Jan 31, 2008

Capitol Hill Community Council Revived

Meeting notes, and links to several reports on this meeting.

About 30 people met in the Capitol Hill library meeting room, and seemed enthusiastic about rebooting the Capitol Hill Community Council. A steering committee was formed, and immediately started searching for a good committee meeting date! You'll be hearing from them in due course.

Leah Cutter kept us on task, blogger Wesa took lots of notes for all of you, Doug Schwartz reported for the Capitol Hill Times and Josh Lynch for the Seattle University Spectator, so any of you who missed the meeting will be well informed (and a show of hands revealed that about 1/3 of the audience had a blog). Long-time Community Council Chair Ann Donovan reminded us of the history and accomplishments of the community council and encouraged people to join the community council E-mail list.

Sound Transit impacts, development, gentrification, public safety, outreach and the arts were all discussed, and people signed up to be on committees addressing them. The chair of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce (Michael Wells of Bailey/Coy Books) discussed their recent revival, and we all agreed that there was a need for a separate Community Council, but that we would be closely allied on many projects.

Definitely a critical mass of enthusiastic and capable people: I have every hope that a healthy and vigorous Community Council will be representing our needs again soon.

According to the council bylaws, all Capitol Hill residents (even the most junior ones) are members of the Community council.

Marlow Harris has a P-I blog report on the meeting: "Like a phoenix rising from the ashes".

Wesa (seen typing away in the lower left corner of the upper picture) has kindly submitted her meeting notes for our guidance.

Candlelight Vigil at 23rd & Union on Friday

Candlelight Vigil

For Degene Barecha

Owner of Philly Cheese Steaks
Tragically Killed on Wednesday

Join Your Neighbors to
remember Mr. Barecha, show
support for his family, and help
take back our streets from

Friday 2/1 at 5pm
23rd & Union

A central area resident noted:
Our friends at centraldistrictnews.com have created a flyer for tomorrow evenings candlelight vigil - above and linked at: http://www.centraldistrictnews.com/media/community/2008/2/1/CandlelightVigil.pdf

A few of us are going to distribute around 24th/25th Ave north of Union but I'd encourage others to print this out and distribute far and wide.

This was a hard working guy who was killed solely because of the drug-dealing thugs that hang out in our neighborhood --- and we really need a massive showing tomorrow for the sake of his family and to make a game-changing statement that enough is enough.

So please recruit whoever you can to come tomorrow evening.

CD News notes:

We have been informed by someone close to the family of Degene "Safei" Barecha that a Candlelight Vigil/Non-Violence Demonstration for the victims of yesterday's shooting at Philly's will be held at 23rd and Union tomorrow, February 1st at 5:00pm. Whether or not you knew the victim, it would be nice for the neighborhood to show our respect. This is a great opportunity for people to organize efforts to fight this kind of violence.

Jan 30, 2008

One killed, one critically injured in 23rd & Union shootings

KING TV reports 2 shootings at Philadelphia Cheese Steak restaurant, located at 23rd and Union at roughly 11:15 a.m. Murder of previous owner of the restaurant was never solved.

Suspect's name, photo and car description are on the KING TV report. "Police say the suspect is Rey Alberto Davis-Bell. They are bringing in off-duty cops to help look for him."

Seattle P-I confirms the shootings as does KOMO.

The Central District News blog has a professional looking report, with video, which was quoted by KING TV: " A blogger from Centraldistrictnews.com interviewed a witness at today's shooting who said the shooting took place inside the restaurant. He described the events this way: “A gentleman walked inside the Philadelphia Cheese Steak and opened fire … and shot two people.”

Lots of pictures (and bizarre off-topic comments about cheese steaks) on the SLOG.

(from Central District News):
Police believe the suspect to be heavily armed and warn that there could be more violence in the next few hours.

The P-I has lots more about the suspect:

Prior to a 2002 harassment conviction, Davis-Bell told a court-appointed psychiatrist that hitting people makes him "feel good inside."

"One day I'll get even with everybody who has done me dirty," Davis-Bell told the psychiatrist, according to court documents. He went on to indicate that he didn't "mind hurting people who get in my way."

Davis-Bell has admitted to gang affiliations and acquiring stolen firearms, according to court records.
Central District News has all the latest, and links to the "old" media reports.

Background and perspective
from Seattle Crime Blog

Jan 29, 2008

Self Defense Classes

As mentioned before, self defense classes are one practical solution to safety concerns in the neighborhoods: one murder suspect has been charged, but there may be others out there.

The Seattle P-I recently had an article about the Home Alive self defense program. The comments on the article will let you sit in on a vigorous discussion between the gun advocates and the self-defense advocates.

Reminder: Home Alive. We want you home alive.

City Council is eager to involve you

(Click for larger version)
At this meeting the nine Councilmembers will announce how they will address the critical issues facing the city. As the City’s lawmaking body, each year the Council is responsible for taking action on the issues that shape Seattle’s business, social, and physical environment, ranging from public safety to affordable housing, from city parks to global warming, and from the Alaskan Way Viaduct to bicycle paths.

Where: Council Chambers, Second Floor, City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue
When: Monday, February 4, 2008, 2:00 p.m.

Sign Up for City Council Committee agendas

Council homepage

Jan 27, 2008

Jan 31st Community Council revival meeting

The meeting to discuss how/if we should revive the Capitol Hill Community Council will be 6 - 8 PM on Thursday January 31st in the meeting room at the Capitol Hill Library ( 425 Harvard Ave E., behind the QFC on Broadway). Many thanks to all of you who expressed enthusiasm for the idea and who left notes on the survey.

