Mayor backs off affordability recommendation for Seattle single-family zones

Backing down from slow growth opposition and in a nod to a wave of bungalow nostalgia, Mayor Ed Murray announced Wednesday afternoon he will not support one of the most controversial — and possibly widely impactful — elements of the 60+ recommendations from his Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda Committee.

Murray said Wednesday he will not support the recommendation that could have opened 94% of single-family zones in Seattle to more multi-family style development to help offset soaring rents.

In the announcement, the mayor blamed “sensationalized reporting by a few media outlets” for helping to create the backlash. “The Council and I created the HALA process because our city is facing a housing affordability crisis,” Murray is quoted as saying. “In the weeks since the HALA recommendations were released, sensationalized reporting by a few media outlets has created a significant distraction and derailed the conversation that we need to have on affordability and equity.”

UPDATE: Council president — and candidate for citywide Position 8 — Tim Burgess foreshadowed the announcement with an updated posted Tuesday about HALA’s recommendations:

While the list of recommendations from HALA is long, one specific policy has received the most attention and criticism from neighborhoods across Seattle. It’s the recommendation that single-family zoning be relaxed in all areas of the city to allow for new duplexes, triplexes and stacked flats, a policy some believe will lead to speculators buying up homes, tearing them down, and replacing them with more expensive multi-family structures. We should take a step back from any policy that leads to that kind of speculation, disruption, and the widespread loss of existing, more affordable housing.

Meanwhile, support for an alternative affordability plan galvanized Wednesday as a coalition of City Council candidates has pledged to pursue the plan from HALA member and Position 8 candidate Jon Grant. Grant’s plan calls for an expanded linkage fee program that includes residential development in order to fund construction of 9,000 units of affordable housing for households at 0-30% of area median income — 4,000 more units than recommended by the HALA committee. Grant would also dedicate 5,000 of those units towards homeless housing.

The full announcement from the mayor’s office is below. Continue reading

Little Oddfellows ready to open inside Elliott Bay Book Company

(Images: Little Oddfellows)

It wasn’t as big a surprise as finding out Atticus Finch is a racist, but Little Oddfellows wasn’t in the plans. This spring, Capitol Hill food and drink veteran Linda Derschang told CHS her decision to take over the cafe space inside Elliott Bay Book Company was too good an opportunity to pass up.

This weekend, Derschang will unveil her version of a literary cafe:

Little Oddfellows will be making its debut this weekend inside of Elliott Bay Book Company on Capitol Hill.  The menu includes baked goods and desserts, coffee and espresso from Caffe Vita, sandwiches, grain salads, and housemade juices and scratch sodas.  Beer and wine will also be available.

Little Oddfellows will be open at 10am on Saturday, August 1st.  It joins Linda’s Tavern, King’s Hardware, Smith, Oddfellows Cafe+Bar, Bait Shop, and Tallulah’s as part of The Derschang Group.

Little Oddfellows is open from 10am to 10pm Sunday through Thursday and from 10am to 11pm on Friday and Saturday.  The Derschang Group has been a long-time admirer of both Elliott Bay Book Company and Caffe Vita and are very excited to partner with both of them.

Following a summer buildout, Little Oddfellows replaces the Elliott Bay Cafe after Tamara Murphy said she decided not to renew her lease for the space to “pursue other interests and projects.” Murphy and her cafe accompanied the legendary and last of its kind Seattle bookstore in its move to Capitol Hill from Pioneer Square in 2010.

From the business side of things, the opening also presents the opportunity to see how Derschang’s managers integrate a counter entity added on to their ongoing operations at Oddfellows. Ericka Burke will unveil a similar set-up on 11th Ave when her “juice and provisions” counter opens at Chop Shop.

Meanwhile, Derschang isn’t the only Capitol Hill food and drink maven taking a bookish turn this summer. The guys behind Lost Lake and the Comet are preparing to open Hemingway-inspired Ernest Loves Agnes “later this summer” in the old Kingfish Cafe space on 19th Ave E.

First Hill Fidos to take a bow (wow) in neighborhood’s ‘first ever’ canine contest

unnamed (1)First Hill is busy this summer making space for street parks and gathering for a new series of events to celebrate the community. First up Thursday night, First Hill Fidos:

The First Hill Improvement Association is proud to be programming a series of summer events along University Street. Our first event is in First Hill Park (Minor & University) and is an opportunity to show off your best friend! Neighbors can enter their dogs in a talent show, costume contest, and cutest dog contest!

