Seattle has $7.6 million emergency plan for homeless and encampment sweeps

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(Images: CHS)

When Mayor Ed Murray declared Seattle in a homeless state of emergency, it help put into motion $7.6 million to be spent on alleviating the crisis (not to mention the $40 million already budgeted for homeless services this year). On Wednesday, City Council members will be reviewing a plan on how to spend it. Using a mix of mayor-directed emergency funds and City Council-added money, the draft plan is broken into three categories:

  • Prevention efforts: $2.9 million
  • Supporting people to move out of encampments: $2.5 million
  • Meeting basic needs: $2.2 million

How the City “supports” people moving out of non-permitted encampments has received a considerable amount of attention — a debate that will continue during Wednesday’s human services committee meeting. The procedures for conducting sweeps are outlined in a 2008 “multi-departmental administrative rule.” Technically, there is little the City Council can do to change it, but some council members are calling for encampment clean-ups to halt altogether.

“I think sweeps are fundamentally problematic,” said District 3 rep Kshama Sawant during a Council hearing last week.

In the 11 weeks after the Mayor’s state of emergency declaration, the City conducted 38 encampment sweeps, which it says it does primarily for safety reasons. Critics say the sweeps are an unnecessary disruption for those choosing to live outside. Only 40% of the 184 people present at the sites accepted shelter, according to numbers presented during a City Council briefing last month.

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CHS Pics | Capitol Hill Valentine violinist

Valentine's Violin - 1 of 6

While we were thinking about different ways to say I love you on Capitol Hill, CHS found Alen̈a hard at work Tuesday at the 15th and John Safeway earning money for a new violin with some Valentine-worthy performance. Stop by with your sweetie and drop a dollar or two in the can for love.

Second Capitol Hill pot shop approved for 15th Ave

IMG_5911The owner of Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop may finally realize his aspirations to open a recreational marijuana store in his 15th and Republican building, even if the business itself isn’t his.

A West Seattle medical marijuana entrepreneur has been given the green light by the state Liquor and Cannabis Board to open a retail marijuana shop in the space last home to the Capitol Hill Family Arcade.

The permit approval for Lion’s Heart puts owner Daniela Bernhard one step closer to opening Capitol Hill’s second pot shop in a building owned by fellow potreprenuer Ian Eisenberg. Bernhard was a co-owner of the Northwest Patient Resource Center in West Seattle prior to moving ahead with her Capitol Hill business.

Bernhard did not respond to CHS requests for comment and Eisenberg said he could not comment on the approval. Continue reading

Election Day reminder: Last day to vote on school levies

Seattle's new Education Director Dwane Chappelle (Image: Seattle.gov)

Murray and Seattle’s first ever Education Director, Dwane Chappelle (Image: Seattle.gov)

Where are all the Schools First parties at? It’s a quiet version of the madhouse you can expect come November — but it’s still Election Day.

Tuesday, February 9th, 8:00 PM is the deadline to get your ballot postmarked or delivered to a drop-off location or accessible voting center. And, don’t forget, the Broadway post office is now open in its new location.

CHS outlined the two school levies on the ballot for Seattle voters last month. Seattle Public Schools is expected to add 4,000 students by 2020 to its current 52,000 student population. Officials, including Mayor Ed Murray, say the levies are crucial to meeting the demands of the school’s growing population and uncertain funding future with the state. Murray is also pushing for a new $290 million housing levy that could hit the ballot this summer — or join the crazy rush of democracy we’ll be fortunate to experience this November.

Meanwhile, Seattle school kids will have a familiar face in a new role to help make sure the levy money is well spent. Monday, the City Council confirmed the selection of Dwane Chappelle as the first ever Education Director for Seattle:

City Council voted unanimously to confirm Dwane Chappelle as the new Director for the Department of Education and Early Learning today. Chappelle served as principal for Rainier Beach High School since 2011 and, under his leadership, achieved a 79 percent graduation rate that exceeded the district average. Chappelle also garnered great success with the school’s International Baccalaureate program.

