New no-cap license period could be good news for Capitol Hill pot

Thank you for pot smoking.

State regulators opened a new window for I-502 license applications this week, and unlike the first application round and lottery, there’s no set cap on the number of licenses they can issue. In theory, it sets up the possibility for Seattle to add more retail shops — including the next chapter in the race to bring pot to Capitol Hill on 15th Ave E.

But temper your expectations. Under a new priority criteria passed by the Legislature, the Washington state Liquor and Cannabis Board will give preferential consideration to those pot pioneers in the dissolving medical marijuana industry. First priority applicants include law abiding medical owners or employees who were issued a license prior to January 2013 and applied for a retail license prior to July 2014. Second priority applicants are medical shop owners or employees who have been linseed sinced January 2013. All other applicants will be third priority.

Even if more permits are issued, permit holders will still have to find a place to open their shop. With buffer rules still in place blocking shops from opening in most retail cores around the city, including on Capitol Hill, new locations remain hard to come by.

The WSLCB is also awaiting the results of a fresh study it commissioned to analyze how the marijuana market has changed over the last year. That will inform future caps on licenses, according to WSLCB spokesperson Brian Smith. Ultimately, the state is keen on maintaining a balanced supply of marijuana as a way to keep pot products from being sold out of state and thus keeping the federal government off its back. Continue reading

Dig into Capitol Hill’s next big challenges (and opportunities) at Community Council’s ‘Activation Fair’

(Images: CHS and Capitol Hill Community Council)

The Capitol Hill Community Council is continuing to reinvent the way a community advocacy group should gather and organize to help change and preserve its neighborhoods. Old-school meetings are out. Gatherings to get something done are in. One recent example is the CHCC’s focus on homelessness earlier this summer. The next council meeting is a week away — but it could be worth planning ahead for the opportunity to gather with others to learn more about the next set of big issues and opportunities for Capitol Hill and help set the next course of action for the group:

Capitol Hill Community Council Community Activation Fair
The Capitol Hill Community Council October General Meeting takes place on Thursday, October 22 at 12th Avenue Arts (1620 12th Avenue) at 6:30 p.m. in the Pike/Pine room.

This month’s program is dedicated to maximizing community engagement by continuing the critical conversations that will and/or have affected our neighborhood.

With facilitators managing (what we like to call instead of “stations”) “Learning & Engagement Clouds” on topics, including HALA Recommendations, 2035 Comprehensive Plan, Convention Center Expansion, Vision Zero, L.E.A.D. Program, Emergency Preparedness, Light Rail station, Streetcar to help us learn more, identify ways to provide feedback and questions, engage with neighbors, and discover ways to advocate and get involved!

We’re trying something new because there are so many important conversations to have and we don’t want to miss our opportunity to add our neighborhood’s voice!

Join us!

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Uber and Amazon meal delivery attracts Hill restaurant owners with focus on quality, hype

Within 90 minutes, 250 lunches had flown out of the Gnocchi Bar kitchen on Capitol Hill Thursday as Uber drivers whisked them out to offices and apartments throughout Capitol Hill and downtown.

It was the first day Gnocchi Bar used the newly rolled-out Uber Eats service to deliver its craft pasta through the car hailing app, which currently serves downtown and Capitol Hill south of Aloha and west of 17th Ave.

With several delivery options around town, Uber’s focus on quality was a major selling point for chef-owner Lisa Nakamura and other restaurant owners around Capitol Hill. To sell owners on the service, Uber organized test runs and leveraged its wide network of drivers to promise ultra-fast deliveries.

“Uber seemed to be very organized and interested in bringing a high quality service,” Nakamura said. “They’re interested in how the food holds up… and were concerned about food safety.” Continue reading

Seattle’s Grand Bargain moves forward, trading bigger buildings for affordable housing fees

So, this is the Grand Bargain. The Seattle City Council’s housing affordability committee Monday approved two pieces of legislation designed to put the city on track to create 20,000 affordable units in the next 10 years.

