About Bryan Cohen

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

CD’s 23rd Ave overhaul slated to end in early 2017, full project still has no timeline

(Image: SDOT via Flickr)

(Image: SDOT via Flickr)

The Central District’s long neighborhood nightmare is almost over. The 20-month project to overhaul a busy section of 23rd Ave is on track to finish in February 2017.

Final paving at 23rd and E Union is scheduled to be completed next weekend, weather permitting — though, it was already pushed back a week due to rain. Crews will also continue to work in the area through February to rebuild sidewalks, install electrical components, and complete finishing touches like landscaping and signage.

During that time northbound 23rd Ave will remained closed from E Union to E John. The full northbound detour, which sends traffic to MLK Way, will stay in effect through early 2017. Starting next week, crews are also scheduled to commence several weeks of road work at E Olive, which will include moving the 48 bus stop about 200 feet south on 23rd Ave.

After that, Central District-proper should be in the clear, but 23rd Ave as a whole still has a way to go before the upheaval is over and the full benefit of the major infrastructure investments are realized. Late next year, work will move to the avenue’s outer reaches for Phases 2 and 3 of the improvement project, which still do not have a definitive timeline. Continue reading

LGBTQ Capitol Hill poetry festival, First Hill Park recipients of $90K in city grants awarded in District 3

screen-shot-2016-08-16-at-4-14-14-pm-600x310

Plans to overall First Hill Park are already in the works. (Image: First Hill Improvement Association)

A queer focused poetry slam, improving a small urban park, and building safer paths for pedestrians and cyclists were just a few of the neighborhood project that will be getting a financial boost from the City of Seattle this year.

Mayor Ed Murray announced $501,415 in matching funds this month to support 24 neighborhood-initiated projects. District 3-based projects raked in at least $90,000 in the latest round of funding. One project will help fund a brand new poetry event on Capitol Hill, billed The Queer Resurgence on Capitol Hill Poetry Festival. Continue reading

Classic Capitol Hill apartment building slated for seismic upgrades at 17th/John

The Whitworth Apartments (Image: Cadence Real Estate)

The Whitworth Apartments (Image: Cadence Real Estate)

Pre-WWII brick apartment buildings are part and parcel of Capitol Hill’s charm. Many also need expensive upgrades to ensure they don’t collapse in an inevitable future earthquake.

As the City of Seattle continues to slowly push forward requirements for seismic retrofitting, the new owner of the 56-unit Whitworth Apartments building says he decided to get the work done before the big one hits (not to mention the likely cost-savings of doing the upgrade before a retrofitting law is passed, which will send building owners clamoring for contractors).

Peter Goldman, a longtime Seattle resident, purchased the 17th and E John “unreinforced masonry” building this summer for $18.2 million, property records show. He told CHS his family had recently sold several properties out-of-state and decided to reinvest the money in two Seattle apartment buildings. The U.S. tax code encourages such reinvestments by delaying the capital gains tax.

“The only responsible thing to do is to prepare it for an earthquake,” Goldman said. “I don’t want to wait to be told what to do. I want to do the right thing.” Continue reading

Seattle’s first publicly financed election season kicks off in January

No, Kshama Sawant will not be on Seattle's democracy vouchers -- but she might benefit from them in 2019

No, Kshama Sawant will not be on Seattle’s democracy vouchers — but she might benefit from them in 2019

In less than a week, the 2016 election season will, mercifully, end. So it’s on to 2017, featuring races for Seattle mayor and the two at-large City Council seats. The election will also be the first to utilize Seattle’s groundbreaking campaign finance law.

Last year Seattle voters approved the Democracy Voucher Program, a first-of-its-kind local election law that enacted a property tax levy to fund a voluntary public financing system of giving eligible residents four $25 “democracy vouchers” that they can then give to candidates.

Vouchers are scheduled to be mailed out during the first week of January. Voters can immediately start giving the vouchers to qualifying campaigns for the November election.

On Wednesday, the Seattle Ethics and Election Commission will be discussing and possibly voting on a handful of rules to implement in the program. Among the proposals are clarifications to how campaigns must re-pay unspent voucher funds if a candidate drops out or doesn’t complete the race. You can also provide feedback on the program via email — democracyvoucher@seattle.gov. Continue reading

Library fined for illegally sponsoring District 7 congressional debate

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-4-22-16-pmThe Seattle Public Library has agreed to pay a $450 fine after the city’s ethics board found it violated election law by sponsoring a congressional election debate in July without inviting all the candidates on the ballot.

Republican candidate for the 7th Congressional District Craig Keller filed the complaint after he and five other eligible candidates were excluded from the July 14th debate at the Central Library. The debate featured Pramila Jayapal, Brady Walkinshaw, and Joe McDermott. Continue reading

How the CD could be re-zoned to meet City Hall’s affordable housing goals

if you build it....

mha-cdWith even more competing interests than on Capitol Hill, the effort to forge a new pro-affordability zoning scheme for the Central District has resulted in quite a complex map.