The Council announced Chappelle’s goals include “implementing the ambitious Seattle Preschool Program phase-in schedule,” and “working with Seattle Public Schools to address the persistent opportunity gap minority students face.” He’ll also be tasked with pushing forward education levies: the Families and Education Levy and the Seattle Preschool Levy. Both expire in 2018.

 

Vulcan shares an early view of the redevelopment of 23rd and Jackson

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By Ross Armstrong, UW News Lab / Special to CHS

Community members packed the Seattle Central Wood Technology Center Thursday night (Image: Ross Armstrong)

Community members packed the Seattle Central Wood Technology Center Thursday night (Image: Ross Armstrong)

Vulcan’s plans for the southeast corner of 23rd and Jackson appear to be on a fast track following a set of community meetings in the Central District last week. The developer said it is gearing up for a design review process from a project with some 570 apartment units to begin — perhaps — as early as next month. Meanwhile, attendees at one of the community meetings unsurprisingly expressed concerns about the real estate giant’s development plans and the rapid change coming to the area.

Central District residents turned out in droves Thursday night to see early design concepts for a new apartment complex in the neighborhood from Vulcan and Runberg Architecture Group. Much of the community focus was on affordability and whether the project’s planned mix of units was right for the neighborhood. One mother spoke up about her two sons who had decent paying jobs but had to move away due to the costs.

Plans submitted to the city describe a complex of two five-story buildings and two seven-story buildings, interconnected around a courtyard. In all 570 units are planned in the 693,000 square-foot project. The project does not yet appear on the Design Review Board schedule but Vulcan representatives said they plan to begin the public process in March. Continue reading

Capitol Hill environmental advocate thickens 43rd District race

(Image: Friends of Sameer Ranade)

(Image: Friends of Sameer Ranade)

The 43rd District may represent a large swath of Central Seattle in Olympia but the race — for now, at least — will be filled with Capitol Hill candidates.

Sameer Ranade, a Capitol Hill resident and campaign associate for the Washington Environmental Council, has announced his campaign for the 43rd District seat being left vacant as Rep. Brady Walkinshaw sets his sights on Washington D.C.

“Environmental protection and social justice have been the driving force of my career,“ Ranade said in his announcement. “I seek to make good on the legal obligation our state has to future generations by achieving our statutory limits to reduce heat-trapping, ocean acidifying carbon emissions and to fully fund basic education.” Continue reading

Group calls for support of ‘HALA-Approved’ tax break for low-income friendly landlords

12540546_508685349303219_5586000605697343763_nThe Seattle For Everyone group — “a broad coalition of affordable housing developers and advocates, for-profit developers and businesses, labor and social justice advocates, environmentalists and urbanists, all united to build an equitable, prosperous, thriving, and inclusive Seattle” — Monday night sent its members a call to rally support for Washington Senate Bill 6239:

Pass the HALA-Approved Preservation Tax Exemption Today!

The fiscal cutoff in Olympia is hours away, which means we need to make sure the Senate Ways & Means Committee knows how important it is to advance SB 6239 immediately! This bill will give local communities the option of creating an important tool to preserve and improve affordable housing in our communities.

We also need to send a message to King County Assessor John Wilson and ask him to support the HALA-approved Preservation Tax Exemption bill as well. Assessor Wilson introduced legislation for his own idea of a preservation program, which was entirely separate from the multi-month stakeholder process that brought together affordable housing advocates, race and social justice organizations, developers, property owners, human service advocates, and local governments in agreement behind SB 6239. He is now requesting to have significant affordability provisions in SB 6239 removed or weakened. His changes, if successful, would weaken the program and result in less affordability for King County residents Worse, there is a serious risk that any last-minute attempts to radically change the proposal during a short legislative session could result in the bill not being advanced whatsoever.

URGENT: Click Here to Take Action to Save the Preservation Tax Exemption Today!

CHS reported on the Preservation Tax Exemption legislation here among a bevy of Capitol Hill-related bills introduced in the latest session in Olympia. the bipartisan bill would give rental property owners a 15-year break on their property taxes in exchange for reserving a quarter of the building’s apartments for low-income families earning less than 50 to 60% of the area median income.

The Stranger took a look at the Seattle For Everyone coalition here last year. You can learn more about Seattle For Everyone and sign up for updates at seattleforeveryone.org.