Seattle will likely need every one of those 3,650 or so days to reach the goal. Major impact from the linkage fee and mandatory inclusion bills approved Monday likely won’t be felt for years. First will come a 2016 process to rezone areas of the city to allow greater density, then years of permitting and construction.

The commercial linkage fee will require all new commercial development to pay into an affordable housing fund or create an equivalent amount of housing at another site. In exchange, developers that brave Seattle will be rewarded with additional floor area to help builders offset the costs. Continue reading

People’s Computer Museum: Friends plan to turn vintage collection into a Capitol Hill hackerspace

(Images: People’s Computer Museum)

Restoring vintage computers started as a hobby for Ian Finder, who had his first crack it when he was replacing old supercomputer machines for a university. Over time, he and his friends began amassing and fixing more retro computers and becoming increasingly interested in finding rare and historically significant machines. Naturally, they started wondering what to do with it all. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Perky pink cupcakes not invited as Depressed Cake Shop returns to Capitol Hill

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

3 (1)When you’re feeling down, a perky pink cupcake might just piss you off and send you lower. But a ridiculously grey cake with a hidden rainbow inside just might be worth a laugh. Before a bite, of course. And that’s the start of how things can go at the Depressed Cake Shop, the pop-up benefit for the Seattle wing of the National Alliance on Mental Illness that returned to Capitol Hill over the weekend.

Saturday’s bake sale returned to 10th and Pike’s Sole Repair where the first Seattle edition of the worldwide events was held in 2013.

This year’s Seattle Depressed Cake Shop featured help and sweets from Ada’s Technical Books & Café, Baked., Cakes by Yessi, Dangerously Sweet Cake Designs, Dolcetta Artisan Sweets, Fancy Free Bakery, Fran’s Chocolates, Hello Robin, Madison Park Bakery, Navos Café, Nuflours, Pie, Safeway (Ballard), Stuffed Cakes, Take 5 Urban Market, The Dainty Cookie, The Kitchen Imp, and Wildflour Gluten-Free Baking Co — as well as treats and assistance from area bakers and volunteers. (UPDATE: We originally posted the 2014 roster from NAMI’s site — the information has since been updated)

If you missed the sale and would like to learn more or find out how to help, visit


Continue reading

Parents at Capitol Hill’s Lowell Elementary join push against Seattle’s annual teacher cuts

This coverage was commissioned by Ellen Kowalczyk, the winning bidder in last year’s Lowell Elementary benefit auction and the mother of a second grade Lowell Dragon. Want CHS to “donate journalism” to your Capitol Hill organization? Drop us a line!

The crises of a modern Washington public school system are sadly cyclical. An annual budget process that results in “staffing adjustments” across Seattle Public Schools is shaking out again this week as officials tally enrollment and make headcount decisions that mean some schools get new teachers while others lose educators in the midst of the just-begun school year.

Last year, CHS covered the adjustment process as it sliced away budget for teachers at Garfield and Stevens Elementary due to lower than expected enrollment. For the 2015/2016 school year, though SPS says the process is not final yet and won’t confirm the planned cuts and additions, word has spread to impacted schools including Capitol Hill’s Lowell Elementary which is in line to lose headcount in the cuts.

But this year, parents and guardians across Seattle along with those at Lowell are pushing back on the process. In a letter sent to the school board members and district superintendent Larry Nyland, PTA and parent leaders are calling for the planned changes to be put on hold: Continue reading

District 3 money and alliances at play in Seattle’s two citywide races

If you haven’t been following the City Council Position 8 and 9 races, the Central Area Neighborhoods District Council has got you covered. The group is hosting an at-large candidates forum on Monday from 6 to 8 PM at the Central Area Senior Center. The forum will feature three of the four at-large candidates (Position 9 candidate Lorena Gonzalez recently canceled, according to organizers). As an added bonus, Pamela Banks and Kshama Sawant will also take the stage.

All four citywide candidates, Sawant, Banks, and most others will also be at Tuesday’s Housing Development Consortium 2015 Seattle Candidate Forum. The “speed dating” styled event focused around housing issues will take place from 11 AM-2 PM at Town Hall. RSVP here.

