About Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is a CHS reporter. Reach him at chasecohen@gmail.com and @bchasesc

Spare the Change: Five people got off the streets of Capitol Hill this summer, hundreds remain

Dozens of homeless campers at Tent City 3's temporary stay on Capitol Hill (Image: CHS)

Dozens of homeless campers at Tent City 3’s temporary stay on Capitol Hill (Image: CHS)


CHS joined DSA homeless outreach workers as they made rounds on Capitol Hill last winter. (Image: CHS)

With winter weather rolling in and City Hall divided over what to do with encampments, Seattle’s homeless state of emergency does not seem to be letting up.

A Capitol Hill forum Thursday night is aiming to highlight some of the challenges facing people on the street face and inform residents on what can be done now without waiting for answers from City Council.

Part of that response is supporting outreach workers from the Downtown Seattle Association who have been working on Capitol Hill since January and will be presenting at Spare the Change, a forum hoped to provide real-world, practical advice for helping Capitol Hill’s homeless.

Jackie St. Louis, who oversees the outreach program, said the outreach staff and a supporting Capitol Hill “multidisciplinary team” have made significant inroads in building relationships with the neighborhood’s homeless population. From January to August, outreach workers made 469 contacts with people on the streets of Capitol Hill plus 59 contacts by a mental health professional. Continue reading

Council pushes back on mayor’s budget cuts to drug arrest diversion, spending on homeless plan

Budget season is in full swing at City Hall and City Council members have begun their dive in what will likely be this year’s most contentious topic: homeless services. On Wednesday, the City Council discussed amendments to Mayor Ed Murray’s budget for the Human Services Department.

The $157 million budget represents a 10.3% increase over the department’s 2016 spending with $56 million in homelessness-related programs moved under a new Division of Homeless Strategy and Investment. Within that budget is $476,000 for four full-time employees to get the department rolling on implementing the mayor’s recently unveiled homelessness response plan Pathway’s Home.

That was the first bump in the road at City Council. District 3 representative Kshama Sawant said she opposed expenditure as the council has not fully approved Murray’s plan and said the funds should be spent on services directly. “I find this too rushed,” she said. Continue reading

Day of #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool brings lessons on racism and Central District rallies

The scene at Garfield High School during a noontime rally Wednesday (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

The scene at Garfield High School during a noontime rally Wednesday (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Hundreds of Seattle Public School teachers planned to wear Black Lives Matter t-shirts and incorporate lessons on racism into their classes Wednesday as part of an event organizers say is unprecedented in the racial equality movement.

More than 2,000 Black Lives Matter t-shirts were ordered in the district to participate in what Garfield High history teacher Jesse Hagopian called a “consciousness-raising” event.

“Racial equity will never be a reality unless people are willing to talk about it. This event provides an opportunity for conversations that can help our school move toward racial justice,” Hagopian wrote on his website.

The day of #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool will include a rally at Garfield’s 23rd Ave campus and culminate with an event at 14th and Fir’s Washington Hall with Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett and a performance by Kimya Dawson and others. Other schools in the region, including some elementary schools some outside the state, were participating and posting pictures of teachers wearing Black Lives Matter shirts on social media. Continue reading

11th Ave ‘streetscape’ tweaked as ‘final’ Value Village redevelopment and preservation designs pounded out

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-4-29-49-pmAfter years of shifting plans to meet the demands of city boards and community groups, architects behind the preservation development of the former Value Village building are honing in on the final vision for their office project.

On Monday, architects from Ankrom Moison presented their latest designs for the Kelly Springfield building to the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council, including how designs have been tweaked to address concerns from their last East Design Review Board meeting this summer. Continue reading

As Jayapal vows to take Seattle progressivism to D.C., Walkinshaw touts local focus in 7th District

Among all elected offices, Congress is somewhat unique, bearing both local and national responsibilities. Over the past few months the two candidates running for Seattle’s 7th Congressional District seat have come to represent those opposing roles.

On Saturday, Sen. Bernie Sanders headlined a rally for Pramila Jayapal, a prize endorsement given the former presidential candidate’s overwhelming popularity in the district. It also showcased Jayapal’s stronger national presence in the race.

Her opponent, Brady Walkinshaw, is hoping to overcome a large primary deficit by appealing to voters as the community-focused candidate. His strategy has relied on playing up the Capitol Hill-ties in bills he passed in the state Legislature and criticizing Jayapal for her outside-Seattle fundraising.

During a Thursday night debate between the candidates, the issue was further highlighted when a moderator asked how they would be different from retiring Rep. Jim McDermott, who was occasionally criticized for using his position to insert himself into international issues.

“Let’s be clear, United States Congress is a national position,” Jayapal said. “How do you deliver at home … also being able to articulate the values of this country?”

“I’m running because of our extraordinary home,” Walkinshaw said. “We need members of Congress who are rooted in their communities.” Continue reading

Seattle set to consider competing plans for regulating homeless encampments — UPDATE


A camper attempts to stay dry using a stack of newspapers as a pillow Friday morning on Broadway (Image: CHS)

Friday morning, Seattle will hopefully begin what looks to be the arduous process of sorting out how best to regulate homeless camping in the city. Two competing plans are being pushed forward by Seattle City Council members. Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Murray said in a news conference Thursday night he will add his own proposal for regulating encampments that includes money for as set of new authorized encampments.

Officials say encampment rules will help shield the City of Seattle from legal issues, and, they hope, help solve what many say is a public health and safety crisis.