Why should we do this? One of you expressed it so much better than I could:

Been thinking about an umbrella group that could marshal all of us in the greater Capitol Hill area to tackle the rapid growth, safety, public amenities,cultural preservation,economic issues, and transporation issues facing us. Critical mass is something that might cause responses from Sound Transit, law enforcement, City Departments, etc. rather than all the various groups going it alone. We will still need neighborhood groups to deal with very local concerns but there are significant benefits of an umbrella group in these times of rapid change ( no intended relationship to current national political campaign slogans ).
Let's see if we can decide what format the Council should take: I imagine mostly web-based sharing of ideas but with occasional in-person meetings to meet with City officials, developers etc. One important aspect will be to get people to represent the Council on other local groups with related interests, to help share information and prevent duplication of efforts. Ones that immediately spring to mind are:
So, let's get together to decide what our common interests and concerns are, and see if we can match them with what skills we can offer. Here's what people have volunteered:
  • I have a blog
  • I used to be the administrative coordinator for the Dinkytown Business Association in Minneapolis. This meant working closing with the city council as well as the local neighborhood association.
  • - facilitating with project management for CHCC initiatives - marketing, esp. new media
  • Have been working with and somewhat organizing the Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council for a year or so.
  • Writing, editing, organizational skills, willingness to do odd jobs
  • Knowledge of community led social change, willing to help in just about any capacity.
  • Local theatre artist with a venue on CapHill; have good contacts with the local arts community, granting & government agencies supporting the arts.
  • I run a blog on crime in Seattle, which could be used as an advocacy tool by the Community Council.
  • I'm a community development finance consultant. I work primarily with various tax credit programs that promote affordable housing, historic preservation, and economic development.
  • I can take a lot of notes rather quickly.
I hope some of the previous Community Council officers will be there to guide us. I'll try and keep a semblance of order and try to keep us on task. I'm a lousy note-taker, but will bring a sign-in sheet! Here's the (old) Council website, with link to bylaws.

Don't forget the Capitol Hill Community Council Discussion Board

(I've just been watching "Jesus Camp", hence the fixation on "revival")

Mentally ill in the neighborhood: some history

Update: See CHS blog for good up-to-date summary of the James Anthony Williams murder arrest. And see this long, thoughtful post by Capitol Hill neighbor Wesa about the mental health system.

(sent to me by a correspondent, who also noted the attack on a teacher at a Capitol Hill bus-stop on E. Pine Street on Jan 13th and the fatal Jan 26th shooting on E. Pine Street, and wondered what was happening to our neighborhood).

I think it is time to back off of the "too many social services" and get clear that the concern is Sound Health, until recently known as Seattle Mental Health Institute. It is THIS social service agency that has been an attractor for so many unstable and clearly deranged people in the area. Over time, in my memory, clients of this particular agency have been convicted or implicated in the murders of three individuals -- there may have been others.

SMHI was founded when Washington closed Western State Hospital which, at the time, was an unhealthy and terrible place. I have lost track -- I believe that the State did reopen Western State at another location. The ethic at the time (the early '70s) was that mentally ill people deserved better treatment than they were receiving at the State hospital. Also at the time, there was concern about folks who had been involuntarily committed to Western State without any personal legal rights. The laws about commitment were changed.

When SMHI first appeared in the Madison corridor, the neighborhood was pretty decrepit and people using the services of the Institute were often living in apartment buildings close to the outpatient services. There was a scandal about how those buildings were operated and how the patients were treated which resulted in an agreement with the Capitol Hill Community Council and closure of some of the boarding houses and many changes in the way people who lived in them were treated. (As I recall, some of the landlords were pocketing tenants relief checks.) Then SMHI built their new facility, with a lot of community input on the design. And the older decrepit housing was razed and new condos were built. I believe the idea was that clients of a mental health institute should be exposed to a "normal" neighborhood.

There have been many changes in the way people are treated at SMHI, and in the way people interact with the facility over time. Also, it is important to know that Harborview Hospital, also in the Madison corridor, has a locked ward where people in need receive immediate and critical care if they are deemed mentally ill.

The Summit Inn, and other single-room-occupancy residences serve an absolutely critical role in Seattle's shrinking housing stock. There are very few places where single people can afford to live. Snotty remarks about sitting on milk crates and smoking simply ignore the reality that no one can smoke at home any more -- the fear of smoking has combined with the fear of cigarette-induced fires to mean that most apartment buildings have insurance that precludes smoking on site. I have to sit on my stoop to smoke. The Displacement Coalition has been fighting for years to replace the low-cost housing lost downtown and in other neighborhoods, without much success. I am grateful for the Wintonia (Seattle Archdiocese Housing) and others who have managed to carve out some spaces for those who absolutely cannot afford Seattle apartment prices.

The question is why was this guy on the street at all. I've certainly seen him around the neighborhood. How are we to know that this man, and perhaps others, are ready to be free of supervision? And what does Sound Health do when they have an outpatient who clearly is not safe on the streets, either for others or for him or herself?

This same correspondent previously noted:

One of my concerns about the neighborhood in question continues to be about why this neighborhood is prone to such violent crime. And it has been over many decades. There are undoubtedly burglaries, robberies, and speeding cars. Drug use is endemic (though why it is outside baffles me.) But, frankly, serious assault and murder are much too common in this area of town. (Say, about 15th to about 20th, both north and south of Madison by a few blocks.)

I don't understand it. We have too many social service institutions in the area, of course, but social service institutions of themselves may or may not be the attraction. I've always wondered about SMHI's clientele. I don't know much about Union Gospel Mission's clientele. Jewish Social Services seems unlikely to attract severely unstable people. There are senior centers, but most neighborhoods have senior centers. It doesn't seem to be racial conflict, although there may be some of that as well. Madison Market, bless them, has had their staff reduced quite seriously since they've moved to 16th and Madison. And they are a grocery store and a co-op.

Is my perception shared by others? Does any one have any idea how we might figure out what attracts such serious violence to the area? We're hardly snobs. Most folk around here are quite tolerant in fact. Also vigilant.

I offer this as something to ruminate about as we try to cope with yet another violent death.

