Oasis Capitol Hill opens, sets new record for CHS being early on a story

The Oasis Tea Zone has — finally — expanded to Capitol Hill.

“I’ve been trying to get in to Capitol Hill for over 10 years,” I-Miun Liu tells CHS. “I guess prematurely I said yes.”

The E Pine Oasis bubble tea shop opened this week — two years and two days after CHS first wrote about the project taking shape.

Liu said a regular Oasis customer offered him the space in 2014 and he couldn’t pass it up — even if he wasn’t ready to build.

“To me this was my one chance at Capitol Hill,” he said. “I rode it out for so long.”

At the time, Liu was working to open Eastern Cafe in Chinatown. A cascade of delays put the project far over budget and repeatedly pushed back the Capitol Hill opening.

Though he was concerned about the early proposals, Seattle’s march to a $15 minimum wage wasn’t part of the delay. In 2014, during the infancy of the $15 minimum wage law debate, Liu said an immediate jump to $15 wage would cripple his businesses. “The phase-in helped a lot,” he said. “The time frame has been critical.”

In the end, Liu said the two year pause was worth it, giving him time to come back to Capitol Hill with a stronger footing and more resources to put into designing the space that has transformed what was once a video rental store. The new shop neighbors Fogon, Rudy’s, Stumptown, and Capitol Loans. Across the street is R Place and Suika.

Hours for now are 11 AM to midnight every day — no plans for late night hours here, yet.

The space might be the most elegant and fully designed of the now four Oasis locations. A rocket man art installation, created by Electric Coffin, fills the back wall.

Liu said the shop will expand to Asian-inspired desserts and loose teas in a collaboration with his sister’s Ballard tea shop, Miro Tea.

Liu said his opening day went off without a hitch and the nighttime crowd, including many regulars from the International District location, nearly filled the shop.

“A lot of people who knew that we were about to open were excited to see us,” he said.

Oasis Capitol Hill is located at 606 E Pine. You can lear more at facebook.com/oasiscapitolhill.

Images: Kirkland Rocket Fizz

Images: Kirkland Rocket Fizz

Rocket Fizz Broadway is now open across the street from Capitol Hill Station.

We told you about the soda pop and candy shop earlier this year:

Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Shops offers one of the largest and craziest selections of glass-bottled soda pops and retro candies for sale in America

CHS Pics | Fun and games on Broadway at the 11th Unity Fair


There is a new leader and big changes and growth coming for Seattle Central, Capitol Hill’s community college and school to around 17,000 students across 78 degrees and certification programs. But some things don’t change. Thursday brought the 11th year of the longtime student-run Unity Fair to the school’s plaza that runs along Broadway and invites a mix of students and Capitol Hill passersby into the SCC mix. This year’s unity fair again included music, food and game booths, dancing, contests, and general shenanigans. It’s a very Capitol Hill moment to walk around the corner to find Supreme LaRock and Dave B performing in the open air. If you missed walking through this year, makes sure you stop by in year 12.


Seattle Fire: Water issues not a factor in $2.3M Capitol Hill blaze — UPDATE: Cause ‘undetermined’

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Seattle Fire says its investigation of last Saturday’s two-alarm fire on 20th Ave E is not complete and a cause has not yet been determined but water pressure issues on the street did not hamper the firefighter response to the blaze that completely destroyed the framing of an under construction house, partially destroyed a neighboring home, and damaged a third, causing more than $2 million in damage. UPDATE: SFD tells us the investigation has, indeed, been completed. “There is not enough evidence to determine a cause and the cause of the fire is undetermined.”

“Firefighters appropriately managed the water supply at the fire incident,” a SFD spokesperson said in a statement sent to CHS.

The department spokesperson described what happened that led to a scramble to maintain adequate water as firefighters struggled to fight the flames in a blaze that ultimately required two hours to bring under control:

On Saturday, May 21, 2016, we responded to a fire on the 1100 block of 20 Avenue East. The two-alarm fire was rapidly expanding and had homes on both sides of the burning building. Due to the size and the rapid rate of growth of the fire, we put a significant demand on the 8-inch water main on 20 Avenue East. When additional units arrived, we began to pump water from a hydrant on 19 Avenue East, which is supplied by a 12-inch water main, and were able to provide the additional water flow needed.

