Deadline arrives for public to weigh in on Volunteer Park Cafe — UPDATE

Wednesday is the final day for public comment on Volunteer Park Cafe’s application to permit its continued operation as a restaurant at the corner of 17th and Galer in the middle of a Capitol Hill residential neighborhood. If you haven’t added your thoughts to the process yet, you have a few hours to do so. We talked to both sides of the issue this week as the deadline approached.


17th Ave resident Cliff Meyer is acting as spokesman for the group of neighbors he says oppose the cafe’s application for a change of use for the 1501 17th Ave East building where VPC has operated — in violation of city zoning laws, it turns out — since 2007. Meyer says he and his wife Alle Hall have been going around the neighborhood this last week to talk with residents about the application.

“Lots of people aren’t aware the cafe wouldn’t work with us,” Meyer told CHS. “It took this process and even then they’re not being honest,” Meyer said.

Meyer and Hall have documented what they say have been failed attempts to work with the cafe on noise, traffic and issues like garbage and pests on their Web site, http://vpneighbors.wordpress.com/. We wrote about their site here. They have been reluctant to say how many neighbors their Volunteer Park Neighbors group represents but CHS has definitely heard from two who have requested anonymity but wanted to let us know they support Meyer and Hall. And, of course, we have also talked to the original complainant who threw the cafe’s zoning problems into daylight, the cafe’s neighbor Paul Jones.

The partners behind the cafe have been busy, too. Heather Earnhardt and Ericka Burke said they worked with the Seattle Office of Economic Development in preparing their change of use application including the nine proposals the cafe included to improve their presence in the neighborhood. The duo also recently posted a new page on its alwaysfreshgoodness.com Web site. The “Improving neighbor relations” page highlights the nine-point plan and also includes charts from an online real estate service illustrating the change in home values for the area related to the rest of Capitol Hill as evidence that the cafe hasn’t had a negative impact.

Beyond that, Burke said she feels like it’s time to let the DPD process play out. “They’ve formed a group and are going door to door but at this point I don’t feel like there’s anything we can do,” Burke said. “We have a lot of support.”

Burke said one big boost has been working with staff of the Office of Economic Development including a former DPD planner who has helped them better shape the application and their plan to be less impactful on the neighborhood. “When all this blew up, they said, ‘Hey what can we do? Someone go and help these guys, they need it,'” Burke said.

Burke also received a letter of support from the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce’s interim head Michael Wells.

To illustrate the gap between the neighbor group and the cafe, consider the most visible sticking point: Volunteer Park Cafe’s new back patio. Meyer says the biggest issue remains how the cafe uses that patio. “The number one priority has always been that it’s backyard just can’t be part of the restaurant,” Meyer said. “The patio can’t have 30 or more people on a regular basis. The city has told them that they can’t happen. But in the application, they’re still saying they can use it.”

Burke says that’s not the case and that the application lays it out. “It clearly states there would be no service. We’re not proposing food service on the patio.” And she’s right. The application does, indeed, say there will not be regular service on the patio.

But it doesn’t say people can’t take their food outside. Nor does the application document mention limits on special events that might fill the area on a regular basis. It’s the kind of thing that could well be within a permitted business’s rights. It could also drive nearby neighbors nuts.

Sorting that out now falls to DPD. You can submit your comments online here. Once feedback is collected, a Seattle Department of Planning and Development planner will complete an analysis of the situation, weigh feedback and write a decision. After the decision is published, there will be another 14-day period for additional public feedback. Any appeals will be heard by the city’s hearing examiner, not DPD. DPD staff have told CHS that it will likely take months for a decision on the application.

In the meantime, Volunteer Park Cafe will be able to continue to operate at the corner of 17th and Galer. To the east on Galer, Stevens Elementary School is a few blocks away. To the west, Volunteer Park. In between, live the typical Hill mix of old time residents and the newbies attracted to the history and walkability on the edge of the dense city streets to the south and west. But it will be more than that mix that helps decide what happens next for the cafe.

