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The Capitol Hill Community Council was (according to their, no longer updated, website) founded in 1968, and has worked on assorted public interest issues that would have been beyond the scope of individual neighbors or more local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.


Christopher said...


This is great information. I've been trying for several months now to get a line on whether the CHCC still existed, and this is the first definitive answer I've seen to that question.

My interest, however, is even more specific, in that I'm interested in reviving the Capitol Hill Arts Council, but I can easily envision that the two resuscitations would go hand-in-hand, and that the two groups would work in concert with and support each other.

Seattle Crime Blogger said...


I'm certainly interested in getting involved with the Capitol Hill Community Council, and would be more than willing to do whatever is necessary - working with you and other local bloggers - to get it off the ground. Let me know what I can contribute. It might be good to organize some kind of community forum, sort of like the one at Group Health earlier this week but obviously on a smaller scale, where we could all discuss this issue over coffee.


The Seattle Crime Blogger

Flylikeamoth said...

I am ready to get involved in, I agree that it is important to have an advocacy group for the quality of life on the hill!

j said...

Thanks for getting this started, Andrew. So glad you are here to share your experience. Looking forward to making something out of it.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for writing this. Although I am young and lived on the hill for only over a year, I am interested in getting involved in organizing a community council as well. Please keep us informed of anything we can do to assist with your manifesto, per se :)

Abbey of the Arts said...

Thanks so much to you and CHS for getting the momentum going on this. I'm definitely interested, and like Christopher, also interested in the CH Arts Council.

Thanks, Christine

James said...

Thanks to you and CHS for getting the word out and building momentum behind "CHCC 2.0."

I would like to be involved in the Council -- particularly in helping to identify and prioritize local projects.

I recently moved to Capitol Hill and started up cap16 to document thoughts on the neighborhood. Looking forward to getting involved!

jessica_brockish said...

I am glad some momentum has been gained in reforming this council and perhaps the neighborhood can gain something from our recent tragedy. I have been living on the hill for 1.5 years and love it here. I feel very invested in this neighborhood and want to play an active role in its future.

Josie Nutter said...

School and work keep me a little too busy to be heavily involved in much else, but if there's anything you guys need a volunteer web developer for, please let me know. I'd like to attend the meetings occasionally (as my schedule permits), too.

Andrew Taylor said...

via E-mail:

Hey Andrew, this is Alex Garcia from Capitol Hill. I definetly want to be
involved and want to help support the Council.
Let me know how I can help.

Some ideas of how I think I can help
-Fundraising via my various capitol hill blogs
-I can help with some marketing (I have worked for various organizations in
new media marketing Gates Foundations, Hillary Clinton Campaign etc)

I also want to thank you for working on this, I think the community council
idea is great.

Alex Garcia

Andrew Taylor said...

By E-mail:

From: Dotty Decoster

Andrew, this is a good idea. Let's have a meeting and see what people think.

Here are some random thoughts:

The Capitol Hill Community Council negotiated an agreement with Group Health many years ago about the future use of their parking lots and other properties. This agreement often gets lost in the shuffle and, rumor has it, that G. H. is rethinking their facilities on Capitol Hill. Someone needs to research this and monitor what's happening. I'm not sure, but perhaps there is even an upcoming Master Use Permit revision in the works. Jose could check on this. I have a copy of the agreement somewhere.

There was also a great deal of negotiation with Seattle Mental Health Institute in the 1960s and 1970s as I recall. There may well have been agreements. This issue should be coming up again in the wake of Ms. Harps murder. There was an appalling murder in about 1972 -- a little girl was murdered playing in the yard at the Hillcrest apartments in broad daylight. She was in kindergarten at Lowell School with my daughter.

Capitol Hill is a very large place indeed. The neighborhoods developed differently and are now quite different, and quite dense. Do we need one Council or several?

We haven't been able to sustain any kind of Capitol Hill historical society. I've been working directly on exploring the history of the Hill and it is like pulling teeth. Jacqueline Williams excellent book (1999) is the only actual accumulation of information, and it is now out of print, not likely to be reprinted (I asked her), and the local booksellers are charging astronomical prices for used copies. Since I write an occasional (free) column or snapshot in the Capitol Hill Times, I've been working on our past for about a year now.

I have been very busy for the past six months working to organize the neighbors of the new park at 16th and Howell. I've come to know some of the many folks who live in that neighborhood. They are a great group of people. We are, however, involved in a difficult relationship with the Parks Department on this project, and I expect to continue to be busy with it for the next year. As will, I hope, all the neighbors. However, the Park is going to need some larger support and assistance putting together a Friends of the Park committee. This is likely also to be the case with the other new park at John & Summit.

We know that the Capitol Hill Farmer's Market is in need of a more permanent home. There is a group working on this. They could certainly benefit from a Community Council's support and assistance.

The Capitol Hill Times continues to print. We are very fortunate to have a local community newspaper. They can be a vehicle for Community Council efforts and I think they would help if asked.

The Capitol Hill user group has been a remarkably effective tool for announcements and discussion. How can we use it more effectively?

Let's think about what we'd like a Capitol Hill Community Council to do. Then see if there's interest in creating one.

The Save the Odd Fellows Hall and the cultural focus of the Broadway and Pike/Pine area could use all the support any of us can give it.

I am pretty committed on the park and to my history researches for most of this year. But I'd be happy to come to a meeting or two, and perhaps in time take more responsibility for helping make a Capitol Hill Community Council happen.

Dotty DeCoster

Andrew Taylor said...

By E-mail:

From: Paul Breckenridge

I would be very interested in getting involved in reviving the Capitol Hill
Community Council.

I will also forward links to CHS and your website on to our block email list
(17th Ave E/Republican/Harrison) to see if there is interest from our neighbors.

Andrew Taylor said...

By E-mail rom: Wesa Anderson

I am interested in helping out, though I do not know what I would be qualified for. I am great with research, for example, but not with public speaking. Keep me in the loop! Thank you.

-- Wesa

~We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors ...but they all have to learn to live in the same box.

Andrew Taylor said...

By E-mail

Dear Mr. Taylor,

I was directed to you via the Capitol Hill blog. I was pretty shocked to find out at tonight's neighborhood safety forum that there isn't currently an active Capitol Hill Community Council. I would be very interested in getting involved in jump starting the group. Does it exist in any form at all right now? Is there a group of council members, as matters stand, or was/is there no formal leadership?

I look forward to hearing from you, and getting involved in important community matters.

Best regards,

Spencer Thorson

Christine said...

Andrew, I'd love to be involved. Unfortunately, I won't be able to make the first planning meeting, but I'll be watching for updates. Thanks for getting this together!

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