‘Coffee with Kshama Sawant’ — District 3 representative holds rare community meeting

(Image: @cmkshama)

Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant met with a standing room only crowd of constituents to discuss issues ranging from affordable housing and gentrification to low internet speeds and privacy at Squirrel Chops, a coffeeshop in Seattle’s Central District, Saturday morning.

“There’s a lot of issues facing us as a district with skyrocketing rents and hypergentrification and we’ve certainly seen the increase in gun violence,” Squirrel Chops co-owner Shirley Henderson said while introducing council member Sawant. “A lot of that is tied to our economic reality and the shifts that are happening.”

Sawant, who came with her husband and dog, opened the event by highlighting her struggles for $15 per hour minimum wage and Friday’s King County Superior Court ruling that upheld a Seattle law that capped move-in fees for renters. She also noted the broad struggles ahead in terms of achieving economic equality and racial justice.

“We are all getting screwed together,” Sawant said. “Ultimately, whether you’re talking about city politics or state level, we’re going to have to build movements to win any of these things.” Continue reading

Street Critic | Brutally lovely on Capitol Hill

The Dome and (back of) the Bema on 16th Avenue at Temple De Hirsch Sinai

I have always been uncomfortable with the architectural term brutalitist. Part of the rub is, I suppose, that the name is a perversion of Le Corbusier’s most treasured design element, béton brut; or, rough or raw concrete. The story goes that Corb was dissatisfied with the stewardship of some of his early, pristine, white buildings. Owners did not provide the level of upkeep required and the buildings showed their age more than Le Corbuiser (Corb) found acceptable. In a seeming about-face, he decided no longer to incorporate smooth and precise materials in his work but rather use them in a less finished, natural state. Concrete was an obvious choice. It required little upkeep -not even painting. His decision to raise what had hitherto been primarily a structural element to an architectural has been tremendously influential on generations of architects, particularity from the mid-1950’s through the early 1980’s. But alas, brut became brutal – and as one may suspect, brutalist. Continue reading

CHS Pics | This week in Capitol Hill pictures

The CHS Flickr Pool contains more than 36,000 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.

We also keep our eyes on the #capitolhillseattle Instagram tag —- you should, too! Below are this week’s best Capitol Hill shots. Thanks for sharing!
Continue reading

First look inside The Lounge by AT&T and Ada’s Discovery Cafe

(Images: CHS)

Company executives were on Capitol Hill Friday for the telecommunication giant’s unveiling of its glossy new retail experiment, The Lounge by AT&T.

Morgan Collins, vice president for AT&T’s Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and Hawaii markets, tells CHS the company took the risk of trying to launch the new retail concept in an area like Capitol Hill because the neighborhood is home to “creative innovators.”

“I want us to be part of the community,” she said.

Another AT&T rep on hand put it more succinctly. “We are meeting people where they are.” Continue reading

50 years ago, the Seattle Freeway Revolt kept the Central District from being ripped apart

Seattle ARCH (Activists Remembered, Celebrated, and Honored) has plans for a “Ramps to Nowhere” memorial (Image: Seattle ARCH)

(Image: Seattle ARCH)

Priscilla Arsove remembers sitting in her family’s living room as her father called hundreds of volunteers and city officials throughout the evening on their house’s single landline telephone to stop freeway projects that he saw as troubling throughout Seattle. Now, she’s working to maintain that legacy as the work of her father and hundreds of others celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

On Sunday September 23, a 50th anniversary celebration of their work will be held at the Central Area Senior Center.

Maynard Arsove was pushed to action by the construction of I-5 which effectively separated Capitol Hill and First Hill from downtown.

The “Freeway Revolt” began in 1960 when voters approved the Bay Freeway, which was set to be a link between I-5 and Seattle Center, and bonds to fund the R.H. Thomson Expressway, a 15-mile roadway that would have stretched from Duwamish to Bothell, thus setting in motion the creation of a transportation system that would have a greater freeway density than Los Angeles.