More DPD stuff: Multifamily Zoning Changes

The Seattle Community Council Federation (SCCF) is a long-established umbrella organization for neighborhood groups in Seattle. (The City Neighborhood Council [CNC] was established by the City, allegedly to dilute the SCCF's influence). Both groups have, in my experience, great knowledge and experience in City affairs, and are well worth paying attention to, even if their meetings seem at time interminable and sometimes abrasive!

The SCCF has just posted a call to arms about the City's efforts to stealthily rewrite the building code for multifamily housing. I urge you to read the SCCF concerns and act individually (or as part of the the Capitol Hill Community Council, or the CNC Neighborhood Planning Committee).

City Council Planning & Land Use Committee:

Here's the DPD webpage on the multifamily zoning update process: lots there to keep you busy.

Here's the Environmental Determination for the updates.

The Squire Park neighborhood to our south has summarized these concerns about the zoning updates, and will be taking about it on Feb. 5th. Here's their summary:
The City of Seattle, Department of Planning and Development (DPD) has proposed changes in the Land Use Coder for all areas in the city zoned for multifamily developments. This includes much of the Central Area.

Some residents of the Central Area have met to work on a response to the DPD proposal. We believe that the Land Use Code can do more to preserve and promote the vitality of our neighborhood in several key ways.

If you are interested in the future development of your neighborhood and have ideas for how it could be better, please help present a case to the City Council which will soon be considering the proposed changes. We'll be meeting on February 5 at 5:30 P.M. (location to be determined --- contact Bill Zosel or Ann Schuessler). Needed are your ideas and help to educate City Council members about our concerns.

To read about the DPD proposal see:

For a summary of the SPCC position on key points for our neighborhood see www.squirepark.org (See the item under "Help Advocate for Improved Development Rules".) This is not an exhaustive list of all the changes that might be considered. We've tried to focus on a few issues that are of broad concern and to suggest possible strategies for improvement.

Bill Zosel wmzosel@aol.com
Ann Schuessler aschuessler@rafn.com
Again, something that will affect us profoundly, and probably best addressed by a neighborhood group (the Capitol Hill Community Council, or the CNC Neighborhood Planning Committee would be places to start).

Townhouse developments and other DPD stuff

A Stranger SLOG post deals at length with a concern raised by architect (and former Central Area resident and Central Neighborhood Association chair) David Foster:

Large developments in Seattle are supposed to be reviewed under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), which triggers a design review by the city. This ensures the finished devlopment fits with the neighborhood and doesn’t kill fish. However, some developers have found a way around that process called “piecemealing”: By applying for separate building permits for smaller adjacent properties, developers can build major projects but only submit to the scrutiny of a simple construction, like building a house.
You'll have noticed that many of the DPD (Dept. of Planning and Development) notices I circulate mention such "unrelated" adjacent developments in passing. The Slog post (and Foster's letter to the West Seattle blog) explain it much better than I can. Council Chair Conlin replied to the West Seattle blog: most commenters were not convinced.

Much of this DPD stuff I point out to you is dry, dull and complicated, and seems unlikely to affect our daily lives (unlike a deranged man with a knife). However, in our rapidly developing part of the City, many of the changes that are being proposed (see next post) or being tacitly allowed, will make profound differences to our neighborhood, and may well take it in directions we don't really want.

Comments on the SLOG item hit up the main points, but some bear repeating here:
  • Townhouses are everywhere now, in part because construction insurance for condominiums is so expensive: condominium owners' associations have deep pockets and sue builders about leaking siding, individual townhouse owners don't.
  • There's also more profit in townhouses and (to be honest) many people probably prefer not have strangers above and below them. We'll see if they still favor all those stairs when they're 75.
  • The City is trying to cram lots of new developments into the multi-family zones in Seattle, to comply with the Growth Management Act. They'd probably prefer the even higher densities of condominiums/apartments, but don't seem to be able to stem the flood of townhouses.
  • The garages in townhouses are so small, and hard to access, that even tiny cars finish up on the streets. (Slog comment #5 and #15 ). Some people (and the City) keep trying to insist that we don't need cars as we can get to work by bus/bike/etc, and that the garages should be eliminated (at least in Urban Centers). I do walk/bike to work but I still want a car! Why? Because I (unlike the City) see myself as more than just a worker: I want to enjoy the uncrowded and scenic NW outdoors (that the Growth Management Act seeks to preserve), and you really can't do that without your own old clunker - think Flexcar wants you to put chains or bikeracks on their cars and take them down potholed dirt roads to deserted trailheads to be broken in to? (See Central District News thoughts on this).
  • Seattle is trying to accommodate a LOT of new residents, and is putting all that new growth in the exisiting multifamily zones and neighborhood commercial areas: multistory apartments/condos and townhomes. However, as the DPD map above shows (click for a readable version), most of the City is zoned for single family residences (the ~ 75% that's light tan: SF zones) but all the development is going in the multifamily (L1 to L4, NC 1 to NC3) areas. The SF zone residents have fiercely opposed any attempt to increase housing density in their areas (mother-in-law units, etc).
So what now? Individuals (unless their name is Allen) seem unlikely to influence the City on this. Well organized groups might make a difference: come to the Capitol Hill Community Council organizing meeting: 6PM Thursday @ Capitol Hill library.

$$$ to fund your neighborhood project!

2008 Small Neighborhood Street Fund Projects

The Department of Neighborhoods is asking community leaders to work with their neighbors to identify and prioritize projects that will inform the City's Cumulative Reserve Fund (CRF) and Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) project decisions. This partnership, between the city and its neighborhoods, has been extremely valuable to identifying priority projects by community members. In anticipation of having a $1 million Cumulative Reserve Fund (CRF) and $240,000 Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) in next year's city budget, community members are invited to participate in the CRF/NSF Allocation Process that is open from January 14, 2008 until February 22, 2008

Lots of information, help, links, etc.