Next week, the Capitol Hill Community Council is also planning an event to help inform the neighborhood about Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda:

12698350_10154537142688696_7839354132057498017_oKnow Your Rights, Grow Your Rights
Thursday, February 18th at 6:30 PM
12th Avenue Arts — 1620 12th Ave
One part education about your existing rights as tenants/renters – one part exploring upcoming opportunities to expand those rights through HALA and other housing efforts in Seattle.

Bus Stop | Crossing the Ts at Capitol Hill Station

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

As the “T”s are added and crossed at Capitol Hill station before the gates open for the first time on March 19th, King County Metro is finalizing its work plan around bus service serving the new light rail stations. This is really just the final bit of bureaucracy on this long process, as most of the changes have been approved for months now. But there are some notable things that can be learned from the work plan, and I want to lay them out here.

Transfers
The work plan estimates that transfers between buses and light rail at the vicinity of Broadway and John will go up by only 560 people per day, which is a pretty remarkably low number of transfers. Only 280 people per day will transfer from a bus to a light rail train and vice versa at the station, according to the documents presented to the King County Council. This after a months-long discussion in our neighborhood to figure out how to reorganize our bus system to best utilize light rail.

Ridership is projected to total 14,000 riders per day, meaning that Metro’s current estimate for transferring is less than 5% of total ridership. These numbers assume that 95% of riders will arrive at the station via a mode other than a bus. It is unclear why Metro is estimating this number to be so low

Bus Stop Re-locations
The eastbound stop, currently in front of the Forever Tan on E Olive Way between Harvard and Broadway, will move to be directly in front of the station on the east side of Broadway. Riders transferring from an 8 coming from Seattle Center or a 10 from Downtown will have a very easy transfer to their bus by simply walking outside the station. Continue reading

CHS Pics | On Broadway, you can buy your Valentine a short story by Saab

CHS found a different kind of Valentine’s Day gift for sale on Broadway Monday morning. Author and artist Saab Lofton was on the plaza at Seattle Central with stories for sale.

“Here, this is one of the best Lesbian vampire stories,” Lofton said Monday, leafing through his stapled stacks of stories. His tales mix explorations on race and privilege with science fiction and bizarre twists on mainstream characters. What if Superman is Black?

It’s all a little weird and not completely romantic — in other words, perfect for your Valentine.

Lofton said he’s back in Seattle after a stint in Las Vegas and that he might turn his attention to stories from the neighborhood. You can find him sometimes on Broadway — look for the Valentine’s sign this week — or at saablofton.com.

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Five years later, seven-story project moving forward at Broadway and James

Demolished (Image: King County)

Demolished (Image: King County)

Those enjoying a free ride on the First Hill Streetcar may have noticed one of Broadway’s old buildings was torn down last week. At the corner of Broadway and James, the former home of Yasuko’s Teriyaki and, now long ago, El Mestizo, and the 1906-built, two-story, 4-unit masonry apartment building they called home has been demolished.

The path for the 550 Broadway project is an example of the roadway large projects around the neighborhood sometimes take as financing windows open and close and the review and permit process trundles forward. In this case, the teriyaki restaurant’s owner Yasuko Connor also owned the old building and sold to developers in 2011 for $3,339,000, according to county records. That knowledge might soften the blow of sadness fans of the restaurant felt when it finally shuttered last fall. The acquirer was George Webb and the Stratford Company, the prolific real estate investor and developer we last reported on amid accusations of economic evictions at a recently acquired Capitol Hill apartment building.

Coming soon

Coming soon

The developers moved forward a plan for a seven-story, mixed-use apartment building at the site. Here’s our report on the design review from late 2011. Then the project seemingly went on ice as the process to do something with the property ground to a halt. Finally, in December 2014, Webb’s company flipped the property and the permitted development project for $7.5 million to Seattle-based Intracorp Real Estate.

While the first round of permitting expired last spring, the company was able to submit and updated application. In December, the city approved the plan for a seven-story building designed in 2011 with 5,000 square feet of commercial space and underground parking for 110 vehicles. With the old building demolished, hopefully it won’t take another five years for construction to begin.