Those living in District 3 will recognize some of the strategies in motion — and some of the cash. $108,000 in donations from District 3 has flooded into the two Seattle-wide City Council races.

Both citywide races feature an well established candidate backed by establishment endorsements and money challenged by somewhat underdog, underfunded contenders. From a District 3 perspective, the Position 8 race is fairly straightforward. Former Tenant’s Union director Jon Grant has the strong backing of Sawant and would be a natural council ally to replace outgoing City Council member Nick Licata.

As true-blue Democrats, Position 8 incumbent City Council member Tim Burgess and Banks are clearly aligned. In fact, they’re holding a joint fundraiser at Terra Plata next week. Continue reading

ATF obtained ‘verbal agreement’ from Seattle City Light to install Central District surveillance cameras

This City Light pole is home to an ATF surveillance cam (Image: CHS)

This City Light pole is home to an ATF surveillance cam (Image: CHS)

In August, the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms caused a stir when the agency confirmed it quietly installed two surveillance cameras high-up on Seattle City Light poles along 23rd Ave at Union and Jackson.

While the ATF said Seattle Police were not involved, privacy activist Phil Mocek filed a request for the agreement federal agents reached with SCL to see how the City of Seattle may have assisted in the operation. It turns out, there was no agreement to send.

“It was more informal,” SCL spokesperson Scott Thomsen told CHS. “(ATF) had asked us and we agreed to let them place their cameras on our poles.” (Correction: We misquoted Thomsen’s statement and have updated the quote. City Light agreed to allow ATF to place the cameras. City Light did not install the equipment. Sorry for the error.)

Thomsen said such verbal agreements are within the authority of the SCL general manager.

SCL did not notify City Council or the City Attorney about the ATF request. A 2013 Seattle ordinance requires City agencies to notify City Council if they are using surveillance equipment. According to Thomsen, since SCL did not own the equipment or assist in gathering the surveillance, there was no reason to notify City Council. “We were merely allowing them to use the poles,” Thomsen said.

As chair of the public safety committee, City Council member Bruce Harrell has indicated he is considering a resolution to request agencies notify City Hall in such situations.

A wave of Central District shootings this summer prompted some community activists to call for police surveillance cameras to help keep the peace. Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole and Mayor Ed Murray have said they’re considering it.

In 2010, controversy over privacy and SPD policies lead to the eventual removal of surveillance cameras from Cal Anderson Park while SPD’s cameras at other area facilities remained in place. In 2013, SPD took down its powerful “mesh network” that had the potential to map the movement of digital devices throughout the city. Then-chief Jim Pugel said the city needed to have a “vigorous debate” on such surveillance activities.

Meanwhile, federal law enforcement cash has been flooding into Seattle this year. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was in town last month to highlight several of those crime prevention grants and last week SPD unveiled its Department of Justice-backed Real Time Crime Center.

Burglaries up 69% inside Central Seattle parking garages

SPD's Mark Solomon (right) discuses garage security with property management at a First Hill condo (Image: CHS)

SPD’s Mark Solomon (right) discuses garage security with property management at a First Hill condo (Image: CHS)

So far this year, burglaries inside residential garages are up nearly 60% citywide, according to statistics from the Seattle Police Department.

In the East Precinct, which covers Capitol Hill and the Central District, the problem is even more dramatic: a 69% increase in break-ins compared to this time last year.

That makes it a key issue for Mark Solomon, one of three crime prevention coordinators at SPD. The crime prevention team visits buildings that are dealing with specific crime trends — a feature of SPD’s recent statistics based policing efforts. 911 calls are analyzed and ranked to see which addresses deal with the most repeat offenses. Solomon then makes a visit to assess how small design changes could improve safety.

Earlier this month, CHS was there when Solomon visited Kelleher House condos on First Hill. Property managers said garage break-ins were fairly common even though they didn’t always result in 911 calls as some people enter the garage just to find a place to sleep. Continue reading