About Bryan Cohen

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

If you want the public path next to Lowell Elementary to reopen, you’ll want to go to this meeting

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Neighbors have said closing the public path will not address the root issues of homelessness and heroin use. (Image: CHS)

The sudden closure of a short, wooded public path near Lowell Elementary did not go over smoothly with Capitol Hill neighbors.

After Lowell parents called on Seattle Public Schools to address discarded needles and condoms in the area, the Seattle Department of Transportation fenced off the short trail near E Roy and Federal Ave on September 2nd. One person recently wrote “Over-reaction!” on the closure notice. Many more complaints were lodged here.

SDOT is now planning a series of public meetings to figure out what comes next. The first meeting will be October 25th from 4-6 PM in the Lowell cafeteria. Another meeting will be scheduled for the first week of November. City officials have also met with members of the school’s PTA and hope to have a long-term solution in place by the end of the year. Continue reading

Seattle Asian Art Museum puts its latest expansion designs on display

The reception to show off the latest Seattle Asian Art Museum designs was the type of event those used to the Seattle process might have expected months ago. Plans to renovate and expand the city-owned Art Deco building inside Volunteer Park had caught some neighbors by surprise when it was briefly mentioned in a SAAM newsletter.

Officials from the Seattle Art Museum, which operates SAAM, said at the Thursday event they first needed to decide on the scope of the project. That required private conversations among trustees, architects, and officials from the city’s historical preservation and parks departments.

“We wanted to make sure that before we showed something we were ready to show something,” said SAM spokesperson Domenic Morea.

Now that the initial designs are in place, SAM says they are eager for public input on the $49 million upgrade and expansion. In addition to feedback sessions the museum is holding, the designs are also making their way through the city’s Architectural Review Committee, where public comments are taken. Continue reading

U.S. Labor official comes to our Capitol Hill to support I-1433 statewide minimum wage boost

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Cupcake Royale owner Jody Hall, Deputy Secretary Chris Lu, GSBA president Louise Chernin, and Mayor Ed Murray were on Capitol Hill to back I-1433. (Image: CHS)

President Barack Obama never got a chance to enact a federal minimum wage increase or paid sick leave law, but a senior administration official visiting Capitol Hill Thursday said his boss is happy to see Seattle and, hopefully, Washington state take the lead.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu joined a media event at E Pine’s Greater Seattle Business Association to support I-1433, the statewide initiative on the ballot in November that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $13.50 an hour and require most companies to offer paid sick leave.

“Unfortunately Congress has not acted,” Lu said. “A high priority of the Obama administration is to give lift to efforts happening at the state and local level.” Continue reading

With Capitol Hill commercial rents also soaring, Seattle looks at tax breaks for landlords with small biz tenants

Since 2008, commercial rents have risen 42% in Capitol Hill’s 98122 zip code, making it the third most expensive zip code for businesses in the city. The second most expensive retail rents are now in 98102, while other neighborhoods, like Ballard, have seen retail rents increase by more than double.

To ensure small businesses are not drowned out in the rising tide, Mayor Ed Murray convened a task force in April to explore what the city could do to help. The results, released during a Wednesday morning media conference, are relatively modest compared the mayor’s housing affordability plan, but Murray said it was an important starting point.

Recommendations from the Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee include a new entity to support small businesses, tax incentives for property owners to keep small businesses as tenants, and “fast track” permitting requirements for small business projects. Defining what exactly constitutes a small business would still need to be determined, but the recommendations appear to target support for micro-business projects like Melrose Market.

In the short term, the city will be directing $122,000 annually to a low-cost lending program for businesses with five or fewer employees and fund a commercial affordability consulting team to give businesses and small property owners technical advice. Not included in the recommendations — commercial rent control. Continue reading

Mount Zion church sells PSKS homeless youth shelter property for $3.2M

client_id_62464_logo_1457112485-7623Capitol Hill’s youth and young adult homeless shelter has two years to find a new location after learning its church property owner has sold its 19th and Pine home.

Mount Zion Baptist Church sold its annex building earlier this month to a Mercer Island residential housing developer for $3.2 million, according to King County property records. The church acquired the property in 2007 for $2.1 million.

Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets director Susan Fox tells CHS it still has two years on its lease and plans to stay for now, but the nonprofit is actively searching for a new location. Continue reading

Film festival explores Capitol Hill’s ‘rapid development and change’ in two minutes or less

A quick search through Craigslist will tell you how artists are getting priced out of Capitol Hill. Not so easily quantifiable is what effect that is having on artists and the neighborhood as a whole. A series of 2-minute dance films is seeking to shed some light on the subject.

Dance Film Challenge is a film festival on Capitol Hill about Capitol Hill sponsored by Capitol Hill arts institutions. The challenge: Teams submit two-minute dance films “reflecting the Capitol Hill neighborhood and the crossroads that Capitol Hill artists, communities and residents are facing in this period of rapid development and change.” Winners selected by the audience will be given a one month residency at the V2 temporary art space on 11th Ave. Ten submissions will be screened Thursday at Northwest Film Forum. Continue reading

Cap on move-in fees wins committee approval at City Council

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-7-23-54-amA bill that could significantly limit the upfront costs of moving into many apartments in Seattle was voted out of a City Council committee Tuesday.

