In race to catch Sawant, Banks kicks off Council District 3 campaign on Capitol Hill

Banks wants to catch Sawant, sure, but first she'll need to jump over challenger Rod Hearne (Image: CHS)

Banks wants to catch Sawant, sure, but first she’ll need to jump over challenger Rod Hearne (Image: CHS)

Surrounded by current and former Seattle elected officials at Capitol Hill’s Sole Repair event space, Pamela Banks formally launched her campaign Monday evening for City Council District 3.

The longtime Central District resident and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle told the packed room she would bring “progressive leadership in District 3 that is inclusive.”

Banks didn’t mention any specific policies she would champion in the district, which includes Capitol Hill. She did say finding solutions to the rising cost of living in the Central Area would be one of her top priorities. “It’s unacceptable that rents keep rising while wages remain stagnant,” she said. Continue reading

Pedestrian zone at 23rd and Jackson would ensure ‘main street’ vibe ahead of redevelopment

A vision of a pedestrianized 23rd and Jackson

A vision of a pedestrianized 23rd and Jackson

With the transformation of 23rd and Union already underway, redevelopment is marching down 23rd Ave. Before it comes, community groups are seeking to ensure the redevelopment around 23rd and Jackson keeps a “main street” vibe.

Following a letter writing campaign by neighborhood activists, the City Council’s land use committee voted last week to add the “pedestrian zone” designation to Jackson between 23rd Ave and MLK Way as part of legislation that would expand the zones across the city. The full council is set to make a final vote on the legislation.

Here’s how the city describes what a pedestrian zone does:

  • Encourage or preserve pedestrian friendly development in commercial cores.
  • Requires specific commercial or institutional uses to be located at the ground floor—
  • Uses that cater to pedestrians and are not residential uses
  • waives some parking requirements to encourage businesses to locate in the area, recognizing that many customers will use means other than driving to get to the business
  • limits driveways across sidewalks along principal pedestrian streets

Neighborhood activists have long sought a pedestrian designation for the section of Jackson, though the real concern lies in the two large shopping plazas, with even larger parking lots, that bookend the 23rd Ave side. It’s there that groups like the Central Area Land Use Review Committee fear new development, if done improperly, could kill the opportunity to create a thriving pedestrian corridor. Continue reading

City Council Notes | Okamoto selected, impact fee recommendation includes schools

The new Council member Okamoto got about 15 seconds at the mic Monday to accept his new role

The new Council member Okamoto got about 15 seconds at the mic Monday to accept his new role

Here’s a look at this week’s Capitol Hill-centric highlights from the City Council’s chambers:

  • Interim Council member selected: Following a special Friday hearing on the candidates, the City Council voted Monday afternoon to appoint political insider and Ed Murray-approved John Okamoto to fill the open Position 9 seat. Okamato most recently served as interim director of Seattle Human Services Department after his appointment to the post by Murray. Okamato received the majority vote Monday despite a withering attack from Kshama Sawant who criticized the candidate’s past work in the “cesspool of corruption” at the Port of Seattle. Outgoing Council member Tom Rasmussen called Sawant’s comments “odious.” The appointee will take Sally Clark’s spot as chair of the housing committee amid growing calls for rent control/stabilization legislation to help address affordability issues in Seattle. Clark announced she was leaving the Council earlier this year for a job at UW. CHS wrote here about the framework used for selecting Clark’s replacement. The eight finalists are listed here with links to their application info (PDF): Jan Drago Noel Frame / Sharon Lee / Sharon Maeda / David Moseley /John Okamoto / Sheley Secrest / Alec Stephens
  • University District BIA expansion: The Council voted 6-2 to approve legislation Monday to expand the University District business improvement area and, yes Seattle Times, “collect more money for street-cleaning and marketing from property owners across a larger stretch of the University District.” Someday, the Capitol Hill Chamber hopes for a similar (though probably less contentious) vote for the Broadway BIA to reach Pike/Pine. CHS wrote here about a small expansion in 2014 and the possibility of a greater southward expansion down the road. Council members Sawant and Nick Licata voted agains the U District expansion.
  • Impact fees: The Council’s transportation committee Tuesday morning will hear a recommendation to pursue a study of using development impact fees to fund transportation and parks projects. Under state law, cities may charge impact fees to fund transportation, parks and recreation, schools, and fire facilities. “Impact fees can only fund the cost of public capital facilities that are necessitated by new development and reasonably benefit new development,” a memo on the proposal notes. Additionally, the steering committee looking at the fees has recommended the Council consider working with Seattle Public Schools on a possible proposal to use the fees to help pay for education in the city. A component of the analysis to be considered Tuesday shows parts of the city where student population has increased in conjunction with increased development — you’ll note that Capitol Hill has some of the highest “student population” vs. “new housing units” ratios in the city:Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 3.10.19 PM
  • CHS Re:Take writer confirmation: Being a CHS writer doesn’t require Council vote — but being reaffirmed as a member of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board does. Rob Ketcherside will be up for re-approval to the post during Tuesday’s neighborhoods committee meeting.
  • Ballots due: Not Seattle City Council biz but don’t forget to vote on the emergency radio levy. It’s the only item on your ballot. Pop it open, vote, and make sure you get it postmarked by Tuesday.

Discrimination lawsuit filed in 2014 Pike/Pine golf club arrest

Wingate at a February march to protest his arrest (Image: CHS)

Wingate at a February march to protest his arrest (Image: CHS)

A situation that started with a summer 2014 arrest at 12th and Pike that SPD eventually was forced to apologize for — and to return the wrongly accused man’s golf club —  has landed in the courts. Lawyers for William Wingate have filed a lawsuit alleging that the 70-year-old was targeted and had his rights violated by a racist East Precinct cop.

“Because of the defendants’ wrongful acts described above, the plaintiff has suffered substantial humiliation, mental and emotional distress, and other damages to be proved at trial,” the nine-page complaint filed in King County Superior Court last week reads. The full complaint is below.

Wingate was arrested in July 2014 at 12th and Pike after SPD officer Cynthia Witlatch said she was threatened by Wingate who carries a golf club with him as a walking cane.

“Only thing I can say is this: I didn’t do nothing,” Wingate told a crowd that joined him in a protest march earlier this year.

In the filing naming SPD and the officer as defendants, lawyer Susan Mindenbergs said that her client’s “encounter with Officer Whitlach and his subsequent arrest and incarceration have caused him severe emotional distress.”

“Since his arrest, Mr. Wingate has been treated for post-traumatic stress and depression,” the complaint states. “He is now fearful of police officers he does not know but whom he encounters in public or at community events.”

The suit also alleges Whitlatch has used racist language and “used her personal Facebook social media page, available to the public, to make racially derogatory comments about African Americans, specifically African American men.”

The Stranger reports that the Office of Professional Accountability investigation of officer Whitlatch’s actions won’t be complete until May or early June.

The lawsuit comes as SPD continues to work to address the Department of Justice consent decree and in the midst of ongoing issues of race and use of police force across the nation. An eight-month DOJ investigation of Seattle policing released in winter 2011 revealed troubling findings about the department’s use of force. The DOJ filed a consent decree and negotiated a plan with SPD to overhaul the department.

The full complaint is below. The City Attorney has not yet responded to the lawsuit. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Kukai Ramen — and its roasted bone broth — opens on E Pine

Jessmin Lau (Image: CHS)

Jessmin Lau (Image: CHS)

A Japanese import part of an ongoing wave of new Asian-flavored eateries joining Capitol Hill’s burgeoning restaurant scene has softly opened on E Pine this week.

