enjoy dolls, stuff animals, children books, interactive/educational games, action figures and toy cars. Last year, our event served 600 plus people so toys for any age, gender and of any value will be much appreciated.

I’ve just found out that if you don’t have time to shop and wrap, you can bring a check to either place – they are both 501(c ) (3) organizations
The response to the various appeals (and to more TV spots) has been tremendous: they've got lots of toy donations AND a donation of a catered holiday meal for all of the guests.

They're expecting 800 people this year, so they could certainly use your volunteer labor to help make the party run smoothly.

Goodwill Development Survey Results

Thank you for reading the several posts about the views of two neighborhood groups in the Jackson Place area, who respectively oppose and support a planned very large development of the Goodwill property on Dearborn Street in the International District.

I asked you to identify yourselves as being inside or outside our neighborhood boundaries, and to then vote on whether we should support the group opposing development (the Dearborn Street Coalition for livable neighborhoods).

Eleven of the thirteen voters lived within the neighborhood boundaries, and the other two were just outside it.

Six of the eleven voters within the neighborhood were in favor of joining the coalition (and the other five opposed it). The two "nearby neighbors" were also in opposition, so in total six out of thirteen voters were in favor of supporting the coalition. In other words:

We're pretty evenly divided on this issue.

I therefore suggest that the Miller Park neighborhood remain neutral on the Dearborn Street development project.

Many thanks to all of you for reading, thinking and voting, and to the "Go Dearborn Street" and the "Dearborn Street Coalition for livable neighborhoods" groups for sharing their views and their respective passions with us. I'm sure you'll join me in following developments with great interest.

Dan Bertolet writes to note a similar discussion prompted by his blog posting about the Dearborn Street project.

Dec 8, 2007

Go see Ms. Helen!

When Club Chocolate City closed this Spring, Ms. Helen Coleman (who ran Ms Helen's Soul Food there) became the cook at Rose Petals Restaurant, 6901 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Business has been very bad down there, because of all the light rail construction. This Seattle Times article notes Bettye Gray, owner of Rose Petals restaurant, says "this is the worst" business has been in 19 years at the soul-food establishment. Her main cook Ms. Helen, "and I will sit here all day long with no customers."
(The picture, also from the Times article, is of Ms. Helen getting the tables ready for lunch).

Rail construction is over and the merchants are luring you down there this Sunday with the Southeast Seattle International Festival :

The event, to help the neighborhood recover from light-rail construction, is Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at The Citadel, 4200 S. Othello St., a block east of Martin Luther King Jr. Way South. Highlights include the Emerald City Jazz Ensemble, the Huong-Viet Traditional Music Performance Group, dance and martial-arts groups, and meals from five restaurants. Admission is free and meal tickets cost $6 at the festival.

Hop on down to the festival for some of Ms. Helens cooking, or just pop down to the restaurant some other time and enjoy some of her legendary cooking.

Dec 7, 2007

Book exchange and baby viewing

The CHS: Capitol Hill Seattle family is hosting a paperback book exchange at Smith (the bar on 15th) on Monday December 17th, 6:30pm to 8:30ish.

Baby Bowie will be on hand to officiate.

Lost Kitten needs home

(forwarded from assorted listservs. Contact me and I'll forward to the poster).

In brief:

I found a stray kitten wandering 23rd and Madison yesterday. I put up flyers but nothing. This is obviously someone's kitten either lost or dumped. He is orange and white, appx 4 months old, very friendly and litterbox trained. No tags or collar. Seems healthy and fed. We cannot keep him and I'm looking for a home for him. I wanted to check first to see if anyone would love a lonely kitten before I have to take him to the shelter :( Thanks, Chris

Dec 4, 2007

Thursday: Art Opening at the Bottleneck

Meet The Artist: James Sutherland, Thursday, December 6th, 7 – 9 PM, No Cover, at the Bottleneck Lounge, 2328 Madison Street.