Many unfunded projects from other Districts are being reconsidered, but only ONE from the East District (that's us).

Note that the City's outreach effort to help with your application will be at Miller Community Center (and nowhere else):

Let us help make your application shine!

All questions for SDOT, Parks and Recreation and Department of Neighborhoods regarding the application and process can be answered at the Technical Assistance Workshop; on Thursday, February 7th at the Miller Community Center on Capitol Hill, located at 330 19th Ave. E from 6:00-7:30 pm

Jan 25, 2008

Suspect arrested in Shannon Harps Capitol Hill stabbing

From KING 5 TV:

  • Washington State Patrol crime lab that they found a DNA match to 48-year-old James Anthony Williams
  • Detectives believe Williams and Harps did not know each other.
  • Police say Williams was already in the King County Jail for a probation violation.
  • He was convicted and sentenced to 11 years in 1995 for first-degree assault. Williams had a brief conversation with a man at a bus stop in Seattle, then pulled out a gun and shot the man twice in the hand.
  • In 2007, Williams was arrested three times for violating his probation.
From a Slog posting comment:

He will not stand trial. He's already been declared mentally unfit to stand trial in lesser case, what makes you think he won't get off by reason of insanity for this?

From the Seattle Times:
  • long history of paranoid schizophrenia
  • Williams voluntarily provided a DNA sample that night
  • detectives went looking for him when that sample later matched DNA found at the crime scene.
  • he was already in jail on an unrelated probation-violation charge.
  • Williams was on medication and was receiving care at Sound Mental Health
  • In December, the home address listed for the suspect was on Summit Avenue (maybe not the "Summit Inn": see below)
  • Williams has a severe history of mental illness
  • has been involuntarily committed to psychiatric hospitals in Texas and Arkansas
  • He resisted medications after claiming he was turned into a monkey after receiving Haldol at a Texas hospital.
  • In 1989, he told a psychiatrist in Arkansas that, "God tells me to 'put people up' which means he wants me to shoot bad people."
The Seattle P-I has lots more about the suspect and knives. KOMO TV gave his address as the Curben Hotel on Summit. There have been concerns with the Curben Hotel in the past. Note that he'd moved there after the murder. See KOMO report: " Police arrested Williams at his room at the Curben Hotel on Summit Avenue in Capitol Hill, where he had reportedly been staying since Jan. 4". (Thanks, Seadevi, for pointing that out)

So, where does that leave us? DNA evidence pretty clearly implicates a very deranged man, who was probably both living and receiving treatment in an area of Capitol Hill which has been long known for its high concentration of social services. We are all aware of assorted deranged individuals in the area, whom we tend to assume are harmless.

We obviously need (but may never see) more details of his evaluation and treatment, and of the rationale for letting him live amongst us, rather than in a secure environment. And it would be good to know how many more people with similar diagnoses are living amongst us. Maybe the issue of the impacts of social services on our lives would be a topic for the January 31st Capitol Hill Community Council meeting.

One solution might be a truly secure long-term psychiatric hospital, similar to Broadmoor Hospital in England. (I don't know if Western State has such facilities: we seem to leave custody of dangerously insane people to the prison service, and hence they get released at the end of their sentence. Yes, I know this is a slippery slope).

Find out more: try this Google search, and this Capitol Hill Triangle post.

View Larger Map

Jan 23, 2008

Operation Streetlight

(A simple suggestion from my ever-practical wife, Meg).

Given that Shannon Harps' killer is apparently still out there, it would be good to make our neighborhood as safe as possible. Meg and I have been commuting by foot and have noticed many dead streetlights. It's simple and easy to report them via the City Light online form.

Meg suggests that people volunteer to adopt sections of Capitol Hill streets, and undertake to ensure that any defective lights on "their" street are duly reported to the City (and reported again if they are not fixed in a timely manner).

We can (but don't have to) keep a list of adopted streets, if you click here to send me an E-mail for each linear segment of street you adopt. I'll color and flag your streets on the map below with your "codename", so that we know who's doing what. Or just E-mail me:
Andrew Taylor

Colored (i.e non-yellow) lines on the map indicate streets that have been adopted. Click on the lines to find out who adopted them. Contact me to contact the adopter.
(If the map doesn't work try Firefox or click here to view a larger map).

View Larger Map

Still No Arrests In Shannon Harps’ Murder

From the Stranger's blog (The Slog):

However, they did confirm that they don’t have anyone in custody for the murder.

SPD has increased patrols on Capitol Hill, and is advising residents to “remain vigilant.”
Seattle P-I: DNA test of suspect shows no link to Capitol Hill stabbing

Seattle Times: DNA test fails to link man with Capitol Hill woman's slaying

Central District News take on Drug Enforcement Disparities

The Central District Blog is a wonderful addition to local neighborhood blogs: they're even managing to monitor and record SPD activity via radio scanner. The blog also lets YOU set up your neighborhood page there (go do it!).

Here's their take on the Drug Enforcement Disparity issue.

And don't miss Ellen O'Neill-Stephens second message to us. But remember her warning from her first message:

This could also get quite heated. Andrew Taylor and I vividly remember how representatives from the public defender agency accused the residents of the Miller/Madison Community of being racists themselves and promoting gentrification.

Club Chocolate City dealers convicted

Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all. Friedrich von Logau

From the January 14th P-I (thanks, Seadevi for noting the first report):

Seattle woman gets 5-year federal prison sentence


SEATTLE -- A federal judge in Seattle today sentenced a 42-year-old woman to five years in prison for distribution of crack cocaine, her second conviction for drug dealing.

Debbie Ann Wilson, of Seattle, served two years in prison after being convicted in 1997 of conspiring to sell two kilos of cocaine.

At Wilson's sentencing today, U.S. District Judge James L. Robert told her that drug dealers were a "scourge" on society and warned her that if she was caught selling drugs again, "they'll be carrying you out (of prison) in a box."

