Seattle tries to scale back new apartment buildings near single family homes

After two years of wrangling over what to do about “loopholes” in the lowrise zoning code, the City Council passed a series of code adjustments Monday in an attempt to rein in apartment building size near single-family homes.

With almost no deliberation and only a few comments, the Council passed the bill in an 8-1 vote. Council member Tom Rasmussen opposed the measure after he was only able to insert three of eight amendments he proposed in June to further curb the bulk and scale of certain buildings.

On Monday, Rasmussen cautioned that “exploitative” developers would have a “feast” destroying the city’s older housing stock under Council member Mike O’Brien’s compromise bill.

The vote caps years of bitter debate between vocal contingents of slow-growth advocates owners and pro-density urbanists. At issue was the character of the city’s lowrise zones — residential areas common on Capitol Hill that encourage “a wide variety of new housing … located in between mixed-use commercial areas and single-family neighborhoods.” Continue reading

Sound Transit seeks feedback on light rail to West Seattle, Ballard… and beyond

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 9.28.17 PMSound Transit 3, a “sales-tax, car-tab tax, and property-tax increases”-powered $15 billion package of projects for the agency to take on once its currently planned investments are complete in 2023, will go to the ballot in 2016. Right now, Sound Transit wants your help shaping the package:

The Sound Transit Board needs your help to determine which projects should be included in the ballot measure. The Board will also consider the findings of technical analysis about each project, feedback from the public and key stakeholders, and project cost considerations. The Board is made up of 17 elected officials throughout the Puget Sound region and the Secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation. It is scheduled to release a draft plan for system expansion in early 2016 for public review and comment before advancing a final ballot measure for public vote in late 2016 or afterward.

Sound Transit is conducting a survey through Wednesday, July 9th collecting feedback on 39 alternatives on a “draft priority projects” list including multiple variants of light rail options connecting to Ballard and West Seattle. You can learn more about ST3 and take the survey here.

The Madison Bus Rapid Transit project is also included in the draft list.CHS reported on SDOT’s Madison BRT planning here. We’ll have to follow up to find out how the new Sound Transit package funding would mesh with the current planning process.

The survey provides the opportunity to weigh in on the individual importance of each of the draft items on the project list and also provide “top 3″ rankings for the regions Sound Transit serves. It also includes question #8 which seems to inform as much as it queries:

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 9.24.59 PM

Sound Transit’s Capitol Hill light rail project, meanwhile, is on pace to begin service by early 2016. Isn’t that? a) awesome b) totally awesome or c) all of the above

Centered at 12th Ave’s Hedreen Gallery, Yellow Fish — Epic Durational Performance Festival starts this week

It won’t take much to help one of the only art performance festivals of its kind grow in independence for its third edition slated to start later this week at 12th Ave’s Hedreen Gallery.

The Yellow Fish — Epic Durational Performance Festival is only a few hundred dollars from its $6,000 goal to create a third year of “performances lasting a minimum of an hour and a maximum of 48 hours” — you can make your contribution here:

Artists from all over the world have been invited to perform at all moments of day and night. In its third year, the festival will have a monthlong run, made possible thanks to newly-created partnerships with Northwest Film Forum, Velocity Dance Center, Studio Current and New Tomorrow. Artifacts from all of the performances will accumulate at the Hedreen Gallery, where most of the festival’s events will take place.

“As the festival has grown exponentially since the two years of its creation, the costs have also increased. This year we were unable to receive any of the funding we had received in the prior editions,” organizer and artist Alice Gosti explains.

The festival is free to attend — so you might consider your donation a kind of spiritual downpayment for your free ticket.

The planned 2015 lineup is below: Continue reading

Eye Eye clinic and eyewear shop opening on E Pine

Artist rendering of the shop design for Eye Eye (Image: Best Practice Architecture)

Artist rendering of the shop design for Eye Eye (Image: Best Practice Architecture)

A few months ago, Bootyland moved out of its store at 1317 E Pine citing a steep increase in rent. The children’s clothing store will be replaced by Eye Eye, a new optometry clinic and eyewear store. In addition to possibly providing you with a fashionable set of frames and better vision, the change provides some small amount of insight into the retail lease market around Capitol Hill and, specifically, in Pike/Pine.

“The rent is not cheap, but I still see it as a good opportunity,” says Will Pentecost, the man behind Eye Eye. Originally from Tennessee, Pentecost is an optometrist who moved to Seattle in 2008.  For the past several years he has been practicing out of an optical shop in Columbia City and is excited about starting his own practice on Capitol Hill where he has lived since 2009.

EE-LogoPentecost said his business will work to be socially responsible by making making eye care more affordable for those without insurance. Uninsured customers will  have the option of signing-up for a monthly low fee  membership plan that will give them a  “significant discount” on eyeglasses, Pentecost told CHS.  People enrolled in Washington’s Medicaid program will receive free membership.