Mark your calendars!

Thursday. July 30th
Registration begins at 5:30pm – Show at 6:00pm
First Hill Park
(Minor & University) 

This event will also feature hot dogs from local business Dirty Dogs, music, prizes, and the chance to build community with your two and four-legged neighbors on First Hill.

The summer series along University Street is funded through a grant by the Department of Neighborhoods, and our mission is to build community and enhance the public realm along this neighborhood green street.

This event is free and open to the public. Bring your dogs to enter in the contest or just come and behold the cuteness! Invite your friends and neighbors!

Email us at hello@universitystreet.org to pre-register or if you have questions.

The First Hill neighborhood has reportedly added 3,000 new residents in the last decade. Here’s your chance to meet some of them — and their dogs.

Meanwhile, Seattle Parks is looking for your feedback on its off-leash areas around the city:

We need your input on your recreational behavior and desires concerning Seattle’s off-leash areas in order to best meet our present and future demands and needs. The Seattle Animal Shelter estimates there are close to 150,000 dogs currently in the city of Seattle. Given the size of this user group, Parks will survey and analyze the recreational behaviors and characteristics of dog owners to help inform the Strategic Plan. This effort will be part of the larger recreation demand study currently underway.

You can take the off-leash survey here.

Review board says try, try again on Convention Center expansion design

BOREN-AVENUE-BEACONIt’s hard to say if the Boren Beacon concept, above, will survive. The development team working on the $1.4 billion expansion of the Washington State Convention Center have been told they need to come back with a new plan that better melds with the surrounding streetscape following the project’s second design review last week.

CHS reported here on the latest designs for the project and criticism for the proposal.

The design review board decision to require an unusual third review at the early design guidance step of the process follows calls from a Capitol Hill development and design advocacy community group the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council that the massive project needed to do more to connect downtown to Capitol Hill along Pine and across I-5. “Aside from a series of vainglorious gestures along 9th Avenue, this is a large box with perfunctory spaces scattered along its perimeter that fall far short in fostering the kind of active civic life essential for this development; its current form, massing, and programmatic arrangement will make it challenging for this building to be the civic icon it should be,” the group wrote.

Previous to its review last week, the Convention Center project first faced the board in May. The project is slated to return for its third pass at the process in early October.

Socialist Alternative, with District 3 as model, creates new path for voters

IMG_7977Unknown-1You’ve seen the banners at political rallies and the sea of red t-shirts packed into City Hall. Socialist Alternative, a little known group outside Occupy and social justice circles just a few years ago, is a significant force in Seattle political activism.

The rise of SA has almost everything to do with the rise of it’s most prominent member, City Council member and District 3 candidate Kshama Sawant. With Sawant as the frontrunner in the August 4th primary, SA’s foothold in District 3 politics only seems to be growing stronger.

So, what is Socialist Alternative, exactly?

Technically, SA’s Seattle chapter is a registered nonprofit advocacy organization in Washington state. The national organization, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, is nominally based in New York City. The organization doesn’t qualify in Washington as a “major political party” because it hasn’t run a candidate for president that has received at least 5% of the vote. Since Seattle elections are officially non-partisan, it is mostly irrelevant in regards to how the primaries play out.

It’s a much different story when it comes to the politics. Continue reading

District 3 ballot returns outpacing other Seattle voters



DistrictsMap-3-383x550 (1)Nice work, District 3 voters. As of Tuesday night, the district representing Capitol Hill, the Central District, First Hill, and more of Central Seattle had the highest percentage of ballots returned with a relatively robust 12.6% mark.

You can track the totals with King County Elections here and find out more about how to return your ballot here. Ballots must be postmarked or dropped in an official county drop-box by 8 PM Capitol Hill Daylight Time on Tuesday, August 4th.

Meanwhile, South Seattle’s District 2 has seen the lowest return percentage at 8.9%.

Across all active and registered voters in Seattle, 10.2% of ballots have been returned.

