SDOT taking over Pronto bike share with plans to expand, go all-electric

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 11.16.17 PMSeattle’s bike share program is poised for some big changes.

The details are still getting hammered out, but the Seattle Department of Transportation will take over Pronto Cycle Share a year after the nonprofit running it rolled out the system in October 2014.

SDOT is currently negotiating with the Puget Sound Bike Share to acquire the system at zero cost, according to a SDOT spokesperson. The takeover would allow for an major investment of public funding to expand the number of stations into low income areas and add electric bikes.

“Bike share is most successful at scale. You need a real network of origin-destination combinations,” said Nicole Freedman, director of SDOT’s active transportation program.

$5 million in Mayor Ed Murray’s recently released budget is slated to go towards expanding the Pronto network, doubling the number of stations to around 100. If a federal TIGER grant comes through, that money would be used as matching funds, allowing the number of stations to expand to 250. That could put 62% of Seattle residents within walking distance of a station, up from 14% today. The decision is expected to be announced this month. Continue reading

Through Thanksgiving, City Council digs in on affordability, budget only — Hearing Tuesday night

No pie until you finish your budget, City Council

No pie until you finish your budget, City Council

From now through Thanksgiving, the Seattle City Council will focus on two things: affordability and City Hall’s 2016 budget. Everything else is canceled.

Tuesday night, brings the first council committee hearing on the proposed 2016 budget. CHS outlined the Capitol Hill and Central Seattle highlights including a DPD overhaul, streetcar extension, homelessness funding, bike share expansion, and cop body cams here.

Budget Committee Agenda
Tuesday, October 6, 2015 5:30 PM
Public Hearing
The Seattle City Council Budget Committee will conduct a public hearing to solicit public comment on: (1) the City’s 2016 General Revenue Sources, including a possible property tax levy increase; and (2) Mayor Edward B. Murray’s 2016 Proposed Budget.
This hearing will continue until all in-person comments have been received. In the interest of time, members of groups with similar interests are encouraged to combine their presentations. Group presentations will be limited to five minutes. Individual comments will be limited to two minutes or less.

Written comment can be sent to The hearing will be shown live on Seattle Channel 21 and online at A second hearing will be held Tuesday, October 20th at 5:30 PM, also at City Hall.

Monday, the full council approved legislation to help stop “economic evictions” in Seattle:

Council unanimously adopted a bill today to prevent landlords from drastically raising rents on low-income tenants for the purpose of evicting them without providing relocation assistance.  Currently, if a building is to be torn down or renovated, landlords must give tenants who have to move 90 days notice and pay $3,255 in Tenant Relocation Assistance to low-income households. Recently, there have been reports of low-income tenants’ rents doubling so they’ll voluntarily vacate, all so landlords can avoid paying the required relocation assistance.

The bill prohibits rent increases for the purpose of avoiding the required Tenant Relocation Assistance process:

If a landlord increases rent by 20% or more, which results in a tenant vacating a unit within 90 days, then applies for a permit to substantially rehabilitate the unit within 6 months, the owner can have their building permit denied until the owner pays the penalties. Penalties are $1,000 per day for each day from the date the violation began.

The Select Committee on Housing Affordability — which will continue to meet through the budget process — is currently shaping the first legislation out of the city’s affordability task force recommendations.

CHS Pics | A ‘rigging and rope’ view from St. James

IMG_3989IMG_3749Over the years, CHS has sent Seattle freelance photographer Alex Garland high — and we’ve sent him low. But we’ve never provided him with god’s view from way up high on St. James Cathedral, looking down on all creation — also known as First Hill.

For that, Alex needed On Sight Access and help from Ryan Daudistel’s crew of “rigging and rope” experts currently at work on the 110-year-old landmark.

Daudistel tells CHS the On Sight Access crew will be at work on the 9th Ave cathedral for the next week or so helping Nelson Electric install exterior lighting on the facades of the St. James bell towers.

“We use rope access techniques, which allows us to rappel down the sides of the towers,” Daudistel said. “It’s definitely photogenic work.”

You can learn more about On Sight Access at For more of Alex’s work, check out


Continue reading

‘Something to get motivated’ — Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival turns 20

After attending a gay film festival in San Francisco’s in the early 1990s, artist Skylar Fein knew he wanted to create the same kind of celebration in Seattle. He tested the waters in 1995 then held the first Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in 1996. Since then the SLGFF has grown into a Capitol Hill tradition. This year, more than 10,000 people are expected to attend the festival’s 20th anniversary.

The reels get rolling Thursday with a showing of Freeheld at the SIFF Cinema Egyptian.

“It’s something to get motivated, this bittersweet story about a woman dying and a fight for basic civil rights,” says Three Dollar Bill Cinema executive director Jason Plourde. “It’s also a reminder of how far we’ve come as a community and a movement.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill critics say Convention Center design a rush job

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 7.18.09 PM

(Images: LMN Architects)

As the public review process rolls forward for the expanded Washington State Convention Center, a Capitol Hill community group is continuing to raise concerns that the project’s hurried pace is leaving out meaningful input from neighborhoods on a range of required public benefits.

For months, the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council has been pushing to insert Capitol Hill priorities into the public project with a $1.4 billion budget — a figure that exceeds the cost to build CenturyLink and Safeco Field combined.

“It’s almost as if there was another convention center being built in Seattle and they want to get theirs finished before it,” PPUNC chair John Feit told CHS.

Affordable housing, a transit hub, and creating open public space were just a few of ideas generated during an public open house in September. Some of the disconnect between community members and the Pine Street Group, which is managing the project for WSCC, may stem from differing views of how surrounding residents will interact with the project.