Neighbors awoke that Saturday morning just after 4 AM to a 40-foot wall of flame mid-block on 20th Ave E between Highland and Prospect where the inferno started in the framing of an under-construction rebuild of a single-family home.

CHS reported the response of the firefighters appeared to be hindered by a period of water pressure problems starting around 4:30 AM involving hydrants near the fire scene just as the firefight was shifting from a focus on the construction site to saving the neighboring house. Crews scrambled to reestablish a strong water supply by attaching to hydrants farther away on 19th Ave, according to Seattle Fire radio dispatches.

By just after 4:50 AM, water service from closer to the scene was restored. Discussion of the water issues involving firefighter units and commanders can be heard in recordings of radio dispatches from the morning collected by CHS.

Seattle Fire tells CHS the water issues had no impact on the response and the amount of damage that occurred to the structures involved:

Maximizing the water supply at a significant fire is part of good fire scene management. When our firefighters reached the limits of the hydrants’ capacity on 20 Avenue East they established a water supply from a hydrant on 19 Avenue East where there is a larger water main. The water supply on 19 Avenue East was established within minutes.

The term “tapped out” means the hydrant’s capacity has been reached. It does not mean that water has stopped flowing from the hydrant to the hoses or that firefighters were no longer able to put water on the fire.

A spokesperson for Seattle Public Utilities said that hydrants are inspected annually.

The investigation to identify a cause of the fire was slowed by unsafe conditions at the incident site.

There were no reported serious injuries as the residents of the seriously damaged house were able to get out before the fire spread through their home.

Seattle Fire estimates the total damage for the incident involving three homes and a garage at $2.3 million.

Aged five years, Sun Liquor and OOLA are still pioneers of Capitol Hill spirits

Kirby Kallas-Lewis (Image: Alex Garland)

Kirby Kallas-Lewis (Image: Alex Garland)

In 2011, OOLA and Sun Liquor both fired up Capitol Hill’s first legal stills, launching the post-Prohibition era of neighborhood-made spirits. Five years later, the two businesses are growing, but while new coffee and beer production operations continue to open around Capitol Hill, new distilleries have not.

Huge startup expenses, navigating a restrictive legal framework, and high state taxes can be daunting barriers to entry despite the seemingly insatiable demand for craft cocktails and spirits.

“We keep trying to get parity with beer and wine,” said OOLA owner Kirby Kallas-Lewis. “A lot of people do their due diligence and they find out it’s not worth it.”

In 2008, the state legislature relented slightly by passing a craft distillery law, which made small batch distilling a viable business by lowering minimum production requirements. The state went from one distiller to over 100 by 2015. With few mentors in the local industry, Sun Liquor head distiller Erik Chapman said trial by fire was the primary learning tool.

“In five years we have learned so much, and most of it the old fashioned way. Everything from packaging issues, equipment failures, shipping disasters, flooding, you name it.” he said. “There’s no handbook for this business.” Continue reading

Residents get their wish for expansion of restricted parking near Bullitt Center

unnamedA resident’s request to make more street parking available for people who live in the area around the super green Bullitt Center office building and the Seattle Academy school has grown into an expansion (PDF) of Restricted Parking Zone 2 “to include the blocks bounded by E Madison St, 14th Ave, and 23rd Ave in July 2016.”

Thank you for participating in the process to expand Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) 2. I am writing to notify you that SDOT has made a decision, after considering public input from residents and businesses throughout the expansion area. We will move forward with installing Zone 2 signs on the blue lined blocks as shown in the map below. Residents within the shaded area will be eligible for permits.