Burke was reluctant to speculate on what will happen but did say the cafe has a strategy should the DPD deny its application. She was also cautious to say what she has learned from the situation. “Speaking with neighbors and learning what is important to them has been good,” she said. “This is the third business that I’ve owned. The landlords have been more strategic in the other situations. In that case, I never had to worry about things like zoning. If i open another restaurant, the first thing I’m going to do, of course is look at the zoning!”

Meyer thinks public sentiment may not be on his side but he believes the law will be. “We know the public comments,” Meyer said. “A lot of folks that don’t live near the cafe and they like it and they’re saying that.We agree that it is a great community asset. Without knowing there will be limits, we can’t support it.”

UPDATE 9:50 PM:
We have confirmed that the letter posted below in comments was sent to DPD by Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce interim executive director Michael Wells to clarify the Chamber’s position on the cafe. “We’d like to see the neighborhood issues addressed by the city,” Wells told CHS tonight.

Chamber board member Allan Jones of Russell Jones Real Estate is the brother of Paul Jones, the neighbor who filed the initial complaint against Volunteer Park Cafe with the DPD.

October 27, 2010

925 E Thomas Street
Seattle, WA 98102-5423
206.328.6646
www.caphillchamber.com

Tom Bradrick
Department of Planning & Development
City of Seattle

Mr. Bradrick –
You may recall a previous letter from the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce in regards to the Volunteer Park Café. The Chamber’s Board of the Directors has asked that I clarify our position on the issues at hand.

The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce is committed to the economic vitality of the Capitol Hill Neighborhood. A significant factor in that vitality is the relationship between residents and business owners. We recognize that at times the priorities of business owners and residents may be at odds. Dialog between all parties involved is crucial in resolving those issues. In this instance, regrettably that dialog seems to have broken down.

We would like to encourage further negotiations between the Café and its neighbors in this situation. We recognize the legitimate concerns of all parties in the discussion and strongly recommend that all parties work towards amicable resolution. If there is any way that the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce may be of assistance in this matter we are more than happy to be of service.

Thank you for your time,
Michael Wells
Interim Executive Director
Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce

UPDATE 11/1/2010 1:15 PM:
Volunteer Park Cafe’s Burke sent us a document she says refutes some of the accusations leveled by the neighbors group about the cafe’s response to their Good Neighbor Proposal. Here’s the VPC letter Burke e-mailed to us: 

Volunteer Park Café would like to clarify VPN’s accusation that we denied to accept their “Good Neighbor Proposal.”

The neighborhood group states that we refused to accept their “good neighbor proposal.”  This is only partially true. The Café agrees with all of the neighborhood’s issues, except two. First, the neighborhood group tried to bully The Café into subverting the DPD process by asking the property owner and the business owner to sign an unnecessary covenant against the land. Second, the neighborhood group asked The Café to give up its existing permits to have tables and chairs in the right-of-way.  

Signing such a covenant is not in the best interest of the landlord or the owners of VPC, particularly when the DPD permit process is designed to specifically address neighborhood impacts such as parking, traffic, noise, and garbage, and more without use of a covenant. It should be noted that, like a covenant, conditions required as part of an Administrative Conditional Use Permit also run with the land, even if ownership changes.

It seems as though the neighborhood group has lost sight of the landlord completely.  In fact, according to owner Dorothy Erickson, the group has made zero attempts to contact her personally to discuss the matter.

Item #3 of the proposed good neighbor plan asks for NO outdoor activity, including our sidewalk tables and chairs, which were legally permitted by the city.  The impact of our tables and chairs is no different than a grocery store with a coffee service that furnishes tables and chairs as an accessory use.