Largely self taught, Seattle artist James W. Sutherland works in his unique medium of painted, carved plaster panels and his creative spirit is inspired by the magic and joy of nature, which he captures with a childlike energy through use of line, color and texture.

Parks Department Strategic Plan meeting at Miller

This Saturday, Dec. 8 10 a.m.-Noon at Miller Community Center, 330 19th Ave. E, will be the last of 32 Parks and Recreation public meetings, held to gather input from you to help Parks in the development of a Strategic Business Plan that will guide them in the next five years.

They welcome input in any form, even if people cannot or choose not to come to a meeting. You can contact Dewey Potter, Communications Manager, Seattle Parks and Recreation
at 206-684-7241.

You can also fill out a short survey, available online at, where you can also read more about the plan.

(Editorial comments from Andrew). Sounds pretty dull, geeky policy wonk kind of stuff, doesn't it? I suspect that Parks is working on different ways to raise funds for Park facilities and programs, and will be gaging the public's reaction to them.

I know that Parks has been approached by Diamond Parking about Diamond's proposal to turn the lower parking lot at Miller (the one used by Meany teachers during the day) into a Diamond pay lot. I suspect you may have some feelings about that. Don't know if they'll be able to answer questions about that at the meeting.

(My personal vision is that, when artificial turf is installed on Miller Playfield in 2009 and the field gets busy again, we will encourage many more sports players to use the lower parking lot, and take the strain off the ever busier neighborhood streets. That won't work if the lower lot is a pay lot!)

Dec 3, 2007

Goodwill Development: pros and cons

This is (I promise!) the final word on the Goodwill development controversy. See 1st and 2nd posting for more links/details. Recall that there is a neighborhood coalition opposing the present development plans for the Goodwill site and another neighborhood group that supports the development.

I initally suspected that the pro-development group was bogus, but now find it to be a genuine neighborhood effort. A long letter from that group is at the end of this message. But first, I have copied below the comments left by people voting in the survey.

Browse the websites, read the comments and the letter, and you'll know all you need to know to vote (by the 8th) on whether Miller Park should join the coalition opposing the Goodwill development.

Comments from the Survey:

(from René Soulard, MPNA co-founder, and local builder)
There are many reasons why we should support the Dearborn group. One they are a very active group that like us face many issues around developement, crime, street activity and general self improvement. They live there and know what they want and need, not what the city wants. The city is about to give away large portions of land that is currently city streets, your property! So that a private developer can use that land to make a Northgate like mall. He is offering too little in return for very valuable city property. I know this because I have attended some of the Dearborn and Jackson Place meetings. I have friends who live there and I am currently working on remodeling a house that looks right at the Goodwill site. I can tell you now if you think it is hard to get down Rainier and through the ID, just wait. Unless the city really uses its leverage, for public good, in vacating the streets for the project we are all going to suffer.
Out of area. Out of expertise. This poll will not be representative anyway. Not a good precedent. Keep focused on neighborhood issues.
I'm just outside the boundaries on 17th E and E John but am very focused on Miller Community Center and Playfield and all my friends that do live within the boundaries so I wanted to vote.
Let's take time in our neighborhood.
No, you should support the development. It is a good thing.
Let's keep big-box retailers at bay. The planned development is likely to ruin an important, and culturally rich, set of current businesses in the area. The impact of traffic and parking in the immediate area represents a negative impact that those who live and work in the area shouldn't have to bear. The disadvantages to the community far out way the advantages, so the city should not support this project, as it runs counter to the urban village model that the city promotes.
The international district is one of the primary retail/entertainment areas I go to. I feel we should voice our opinion on this.

And here are some thoughts from a Capitol Hill blogger.

A letter from the founder of the "Go Dearborn Street" group:

There are many reasons why we should support the Dearborn group. One they are a very active group that like us face many issues around developement, crime, street activity and general self improvement. They live there and know what they want and need, not what the city wants. The city is about to give away large portions of land that is currently city streets, your property! So that a private developer can use that land to make a Northgate like mall. He is offering too little in return for very valuable city property. I know this because I have attended some of the Dearborn and Jackson Place meetings. I have friends who live there and I am currently working on remodeling a house that looks right at the Goodwill site. I can tell you now if you think it is hard to get down Rainier and through the ID, just wait. Unless the city really uses its leverage, for puplic good, in vacating the streets for the project we are all going to suffer.