All residents and businesses in the area will receive a Notice of Decision postcard in the mail this week. Residents will receive a letter with an application in mid-June with instructions on how to obtain a Zone 2 permit. Signs will be installed in late July. Background information about this process can be found at http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/parking/rpz_new.htm, and general RPZ program information at http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/parking/parkingrpz.htm.

Scheduled to be installed by late July, Zone 2 signs will limit parking for vehicles without Zone 2 permits to 2 hours, Monday through Saturday, 7 AM to 6PM. Residents in the neighborhood can apply for a permit, allowing them to park up to 72 hours.

In February, CHS reported on a public meeting on the proposed expansion as residents complained about increased use by Bullitt Center workers and visitors parking along the neighborhood’s already busy streets.

A typical residential RPZ permit costs $65 and are good for “a 2-year cycle” — in RPZ 2, the cost for areas south of E Union is $16 thanks to subsidies from Swedish and Seattle University. CORRECTION: SDOT tells us the permits south of Union are… free! “In fact, these permits are fully subsidized by Swedish and Seattle U, so there is no cost to residents for RPZ permits.” Guest permits cost $30. Here’s where you can look up RPZ information by address. The program has been reviewed and modified over the years and zones are sometimes added or extended.

The RPZ 2 extension, because of its size, was required to go through a public comment process. CHS has been told about recent requests for expansion or creation of other zones on Capitol Hill including an area on Summit Ave and an area near St. Mark’s. We’ve asked SDOT for an update on those efforts.

What San Francisco’s magical rent equation says about Seattle affordability

Familiar Places. Familar Faces.

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 1.41.59 PMThe numbers from an online rental site claim Seattle’s rents jumped 11% this month compared to May 2015. Our last serious look in March revealed a continued rise despite a flood of new units coming into the market on Capitol Hill. Our quick and dirty sampling method shows about a 3% jump this May compared to May 2015 for 1BR and studio units. The only thing the various analyses of Seattle’s rents and affordability seem to agree on is the numbers keep rising.


Here’s what they’re saying San Francisco, Seattle’s “Ghost of Christmas Future” model city: From A guy just transcribed 30 years of for-rent ads. Here’s what it taught us about housing prices

(Image: Eric Fischer)

(Image: Eric Fischer)

This is as close as you’re ever likely to see to an answer to life, the universe and everything.

It’s a chart that almost perfectly predicts the San Francisco housing market using only three variables:

  1. The number of jobs located in San Francisco County.
  2. The number of places in San Francisco County for people to live.
  3. The total amount of money that is paid to everyone who works jobs in San Francisco County.

It’s all summarized in the formula at the top of the chart. If you gave me values for (1), (2) and (3) above, then I could predict to you with startling accuracy how much the median two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco will cost to rent in that situation.

 The “guy” posted here about his findings:

It would take a 53% increase in the housing supply (200,000 new units), or a 44% drop in CPI-adjusted salaries, or a 51% drop in employment, to cut prices by two thirds.

Looking for affordability answers for Seattle? You have four choices, apparently. Cut tons of jobs. Cut salaries. Make everything really, really expensive (OK, we’re working on that!), or build way more housing — somewhere around 50% more.

Seattle’s proposed housing levy is set up to help boost the creation of 20,000 new affordable units in the city in the next decade. But sounds like we might need a few new “un-affordable” ones, too — to the tune of several thousand:

Instead, I’m going to close with a lesson for cities that are adding jobs and/or wealth faster than homes but are not yet San Francisco: Portland, Seattle, Austin, Denver, Minneapolis. Maybe Oakland and Los Angeles and San Diego and DC still, too. For the love of god, keep adding homes. Keep adding homes so things don’t get any worse and you’re not trapped in a lose-lose-lose shitstorm like San Francisco.

Capitol Hill now has a Mystic Kombucha tasting room

The Mystic crew (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

The Mystic crew (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

IMG_6807If you are walking down 12th Ave and the sign is out, you know a small pocket of Capitol Hill food and drink community is open for you to stop in, talk with the people making something new to taste, and have a glass of neighborhood kombucha.

