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 Finn’s Bakery, Hello Robin, Sweet Wheels, Baked., Navos Cafe, Stuffed Cakes, Ada’s Technical Books, Parfait, Divine Confections, Essential Baking Company, Madison Park Bakery, Saucy Pirate Catering, Peekaboo Sweets, Dangerously Sweet Cake Designs, and Central Cinema — as well as treats and assistance from area bakers and volunteers.

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


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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

This week in CHS history | Single Shot, Boe Oddisey, Pike/Pine preservation 2008-style

IMG_05341-366x550Here are the top stories from this week in CHS history:


Teen suspects tracked down hours after Cal Anderson knifepoint robbery

Increased Cal Anderson foot patrols didn’t stop a knifepoint robbery but alert officers who had been on the beat inside the park earlier recognized the suspect descriptions from the crime and tracked down a group of teens believed to have been responsible for the Friday night attack.

Two teenage suspects were arrested.

According to the SPD report on the incident, the victim and two friends were walking through Cal Anderson around 8:30 PM when they were approached by a group who asked to use the victim’s phone. When the victim refused, he was struck in the head by an unknown object. According to police, one suspect continued to attack the victim while the others held the victim’s friends at knifepoint near the park’s fountain. The attacker grabbed the victim’s phone and then fled the park with his accomplices.

The immediate search for the suspects was not successful. Seattle Fire was called to the scene to treat the male victim for a large laceration to his forehead.

SPD reports that two officers recognized the description of the group from their beat patrol earlier in the evening:

East precinct officers Anthony Ducre and Brian Sunderland had been walking through the park earlier and recognized the descriptions of the suspects given by the victims.  They searched the area and found two of the suspects six hours later just blocks from the scene of the robbery.  Officers searched the teens and discovered one of them still had the victim’s phone in his pocket.

According to the report, the victim was able to come to the scene of the arrest to identify his assailants after being discharged after treatment at Harborview.

The teenage suspects were booked into the Youth Services Center for investigation of robbery.

CHS Re:Take | Waiting for the First Hill Streetcar? Take a trip on Broadway, Pike/Pine lines past

Looking up Broadway in about 1913, back when streetcars were uncomplicated.

Looking up Broadway in about 1913, back when streetcars were uncomplicated.

In the off-season, the sports media went into a tizzy about Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and his pending contract. One local blogger, Kenneth Arthur, decided to mock them with daily posts until the contract was finally signed. His message: the process may be slow and painful, but it will get done.

I’m taking the watered-down Kenneth Arthur challenge. One streetcar-related Re:Take each month until the First Hill Streetcar finally opens.

Our first streetcar photo was taken on Broadway south of Pike, standing in the road in front of Harvard Market QFC. More than just the two visible streetcar lines ran through here were when it was taken in 1913. But let’s stick with them.


Streetcar lines in Pike-Pine, 1914. From map I bought and scanned and is now on Wikimeida.

Streetcar lines in Pike/Pine, 1914. From map I bought and scanned and is now on Wikimedia. It’s a web of streetcars!

One was headed east on Pike. Some of you remember when the 11 ran on Pike Street, before the buses were consolidated on Pine. When did that happen? 2003? Street car service on Pike started a hundred years prior, after the street was regraded in 1903. It was used for a new streetcar line that switched over to Union at 15th, and headed out to Madrona. (I wrote about that line over on my blog.)

The other was headed south on Broadway, with people getting on right in front of Broadway High. By this point, Capitol Hill’s original streetcar line (Re:Take from 3 years ago) was cut off from First Hill, and it followed the route of the 49 down Pine Street. Actually it was more like the old 7, turning south and heading to Pioneer Square. Continue reading

CHS Pics | This week in Capitol Hill pictures

Skys from First Hill SeattleThe CHS Flickr Pool contains more than 28,000 photographs -— most of Capitol Hill images, many glorious, some technically amazing. The pool is a mix of contributions from Capitol Hill — and nearby — shutterbugs. Interested in being part of it? If we like your photo and it helps us tell the story, we may feature it on CHS so please include your name and/or a link to your website so we can properly credit you. Interested in working as a paid CHS contributor for scheduled assignments? Drop us a line –- our roster is full for general assignments but pitch us on an idea.

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