The R.H. Thomson Expressway would have destroyed up to 3,000 homes and displaced as many as 8,000 people. The Bay Freeway would have walled off South Lake Union from the rest of the city. These possibilities fostered a public outcry that resulted in a public outcry from affected residents which saw the citizens suing the city two years later. Widely-attended public hearings on the future of transportation in Seattle ensued before Citizens Against the RH Thomson (CARHT) and Citizens Against Freeways (CAF) formed in 1968.

“An arrogant disregard for the needs and the interests of the people that lived in the area,” Anna Rudd, a former anti-freeway activist, said of the city’s plan. Continue reading

Seattle Police Officers’ Guild says yes to new deal

Seattle Police officers have voted to approve a new contract, the Seattle Times reports:

The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) has overwhelmingly voted to ratify a collective-bargaining contract with the city that includes long-delayed pay raises while imposing sweeping accountability reforms. The outcome of mail balloting was announced Thursday by the guild, which represents more than 1,300 officers and sergeants. Guild President Kevin Stuckey said in a news release that 1,013 of 1,059 returned ballots voted to accept the contract offer.

The contract now moves to the Seattle City Council which must approve the deal.

The union representing the department’s more than 1,300 personnel reached a compromise deal in August with the city on a new contract that will give officers solid raises while also tying further reforms to the package.

Part of the deal is expected to include an agreement on the “civilianization” of the department’s Office of Police Accountability. The boost in salary, meanwhile, will be retroactive to 2015 meaning officers will receive back pay covering the last three and a half years they have been without a contract.

‘Person of interest’ in Central District shootings reported arrested

As activists criticize Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle Police Department’s decision to patrol the Central District with SWAT and K9 units in response to last week’s homicide and a wave of gun violence, the increased police presence may already be downshifted.

CHS reported Monday on the deployment SWAT officers on the streets of the Central District and outreach to civilian representatives SPD calls “violence interrupters” after the murder of 25th Ave S resident Marshall Bennett.

In a message to residents of the neighborhoods near the 25th Ave S homicide, SPD Lt. Paul Leung said Wednesday it is too early to know if SPD has its man but a “person of interest” has been arrested in Federal Way: Continue reading

Study of Seattle evictions shows disproportionate impacts to women, Black renters

CHS found a woman’s possessions spread across a parking strip off 12th Ave after a 2017 eviction (Image: CHS)

A newly released report from the commission that has Mayor Jenny Durkan’s ear on women’s issues in the city digs into a year’s worth of data around evictions in Seattle and shows that women tenants make up more than 80% of cases in which a small amount of money costs a renter their home in Seattle. The study of 2017 eviction cases in the Seattle city limits also shows how unfair the process is to Black renters who are evicted at a rate 4.5 times what would be expected based on Seattle demographics. Meanwhile, more than 17% of the city’s 1,218 evictions came here in the neighborhoods of Seattle City Council District 3 — the third highest total in the study. By ZIP Code, one of the largest clusters of evictions in the city in 2017 came in the 98122 area covering the Central District.

“Eviction proceedings, also known as ‘unlawful detainers,’ are scheduled every day in the King County Superior Court, and while this eviction machine is unseen by the majority of the city, the results reverberate far outside the courthouse,” the report from the Seattle Women’s Commission and the Housing Justice Project begins. “While a month of unpaid rent might be an inconvenience for a landlord, an eviction can mean life or death for a tenant. National research shows eviction is one of the leading causes of homelessness.”

The groups held a press conference to announce the findings — and the study’s conclusions on what to do about the impact of evictions — Thursday morning at Seattle City Hall. The Housing Justice Project is a homelessness prevention program providing legal services for low-income tenants facing eviction while the Seattle Women’s Commission is an advisory body to the mayor, city council, and City Hall departments.

Gina Owens talked about life as a single mother renting in Seattle and what happened when she and her daughter were evicted. “One emergency, one missed paycheck” is the difference between a home and living in the streets in Seattle, she said.

A full copy of the report is below but here are some of the main findings: Continue reading