$15 now — As workers at Seattle’s biggest chains hit milestone wage, Hill’s small biz owners make 2017 adjustments

The new year means another wage hike for Seattle workers and some workers have finally hit the $15 goal of the phased-in plan. For 2017, employees of businesses with more than 500 workers who don’t pay toward medical benefits now must earn at least $15 per hour, a $2 raise from 2016. While most Capitol Hill small business owners don’t have to worry yet about a Starbucks-level minimum wage, they’re still navigating yet another year of raises in the city’s multi-year phase-in process.

“Our fear is pricing people out of the neighborhood,” Meinert said. “… We don’t want to keep raising prices, but we have to.”

While other large employers who put dollars toward their workers’ medical benefits will be paying $13.50 per hour, a $1 increase from 2016, workers at small businesses — those with 500 or fewer employees — are now guaranteed $13 per hour, up $1 from 2016. Employers will either hit that by paying $13 per hour or by paying $11 hourly and either at least $2 per hour toward medical benefits or ensuring their employees get at least $2 hourly in tips.

That tip credit toward the $15 wage is scheduled to end by 2025. A small number of Seattle restaurants have already moved away from tips to service charges in part because of the rising minimum wage.

Some restaurant owners such as David Meinert, who is part of the ownership at a large family of businesses including Lost Lake Cafe, Comet Tavern, Grim’s and Big Mario’s, have regrets about how Seattle’s wage hike is being phased in. Continue reading

Mumps case confirmed at E Cherry’s Nova High School

front-mann-0913-1024x766Health officials have confirmed one mumps case at Nova High School in the Central District.

The Public Health Department of Seattle & King County announced last week that a student was diagnosed with the illness. No other cases have been confirmed in Seattle Public Schools.

According to a the joint announcement from Seattle Public Schools and King County Health, officials believe the case is linked to an ongoing mumps outbreak in the Auburn School District. Seattle Public Schools is monitoring the situation with health officials. Continue reading

Attorney General sues Capitol Hill photographer Matt Hickey over porn scam

For a decade, former Capitol Hill resident Matt Hickey allegedly used online personas and fake websites to lure women to take nude photos and have sex with him under the guise that they were auditioning for a porn company.

Last week, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Hickey in King County Superior Court. The complaint accuses Hickey of multiple violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act and the Commercial Electronic Mail Act.

“This is one of the most egregious scams I’ve seen as Attorney General,” Ferguson said. “Beyond the monetary damage his victims suffered pursuing the defendant’s fictional job opportunities, they endured emotional trauma and unconscionable loss of privacy through his deception.” Continue reading

Neighbors get first look at Midtown Center plans: big grocery, pharmacy, 120 affordable units

While the details of an agreement between developer Lennar Multifamily Communities, Regency Centers and Africatown Community Land Trust for the Midtown Center project are still being finalized, neighbors got their first looks at early designs for the development as it moves toward its first design review just a few days into 2017.

The developers showed off a plan for a a horseshoe-shaped, block-long building that Lennar and Regency would fund and a smaller building on the south end of the block financed by the Africatown partnership with around 60% of the units created as affordable housing. Neighbors also heard about plans for a 30,000-square-foot grocery store included in the plan to be anchored by what was described as a local grocer. A representative said the project partners are not yet disclosing who the grocer is and are also not yet identifying the pharmacy chain lined up to move into 10,000 square feet of retail space in the project. There will also be some commercial spaces designed for smaller businesses, representatives said Wednesday night.

In all, the project will bring hundreds of units of new housing to the block:

Working in conjunction with neighborhood leaders, the preferred design includes a separate development on the southern portion of the lot which will provide neighborhood oriented retail, community office space and approximately 120 affordable housing above. The northern portion provides approximately 355 units over a variety of retails uses at ground level. The main corner at 23rd and Union is raised above the storefront, which is setback to allow for wider sidewalks, with the corner recessed even further to provide spill-out space and increased pedestrian activity at the corner. The two developments are linked by a pedestrian through block connection that provides interest along the longer blocks.

Brad Reisinger with Lennar told CHS at the Central Area Land Use Review Committee community meeting held to discuss the project before the Christmas holiday that the company plans to have the agreement with Africatown finalized after its first Early Design Guidance meeting, scheduled for January 4th. Continue reading

Seattle homeless ‘navigation center’ delayed

Participants in San Francisco’s navigation center pilot program

When Seattle Mayor Ed Murray first announced plans for the city’s 24-hour homeless Navigation Center in June, the goal was to launch the center by the end of the year. That 2016 goal will be missed.

Human Services director Catherine Lester responded to CHS about the delay with an email statement:

The City has secured providers for the Navigation Center and is actively working to secure a facility. Should the process of preparing the facility delay its opening, we will work with (the Downtown Emergency Service Center) and Operation Sack Lunch to begin providing services in the interim.

“Identifying a site has taken longer than we had originally considered,” Jason Johnson, division director of the Human Services department told a committee meeting with City Council members before the Christmas holiday. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Station’s first Christmas

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With suitcases full of holiday cheer, many neighbors are taking the light rail from Capitol Hill Station to SeaTac — and vice versa — this week. Others are picking up weary, fresh-off-the-Link family and friends at the Broadway light rail station.