CHS Crow | Non-Block Party edition — Jacob, Chris, and Maggie

Not everyone who traveled to Capitol Hill this weekend came for Block Party. Some came to get their sport on. CHS Crow stopped by Cal Anderson Park and a met skateboarder, a bocce ball champ, and a hooper all out doing their thing within earshot of the music festival, and learned a bit about their respective scenes and routines in the process.

  Jacob

DSCF1364a

What brought you out tonight?
I was going to go to Block Party, but then, I brought my skateboard and I figured it probably wouldn’t be too cool to be bashing my way through the crowds with a board so I just came out here to skate at Cal Anderson.

So you paid for a ticket but bailed?
I actually got a free ticket through the local skateshop.

 … did you see anybody play today?
No, I’m terrible. I didn’t even look at the lineup. I saw a couple of DJ’s playing on the stage, I wasn’t even sure who they were.

What kind of work do you do?
I deliver pizzas for Pagliacci Pizza.

DSCF1357aDo you skate a lot around the Hill?
All the time, yeah. The other day we over at Jefferson Park, because there was a Fallen footwear demo, with Jamie Thomas. He’s an old skater, 40 years old, still shredding. So yeah we’re always out here on the Hill. Continue reading

First Hill Streetcar — ‘The start date is still not fixed’

It’s getting to the point where updates on when the First Hill Streetcar won’t start service are about as exciting as watching videos of the First Hill Streetcar being tested.

CHS stands undeterred.

“The start date is still not fixed as we need the manufacturer to complete this iterative process of testing and fine-tuning to safety-certify the vehicles before we can finalize our start-up activities,” read the last of three bullet points included in Scott Kubly’s streetcar portion of the SDOT director’s monthly status report delivered to the City Council’s transportation committee Tuesday morning.

“All streetcars for the First Hill Line have now been delivered, and the manufacturer is targeting the end of July for substantial completion of two cars that are still in final assembly here in Seattle,” bullet point one informs us. Friday is the 31st so workers at the line’s International District maintenance facility will be busy.

According to Kubly’s update, all that remains before service can begin on the ten-stop, 2.5-mile streetcar line from S Jackson and Occidental to Broadway and Denny Way connecting Pioneer Square, the ID, Little Saigon, First Hill and Capitol Hill is…. testing. “The critical path for the start of service is now the commissioning and testing process for the vehicles,” bullet point two said. Continue reading

Central Co-op teams up to give shoppers AmazonFresh alternative

Downside: No samples :( (Image: Central Co-op)

Downside: No samples :( (Image: Central Co-op)

On Capitol Hill where Amazon code bros have “ruined our gayborhood,” the local co-operative grocery store will now give busy shoppers an alternative to the Seattle-based e-commerce giant’s popular AmazonFresh service.

“We are excited to be partnering with Instacart to offer delivery service to the Seattle area,” manager Wesley Barga of Central Co-op said in a press release from the app-driven shopping service. “We chose Instacart as a partner because its system is really user-friendly, and the company has a great team of people. We are thrilled that we can now make our unique product offering available to even more people every day.”

The service includes one-hour delivery from the Capitol Hill co-op to most of Seattle. Instacart costs $99 per year or non-member customers can pay $5.99 per order for one hour delivery (for orders of more than $35), or $3.99 for two hour delivery. Jeff Bezos charges shoppers $299 a year to use his grocery delivery service.

But before you kick Seattle’s favorite libertarian titan of industry to the curb, consider the Instacart “shopper.” Continue reading

District 3 candidates differ on ways to reduce homelessness

When asked about the most important issues facing Council District 3, CHS readers have twice put homelessness near the top the list. Focus on the issue is well deserved: There has been a 21% increase in King County’s reported homeless population this year. The number of people camping along I-5 is also believed to be on the rise.

One comment in response to the CHS Council District 3 candidate forum earlier this month drew considerable attention for laying out solutions for addressing homelessness, specifically in Cal Anderson Park. But as many who work day-to-day on the issue will say, simple answers are few and far between.

“Causes for rise in homelessness in Seattle and in the nation at large are complicated and difficult to pinpoint,” said Katherine Jolly, spokesperson for the city’s Human Services Department. “In Seattle, the cost of housing has not kept pace with wages, this combined the with effects of the dismantling of mental health and substance abuse systems over the past 30 years contribute to the increases in homelessness. Any solution to the homelessness crisis in Seattle must take these issues into account.” Continue reading