Kukai Ramen and Izakaya Capitol Hill, the third of the Japanese-born restaurants to open in the Pacific Northwest and part of what the company’s founders hope will be many more in North America, debuted over the weekend and is continuing reservation-only service through the rest of the week leading up to a full-on opening Thursday.

Jessmin Lau, a co-owner of the company leading Kukai’s North American expansion, tells CHS what you’ll want to experience at the ramen bar are the noodles, of course — but especially with the Kukai broth made of roasted bones for a fuller, richer meaty flavor. Continue reading

Civic Duty | New Hugo House planning, levy happy hour, Unite for Marriage Seattle

There’s a busy slate of events to start the week around Capitol Hill — here are a few opportunities for you to fulfill your civic duty and get involved:

  • New Hugo House: Monday night you can help set the direction for the new Hugo House as the nonprofit plans its new facility destined to be part of a mixed-use project planned for its current home across from Cal Anderson Park:
    Now that we’re in the later stages of space-planning, we’d love to get more specific feedback from you about what you’d like from our classrooms, performance space, and all other aspects of the new Hugo House

    Hugo House is also asking for community members to fill out this brief survey to provide feedback on the project.

  • Banks for Council kick-off: Election organizers People for Pamela Banks will hold a campaign kick-off party Monday night at 11th and Pike’s Sole Repair:
    We have the opportunity to bring new leadership to the Council that reflects the diversity of our city. This is the time to build great neighborhoods for all members of District 3, I invite you to come join the conversation.

    If the politics don’t interest you, maybe food from Jamil’s Big Easy will win you over. CHS wrote here about the Urban League CEO’s decision to enter the race against sitting City Council member Kshama Sawant in Seattle’s new District 3.

  • Levy happy hour: SDOT director Scott Kubly will be in the Central District Monday night to help push the Move Seattle levy that is set to appear on November’s ballot. Kubly and SDOT reps will be at Chuck’s starting at 5:30 PM. “We’ve been hosting a series of daytime coffee hours that have resulted in some great dialogue and feedback – this is yet another chance for people to learn a little more and share their priorities and ideas, and ask questions,” SDOT says about the Monday night event.
  • Unite for Marriage — Seattle: There are still battles to be fought for marriage equality. Tuesday night, groups are planning a downtown Seattle rally to support marriage equality across the nation:
    On April 28th, SCOTUS will hear oral arguments on the subject of national marriage equality. Movement leaders will stand in solidarity with communities across the nation to send a message of love and understanding, as well as celebrate local progress made so far.
  • Design review survey reminder: You don’t have to leave your seat for this one. CHS wrote here about the Department of Planning and Development effort to rethink Seattle’s design review process. You can provide feedback on the Design Review program via this survey.


#rentcontrol: 11 things CHS heard at the Affordable Housing Town Hall

(Image: City of Seattle)

(Image: City of Seattle)

If rent control and “stabilization” becomes law in Seattle, you can point to last week’s affordable housing town hall as the night it all started. Calling the event “ground zero” in the fight for housing justice, Seattle City Council member and District 3 candidate Kshama Sawant drew a standing room only crowd at City Hall to talk about bolstering tenant’s rights in the city.

“I know there are many, many scare stories,” Sawant said. “The purpose is to have everybody leave here today with a real feeling of inspiration.”

Along with outgoing council member Nick Licata, Sawant lined-up several speakers to talk about their ideas on affordable housing ahead of a public comment period and brief speeches by four candidates seeking to be appointed to Sally Clark’s recently-vacated council seat.

Emotions ran high at the meeting as people shared stories about rent increases forcing them out of apartments. Others blamed landlords and foreign investors for Seattle’s skyrocketing cost of living.

Passing a rent control law in Seattle would first require the state legislature lifting a statewide ban on such policies. While there seems to be little indication today that lawmakers would take up the issue in Olympia, Sawant is making it a key part of her campaign for the Capitol Hill and Central District-centered Council District 3 position.