The travelers CHS spoke with during the holiday rush said they are choosing light rail for a variety of reasons — cost and convenience topped people’s lists. Continue reading

Jayapal, Inslee, Constantine, and Murray declare Washington a hate-free state

Since Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, hate crimes have been reported throughout the nation, including in Washington state, where a sign at a mosque in Redmond has been vandalized twice in a month. Incidents against LGBTQ and Jewish communities have also been reported.

In an effort to combat discrimination, vandalism, and violence, officials designated Washington State a hate-free zone at a Tuesday press conference, just as elected leaders did following 9/11.

“We stand ready to take on any federal actions that undermine this state as a sanctuary and refuge for all people. Just as we did fifteen years ago, we reaffirm our promise to each other and declare our state, the state of Washington, a hate-free state,” said Congresswoman-elect Pramila Jayapal. Continue reading

Feeling ‘the ghosts of the last things that were here,’ Sugar Hill puts former Bauhaus/Capitol Club back into motion

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On a monochrome background, hundreds of record sleeves provide slivers and pops of color at E Pine’s newest restaurant and bar, Sugar Hill

“There’s an overwhelming amount of vinyls,” Sugar Hill co-owner Ahn Nguyen told CHS.

The name, by the way, was inspired by the AZ song “Sugar Hill” from the album “Do or Die” — not by hip-hop group The Sugarhill Gang. “I wanna chill on Sugar Hill …”

Hip hop and R&B music provided inspiration not only for the restaurant’s name but pretty much everything from drinks to food to the atmosphere of the nearly-done-and-already-open-for-business establishment.

The “contemporary Thai chicken and rice restaurant and bar” from restaurant veteran Guitar Srisuthiamorn also include business partners Will Doherty and Ronald Quo, who had been mulling over a restaurant concept for a while. When the former home to Bauhaus became available, the quartet had about a week to decide whether or not to take it. They dove in to share their music tastes and Srisuthiamorn’s Thai chicken and rice with the Hill. Continue reading

A look at all sides in Seattle Asian Art Museum expansion debate

We can work this out. The proposed overhaul and expansion of the 83-year-old Seattle Asian Art Museum has become a bone of contention in the neighborhood around Volunteer Park. Another three dozen citizens had their say on the potential environmental impact of the project — including views and park use — Thursday night, adding to the dozens of letters already received on the project from all sides in the argument. During Thursday night’s proceedings, CHS heard arguments in support of the project and others with hopes of scaling it back. Here is a look at both sides.

The meeting on Thursday drew about 40 commenters on the project. A little more than half spoke in favor of the planned fall 2017 project that would expand the Asian Art Museum 3,600 square feet into the park from the east side of the 1933 historic building. The museum plans to add more display space to represent South Asia and India as well as fix infrastructure issues including a climate control system and seismic upgrades, while making the museum ADA accessible.

Here is what we heard from the proponents Thursday night:

  • The expansion fits in the Olmsted vision and the museum has engaged the community and made changes based on public input. Continue reading

On site of future Broadway affordable housing, mayor announces $47M in levy investments

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Seattle Mayor Ed Murray speaks at a press conference announcing $47 million for affordable housing projects.

City officials announced $47 million will be awarded to affordable housing projects on Thursday at Capitol Hill Station’s future “transit-oriented development,” which will include 110 affordable apartments.

Rising rents are driving neighbors out of the city or onto the streets, said Steve Walker, director of the Office of Housing.

“Every city in the west has an affordability crisis, but in Seattle, we are leading the way on the west coast in addressing that affordability crisis,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray at the announcement to media on the empty, paved lots where Capitol Hill Station’s developments will eventually rise.

The Site-B North parcel will eventually be home to Capitol Hill Housing’s 110-unit, “permanently affordable” development. CHH is lined up to receive $8.7 million of the grants announced Thursday and has requested an additional $4 million from King County’s transit oriented development fund.

Continue reading

Chabad of Capitol Hill aims to ‘reach every Jew’ — latkeh and challah help

(Images: Chabad of Capitol Hill)

(Images: Chabad of Capitol Hill)

Rabbi Levi Levitin and his wife, Rivkah, both grew up in large Jewish families where faith was an integral part of their lives.

The two wanted to share Judaism with other Jews on Capitol Hill and in the Central District, so in October 2015, they began the Chabad of Capitol Hill.

“The mission is to reach every Jew, no matter where they are,” Levi said, adding the organization has seen a mix of Jews who have been active with their faith and others who are just discovering or rediscovering Judaism. Jews of all ages, family units, sexual orientations, and political views are welcome, he says.

“That’s kind of the beauty of what I like about Capitol Hill — the diverse demographics and age groups.” Continue reading

Seattle City Hall presses pause on Broadway streetcar extension

January marks the one-year anniversary of the First Hill Streetcar

January marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of the First Hill Streetcar

broadwaystreetcar_factsheet_090315_optionb-01-306x550The proposed project to extend the First Hill Streetcar beyond Denny on Broadway which would add two stops — one at Harrison and one at Roy — is in limbo.

Support from Broadway businesses is lacking for the current design and the financial plan, and with the neighborhood adjusting to the light rail station and the First Hill Streetcar, the Seattle Department of Transportation has stepped back from the extension with the intention to revisit the plan with stakeholders sometime in 2017.

Unless the plans change, the support SDOT is looking for likely won’t be there.

“If we want to see Broadway thrive … the streetcar is actually the best way to undermine that,” Sierra Hansen, Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce executive director told CHS. Initially, the chamber supported the project, but that’s no longer the case. Continue reading