According to a plea agreement filed Aug. 2, 2007, Wilson sold crack cocaine to a confidential informant working for the Drug Enforcement Administration on three separate occasions last year at or near the former Chocolate City nightclub in Seattle. That nightclub was closed in February, 2007.

She was arrested on June 11, 2007, and indicted on July 11, 2007.

Seattle man sentenced to 70 months in prison

Associated Press - January 7, 2008 6:45 PM ET

SEATTLE (AP) - A Seattle man has received a 70-month prison sentence in
U.S. District Court for distribution of crack cocaine.

At 32-year-old Knute Golidy's sentencing today in Seattle, Judge James L. Robart told him that he needs to turn his life around in prison. The judge emphasized the violence that surrounds drug dealing.

According to records filed in the case on Feb. 28, 2007, Golidy sold crack cocaine to a confidential informant working for the Drug Enforcement administration. Golidy met his customers in Club Chocolate city, a now-defunct Seattle nightclub that was a notorious hangout for drug dealers.

The club closed in February 2007.


And yes, the Police do try other things first!

Jan 22, 2008

More from King County Prosecutor about racial diversity hearing, etc.

If anyone is interested in attending the Racial Disparity Project hearing it will take place on 1/25/08 at 9:00 AM at the KENT REGIONAL JUSTICE CENTER before the Honorable Sharon Armstrong in Courtroom 4 C. Dennis McCurdy is the King County Prosecuting handling this case. He will be the attorney sitting alone at counsel table. Feel free to introduce yourselves. The hearing may last about an hour. Your presence there may be a topic of discussion.

Please feel free to forward this e-mail on to any other individuals who may be interested in the issues surrounding the negative impact of drug use and sales in our neighborhoods. This hearing presents a great opportunity for us to discuss how best to solve these problems.

1) Below is a article regarding The Highpoint Project, an innovative law enforcement/ community effort to deal with the adverse affects of open air drug markets, drug abuse and committing drug crimes. Should we consider implementing a similar program? Please let me know your thoughts about this.

2) Seattle Police Department Narcotics Captain Meehan sends all of you the following invitation regarding a holistic approach to treating meth use and meth trafficking in neighborhoods.

"The Tucson Meth Free Alliance is committed to reducing the negative impact of methamphetamine at all community levels through legal, legislative, grassroots, and personal action, and through active partnerships"

Hello All, Save the Date - February 7, 2008 We welcome you to the King County Meth Action Team Winter
Meeting to be held at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC - The Academy) in Burien. More details will be forthcoming. We are fortunate to present guest speakers from the Tucson Meth Free Alliance. In the break-out sessions, you'll hear from Tucson Police Captain David Neri, Meth Free Project Manager Tania Capin and Dennis Embry, Ph.D. Their presentations will show how their regional Alliance has coordinated efforts among law enforcement, public information, prevention and intervention.
Planned Events 10:00 am - Noon General Session Noon - 1:00 pm Lunch provided (please RSVP by responding to this email) 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm Break-out Sessions
This will be an exciting meeting that will give provide us with ideas for our own Meth Action Team. Please feel free to invite others.

Cindy Petitt, Division Secretary, Criminal Investigations Division, King County Sheriff's Office, 401 Fourth Ave. N, Room 1BRJC - SO - 0104 Kent WA 98032 Phone (206) 296-7549 Fax (206) 296-0913
E-mail address:cindy.petitt@kingcounty.gov
3) Below is a blog site posted by the Stranger regarding the upcoming hearing. It addresses some of the issues behind the Racial Disparity Project and provides the opportunity to comment.

(It references a recent Miller post)

Ellen O'Neill-Stephens
Senior King County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

Jan 20, 2008

Shannon Harps murder; Social Services on Capitol Hill

Several relevant articles in Friday's Seattle Times.

First the good news: Seattle crime at 39-year low

The latest Seattle Times article about the Shannon Harps murder is all about "the man investigators are focusing on in the New Year's Eve slaying of a Capitol Hill woman". The article noted:

But when he was arrested for probation violations on Jan. 4, he was living in a squalid housing complex on Summit Avenue East where recovering addicts, mental-health patients and recently released convicts share common bathrooms and sit outside on milk crates to smoke.
Another article on the same page (2 more boarding homes for mentally ill to close) dealt at length with the problems at boarding houses on Capitol Hill, and gave the addresses of several of them in that immediate area. It's possible that the suspect was indeed staying at "Summit House" on December 31st.

View Larger Map

This reminded me of a long-ago Capitol Hill Community Council concern about the high concentration of social services in that immediate area. As I recall, concerns about the number of social service agencies located in the Central Area resulted in an exclusion zone to prevent any more locating there. This resulted, apparently, in the large number we have just north of Madison (the northern boundary of the the exclusion zone). I recall that a Community Council member mapped and documented them all: I'll try and find the data.

I have no reason to believe that the culprit (if it is indeed he) is anything other than one "bad apple" , but do note that the Times article mentioned " finding various failures in the way the needs of residents are assessed and monitored and in the upkeep of the homes" as the problems DSHS had noted.

A long term resident recently wrote to me:
One of my concerns about the neighborhood in question continues to be about why this neighborhood is prone to such violent crime. And it has been over many decades. There are undoubtedly burglaries, robberies, and speeding cars. Drug use is endemic (though why it is outside baffles me.) But, frankly, serious assault and murder are much too common in this area of town. (Say, about 15th to about 20th, both north and south of Madison by a few blocks.)

I don't understand it. We have too many social service institutions in the area, of course, but social service institutions of themselves may or may not be the attraction. I've always wondered about SMHI's clientele. I don't know much about Union Gospel Mission's clientele. Jewish Social Services seems unlikely to attract severely unstable people. There are senior centers, but most neighborhoods have senior centers. It doesn't seem to be racial conflict, although there may be some of that as well. Madison Market, bless them, has had their staff reduced quite seriously since they've moved to 16th and Madison. And they are a grocery store and a co-op.