According to Pine Street principal Matt Griffin, the convention center is ultimately less about creating a destination for neighbors and more about patching over I-5. “

One of the most important things we can do for Capitol Hill is increase that pedestrian link between Capitol Hill and downtown,” he said.

But it’s likely the project will be asked to do more. Because of its scale, the project is also being managed by a Planned Community Development process in which this kind of once in a generation project may be planned in a unified process if public benefits including low-income housing, historic preservation, or public space are included. It’s rare for Seattle to see projects on this scale — the planned convention center expansion and a set of surrounding developments designed to accompany the project represent one of the few times the process has ever been undertaken.

An October 1st memo from DPD director Diane Sugimura documents five priorities for the WSCC is to consider as it utilizes the PCD process:

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 9.37.37 PM Continue reading

First Hill Streetcar: 300 miles or so to go

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 4.20.13 PMNow that we’ve gotten to the bottom of what, exactly, is holding up the First Hill Streetcar, the information from SDOT is starting to flow faster than a 7 MPH trolley on Broadway.

The department’s promotional team for the streetcar system has posted two hope-filled updates after months with almost no information about the long-delayed line.

“The streetcar manufacturer finished the initial ‘qualification testing’ for all six First Hill streetcars earlier this month, after taking quite a bit longer than expected,” a recent update reads. Continue reading

CHS Pics | New coat of light and love added to Central District’s MLK, Jr. mural

(Image: Fat's)

(Image: Fat’s via Facebook)

Fat’s Chicken and Waffles is closed on Mondays but another part of its overhaul of the old Catfish Corner is always available.

In September when we told you about the new joint’s debut at MLK and Cherry, CHS also told you about a project bringing back the muralist behind the building’s classic artwork to give the painting a touch-up.

James Crespinel, the artist who created the Martin Luther King, Jr. mural on the building’s eastern wall outside the restaurant, has wrapped up his work cleaning up the giant painting and its inspirational quotation:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

For more on MLK, Jr.’s words, check out this article from the Atlantic about how the civil rights leader’s very real words from his book Strength to Love became intermingled with a quotation he never said.

You can check out images of Crespinel’s MLK, Jr. mural in progress and other works here.


As Seattle seeks new answers on homelessness, PSKS marks 20 years helping ‘kids from the streets’

(Images: PSKS)

Each January, the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness conducts The One Night Count, a community-organized census of King County’s homeless population. This year, the count came to 10,047. Of that total, 824 were homeless or unstably housed youth, ages 12 to 25.

Resources, housing and support are outnumbered by the homeless or unstably housed and can be especially difficult to access. In 1995, the Becca Bill, a Washington truancy law the essentially criminalized youth homelessness and pipelined kids into the criminal justice and prison system, exacerbated the problem of youth access. 20 years ago, Elaine Simons responded to the Becca Bill and other injustices she saw against homeless by founding Peace on the Streets by Kids from the Streets (PSKS).

“It started literally in a little room,” says current PSKS executive director Susan Fox. “We were founded by youth who were advocating against policies that were detrimental to youth who might be homeless.”

Now, PSKS finds itself on the forefront of Seattle’s efforts to address homelessness and inequity as the topic becomes a political causenew shelters are proposed, and money is finally being put forward to help create real solutions. Continue reading

Metro wants Hill feedback on bus route restructure before 2016 light rail start

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 10.45.42 AMcapitol-hill-frequency2Tuesday night brings a public hearing on Metro’s proposed “Link Connections” changes to optimize bus routes as light rail service to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington begins in early 2016.

For reasons only the King County Council know, the hearing is being held in one of the city’s least public transportation-friendly corners:

Attend the public hearing
Tuesday, Oct. 6
6:30 p.m. Open house
7:00 p.m. Public testimony
Mountaineers Club
7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle
Served by Metro routes 30, 74, and 75
Use Metro’s Trip Planner to plan your travel

We advise making the smartest transit plan of all — stay home and submit a well-crafted comment online.

CHS wrote about the early formation of the restructure here in the spring. Here is how Metro describes the summary of changes proposed for Capitol Hill and the Central District: Continue reading

Sawant and Banks throw barbs — and take a few hits — in District 3 debate




UPDATE 10/6/2015: You can watch the debate here:

Original report: The first and only scheduled City Council District 3 debate was more barbed and more focused on neighborhood issues than past forums, but candidates also stuck to well-honed talking points in what is now the home stretch of the race.

City Council member Kshama Sawant and Seattle Urban League CEO Pamela Banks squared off in the hour-long debate at Seattle University Sunday night. Erica C. Barnett of The C is for Crank moderated along with three community panelists. The debate was broadcast live by the Seattle Channel — a recording of the forum is expected to be available for view later this week.

Banks also launched a new line of criticism against Sawant Sunday night, going after her Council attendance record. According to Banks, Sawant has a track record of missing committee meetings including the energy committee, which she chairs.

“You can’t represent the people without doing the work in government,” Banks said.

As in previous forums, Sawant quickly established herself as the more energetic and polished speaker — though it didn’t help that Banks was literally losing her voice as the debate progressed. Banks did prove she could draw a crowd capable of rivaling Sawant’s reliable sea of red. Wearing purple “PB” shirts, the Banks supporters in the crowd matched the Sawant side cheer for cheer.

18 things CHS heard at the D3 debate:

  1. “I believe in unity,” said Sawant, adding that she rejected Seattle divided by “stunning” financial inequity.
  2. Banks: “My opponent only listens to people who think she is great.”
  3. Career Bridge, a jobs program launched by the Urban League under Banks, was brought up multiple times in the evening. Sawant said she wanted to bolster the program; Banks said she tried to meet with Sawant about it last year, but could never get an appointment.
  4. Before hiring more police officers, Sawant called for an audit of the Seattle Police Department to see how resources are being deployed. Continue reading