Under the measure from District 3 representative Kshama Sawant, landlords could only charge tenants the first full month’s rent upon move-in and would need to allow tenants to pay the security deposit, non-refundable move-in fees, and last month’s rent in installments. According to an example provided by Sawant, a tenant moving into an $1,800 a month unit today could pay $5,600 to sign the lease. Under her proposal, the same tenant would only have to pay $2,400 to move-in as other upfront costs would be spread out over six months.

The Energy and Environment committee passed the bill on to the full council, which is expected to vote on the measure in October.

Continue reading

$12 million to homelessness, 200 police officers, electric cars, more streetcar: What’s in the mayor’s budget for Capitol Hill

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-2-08-55-pmAfter taking on major initiatives like universal Pre-K and housing affordability, Mayor Ed Murray set a more restrained and “efficient” course for the City of Seattle during his 2017-2018 budget presentation at City Council Monday afternoon. That still didn’t keep dozens of protestors from chanting against the mayor’s police spending priorities just outside the council chambers.

Since the Great Recession, the city has amassed $35 million per year in construction fees, which Murray called out as a precarious financial situation. Projecting the rapid pace of construction will begin to slow in 2017, the mayor said his budget avoids making too many major longterm investments and puts money into the city’s rainy day funds.

“If 2014 was the year of the minimum wage, 2015 the year of housing affordability, and 2016 is the year of education, it is my intention to make 2017 the year of good governance,” he said. Continue reading

14+ things CHS heard at the Capitol Hill #rentersummit

Listening to the mayor talk about affordability? OK. Listening to your neighbors? Priceless (Image: CHS)

Listening to the mayor talk about affordability? OK. Listening to your neighbors? Priceless (Image: CHS)

Renting is not a stepping stone to homeownership for Sean Liming. The 49-year-old has been a renter on Capitol Hill for 22 years. “I think I’ll be a renter my whole life … I like being in that situation,” he said.

But there have been problems along the way. Liming said landlords have turned him away after finding out about his felony conviction. He is also one of the many renters on Capitol Hill to see his rent double overnight. Liming has never been involved with local politics, but when he heard about the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict organizing renters last year to push back against some of those very issues, Liming said he knew he wanted to get involved.

Around 100 people, many renters on Capitol Hill, gathered for the EcoDistrict’s Renter Summit Saturday afternoon at the Miller Community Center. The event was intended to be a launching point for a new renter power movement in the city. Many came as part of the EcoDistrict’s efforts to organize building ambassadors around Capitol Hill. Continue reading

Capitol Hill man walking his dog dies after being struck by driver at Belmont/Bellevue

The intersection where Wednesday's collision occurred (Image: CHS)

The intersection where Wednesday’s collision occurred (Image: CHS)

Max Richards at a playwriting class one week before he died. (Image: Marilyn Black)

Max Richards at a playwriting class one week before he died. (Image courtesy Marilyn Black with permission to CHS)

Max Richards was walking his Labrador Retriever Wednesday morning just blocks from his Capitol Hill apartment when the unthinkable happened.

As the 79-year-old and his dog walked across Belmont Ave E near Bellevue Place E, a vehicle struck Richards. He died later that evening from head injuries sustained in the collision. Pink, the dog, was unharmed. An officer who responded to the scene later told Richards’ wife Pink refused to leave the man’s side until he was taken to the hospital.

According to Seattle Police, the driver, a woman in her 40s, showed no signs of impairment. She was interviewed and released pending further investigation. A SPD spokesperson told CHS further details on the incident are not yet publicly available as the investigation in ongoing.

Marilyn Black, Richards’ wife of 20 years, told CHS her husband loved to walk around the neighborhood and make his daily stop inside nearby Barjot for a croissant. “It was a beautiful fall morning, I bet he just felt on top of the world,” Black said. Continue reading

Security bolstered for Garfield football game amid backlash to team’s national anthem protest

The reaction was widespread, divided, and intense last week after the entire Garfield High football team voted to kneel during the national anthem for the rest of its season as a silent protest against racial injustice.

While many were supportive, backlash against players, coaches, and the school was in some instances extreme and threatening as news of the demonstration spread nationwide. Seattle Public Schools does not publicly address safety issues concerning specific students or staff, but a spokesperson said the school and Seattle Police are taking precautionary measures during Friday night’s game.

“There will be increased SPS safety and security presence at the game,” said SPS spokesperson Luke Deucy. “SPD will also increase police presence at the game.”

23rd Ave’s Garfield will be back at the SW Athletic Complex Friday to play Chief Sealth and will once again take a knee during the anthem. CHS has learned some family members of Garfield players will be wearing white t-shirts as a display of solidarity with the team’s decision to take a knee. Continue reading

Investigators unable to determine if First Hill Streetcar tracks caused fatal bike crash

In the moments before Desiree McCloud fatally crashed her bike near 13th and Yesler, she crossed in between the tracks of the First Hill Streetcar to pass a friend. After a police investigation, it remains unclear if it was the track that ultimately caused McCloud to flip over her handle bar and land headfirst on to the street.

“That question appears impossible to resolve,” said a SPD investigation report obtained by CHS.

According to investigators, all signs point to “operator error” in McCloud’s May 13th crash which led to her death a week later. Security camera video obtained by police show McCloud passing her friend while riding in between the tracks, but does not show the actual crash. McCloud was riding westbound on Yesler when she crashed shortly after passing through the 14th Ave intersection. Continue reading