Earlier, CHS looked at Capitol Hill’s portion of the 15% of Seattle slated to be re-zoned to allow for taller buildings as part of Mayor Ed Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.

The Central District is poised for even more transformation.

Most of the affected zones throughout the city (Central District included) would get the standard “HALA bump” — a one story increase in allowable building height along with new “mandatory housing affordability” requirements for all new residential construction. As part of Seattle’s “Grand Bargain,” MHA will link the creation of affordable housing with market-rate development by requiring all new multifamily buildings to make 5-11% of their units affordable or require developers to pay into an affordable housing fund. Continue reading

Microsoft running larger employee shuttles more often through Capitol Hill amid increased demand

A Connector idles near a Metro bus stop on 19th Ave E (Image: CHS)

A Connector idles near a Metro bus stop on 19th Ave E (Image: CHS)

At least 31 passenger buses roll through three Capitol Hill stops every day, but they don’t belong to King County Metro or Sound Transit.

The Microsoft Connector, which shuttles full-time employees from Seattle to the company’s campus in Redmond and offices in Bellevue, has recently stepped up its central city service frequency and bus size across Capitol Hill due to increased demand, the company says.

Launched in 2007, Microsoft’s Capitol Hill shuttles were recently replaced with larger buses, but the company would not say how many employees on average use the service, only that its fleet of buses can carry more than 7,000 passengers. On some routes like the 12 on 19th Ave E, it appears the corporate perk far outperforms public transit in terms of ridership.
Continue reading

John/Thomas intersections from Capitol Hill Station to Miller Park selected for major pedestrian improvements

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-11-05-59-amOften overshadowed by the more bustling sections of Capitol Hill, the “John and Thomas corridor” is nonetheless a crucial pedestrian and transit passageway through the neighborhood. Thanks to a community-initiated proposal, 11 intersections in the corridor between Broadway and 23rd Ave are on deck for a $1 million pedestrian safety upgrade paid for by the Seattle Neighborhood Street Fund.

The proposal from David Seater, a volunteer with Central Seattle Greenways, calls for installing curb bulbs along all the corridor’s un-signaled intersections. It was recently approved by the Neighborhood District Council, setting up a final vote at City Council.

“I walk along John/Thomas frequently and have been frustrated with how unsafe and difficult it can be to cross at any of the intersections without signals,” Seater said. Continue reading

Uncle Ikes — and Angel’s Shoe Repair — now open on Capitol Hill

Eisenberg inside the new shop Friday morning (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Eisenberg inside the new shop Friday morning (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Seattle’s largest pot purveyor and the city’s oldest shoe cobbler are finally ready to make their improbable double-header debut on Capitol Hill.

Ian Eisenberg opened his third Uncle Ike’s marijuana shop at 15th and E Republican Friday at 8 AM while Ray Angel debuted his re-opened Angel’s Shoe Repair next door after closing last year.

Eisenberg said he expects his Capitol Hill shop, the neighborhood’s second, will be less of a destination than the first Uncle Ike’s on 23rd and Union. “Probably more of a neighborhood feel, more people walking in because there’s less parking,” he said. Continue reading

As voters ponder Sound Transit 3, Central District light rail station takes shape

screen-shot-2016-03-21-at-9-26-11-pmWith a transformative light rail expansion measure now in voters’ hands, Sound Transit offered Central District residents an opportunity this week to see the fruits of passing the measure’s predecessor in 2008.

Judkins Park Station is slated to open in 2023 along with the rest of the 10-stop, voter initiative-funded East Link light rail line that will dramatically expand Sound Transit rail service in the region. The Judkins station open house Tuesday at the Northwest African American Museum served as an unofficial unveiling of the (nearly) final designs for the project. Continue reading

SPD’s East Precinct approval ratings improve, still lowest in Seattle

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-9-43-08-amThe East Precinct may still has the lowest approval rating of the five divisions that make up the Seattle Police Department, but public perceptions of the Capitol Hill-based officers are improving significantly.

A Department of Justice study released this week found 62% of residents in the East Precinct approve of police, up from 52% in 2015, and 49% in 2013. Citywide, SPD’s approval rating jumped to 72% from 64% last year. Approval ratings have also increased substantially among all surveyed racial groups, including a 14 point bump among African Americans. Continue reading

Man arrested in Capitol Hill gunfire incident was wanted on rape charge

(Image: Police Video Requests via YouTube)

(Image: Police Video Requests via YouTube)

The 23-year-old man whose arrest in a gunfire incident was captured on video early Saturday on Capitol Hill also had a warrant out for his arrest for allegedly raping his ex-girlfriend in SeaTac.

According to King County Court documents, Charles Southammavong was charged in July with second degree rape stemming from a May domestic violence incident in his SeaTac home. The victim, Southammavong’s ex-girlfriend, had a protection order against him at the time. Prior to the alleged rape, Southammavong had twice been convicted of domestic violence against the woman, according to court records.

Following his arrest on Saturday, a King County Judge found probable cause to hold Southammavong for unlawful possession of a firearm. He is being held in the King County Jail on $200,000 bail. Continue reading