Is my perception shared by others? Does any one have any idea how we might figure out what attracts such serious violence to the area? We're hardly snobs. Most folk around here are quite tolerant in fact. Also vigilant.

I offer this as something to ruminate about as we try to cope with yet another violent death.

Drug enforcement and SPD: your help needed

(Ellen O'Neill-Stephens , a King County Prosecutor, worked extensively with us on the long-standing drug problems on Madison. You can hear her describing her work on this recording of a Council meeting at Miller. Here she writes asking for our help in giving a judge a balanced view of drug enforcement practices in Seattle. It's an awkward time and place to go, but I hope some of you can help). She won a Seattle Police Foundation award recently.

Racial Disparity Project

Many people have told me that they would be interested in attending the next open hearing regarding this matter. Up until now the judge has made decisions about the arguments based on briefs provided by opposing sides.

To refresh your memories, the Public Defender's Office has filed a motion to dismiss narcotics trafficking charges against several African American individuals who were arrested for selling narcotics in open air drug markets. The Racial Disparity Project is accusing the entire Seattle Police Department of being racist. This is not a claim of individual racism by particular officers, but institutional racism. It is being argued that SPD has created policies that intentionally target African Americans for felony drug offenses.

The defense has swamped SPD with discovery and public disclosure requests. They have also sought to interview and depose multiple persons from the Chief of Police on down, as well as persons with the Mayor's office.

Their claim is predicated upon a statistical analysis that they claim shows that African Americans are disproportionately being arrested for drug offenses and that this proves institutional racism.

This statistical analysis is being reviewed and will likely be challenged.

The SPD has responded to this accusation of institutional racism, by stating that open air drug markets are targeted for law enforcement in response to community complaints of narcotics trafficking, open drug use, and the crimes associated with street drug markets such as theft, violence and acts of prostitution.

Since community complaints to SPD is a major issue in this case, I was wondering if you thought members of your group would still be interested in participating in this process and possibly letting the judge know your thoughts about the defense's representations.

If you think members of your community groups would be interested in attending this hearing please contact me as soon as possible by phone. 206-423-9756.

Thanks, Ellen

(Addendum) I have learned that Judge Armstrong has been reassigned to the Regional Justice Center in Kent. That will certainly have an adverse impact on the number of people who can attend this hearing scheduled for 1/25/08 at 9:00.

I have also spoken to Dennis McCurdy, the prosecutor assigned to the case. He anticipates that the hearing could last up until an hour and that the defense will be demanding more evidence from the police department.

Dennis and I strongly believe that community participation in these hearings would lend some balance to the hearings.

Please contact me so we can best discuss how to involve the Seattle community in these hearings since participants would have to travel such a long distance to attend. I was wondering if a core group of individuals and businesses, representing communities from all over the city, could make a commitment to attend all the hearings and report back to their neighborhoods.

This could also get quite heated. Andrew Taylor and I vividly remember how representatives from the public defender agency accused the residents of the Miller/Madison Community of being racists themselves and promoting gentrification.

Please feel free to contact me ( Ellen.OneillStephens@Seattle.Gov) or Dennis regarding this. My cell is 206-423-9756.
Dennis can be reached at dennis.mccurdy@kingcounty.gov.

Jan 17, 2008

Free orchestra concerts with Quinton Morris

Quinton Morris, violinist, music professor and founder and director of The Young Eight, America’s only all African-American string octet, will join Associate Conductor Carolyn Kuan as she leads the Seattle Symphony in several free community concerts.
The (all Mozart) performances will be on Wednesday, January 23, at 7:30 p.m. at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center (details here) and Friday, January 25, at 12 p.m. at Seattle City Hall (details here, and location).

Seattle Symphony Director of Education Nancy Gosen explains, “We invited Quinton to be part of our ACCESS community concerts this season due to his ongoing commitment to bringing classical music to underserved populations. Quinton is a great example to kids everywhere as someone who has succeeded in achieving his dreams and who continues to give back to his community. We welcome him back to Seattle.”

Jan 15, 2008

Capitol Hill Community Council Revival?

Many thanks to all of you who wrote wanting to be part of a reinvigorated Capitol Hill Community Council. I heard from several previous Council officers: their explanatory remarks and offers of support are appended below. Looks like we need some sort of hybrid between the old type of "meet in a room every month" Council and the various electronic forums that are proliferating in our neighborhoods.

I propose that we gather in the meeting room at the Capitol Hill Library ( 425 Harvard Ave E., behind the QFC on Broadway) from 6 to 8 PM on Wednesday January 30th or
Thursday January 31st ( date to be decided by VOTING HERE by Jan 22nd ) and decide how to proceed.

Addendum (1/19/08): Meeting will be Thursday Jan. 31st.

click image for readable version

The meeting will be publicized by the usual blogs and E-mail lists. The Capitol Hill Times hopes to do an article about the Community Council in its January 23rd issue (and I will send a meeting announcement for the January 30th issue). That should help get the word out to those without ready computer access (as can you by word of mouth).

There is a Discussion Board for the Community Council (kindly set up by Justin) that we can use to post/exchange ideas ahead of the meeting. BTW here's the old Council website (for background), here are the council bylaws and here are some thoughts from the CHS blog.

Notes from Community Council Officers

I'm willing to do what I can to help reinitiate things. I'm really pressed for time so I can't lead but I'm totally willing to share any insight, information -- and of course records as I have the CHCC's filing cabinet at my house.