In response to a wave of pushback against an initial proposal introduced by City Council member Mike O’Brien, two competing replacement bills are seeking to find wider support even as another plan from the mayor looms. Continue reading

Portage Bay crow-feeding family settles lawsuit with neighbors

img_0522-1An out of court settlement has been reached in the 2015 civil lawsuit neighbors filed against the Portage Bay parents of a girl who made their block a veritable crow haunt.

According to the attorney for the neighbors who filed the lawsuit, the girl’s parents agreed to pay “a sum of money” and to “severely restrict their bird feeding activities for the following eight years” in exchange for having the civil suit against them dropped in this wealthy neighborhood just off the north slope of Capitol Hill.

“My clients are very happy to have peace restored to the neighborhood,” said Seattle attorney Anna Johnsen. Continue reading

Seattle gearing up to take bike share all-electric, to Central District in 2017


Bewegen electric assist bikes could be rolling out in Seattle by April 2017. (Image: Bewegen)

The City of Seattle is planning to say goodbye to bike share operator Motivate and bonjour to Bewegen. The young Quebec-based company was ranked the highest among six companies seeking to operate a new bike share system in Seattle. Motivate came in second.

While the deal is not finalized, Seattle Department of Transportation has entered negotiations with Bewegen to completely replace the current city-owned Pronto system. The move would prove an expensive mistake in Seattle’s first attempt to create a successful share but also clear the road for faster progress in giving people a simple alternative for getting around the city quickly and safely.

With plans to bring 1,200 electric assist bicycles and 100 stations with 2,400 total docking points, Bewegen says it could make the transition in 16 weeks and be operational by April 2017. Several new stations along 23rd Ave would push the Capitol Hill coverage area eastward, allowing the electric bikes to be put to full use traversing the backside of Capitol Hill. UPDATE: We confused the service proposal’s plans for the eastern Capitol Hill, Central District area. The proposal from Bewegen would utilize 19th Ave to serve the 23rd Ave corridor. The stations proposed would not be located on 23rd Ave. Sorry for the confusion. UPDATE x2: Or maybe not. Here’s where station planning stands according to SDOT:

“The locations on the map are approximate – blocks and streets for the station locations have not yet been defined. Bewegen’s intent was to show general city coverage with its proposed service area and station density. Service area and station siting is a task for the City and Bewegen to complete collaboratively after a contract is signed.”

Continue reading

City convenes task force to improve bike safety along streetcar tracks

screen-shot-2016-01-27-at-4-24-07-pmStreetcar tracks, especially wet ones, are notorious hazard for cyclists. Westlake Ave is a perennial problem for biking along the South Lake Union Streetcar line and one young woman’s fatal crash along the First Hill Streetcar in May prompted calls for safer street designs.

A group of mobility advocates and members of the Bicycle Advisory Board are now being tasked with finding ways to improve bike safety around the next leg of Seattle’s streetcar system.

The Center City Connector will connect the First Hill and Westlake lines by 2019, and with this group’s help, could also include some much-needed bike infrastructure downtown. Officials say the streetcar design group for the Center City line will also look at how to make existing lines safer — including the First Hill Streetcar. Continue reading

Maps cause neighborhood stir over Seattle encampment protections

While Mayor Ed Murray is working to implement a plan he says could see all unsheltered residents housed by 2017, untold numbers of people continue to live on Seattle’s sidewalks and in public green spaces, and presumably would continue to do so if Murray’s plan falls short.

A bill making its way though City Council is seeking to give more protections to those people living on public property, requiring in some instances that they are offered an adequate and available place to stay before being removed. Supporters, including District 3 representative Kshama Sawant, say the alternative is to keep shuffling people around without any long term solution.

Drafted by the ACLU and introduced by Council member Mike O’Brien, the bill has stirred up controversy in City Hall for detracting from Murray’s focus on getting all unsheltered residents into permanent housing.

The pot was given another stir over the weekend as draft maps were released by Seattle’s parks and transportation departments showing where the extended protections would apply under O’Brien’s plan.

But the released maps fail to show the areas that could be taken off the list due to unsafe or unsuitable conditions.

As the fine print on one of the maps notes, further analysis would be required to “verify potentially unsuitable areas or the presence of environmentally critical areas or other use restriction.” Continue reading

Late night closure goes off without a hitch as new round of Pike People Street testing begins


On one block of E Pike Friday night, cars were replaced with people eating slices from Big Mario’s Pizza, riding bikes, and having after-show smokes. It was the start of the second round of the Pike People Street, which saw car traffic blocked off on E Pike between 10th and 11th from 11 PM to 3 AM.

Seattle Department of Transportation public space specialist Seth Geiser, who was out in the street Friday night, said the “late night” test run was a success from the city’s perspective — people spilled out into the street to relieve sidewalk pressure and there were no cars towed from the closed parking areas.

The response from people on the street who spoke with CHS was also overwhelmingly positive. “It seems super safe and super fun. I wish more people joined to make it more of a party,” one woman told CHS. Another said she wished the city spread the word more widely to bring more people out into the street. A man visiting Seattle from Tennessee said it reminded him of going out in Memphis. Continue reading

Seattle U likely heading to court after refusing to bargain with faculty union

Students and faculty rallied on campus in support of a union in 2015. (Image: CHS)

Students and faculty rallied on campus in support of a union in 2015. (Image: CHS)

Seattle University may be heading to court after administrators formally refused to enter contract negotiations with a labor union newly representing adjunct faculty at the Capitol Hill college.

After organizing for nearly three years, SU’s non-tenured faculty voted in September to join Service Employees International Union 925. The university administration has opposed the union from the start, saying federally regulated contract bargaining would violate the college’s First Amendment protections of religious freedom. Administrators are specifically concerned about being required to hire faculty members that do not subscribe to its Jesuit style of teaching. Continue reading