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The Capitol Hill Community Council was (according to their, no longer updated, website) founded in 1968, and has worked on assorted public interest issues that would have been beyond the scope of individual neighbors or more local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