Ann Donovan


From Phil Mocek

In case you don't already know: the Community Council still exists but is on hiatus -- not dead, just hibernating. All it should take to revive it is leadership and public participation. There is still a bank account, and I assume we're incorporated. When Ann Donovan stepped down after many years of hard work building the organization, no one who was willing to step up could be found. I am technically the secretary, as I agreed to take the position shortly before we decided to stop holding monthly meetings a couple years ago (because hardly anyone -- sometimes no one besides officers -- showed up for them). I think Catherine Brumbaugh is the treasurer, and Gary Clark may still be vice-president. None of this means much, as we have been inactive since the last election, and we're surely operating (I use that loosely) outside the by-laws by now.

I've thought for some time that someday the Community Council should come back in a more Web-based form. There was a time when a big face-to-face meeting was the best way to disseminate neighborhood-level information and to facilitate discussion of neighborhood issues by neighbors. Nowadays, it's difficult to convince people to stop whatever they're doing and go to a meeting to get some information that they could just as well read from a mailing list or find on the Web. Obviously there are some advantages to face-to-face interaction, but it's probably not needed on a monthly basis.

I registered the capitolhillcommunitycouncil.org and capitolhillseattle.org Internet domains a couple years ago in case something like this were to develop. I also have a Web hosting account that allows me to use more storage and data transfer than I'll ever need, and my Web host makes it very simple to set up all kinds of Web-based software -- blogs, forums, wikis, etc. This could be used to get something rolling with the intention of handing it all over to CHCC sometime in the future.

Due to a drastic change in my work situation last year and having bitten off more than I can chew, I'm overextended as it is, and already feeling guilty about not devoting as much effort as I think I should to the Neighborhood Plan Stewardship Council (I'm the current president, somewhat by default, as I'm a terrible leader) and the new Chamber of Commerce (I'm on the board of directors). I'm willing to try to help some, especially if that mostly involves providing some initial technical assistance.


I agree with Phil's comments. Meetings per se don't really work much of the time and the internet is an alternative. Plus, I'm currently on several local non-profit boards of directors and I'm committed--as I hope you all are--to sweeping the Republicans at all levels under the bridge in November. But I would come to meetings as time allows.

Gary Clark

Jan 10, 2008

Help revive the Capitol Hill Community Council

When both the P-I and KING-TV contacted me last week for comment on the New Year's Eve murder on 15th, I realized that the Capitol Hill Community Council was truly dead.

I'd like your help in reviving it, to provide a voice for Capitol Hill and as a way for residents on the Hill to interact with the City in as unified a way as we (herd of cats that we are) care to.

The Capitol Hill Community Council was (according to their, no longer updated, website) founded in 1968, and has worked on assorted public interest issues that would have been beyond the scope of individual neighbors or more local neighborhood groups (like Miller Park). Their website lists some ( eg the # 8 bus !) but was never updated to note a couple of their last successes:

  • They successfully intervened in the dispute between the Walgreens Pharmacy on 15th and its neighbors to lessen the impact of the original "cookie cutter" design on the neighborhood. Don't see the free-standing readerboard in the parking lot, do you?
  • They helped rally opposition to another free-standing cookie cutter Walgreens at Broadway & Pine, and convinced the developers to work with Capitol Hill Housing to instead build a low income apartment building on the site, with a Walgreens at street level (quite a departure for them). Dare I say "win, win"?
As I understand it (correct me, please) the driving forces in the Community Council put their all into opposing the Mayor's proposal to upzone Broadway, and then moved onto other things when they failed in that effort.

Given the changes happening in the commercial core of Captitol Hill (impending light rail, streetcar, massive redevelopment, revival of neighborhood plans, building code updates) it would be great to have a neighborhood group to help us interact with City government. Let's face it: I'm not Paul Allen - the Mayor or Councilmembers aren't going to come out to my living room to hear what my views are, but they will (and do) regularly come out to neighborhood groups to meet with people (even when they're not actively seeking votes!). I'm only aware of the history of the Council since the birth of MPNA, but I'm not aware of them ever advocating any of the NIMBYish things that so alarm the CHS blog.

So, how do we do revive the Comm
unity Council? José Cervantes write to offer City assistance (my comments are interspersed):

After talking to Crime Prevention Coordinator, Michael Yasutake and Thomas Withemore, Neighborhood Matching Fund, we would like to follow up on your suggestion to assist in the creation and or reactivation of the community council for the Hills.

For this we need your valuable assistance and input of the following:

-We would like to use the Blog (that would be CHS: Seattle) you identified at the recent public safety forum to advertise funding available through the Department of Neighborhoods/Neighborhood Matching Fund Outreach Grant (up to $750) for folks that would like to create or reactivate the mentioned needed community council for the Hills. The funding available can be used for this purpose.

-We need to know from Ann or other Elders of the previous Capitol Hill Community Council if they would like to participate on this or help us endorse the idea, everyone is welcome and the new group needs to develop the leadership responsibilities to accomplish the task. Can you help us with this? (Ann is Ann Donovan, who still runs the Community Council listserv and is, along with several of the previous officers, still living in the area)

-As you know, neighborhood organizations such as community councils are independently organized from the City, but once the core group initiates the organizing process DON and SPD can assist with funding applications, technical assistance, etc, as requested.

Jose Cervantes, Neighborhood District Coordinator
(206) 684-4574


Some final thoughts:
  • The listservs and blogs that we all use now make it easy to communicate speedily, but there's still value in occasional traditional neighborhood meetings.
  • No need for kneejerk once-a-month meetings, but good to get together as needed: sitting down in a room sometimes just WORKS!
  • Service projects, like the MADCAP cleanups, are one good way to get together and swap news.
  • NO, I don't want to Chair the group! I'll come along to some meetings, but Miller Park is on the edge of Capitol Hill and somebody more central should be "in charge".
SO How do we proceed? You can contact me (tayles@jps.net) or José (jose.cervantes@seattle.gov) and, if there's enough interest, we'll take it from there.

Thanks for your time. I'll try and write soon about my (flawed) understanding of the various neighborhood groups that serve our assorted needs in working with local government.