Mystic Kombucha quietly opened its new tasting room and kombucha bar a few weeks back. But the goal has been more to create a hangout than a new point of sale.

“By design, I was like, how can we not have a counter here,” founder Carlos da Silva said on a recent “tour” of the puny eight by fourteen foot space along 12th Ave.

Covered in raw cedar and purposefully reminiscent of a sauna, da Silva’s new Mystic showroom isn’t the kind of place you’ll want to settle into with a laptop. Stopping in for a drink means zero separation between staff and customer. You’ll have no choice but to render an opinion of the kombucha creations on tap. Unless you can take the close-up, face-to-face silence. Give it a try.

“How can we create something in this neighborhood where people feel they can connect with each other,” da Silva said of the genesis for creating a purposefully tiny tasting room. There is reportedly five times more room behind the walls, unused except for a small kegerator and a refrigerator.

Mystic got its start on 12th Ave in the kitchen at nearby Scratch Deli. da Silva and Caitlin Matteson grew the scobies and the business and now go throw “a keg a day” at cafes across the city plus “numerous kegs” every Sunday at the Broadway farmers market. In the meantime, a community of kombucha is growing in Central Seattle. Seattle first kombucha brewery, CommuniTea opened its new facility and tap room at 21st and Union earlier this spring.

da Silva said the goals for Mystic on 12th will remain small. Hours for the tasting room will vary. Watch for the a-frame sign to be out and people hanging out in the streetside space. There will be food and drink pop-ups from like-minded producers from time to time and da Silva said he is also hoping to make the space available for small community gatherings.

“We’re not here to sell you kombucha,” he said. “The real goal is to create intimacy and connection between the people who like kombucha and the people who work for mystic.”

Mystic Kombucha is located at 1711 12th Ave. You can learn more at facebook.com/mystickombucha.

‘Clopening’ time: Seattle on the clock for secure scheduling

June on Capitol Hill, Starbucks on Olive

The subject has been bubbling up in Seattle public discourse for around six months now. Last fall, local progressive labor advocacy organization Working Washington and Starbucks baristas protested their inconsistent and unpredictable work schedules, which labor advocates say act as barriers for low-income workers to scheduling life necessities like college classes or childcare or budgeting living expenses. A few months later, in his 2016 state of the city speech, Mayor Ed Murray highlighted secure scheduling as a key low-wage worker equity issue and said his office would work with the City Council to address it.

“We know that having a secure schedule of hours helps workers plan their budget, plan for childcare, enroll in school or take a second job – and we know schedule predictability will most help low-wage hourly workers,” Murray said in his speech.

Here are a couple chances to get involved or learn more: Thursday night, “join a live tele-town hall over the phone and over the internet about the fight for secure scheduling in Seattle. When: 6:00 pm, Thursday, May 26, 2016. Where: You can listen in live over the phone by calling 855-756-7520 Ext. 32020#, or join live online athttp://workingwa.org/ourtimecounts/townhall.” On Friday, the committee will hear from Lonnie Goldan, a researcher at the Economic Policy Institute who has studied the issue, on her findings and national data. Tune in to Seattle Channel at 9:30AM to watch. On June 16th,Working Washington is holding a “Secure Scheduling Story Slam.”

With a $15 minimum wage already under Seattle’s belt, City Hall along with labor and business interests have turned their attention to the next big issue affecting the city’s proletariat and their bosses: secure scheduling.

“The response has moved pretty quickly from when workers first spoke out about it, and that’s heartening. There’s been a tremendous amount of support expressed by both the council and the mayor’s office on the need to move forward and do something to address secure scheduling,” said Sage Wilson, a spokesperson for Working Washington. “This is a really urgent issue for workers week to week.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Council | A brief history of community on the Hill (and why you should get involved)

Zachary Pullin is the President of the Capitol Hill Community Council

There is no Capitol Hill Community Council this month but please consider attending Thursday night's Capitol Hill Housing community forum -- Gearshift