VPN’s Good Neighbor Proposal:The VPN would like to be able to support operation of a small restaurant in the building and have given thought to what constitutes a good neighbor plan. A number of families known to be concerned have met and concluded they can give a binding commitment to not oppose land use permitting or operation of a restaurant in the building if you and Dorothy (landlord) will agree to the following as covenants that will run with the land.

1.  Upgrade and maintain the building and restaurant operation in compliance with all non-discretionary state and local regulations including for example fire/safety codes, building codes, public health and liquor regulations, etc.2.  Use best available methods to mitigate the impact on the neighborhood in areas of garbage disposal, rodent control, and odor control. 3.  Keep all customer eating and drinking and food preparation (cooking. barbecuing or similar activities) inside the building and maintain hours of operation as they have been this last summer. 4.  Assure an operation that curtails noise to be no greater than that which would be occasioned by a small grocery store or a single family residence.5.  Insofar as possible, assure that patrons and employees respect parking regulations and assure that delivery vehicles follow an agreed to parkingunloading mitigation plan. 6.  Limit all eating and drinking establishment operations, including office uses, to the ground level.

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44 thoughts on “Deadline arrives for public to weigh in on Volunteer Park Cafe — UPDATE

  1. You write: “Burke says that’s not the case and that the application lays it out. ‘It clearly states there would be no service. We’re not proposing food service on the patio.’ ”

    http://wp.me/P13gjT-jD

    Verbatim, VPC’s current application says VPC will use the patio to “provide an outdoor area for the single family residence located above the restaurant, and other activities allowed in single family zones by the Seattle Municipal Code.”

    I am surprised, Justin, that you didn’t ask Ericka directly what this statement is supposed to mean. To me, it looks like a frankly — unsophisticated game of misdirect. True statements are simply made.

    I encourage anyone who still wishes to submit to DPD to send something including this question: what does VPC mean by ““provide an outdoor area for the single family residence located above the restaurant, and other activities allowed in single family zones by the Seattle Municipal Code.”

    http://wp.me/P13gjT-jD

    DPD letter s do not need to be ‘statements’ or “up or down” votes. DPD encourages questions, observations, shades of gray, and most of all SOLUTIONS.

    I want to close by saying thank you, justink, for sentence, regarding patio use. “It could also drive nearby neighbors nuts.” I have not read a more true statement ANYWHERE regarding my primary concern with VPC’s expansion.

    R

  2. You write: Burke said she feels like it’s time to let the DPD process play out. “They’ve formed a group and are going door to door but at this point I don’t feel like there’s anything we can do,” Burke said. “We have a lot of support.”

    1. The cafe can demonstrate that they are willing to work with the neighbors — as in; directly work with the neighbors.

    Right now, the cafe is willing to talk to their choir and the press about a being willing to work with the neighbors. Your article, Justin, points to their “Neighbors relations page.” that page is full of nice words, all of which are easily refutable by their actions. Go to http://vpneighbors.wordpress.com/updates/ and search on tag word ‘rebuttal”).

    2. VPC can publicly address why they chose to turn down the reasonable Good Neighbor Proposal we offered them on Sept. 11th:

    http://wp.me/p13gjT-7j

    VPC refused our proposal and set up their own “Good Neighbor Plan,” which included every element of our plan with the exception of agreeing to stay off the back patio they built before understanding their zoning.

    VPC, we would like a response.

    3. The cafe can publicly apologize for the lies and character defamation of their neighbor on the flier they posted and sent to the press and their e-mail list. A public apology would go a looooooong way toward the good will they are going to need from Volunteer Park Neighbors if they wish to have their restaurant and patio legalized.

  3. Just a quick update re; “They have been reluctant to say how many neighbors their Volunteer Park Neighbors group.”

    Over two weeks ago, I told Justin that our core group is comprised of 12 people. We are self-selected and open to anyone interested in helping. We’re the people that meet once a week to get the straight on the update, plan strategy, and disseminate tasks. From there, info goes out to what I call ‘boots on the ground.”

    Many of the “boots” wish to remain anonymous. There is a lot of pressure on certain streets to “stay loyal” to the cafe. Anyone with eyes can see how Ericka and Heather targeting Paul Jones for isolation and public defamation when he filed a complaint with the city. Which is the primary reason Cliff and I are proud to stand publicly with Paul, for Volunteer Park Neighbors, and for a well-run, appropriately-sized, and legally operated cafe on the indoor, first floor of 1501 17th Ave. E.

    If VPC can be the reasonable things, Volunteer Park Neighbors is behind them 100%; in fact has already offered to write letters to DPD in support of their legal change in land use.

    http://wp.me/p13gjT-7j

  4. Alle, if you provided the number of neighbors to me in e-mail, I’m sorry to have put it that way but when you and I spoke on the phone, you were unwilling to say how many people you represented. You told me it was too early to say.

  5. Glad to see all parties involved here exhausting the resources at their disposal enabling an ultimate and true conclusion to this situation. Whatever it is that the appropriate civic officials decide, I hope all parties will graciously accept. Though it can be ugly at times, it is everyone’s right and duty to seek and work toward what they feel is just and of ultimate value. With all that being said I look forward to this situation being resolved and no longer appearing on the blog. It has been interesting and not without some suspense and compelling aspects but I’m kind of bored and a little turned off by the whole affair to this corner of the hood.

    Peace on earth!

  6. Seems like this is finally coming to a head, and I perdict permit will in effect be denied or partially denied…the process was ignored or overlooked by the Cafe, and the refusal to work with the neighbors (how seriously odd for Seattle and Cap Hill specifically will be rewarded as such. The Cafe wants this outdoor dining area as it will dramatically improve their bottom line, all those morning munchers out there sipping and chatting, or ignoring each other on their computers.

    With all that extra dough to be made its seriously weird that an acommodation, landscaping, financial, or in-kind contribution could not have been made by the cafe to its neighbors. If you cannot do business legally, within the zoning laws, and get along with your neighbors to the extent that you will not piss them off and cause a shitstorm and cost us a lot of taxpayer-funded hours (thanks everyone!) to decide this issue, then you frankly do not deserve a local cafe, or the privilege of running one.

    I supose that if the permit gets denied in full and the Cafe owners sell, the neighbors will be more than happy to welcome an owner who will work with the neighbors and fully abide by the zoning laws.

  7. Justin,
    Please see the below updated letter from the Chamber. As you can see that after the Board had the opportunity to see the other side of this issue they have steppped back and are looking for a resolution though negotiation between the parties.

    October 27, 2010

    925 E Thomas Street
    Seattle, WA 98102-5423
    206.328.6646
    http://www.caphillchamber.com

    Tom Bradrick
    Department of Planning & Development
    City of Seattle

    Mr. Bradrick –

    You may recall a previous letter from the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce in regards to the Volunteer Park Café. The Chamber’s Board of the Directors has asked that I clarify our position on the issues at hand.

    The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce is committed to the economic vitality of the Capitol Hill Neighborhood. A significant factor in that vitality is the relationship between residents and business owners. We recognize that at times the priorities of business owners and residents may be at odds. Dialog between all parties involved is crucial in resolving those issues. In this instance, regrettably that dialog seems to have broken down.

    We would like to encourage further negotiations between the Café and its neighbors in this situation. We recognize the legitimate concerns of all parties in the discussion and strongly recommend that all parties work towards amicable resolution. If there is any way that the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce may be of assistance in this matter we are more than happy to be of service.

    Thank you for your time,

    Michael Wells
    Interim Executive Director
    Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce

  8. I wholeheartedly support this cafe and feel it is an ASSET to the neighborhood. I would adore having such a gathering place near me, but have to settle on going there occasionally. I don’t know of anyone who has eaten there, who hasn’t had rave reviews. It would be a pity to lose such a place, especially when the owners appear to be trying to be good neighbors. Hopefully, it will have a happy ending:)

  9. Where are you getting this information to support your statement that the owners appear to be trying to be good neighbors? Are you just making this up because you like their food?

  10. Hope can get the information from me! I live on 17th, a half block from the cafe. Heather and Ericka have been great to me, my wife, and our kids. We also adore the cafe – not just because of the food but because it has made the neighborhood a better place to live. We love the vibrance of the place. We love the people it brings to our sidewalk. We feel very lucky to have them right here and we hope they stay for a long time.

  11. The issue up for public comment has nothing to do with VPC’s quality of food. The issues: does the VPC’s current illegal restaurant cause more, less, or a similar amount of negative impact (specifically in the form of noise, cooking odors, traffic, and housing devaluation) that would be caused by the grocery for which they are legally zoned.

    http://wp.me/P13gjT-2J

    That “Heather and Ericka have been great to me, my wife, and our kids,” is fortunate, but does not mitigate the negative impacts of their illegal restaurant.

    As a side note, I am continually astounded that people who purport to go about their lives honestly seem to care not one whit that an illegal restaurant has reached their success in no small part because they focus completely on their success. Laws and legal permitting they treat like annoying distractions.

    http://wp.me/p13gjT-rL

    That VPC does so on the back of the neighbors they treat with such disrespect make their behavior all the more appalling.

  12. Ms. Hall, your continued multi-post hyperbole on each and every post about the cafe is tiring, so I feel I must speak up.

    Add to this your hanging around outside the cafe accosting customers to win them over to your side, skulking about taking pictures, and it’s all more than a bit weird. I’d ask next time before you opine on the subject, or try to drown everyone else out, as the case may be, you take a few deep breaths, maybe have a walk up to the park and back, then try to craft a single well thought out and structured post.

    I’ve seen you claim repeatedly that VPC “outted” Mr. Jones, pointing to their initial communication to friends and customers. This is hogwash. That letter was reproduced on this blog, after all, so all we need to do is go here:
    http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2010/06/27/neighbor-puts-v
    Notice that the neighbor is only referred to as “he”. Maybe you’ve been too worked up to notice, but there are quite a few “he’s” on the block. Further, you seem to fundamentally misunderstand that DPD complaints, like all city documents and communications, are public records. As such, even if the cafe had actually used Mr. Jones’ name in their letter, they “outted” no one. If it’s not a misunderstanding, and you are trying to follow the Rovian principle of making up your own set of facts, by repeating false assertions until they stick, I really wish you’d have the decency to realize people in Seattle aren’t stupid, and ratchet down the rhetoric.

    Next, what is so unclear about the cafe’s application to the city? They stated outright that they don’t intend to use the patio as seating. How is that ambiguous? If they wish to do so in the future, they’d have to go to DPD again, and you’d get a chance to go off the deep end at that time. (I’m using your characterization of what your reaction would be, so I hope using it doesn’t get my commented moderated into oblivion.)

    Your Good Neighbor Plan, sounds like spinning some sort of restrictive covenant. What exactly where the terms of the agreement, as presented to VPC? You can say what you want on your website, and ditto for VPC, but until people can see the actual text of what was proposed, no one should pretend to know if what was proposed actually was reasonable.

    In addition, VPC’s site makes a good case that property values in the neighborhood have not been diminished as a result of their presence. Yet, depending on what your proposal actually was, we don’t know if you and your compatriots are happy to diminish VPC’s landlord’s property values, while bemoaning your own supposed loss.

    I’ll take my response in the form of a single cogent responding post, please. Also, I hope my comment doesn’t generate a flourish of three rambling new pages on your website. Seriously, your language and run- on blog posts aren’t doing anything to make this situation more easily understandable, nor it would seem, resolvable.

  13. I call shenanigans. One of the Chamber board members, Allan Jones, is the brother of the cafe’s next door neighbor, Paul Jones who was the initial complainant.

    Chambers typically write letters like the first to support members. It’s highly suspicious that suddenly this late in the game, the board steps in to rescind a staff letter of support, and issues another that suddenly squares with the neighbors.

    If I was paying dues to this Chamber, I’d be pissed.

  14. That letter doesn’t side with the neighbors. The letter doesn’t say anything nor does it help resolve anything. It is nonsense.

    You shouldn’t complain about the relationships of board members when you have one with the cafe owners. You are not neutral.

  15. As I have said before: I am happy to discuss facts with anyone who is respectful. However, if you are going to call me out by name, you should be willing to use yours.

    This comment bring up some interesting questions for people who are new to the discussion. The answers are readily found on our blog — documented and dated.

    http://wp.me/p13gjT-7j

    I enjoy discussing this with respectful people, wherever they stand on the issue of VPC’s request to legalize their current illegal restaurant. You can leave notes here or through our blog.

  16. I, too, find this letter confusing. And I’m supposedly on the inside.

    Mr. Wells, it seems like you are trying to say …. something … here, but you intent is completely unclear. I;d like to hear you opinion straightforwardly. If you are still in favor of VPC legalizing their illegal restaurant, I’d rather hear you say that. If you are now seeing the issue at least somewhat from the neighbors’ perspective, even better!

  17. Dear Northerly neighbor,
    Since you decided to out me I must respond. You are wrong about the Cafe owners not outing my brother, Paul Jones. They outed him to the Stranger. At the time of his complaint, the city holds the name of the complaining party confidential, the only person who knew his identitly was the Cafe owners, because he had warned them that if they continued to expand their business into the back yard he would be forced to file a complaint with the city.

    As to why the Chamber wrote a revised letter, they finally had an oportunity to view the entire issue and are now trying to bring both polarized sides together. I am only one member of that Board. The entire Board decided that it needed to reach out to the entire community including both business and residences rather than to be seen as a devisive rather than an inclusive organization.

    Since you have chosen to out me I must ask how you got my name. Michael Wells, from the Chamber had told the owners of the Cafe that I was opposed to the change of use. Clearly that must be your source of my name. So either you are one of the Cafe owners or related to them. I challenge you to be a big enough person to now out yourself since you seem to have no difficultly in doing this to others.

  18. Thanks for all this! After reading I had a craving for Heather’s delicious apple cardamon muffins and tea. We just stopped by VPC and it totally hit the spot. I also had a chance to finally see the chickens in the back and all the lovely veggies growing. Lots of nice neighbors walked by with dogs and my son was delighted by this wonderful outing. We just love that place, always have. Remember the old cafe that was there prior? VPC is such a bright spot to have near by.

  19. You’re not a spy, dude. And if you’ve already been “outted” by the Stranger, the VPC, and the author of this blog can you still cry about being outted?

  20. This entire situation saddens me.

    Heather and Ericka seem like such “mean” people. They move into a neighborhood and have zero respect for the people currently living there. If that’s not enough, they’re publicly outing these neighbors and building up hate against them.

    If anyone ever takes action against the neighbors (however unlikely that is), I really hope criminal and civil action is brought against Heather and Ericka since they’re the ones instigating the entire thing.

    Why can’t Heather and Ericka just let the neighbors be? The neighbors were there before you and didn’t bother anyone. Just let them live in peace. There are a ton of storefronts open on Broadway now, just go lease one of them and allow the neighbors to live the life they deserve.

  21. The fact that the neighbors can go into the cafe and have a lovely treat and a cup of tea with their little kid is not the issue here. That’s NEVER been the issue. The entire neighborhood supported the ” cafe “for four years,from the time they first moved in,patiently putting up with their spewing garbage, customers parking in their driveways, and tying their dogs up to the trees in Their yards, leaving them to pee and shit on their plants while their owners had a lovely lunch, until they announced their intention of expanding into the backyard with plans for nightly dinners, a massive barbeque, and wine tastings. They posted these plans on their web site. In the period leading up to the redevelopment of the backyard, the neighbors repeatedly asked that they not proceed with these plans, and to consider the impact on the closest neighbors and the neighborhood as a whole. The cafe owners told the neighbors they had no intention of doing any of those things, and then turned around and wrote about it on the website. The VPC has out grown their space and have become a full blown restaurant. How ANYONE can honestly say they would just LOVE to have a place like the VPC right next door to them is a lier. They NEVER got a permit to put in a commercial kitchen, they lied to the liquor control board about having provided a cordoned off area for serving alcohol on the sidewalk in the front of their building, and they’ve claimed to be a “neighborhood grocery store”. What a joke! All the friends of the VPC that have vilified my brother-in-law, poured hot grease over his fence onto his plants, actually walked up his driveway and stood in it (with his little kid no less. nice lesson for your kid) and stared at Paul, and when asked if he could help him replied, No, I just want to stare at you., the sneers and stares whenever any of our family goes in or out the front or back of the house, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. No one wanted this to turn out this way. The cafe owners attitude toward the concerned neighbors was condesending and arrogant. There are plenty of Business zoned areas on Capitol Hill that would be able to better accommadate the size and scope of what the owners of the VPC really want. We want to see businesses on Capitol Hill succeed. Small business districts have been created for just that purpose. This is a single family neighborhood, not a business district. This is where we live. I don’t want to live in a business district.

  22. Ms. Hall,

    Actually it’s apparent that folks on your side of the issue have no problem posting anonymously, so I see no problem with me opting to do so either.

    Besides, as you and your group are constantly lobbying neighbors for support, I’d rather not be bothered directly. You can either make a succinct argument here or on your web site to convince me, or not.

  23. Mr. Jones,

    If you’ll notice, my post was done about 3am last night. You may also notice that this page was updated by the Capitol Hill blog author at 9:50pm (rougly 5 hours before my post), to reflect that you are the brother of Paul Jones. Feel free to apologize for your claims of skulduggery.

    As for your “challenge”. I see no reason that I must divulge my identity, in order to participate in the discussion. To make it a bit simpler for you, let me reduce the issue thusly:

    Me: Posting anonymously, about my inkling that you had something to do with the Capitol Hill Chamber’s board yanking back support for the cafe, is not nefarious or unethical.

    You: Using your position on the board to help a family member, constitutes a clear conflict of interest.

    I see your challenge, and raise it. Tell me, did you recuse yourself from the board’s vote on rescinding the letter of support to VPC? Did you recuse yourself from lobbying fellow board members for your brother before the vote? I’m guessing the answer is to both is “no”. Thus your earlier poorly thought out post feigning “Outrage! Outrage!!!” that I supposedly “outted” you as a member of the board. Maybe the Internet is a new concept to you, but I find it peculiar that you don’t want to be known as a board member. Perhaps you should ask the Capitol Hill Chamber to remove your name from their list of board members on their public web site, or resign, if it’s such an issue to you?

  24. I’m sorry, Justin. I didn’t mean to call you out with that “I send Justin two days ago.” I sounded positively shrewish.

    Alle

  25. The U-District is a commercial zone. Our street is part of a residential neighborhood. VPC rents in a building that has space on the first floor for grocery use. (VPC is trying to change the land use to restaurant.)

    There are too many differences between the U-District and VPC to be concerned about an encroachment of Pepsi cases. My primary concern is that VPC will have so mucked with the land use issues that they will eave us with a building that cannot be used for commercial purposes anymore. ALl along, I have wanted a well-run, appropriately-sized, and legal cafe (not a restaurant) operating out the first floor of 1501. That caliber of business brings just the right touch to the neighborhood, without setting up a move toward a mixed-use situation.

  26. This on-going soap opera is getting very tedious. The issue may be important to the obsessive principles on both sides, but for the rest of us it has become very boring.

  27. This is my life.

    If the cafe gets as big as they clearly want to be — no restaurant builds a back patio and then publicizes in because they DON’T want to decrease revenue – I have to move. I didn’t buy a house next to a high-class Bennigan’s that VPC put it there illegally. Regardless, if the City allows them to erect it, I’m moving.

    I choose to use the precious time I have for my creative writing to blog. Better this at 8AM than spending the nosey months VPC would cause trying to find a house that I love as much as I love this home – which we bought seven years ago for far less than we will have to spend on a comparable house in this neighborhood.

    As for the others who choose to spend their time this way, I am only grateful that you care as much as I do. Even the angry people.

  28. I understand that you are angry, and even sarcastic. The cafe is not the victim in this situation.

    You can read how many many lawsVPC broke and permits they did not even apply for:here::

    http://wp.me/p13gjT-rL

    The neighbor’s are responsible for filing a legit. complaint with the City. We stand by our decision, understanding that you are mad at us instead of at VPC. We’re easy targets.

    IF there is a victim in this situation, I would say it is the community who put their trust in VPC to do the right thing, or at least be honest about having made mistake. And then proceeded legally.

  29. Remember when you told me that Ericka and Heather were guilty primarily of making rookie mistakes?

    I disagreed then and I disagree now.

    “This is the third business that I’ve owned. The landlords have been more strategic in the other situations. In that case, I never had to worry about things like zoning. If i open another restaurant, the first thing I’m going to do, of course is look at the zoning!”

  30. Whn you willing to use your name, we can have a discussion. If you do not wish to learn more about VPC’s responsibility in this issue, you are free to make a futher idiot of yourself here.

    This is my last post to you. Fire away. I’m a big girl

    PS. PS. It’s Alle if you’re nasty.

  31. I live about 4 blocks away, yet I don’t frequent VPC. Why? Because I find the staff to be a bit stuck-up and the food to be overpriced. Yes, I think it is a benefit to have a local café, but not this one. Their building looks like a dump, and there are always cars everywhere. The rest of us have to follow the rules in the neighborhood (if you don’t believe me, do something with your planting strip and see how fast SDOT is all over you) they should too.

  32. Ericka,
    The city directed us to NOT contact the owner of the building, Dorothy Erickson. We are following the city’s request.

  33. Ericka,

    You filed the change of land use application, not the landowner. The responsibility is yours. Yet you continue to act like a victim.

    On Sept. 3rd, we posted our Good Neighbor Plan on our blog ( http://wp.me/P13gjT-2o). It has always been available to the press and to neighbors because we have no reason to be embarrassed. Our goal is to contain VPC operations to indoors, on the first floor.

    The covenant is restrictive to the degree VPC has violated the laws and our trust with numerous illegal expansions of land use.

    I reject your use of the word “bully.” We work through legal channels and within the bounds of integrity. Bullies, on the other hand, illegally open a restaurant, force a mixed-use situation into a residential neighborhood, lie publicly, and lambaste neighbors in order to make more money. A bully also then tries to make herself appear to be the victim.

    VPC is not the victim in this situation. VPC caused it.

  34. God I hope they get the permits. A Hole moving, That’s the best news anyone has heard in a long time. Talk about increasing property values! I’ll pay for a one way for you and your cronies anywhere in the lower 48!!

  35. I concur with all the statements made by NorthernNeighbourly and am happy to put my name. I also respect their choice to remain anonymous. Anonymity should not preclude A Hall from providing valid responses.

    A suggestion to A Hall. Consider your liberal use of the word “illegal”. Regardless of whether the cafe remains open or not, your multitude of posts in the public domain stating fact could very easily be used against you in a defamation/libel/slander case. Only one statement needs to be false for them to sue you for losses. Your house should cover it though.

    Lastly, please check Pauls’ permits are all present and correct. You can ask Allan and Meg to help.

    Peace, love and Happiness.