The mayor, of all places, came to 15th Ave E earlier this month. He’s been a regular visitor to the Hill over the past two years — you can see a map of all 20+ of his official visits below. Here are some of the sights and scenes from his tour of the relatively sleepy Capitol Hill street and some notes from the town hall meeting that followed.
- In all, Mayor Mike McGinn has visited the Capitol Hill area in an official capacity 24 times since January 2010. On a sunny Wednesday afternoon in July, his trip consisted of a tour of 15th Ave E businesses including (CHS advertiser) Coastal Kitchen, the Red Balloon Co., and Makini Howell’s Sage Cafe before the final stop at the Capitol Hill Group Health Campus where the town hall meeting was held.
- Along the way, McGinn talked with workers and business owners about the neighborhood and their needs and concerns. At Coastal, the manager talked about a need for stronger, possibly more local healthcare system. At Red Balloon, the concerns for 15th Ave E included homeless people that frequently use the store’s doorway as an overnight sleeping space and drawn out struggles with the DPD over simple things like business signage.
- Occasionally, the mayor enjoyed some of the offered fare — an iced coffee at Coastal, for example.
- For the most part, issues raised for 15th Ave E’s were, shall we say, more subtle than what you’d find on Broadway with its gaping holes of construction or in Pike/Pine where the nightlife economy is exploding.
- His discussion with Howell at Sage was 1:1 in style — with a dramatic backdrop you might note — and quiet enough that we’re not sure what was discussed. Also, Sage’s cupcakes under the counter glass were distracting.
- One interesting new solution for business owners that came up is the CBAT, or Citywide Business Advocacy Team. The team’s role is to help coordinate multiple department issues for businesses.
- There was also an expressed desire for more cops walking beats and being a more visible part of the community.
The mayor’s tours include a crowd of city officials and community representatives, so East Precinct commander Capt. Jim Dermody was there to talk with business owners about any safety concerns they have. Dermody said he tries to find the right amount of presence for East Precinct officers to have in an area — lingering for more than 15 minutes, he said, can make some people uncomfortable and it’s best for an officer to move along.
- Included in the gaggle wandering 15th Ave E — in addition to the media — were those community reps mentioned above. The tours often have pit stops where a question from the Community Council gets talked about with the mayor and somebody from, say, SDOT right on the sidewalk as the rest of Capitol Hill passes by. Items for these pit-stop caucuses during the 15th Ave E walk were the streetcar extension to north Broadway (still no plan but construction of the main Broadway line should start soon) and the Sound Transit light rail station development process (a promise from the city to make sure to include the community in ongoing talks with Sound Transit)
- Video from the town hall portion of the mayor’s visit is below. Topics from the audience of around 40 ranged from the city’s stance on medical marijuana to the planning process for the Seattle portion of the 520 bridge replacement.