There are 5 of us who started You may recognize some of our names on the listserv. We know each other because we all live in Jackson Place, just blocks from the proposed development. The reason we came together is because we want to see a pedestrian friendly, mixed-use retail and housing project on that blighted lot – we are all HUGE fans of Goodwill and most importantly want to see their amazing new proposed building come into fruition. While we agree with some of the mission points the coalition is requesting of the project (such as ensuring the project adheres to green-build standards, includes ample locally owned businesses and remains sensitive to the Little Saigon Neighborhood), we have been dismayed at how the coalition has portrayed the project to the public (i.e.: the project is a massive Northgate mall, accusing the developer of not-negotiating, exaggerating claims of traffic calamities, and the big-box portion of the project perpetuating poverty and gentrification, etc, etc…).

We like the idea of a Target in the area, restaurants, a grocery store and amenities centrally located so we don’t have to drive all over the city and burbs - spewing excess carbon along the way! We don’t have access to these amenities within Seattle without having to travel all over the place. We like a mix of chain and locally owned businesses. Some chain stores would be beneficial in drawing in a customer base so mom & pops could benefit. We see benefits of a condensed urban living environment with a healthy mix of low-income housing located near major transportation hubs (though I personally wish there were more family-housing included). What better way to prevent sprawl and reduce reliance on cars than to have these things central and condensed!

The coalition has created a strong and infectious negative campaign against the current development. In addition to twisting facts and painting it as a massive sprawling mall (when really it’s 3 condensed city blocks), some of the requests they are asking of the developer are downright unreasonable. Some members within the coalition are using this opportunity to push their own agenda through. Take, for instance, SAGE. They are a huge force behind the coalition and are funded by unions. From what I glean, their mission is to unionize big-box & chain stores. While I don’t have anything against unions and think livable wages are great, SAGE wants to force the developers into signing a “Good Neighbor Agreement”. This agreement would hold the DEVELOPER legally responsible for insuring that the chain and big-box tenants adhere to living-wage and benefit standards (set by whom, SAGE?!). However, in the Community Benefits Agreement, SAGE says any locally-owned or small business would be exempt from providing the same benefits to their employees.

I’ve been scratching my head on this one for quite some time. Why is it now the developer’s responsibility to enforce working conditions on their tenants? Why would small business be exempt from this? Are their workers any less deserving of “living wage” benefits? How is it the developer can require one set of principals on some tenants and not on another?

I would think the pressure to change working conditions should fall on the store/”big-box” directly. Pressure Target directly, or better yet inform the pubic - encourage a boycott! I don’t understand their tactic…. Funny thing is, Target provides access to health benefits to all their employees, including part-timers. They have one of the best benefits package in their industry and have been lauded as a community-oriented company.

That is just one example of the unreasonable demands…

In addition, the coalition is touting the developer’s refusal to sign the “Community Benefits Agreement” as proof that they are not interested in working with the community. This is not true. The developer has made a concerted effort to include the community in the development of this project. They’ve made concessions and compromises all along the way to try and reach an agreement with the coalition. The developer can’t sign the agreement because it’s unreasonable…

I know I’m being quite critical of the coalition here. I’d like to emphasis that the role of the coalition was (and still is to some degree) absolutely essential to help shape the project and ensure the developers don’t have ”carte blanche” to do whatever they choose. The coalition helped add 100 additional low-income units to this project and put pressure on the developer to add more community benefits. But, many in our group feel they have been poor sports in the process by leading a negative and often misleading campaign. Many of their demands are just unreasonable.

I realize your community group is considering joining the coalition. I commend you for seeking out both sides of the story in order to gain a perspective. Many community groups have only heard from the coalition’s point of view and have joined the group based solely on what they have said without hearing from the developer or understanding the full range of the coalition’s mission. I wonder how many would have chosen not to join if they heard the whole story? Some have even recently dropped out.