There is no Capitol Hill Community Council this month but please consider attending Thursday night’s Capitol Hill Housing community forum — Gearshift
Thu, May 26 at 5pm
The Summit — 420 E Pike
The evening will feature five projects with the potential to increase the resilience of the neighborhood. The five projects:
+ Building leadership and power for renters on Capitol Hill
+ Expansion of the Capitol Hill Business Improvement Area
+ Lidding of a stretch of Interstate-5 at Pike/Pine to create developable land and open space
+Local sharing of meter revenue with the creation of a new Parking Benefit District (also recommended by HALA)
+The creation of a new city program to incentivize developers to build or maintain work or performance space for local artists
On May 26th, five professional urban planners and passionate community organizers will introduce these ambitious projects in a series of rapid-fire presentations followed by an opportunity for each guest to participate in a facilitated discussion about one of the five projects. Presenters include Sierra Hansen of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, Scott Bonjukian of the Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council, Alex Brennan from Capitol Hill Housing, Zachary Pullin of the Capitol Hill Community Council and Tonya Lockyer of Velocity Dance Center. Civic leaders (City Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Mike O’Brien are confirmed) will be there to listen and respond to your comments.
Free online tickets are no longer available but you can sign up to enter at the door Thursday night.

Growing up, my family taught me that service is a first priority, and I’ve worked hard to practice that value. Before I was born, my grandfather was the chairman of the tribal council – it’s long been instilled in me that serving the community is one of the truest, most authentic ways to interact with my community. But that doesn’t make sense or work for a lot of people.

It reminds me of when I was ten years old: I coordinated a mock trial day for my class with the help of my mom. What I remember being hardest to grasp at the time was “making a case” because it’s a different way of thinking. Sadly, I believe I’ve done a poor job at making the case for our Capitol Hill Community Council and the “why” because new people are still discovering us as though we’ve been serving quietly.

So, why should you care? Why should you get involved?

First, it’s important to reflect on our history.

The Capitol Hill Community Council – as a neighborhood group – has existed since as early as the 1940s. Back then, it was called the Capitol Hill Community Club and their main motivation for working together was to fight against integrating “their “neighborhood. In concert with redlining and housing covenants, this dedicated group of neighbors used fear, racial prejudice, and an aversion to change to keep black people out of the neighborhood.

In 1972, when queer folks had only recently began moving into the neighborhood, tension was high between long-time residents and queer people because we were seen as “faggots,” instead of as neighbors. Thankfully, a few friends established a gay community center to provide services to queer folks. Continue reading

On the List Memorial Day Edition | Linda’s Prom, Eritrean Independence Day, final (?) Rain Fest, free burgers, Unity Fair

Memorial Day weekend across Capitol Hill will bring a Pike/Pine prom, community celebrations at Seattle Central and in Volunteer Park, a weekend of “fests” including the continuing SIFF and the final(?) Rain Fest, and the annual tradition that is free burgers at Li’l Woody’s.

Before you start the heavy recreating of Memorial Day weekend 2016 on Capitol Hill, take care of some civic duty:

Beyond that, it’s all fun and games. Wednesday night brings the return of Linda’s Prom — now in its 6th year!

Thursday is a day of music, games, and food along Broadway at the 2016 Seattle Central Unity Fair:

Come and celebrate the 11th Anniversary of Seattle Central’s biggest student lead event of the year, Unity Fair! Join us as we celebrate our diverse community through Live Music, Food, Dance, Games, Booths, a Crime Investigation game and all around good vibes!

Romaro Franceswa
Nyles Davis
Jafra Dabke Team
Supreme LaRock
Dave B

Rock Climbing, Giant Jenga, Jacob Ladder, Wrecking Ball, Watermelon Contest and more!!!

Explore the world’s cultures over the weekend as the hardcore Rain Fest returns for a “final” edition at Neumos. Saturday, a few thousand will gather in Volunteer Park to celebrate at the Seattle Eritrean Independence Day celebration.

And, yup, you can wash it all down Monday with free burgers at E Pine’s Li’l Woody’s.

God bless America. And god bless Capitol Hill.

Continue reading