When it opens, Eye Eye will sell items such as luxury vintage eye frames and eyewear from independent and green-friendly companies. Customers will also receive what Pentecost says will be quicker service thanks to an on-site finishing lab.

Currently Eye Eye’s space is undergoing a complete renovation by Best Practice Architecture and Design. It is scheduled to open by August. Bootyland has since reopened in Wallingford.

Confederate memorial in Capitol Hill cemetery targeted

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

As the Charleston shootings have renewed and strengthened calls to eliminate the Confederate flag as a symbol of government in the southern United States, a Capitol Hill memorial to the soldiers of the Confederacy here in the Pacific Northwest has again been targeted.

Monday morning workers at 15th Ave E’s Lake View Cemetery were painstakingly scrubbing the porous granite of the United Confederate Veterans Memorial to remove a spray painted message against “white supremacy.”

The 89-year-old memorial hewn from a “10-ton” block of “Stone Mountain, Georgia” rock was created by the Seattle chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy reportedly with money raised at “Dixie Day” during the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Expo. Rather than some kind of early 20th Century historical revisionists, the group included the actual daughters and wives of Confederate soldiers living in Seattle. Continue reading

Plan to massively expand Seattle bike share means delay for Central District service

1App-servicemap-575x772If a competitive federal grant comes through later this year, Seattle could see a massive, game-changing expansion of its bike sharing program, Pronto Cycle Share, in the coming years. The infusion of $10 million would allow for a much more rapid enlargement of the program’s service area over the current growth model based mostly on funding from sponsorships. In the meantime, ridership is approaching 4,000 trips a week across the first wave of stations in the system.

But while that service area expansion would envelope the Central District (and much more) by the end of 2017, it will push back plans to bring bike sharing to the neighborhood this year. Continue reading

Your post-4th of July 2015 Capitol Hill briefing

11062813_10207343139917772_8586112689591177844_nHere is the news you may have missed during the holiday week amid the fireworks and good times.

Chief O’Toole marks Year 1 as use of force controversies still loom over SPD

O'Toole walking the streets of Pike/Pine last year (Photo: Tim Durkan)

O’Toole on the streets of Pike/Pine last year (Photo: Tim Durkan)

It’s been one year since Kathleen O’Toole was sworn into office as Seattle’s first female Chief of Police. At the time, O’Toole laid out four themes she said would define her term. So far, she’s been spot on.

O’Toole’s first theme was to restore public trust through carrying out orders of the federal consent decree — a DOJ mandated process to overhaul the department in the wake of several excessive force violations by SPD officers. Continue reading

CHS Pics | 4th of July 2015 fireworks from Capitol Hill

IMG_0590 (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

IMG_0358Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free… we just hope you took your wretched refuse with you. Here is the view CHS found this year as thousands again chose a Capitol Hill vantage point to enjoy the 4th of July fireworks display over Lake Union. This year, CHS joined the largest Hill gathering point on the shores of I-5 at Lakeview and Belmont to take in the show. We also stopped by the annual Cal Anderson Independence Day Picnic earlier Saturday as neighbors enjoyed free hot dogs and fun on a fourth day of +90F heat.IMG_0511

Continue reading

Seattle Gay Scene: A brief history of The Seattle Eagle

SeattleEagleLogoSeattle Pride 2015 has come and gone and the Pike/Pine rainbow crosswalks aren’t quite as bright but there is still more to celebrate. Seattle Gay Scene points out an important anniversary for The Seattle Eagle which is celebrating 35 years of queer nightlife in 2015. Here’s how SGS’s “brief history” of the Eagle begins:

This year, the Seattle Eagle celebrates its 35th year of existence, making it the longest-surviving gay bar in Seattle.  (Not counting the Double Header in Pioneers Square, which is only nominally a gay bar during happy hour and before Seahawks’ games.)  My friend Kirk Calvo has asked me to share a few anecdotal recollections of the Eagle in its early years, so I’ll oblige with a few memories and observations that still pop out of the recesses of the gray matter…

When Jim and Lance, the original owners, took over the business in 1980, it was a mid-century “lounge” called Le Chateau.  The focal point of the bar, in the back near the restrooms, was a circular, gas fire-pit with oversized bean bag pillows surrounding it.  It was a favorite hang-out for some of the “ladies” of Pike Street.  Within a year or two, John and Lance undertook a remodel, eliminating the fire pit and expanding the service bar into an island running the length of the space and creating an upper-level catwalk along the west wall.  With the changed format, they also re-named the place, posting a large sign on the front of the building bearing the new name—J&L Saloon—across a stylized eagle.  The most prominent aspect of the sign was the bar’s motto: DARE TO BE DIFFERENT.  Words that still apply.

Give the whole thing a read at seattlegayscene.com.