The project isn’t perfect – its design isn’t going to please everyone, won’t be “green” enough for everyone and certainly won’t solve our world’s deeper problems. But I’d hate to NOT see this project happen because in the end the coalition wouldn’t compromise or meet the developers even half-way.

2.) We are not funded by the developer in any way. We started our group and website by our own accord. The DSCLN website has mentioned that we are working for the developers and some how scheming a front for them. That is absolutely untrue!! The only contact I get from the developers is when there are meeting dates or any significant news about the project that I could pass on to our listserve.

I’m sorry I have written so much here!

Thanks again for taking the time to hear both sides.

You may contact the author (and the Go Dearborn Street group) at:

You may contact the Dearborn Street Coaliton for Livable Neighborhoods via their Google group

Dec 2, 2007

Goodwill development: your vote, please

I asked recently for your vote on whether our neighborhood should join a neighborhood coalition, the "Dearborn Street Coalition for livable communities" , which is seeking to greatly modify a very large redevelopment of the area encompassing the Goodwill property near the International District.

A wise neighbor cautioned:

Re Goodwill site. This is complex issue. There are things going on that people in other areas won't have time or interest to get to know well enough and any poll sampling would be highly self-selecting and not necessarily representative. Do you relish the precedent of log-rolling, with one neighborhood activist weighing in on behalf of a large community in the matter of another neighborhood's issues? Sounds tricky...
Since then I have learnt of a neighborhood group in support of the project: "Go Dearborn Street". My first impression, on seeing that site, was that it was so smooth that it might well be a shill for the developers of the project. On closer examination, I now believe that it may well be genuine (belief confirmed: see below). You can join their listserv (34 members as of 12/2/07) and see if you recognize any names.

I therefore encourage you to visit the websites of the proponents and of the opponents to the Dearborn Street project (and see a few links in my previous post) and then go and vote on whether we should join the opponents' coalition. Please vote by 12/08/07.

If you want to hear from both sides in person:
On Monday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. the project development manger, Darrell Vange, will be speaking to the Mount Baker Community Association. An opponent of the project also will be speaking. The group meets at the Mount Baker Community Club, 2811 Mount Rainier Drive S. This will be a good opportunity for people to meet with fellow citizens and talk about why they support Dearborn Street and to ask questions on both sides.
BTW, after my original post I was contacted by Mark Stiles of Nyhus Communications (who has represented the developers at several public meetings I've been at). He provided the link to the proponents' website, as well as a couple of newspaper articles in support of the project (which are on the proponents' website), and this letter from the Cascade Bike Club, and this brochure from the developer.

I think all that information, and the meeting on Monday, should help us make informed decisions about whether to oppose the development.

Update (12/3/07). Just heard from Mark Stiles. Here's his response (edited by me):

Your comments were on my mind this weekend. I wanted to tell the story of how the website came together. *********, a ********* resident, contacted us this spring. She is an ardent supporter of the project because she thinks it will make her neighborhood a better place. So she put together the website on her own with only input (fact-checking) from the development team.

****** is working with others in the neighborhood who support the project. They are organized as Go Dearborn Street. I don’t think they actually want their names out there anymore than they are because the opposition to the project is so strident that they don’t want to deal with personal attacks.

I do appreciate your suggestions. The lack of links drives me crazy, too.

I know that you said there probably would not be time, but I would urge Miller Park to hear from both sides before deciding whether to take a stand on the Dearborn Street project
Vote as you please, but please vote. Thank you.

Dec 1, 2007

Snow (and seasonal) pictures

Here's a slide-show of fresh snow, seen during my walk up to 15th on Saturday December 1st (map of location of pictures).

(And the CHS:Capitol Hill Seattle Flickr Group Photo Pool has way many more snow pictures)

And while you're out admiring the snow, why not stop by Miller Community Center and admire their very clever seasonal decorations?