Townhouse application on 19th Ave E. & E. Glen Street

Land Use Application to subdivide one parcel into six unit lots. The construction of residential units has been approved under Project #6125552 and Project #6143221. This subdivision of property is only for the purpose of allowing sale or lease of the unit lots. Development standards will be applied to the original parcel and not to each of the new unit lots.

You may comment on the application (here's how to).

Come help Denise Harnley retire!

Please Join Seattle Neighborhood Group for Denise Harnly’s Retirement Celebration!!!
When: Monday, January 14th, 2008
Time: 4pm-8pm
Location: Seattle Neighborhood Group, 1810 East Yesler Way
Formal remarks at 6pm, but please drop in when you can.

(click image to enlarge,read)

Denise has been working diligently to promote public safety for as long as the Miller Park Neighborhood Association has been around. You'll find her mentioned (and mis-spelled) in the inaugural (December 1990) edition of the neighborhood association newsletter.

Denise (in red hat) and various other people you might recognize, at an April 2006 MADCAP neighborhood cleanup:

The next MaDCAP neighborhood cleanup will be Saturday, January 19th, beginning at 10:00 am and ending at 11:30. The positive changes in the neighborhood of late allow for a later start time and an earlier finish as we've found there just isn't as much to clean up. Along with cleaning up, being present in the neighborhood has always been the other piece of MaDCAP's mission, and the tragic event of last week underscores how important it is to have a connected and supportive neighborhood. We will gather in the open space behind the Prince of Wales apartment building at 1818 20th Ave. Starbuck's coffee will be available beginning at 9:40. We hope you can take the time to join us.

Jan 9, 2008

Self Defense Classes

One of the groups offering its services at the safety forum last night was "Home Alive":

a Seattle based anti-violence non-profit organization that offers affordable self-defense classes and provides public education and awareness. We believe violence prevention is a community responsibility as well as an individual issue. "

They offer a variety of self defense classes (costs on a sliding scale).

The group was formed by a group of Seattle women after the 1993 murder of Mia Zapata (a crime which was only recently solved).

Donations to Home Alive would be a simple, practical, way to remember Shannon Harps.

Here's a Press Release from Home Alive, about the events and about how they can help.

More on 23rd Avenue

Following my musings about the terrible state of 23rd Avenue (neighbors voted 2 out of 2 to let it rot!), the Central District News blog provides lots more information for you to digest about the (lack of) plans to fix the surface of 23rd Avenue.

Jan 8, 2008

Capitol Hill Safety Forum Recap

In brief: nothing new. At least nothing that SPD would say in public. See CHS speculation.

Assorted summaries of the meeting:

Jan 4, 2008

Neighborhood Safety Forum

Dear East Precinct Crime Prevention Coalition and Capitol Hill Neighbors,

In response to the tragic homicide of Capitol Hill resident Shannon Harps on New Year's Eve, we are conducting a neighborhood safety forum to offer community members the opportunity to respond to the incident and discuss neighborhood safety. The police will be present at this forum to provide updates regarding this particular case as well as safety advice. The forum will be facilitated by Stephanie Tschida, EPCPC Chair and SPD East Precinct Lieutenant John Hayes.

When: Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 6:00 PM

Where: Group Health Capitol Hill Campus, South Building , Level A, Atrium
201 16th Ave East , Seattle WA 98112

Parking is available in the Group Health Parking Garage on Denny Way , just off of 15th Ave. S. If you are parking in the garage take the elevator to level A. If you are walking, enter the Group Health South Building off of 15th or 16th Ave , near Denny Way , and take the stairs or the elevator down to level A.

Driving/walking directions to the campus: http://www.ghc.org/locations/medcenters/3/capitolhill_directions.jhtml

This forum is open to the public, so please attend to share your questions, concerns and ideas. Personal safety information and resources will be provided.

For questions regarding this forum, please contact Mike Yasutake, SPD East Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator, 206.684.7717 or michael.yasutake@seattle.gov.

Kindest Regards,

Sita DeGiulio Das
East & Southeast Program Coordinator
Seattle Neighborhood Group
1810 East Yesler Way
Seattle , WA 98122-5748
206.322.9330 (Direct Line)

Jan 3, 2008

Capitol Hill: Community Meeting; Online Forum

The tragic stabbing murder on 15th Ave on New Year's Eve highlighted the lack of an active (physical) neighborhood organization on Capitol Hill for people to turn to. The CHS blog and I were both contacted by the media, and the blog saw lots of people seeking information.

The Capitol Hill Community Council used to represent neighborhood interests, but presently exists only as an E-mail list. The East Precinct Crime Prevention Coalition and the East Precinct's new Community Crime Prevention Coordinator (Mike Yasutake (206) 684-7717, michael.yasutake@seattle.gov ) are putting together a meeting (Tuesday, 6PM at Group Health, according to KING TV) about the murder: check here for details. Maybe the meeting will bring together people interested in jump-starting a new Community Council.

Justin, the CHS blogger-in-chief has also set up a new online forum to allow people to share their views, news, whatever. I encourage you to take advantage of it for all your (bigger picture) Capitol Hill related issues. For the (bigger picture) issues that are related to the Central Area part of our universe, try the Central District News site.

Jan 2, 2008

23rd Avenue: a warning and a question

1) The City really likes the red light camera system (which takes automatic pictures of violators). They're going to install 24 more cameras, several of them will be around Capitol Hill: the most relevant to us will be Southbound on 23rd @ East John.

2) 23rd Avenue is the major north-south arterial in our neighborhood. There are many large, dangerous potholes in its surface, much of which seems to be deteriorating badly. (and here's a note about the narrow width of 23rd south of Madison)

Question: should we try and get the City to fix the surface, or should we encourage neglect, and let the bad road surface help to slow down traffic? Your thoughts, please.

If you are in favor of fixing the road, send me some pictures of potholes that you can safely photograph (with locations). These ones are at 23rd & Olive, opposite the Safeway.