The parallels to the push for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle are unmistakable. And Mayor Ed Murray’s approach to embracing the call for affordability while moderating the activism with committees and recommendation reports has been in high gear for weeks now.

But more radical factions persist. In the coming days, Licata said he would forward a proclamation for the council to vote on to state its support for lifting the statewide ban on rent control. Sawant previously elaborated on her ideas about rent stabilization in an email exchange with CHS. Here are the 10 things CHS heard at the Affordable Housing Town Hall:

  1. Licata said the state could be violating federal housing law by not letting Seattle take steps to address its affordability crisis.
  2. David Trotter, a candidate for the at-large City Council Position 8, called the state legislature “bullies and terrorists” for preventing Seattle from implementing rent control. Continue reading

One man dies, two other victims to hospital in drug overdose at Cal Anderson

One man died and another was in critical condition Sunday night after Seattle Fire and SPD responded to three people suffering heroin overdoses on the sports field at Cal Anderson Park. UPDATE: SFD says the female may have been suffering a medical issue “not related to the overdose.” 

SFD’s Aid 25 unit was called to the Bobby Morris Playfield around 5:20 PM to a report of a female suffering an apparent seizure. The crew arrived to find the female and two other males suffering a drug overdose. Additional SFD units arrived and began CPR on the field in the middle of a busy night in Pike/Pine and as a baseball game continued on the diamond nearby.

Seattle Fire reported that one male died at the scene following 20 minutes of CPR while another male was transported to Harborview in critical condition. The female victim was also transported to the hospital in reported stable condition.

According to Seattle Police, the three victims suffered heroin overdoses. The incident is being investigated. UPDATE:  “Three individuals who know me contacted me and said that from their understanding ‘there was some bad meth going around,'” an officer’s report on the incident reads. The officer writes that SFD responders at the scene said the three victims were “under the influence of heroin” but police found no drug paraphernalia. “It is unknown if subjects had mixed the two drugs,” the officer writes. According to the report, SPD was able to identify the dead man from a medical bracelet he was wearing.

Last week, SPD announced the early results of its “9 1/2 Block” effort to combat an “open air drug market” in downtown Seattle. East Precinct and city officials have said that the area around Cal Anderson has also been identified as another of Seattle’s “drug market” areas and that patrol and investigative efforts would also be brought to bear around the popular Capitol Hill open space.


Capitol Pill | Tectonic Shifts

TARAWe’ve asked Karyn Schwartz, owner of the Sugarpill apothecary on E Pine, to contribute to CHS about health and Hill living on a semi-regular basis. If you’re an expert and want to share with the community in a recurring CHS column, we’d like to hear from you.

Weeks ago I began writing a love letter to my neighborhood – to all the people who on any given day I have interactions with that make me feel like I belong to this place; like I am at home, and that I matter here. Along the way, I kept thinking of some teachings I received very early on about how to assist people living with depression, and how one of the most important things to offer is actually just your presence — your real attention and your company — to anyone who is suffering in their heart or soul. How, in order to really heal, a person must know that their presence and existence matters, and that they are welcome; that they belong.

Up early to finish one or the other of these trains of thought, I saw the news that a major earthquake had occurred in Nepal just a few hours prior.  Once I read the initial reports, all I could think about were the people there, and in every place where something is happening that is so tragic and overwhelming that it brings people together in a communal gesture of courage, generosity and selflessness.

Searching the social media streams of everyone I know who has loved ones in that area, I came across a Twitter post by a journalist in Kathmandu named Kashish Das Shrestha, whose photographs of the immediate aftermath of the quake were shared in The New York Times:  “As I walk through city, i see people who are scared but ready to help, buildings standing still, but fragile. The day we dreaded arrived.” Continue reading

This week in CHS history | May Day marches and riots, minimum wage compromise, Phoenix Comics

Bmm47vhCYAAM4EL (1)Here are the top stories from this week in CHS history: