About Ari Cetron

Ari is a Seattle-based writer and editor. Find out more about him at www.aricetron.com

Here’s how Mandatory Housing Affordability might open up a new horizon in Pike/Pine preservation: 8 stories

11th at Pine’s Richmark Label building — primed for preservation-boosted redevelopment

You don’t see many eight-story buildings in Seattle, but they may start sprouting up in Pike/Pine and other places around town in the coming years. The reason has to do with the way affordable housing will interact with historic preservation.

Eight stories is an odd height. Under the Seattle building code, buildings up to seven stories can be built from wood. Eight or higher, and the building needs more durable materials such as concrete and steel. The more durable materials also make construction cost considerably more, to the point that eight-story buildings aren’t really profitable. Continue reading

Seattle set to give Central District its own design review board

In an effort to preserve and grow the historically Black culture of the Central District, Seattle is creating a new Design Review Board for the area. The proposal passed out of committee April 4, and will  go before the Seattle City Council for a vote scheduled for Monday afternoon, April 9th. UPDATE 3:20 PM: In a unanimous vote, the council approved Rob Johnson’s legislation creating the new guidelines and board. Johnson thanks Central Area activists for their  “several decades of work” to make the new process possible. “I’m really proud to be playing a small part here in the end to help get this across the finish line,” Johnson said.

“The creation of a Central Area Design Review District and Board will support equitable and inclusive community engagement and process specific for those most impacted by displacement, maximize the effectiveness of the Central Area Design Guidelines, and help guide future development to respond to the unique Central Area historical character and identity,” according to a report prepared explaining (PDF) the legislation.

The proposal sponsored by Council member and planning and land use committee chair Rob Johnson (District 4) would make a new, eighth design review district by carving it from Capitol Hill’s East District Review Board and the Southeast district. Continue reading

Seattle U’s Center for Science and Innovation will give school new presence on 12th Ave

The number of science and technology majors at Seattle University is surging, and the school is planning a new building to house them all. The project will continue the school’s recent trend of developing its edges and creating new buildings that connect more solidly to the surrounding neighborhood blocks.

There are about 1,200 students studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields at Seattle U right now, said Michael Quinn, dean of the College of Science and Engineering. Quinn expects that number to grow to nearly 1,600 by 2023, about double from the 900 students they’d had in 2009. Continue reading

City Hall coming to Washington Hall to talk Mandatory Housing Affordability zoning on Hill, in CD

This week, Central Seattle residents will get a chance for an up-close look at how proposed zoning changes will affect this part of the city.

As part of a citywide effort to address housing affordability, the city has embarked on a wide-ranging plan that would allow developers to build extra density in exchange for including affordable housing in their projects or making a payment toward an affordable housing fund. It’s an outgrowth of the HALA program began under then-Mayor Ed Murray, and this portion of it is continuing under a different acronym: MHA, or mandatory housing affordability.

Citywide Open House featuring Districts 3+7 MHA Maps

A City Council committee is digging into the issue and as a part of the process, they’re engaging in a series of open house meetings across the city. Next on the list is a joint meeting for council District 3 (Capitol Hill, the Central District and environs) and District 7 (Queen Anne, Magnolia, Downtown, South Lake Union and the International District). Continue reading

While Seattle churns on earthquake retrofit plans, Capitol Hill school set for seismic upgrades

E Mercer’s Lowell Elementary is lined up for summer seismic work

Saturday afternoon around 3:35 PM, a magnitude 2.7 earthquake sent a little jolt of reminder rippling out of South Seattle. The city has some seismic work to do.

On Capitol Hill, the next round of work begins this summer as Lowell Elementary School is scheduled for major seismic updates this summer while the city tries to figure out what to do about other brick buildings around town. Continue reading

Progress in Olympia: Bump stock ban, conversion therapy ban, Net Neutrality, more

Olympia! (Image: leg.wa.gov)

The public records bill approved in Olympia has received outsized attention this legislative session. We heard here from two of the three 43rd District legislators who joined with their counterparts across the state and the aisle to approve it. But there has also been progress this session on some key issues Capitol Hill voters care about.

The Washington Legislature’s 2018 session is headed to a close March 9. Don’t expect things to drag on through the summer as they did last year.

Even-numbered (non-budget) years tend to end on time, largely because there are no contentious budget battles. This is by design, even years are election years, and legislators are prohibited from collecting campaign contributions during the session. Another larger change this year is the return to one-party rule. The state Senate had been in Republican hands for a few years. That changed after a special election in November gave Democrats control of both chambers, along with the governership.

Dozens of bills of interest to Seattle and Capitol Hill went through the process this year, some look like they’ll become law, others may need to percolate a bit longer. Below, CHS takes a look at some of this session’s progress. With more news from the legislature breaking today, let us know if there some Olympia happenings we missed.

  • Bump Stock Ban: Bump Stocks are accessories that allow a semi-automatic rifle to fire as if it was an automatic rifle, made famous after the Las Vegas massacre. A familiar script ensued where lots of people made noise about getting rid of them, but nothing much happened. Then after Parkland suddenly gun control came back into the discussion. A bump stock ban was the only measure to get any traction in this state this year. The Legislature voted to ban the purchase or manufacture of bump stocks as of July of this year, and to declare them illegal to own as of July 2019. Capitol Hill’s Senator, Jaime Pedersen (D-43) was a co-sponsor of the senate bill. Both of the neighborhood’s representatives, Nicole Macri (D-43) and Frank Chopp (D-43) voted in favor of the ban. Continue reading

Durkan’s Seattle Promise would make college universal for city’s students

(Image: Seattle Central)

The opportunity for two years of post-high school education is set to be become universal in the city under the Seattle Promise college tuition program to be fully unveiled by Mayor Jenny Durkan Monday night at the Central District’s Garfield High School.

Currently, the privately funded 13th Year Promise program offers graduates of Cleveland, Chief Sealth, and Rainier Beach high schools one year of free tuition (45 credits) at South Seattle College. All graduates are eligible for the program, regardless of academic record or income level. The program also offers the students support in college readiness, which begins during their senior year of high school.

“Seattle’s young people are strong, smart and deserve every opportunity to chase their dreams,” Durkan said in a statement on the plan, calling it “our progressive values made real.”

“We must remove barriers and make sure more of today’s and tomorrow’s jobs go to our kids,” Durkan said.

Durkan’s plan expands the program to include graduates of Garfield, Ingraham, and West Seattle high Schools. These students will be able to matriculate at the branch of state community college closest to them. Garfield students, for example, will be able to go to Capitol Hill’s Seattle Central. As with the existing program, it will be open to any student, regardless of academic record or income level. Students who are undocumented will also be permitted to enroll. Continue reading

Work wraps up on Capitol Hill’s Summit Slope Park enhancements and ‘pedestrianized’ street

Summit Slope Park — and its P-Patch — will get a little larger next month but some of the biggest changes from its most recent round of construction are already in place and in use.

The $260,000 project renovated the park at Summit and E John which first opened in 2011. Construction wrapping up to begin 2018 including preparing space for trees and turf patches to be installed along an extended sidewalk cut into half of the block. Vehicle traffic on E John will remain open, but parking in front of the park has been removed. Continue reading

Seattle’s new small business council has big Capitol Hill presence

Durkan and Taylor on a neighborhood small business tour in November (Image: CHS)

After Amazon announced it was going to open a second headquarters, the Seattle City Council decided it needed to start meeting with the behemoth corporation, carefully orchestrating  who would attend so they didn’t run afoul of open meetings laws.

Small businesses around town haven’t yet gotten the same sort of attention.

“I feel like small business has lost its voice in this city over the last few years,” said Tracy Taylor of Capitol Hill’s Elliott Bay Book Company.

That will change in the coming months. Mayor Jenny Durkan has convened a Small Business Advisory Council and the group plans to have its first meeting this week on Wednesday, February 21st. Taylor is one of the council’s four co-chairs.

Taylor’s comments about the loss of a voice were echoed by others with strong Capitol Hill connections on the council. Continue reading

Spring groundbreaking planned for Capitol Hill Station development

Development on the four, seven-story mixed-use buildings surrounding Capitol Hill’s light rail station is proceeding toward a groundbreaking this spring, possibly in late April, according to Jill Sherman. Sherman is head the project for Gerding Edlin, the Portland-based developers leading the project.

The date has some community members ready to celebrate. Brie Gyncild of the Capitol Hill Champion group said her organization is hoping to host some festivities to coincide with the start of construction.

“We’re just excited we’re going to have a groundbreaking,” Gyncild said.

Sherman expects the construction to take about 21 months, assuming there are no significant delays, putting the opening in early 2020, as has long been planned. Continue reading