Capitol Hill Tool Library is open for lending

CapitolHillToolLibrary_0185-600x400It is that time of year to get out in the garden or finally build that thing you have thinking about, and Capitol Hill’s new tool share probably has something you can use to get it done.

After several years of planning, Sustainable Capitol Hill is holding a grand opening for the Capitol Hill Tool Library on Saturday from 12 PM – 4PM. Sustainable Capitol Hill president Gina Hicks summed up the purpose of the library rather succinctly: “Save the planet and the pocket book and create community.”

In an urban setting like Capitol Hill, many don’t have the space, money, or need to own a ladder or a set of big wrenches. That’s where the tool library comes in with more than 1,000 items now available for the public to borrow. Woodworking, maintenance, and garden tools make up the bulk of the inventory, but the library also has items like a dehydrator, a telescope, and an ice cream maker.CapitolHillToolLibrary_0228

The tool library is located on Crawford Pl. between Pike and Pine in the former temporary home of Red Label Moto. After a long search for a location, Sustainable Capitol Hill sealed a deal with the First Covenant Church last March to open in the Summit Building.

There are two primary ways to put the new community space to use. The first is to check out tools just like a book library: the service is free, you can check out items for a week before renewing, and you can easily setup an account online or at the tool library. You can search the inventory here.

The tool share also has a public work space where anyone can come in to work on a project with their own tools or something checked out from the library. The space has some woodworking tools, like a drill press, table saw, and radial arm saw available anytime the library is open. Plans are in the works to install a bike station. Sustainable Capitol Hill is also helping to organize classes and workshops in the space.

There is a $40 suggested annual donation to help Sustainable Capitol Hill pay rent on the space and keep the tools in good working order. Currently, the library will be open three days a week:

Saturday: 9 AM – 12 PM
Sunday: 4 PM – 7 PM
Wednesday: 6 PM – 9 PM

Saturday’s grand opening will give neighbors a chance to join up, tryout a few tools, and learn more about what the library has to offer through a library scavenger hunt. The tool library is always accepting donations (sorry, no take backs) and the criteria is fairly wide open: “Anything that reduces waste or things that you really only use a couple times a year,” Hicks said. You can find the tool library’s wish list here.

CHS previously reported on the group’s initial efforts to mimic tool shares in West Seattle and NE Seattle, which go back to at least 2012. In 2013 the group refocused with a plan to run the library from an empty shipping container. However, the retrofitted “tool shed” failed to get off the ground when the group struggled to find a location.

Now that the library is finally open, Hicks said Sustainable Capitol Hill is hoping to hire someone soon to staff the space. In the meantime, the group is looking for volunteers to add to the library’s workshop offerings. “We really want to be a place for people to gather to share skills,” she said.

For more information, visit sustainablecapitolhill.org.

CHS Pics | This week in Capitol Hill pictures

The building that is higher than the sun on the day its crane comes down

The CHS Flickr Pool contains more than 31,000 photographs -— most of Capitol Hill images, many glorious, some technically amazing. The pool is a mix of contributions from Capitol Hill — and nearby — shutterbugs. Interested in being part of it? If we like your photo and it helps us tell the story, we may feature it on CHS so please include your name and/or a link to your website so we can properly credit you. Interested in working as a paid CHS contributor for scheduled assignments? Drop us a line –- our roster is full for general assignments but pitch us on an idea.

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Capitol Hill Pets | Good Tashi in Cal Anderson

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Super friendly, 8-year-old Tashi — meaning “fortunate” in Bhutanese — is a rescue from Northwest German Shepherd Rescue. When she was taken in, she was 7 months old and 35 pounds, which according to her human friend Andrew, was 35 pounds underweight. Now she is about 85 pounds. “She’s a lot happier than she was.” Tashi is not a huge fan of autofocus beeps or clicking noises resulting from camera shutters or skateboard wheels on the sidewalk.

We ask photographer Alex Garland to follow marchers in the rain and do crazy things like trying to make yet another picture of yet another huge apartment building look interesting. We thought we’d ask him to do something a little more fun. Capitol Hill Pets is a semi-regular look at our furry, fuzzy, feathered, and finned friends found out and about on Capitol Hill. Are you a Capitol Hill Pet we should know about? Drop us a line.

$1.7 million per month in Central District and Capitol Hill pot sales

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 3.10.22 PMLast week as the state’s entrepreneurial ranks of I-502 retailers did their best to drum up even more business on 4/20, protesters again targeted 23rd and Union’s Uncle Ike’s to speak out against change in the neighborhood — and, for some, the inequitable way the legalized drug industry has played out. But just how big has the industry grown?

Across Capitol Hill and the Central District, there were more than $1.7 million in I-502 marijuana sales last month, according to state data organized by 502data.com. 84% of that was generated by Ike’s. The rest were generated by Uncle Ike’s closest competitor, Ponder, which opened in September just down the block on E Union, and 15th Ave E/Republican’s Ruckus, which opened as the first pot shop on Capitol Hill in December.

37% of those dollars went back to the state, remember. Since its birth in late September 2014, Uncle Ike’s has paid the state $6.9 million in excise tax. Don’t feel too sorry. Owner Ian Eisenberg got to put the remaining $12.3 million of it to work powering the business and doing whatever else he likes to do with his money. Uncle Ike’s is a CHS advertiser! In the meantime, Ike’s is now the second largest pot retail location in the state after Vancouver’s Main Street Marijuana.

How the sales trends will continue is anybody’s guess. The three active retailers in the area produced growth of 11% month over month coming into March. We’re going to assume 4/20 sales were good. And another boost is in the works as Capitol Hill’s second I-502 pot shop — and the second along 15th Ave E — is currently under construction.

Counting producers and processors as well as retailers, Washington pot is a $17 million per month industry. State sales totals from 502data.com

Counting producers and processors as well as retailers, Washington pot is a $17 million per month industry. State sales totals from 502data.com

Capitol Hill’s cohousing pioneers are ready to move in on 12th Ave

The residents gathered for a rooftop portrait (Images: Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing)

The residents gathered for a rooftop portrait (Images: Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing)

“At some point you need to have that bigger vision in mind and that long term goal.”

Getting along with apartment building neighbors requires at least a modicum of social grace. Getting along with potentially lifelong neighbors that are also equal owners in a partnership to develop and own a building mandates serious training.

After breaking ground in 2014, and years of planning prior to that including classes in consensus decision making, the members of Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing are ready to move into their new home (and their 12th and Howell building is almost ready for them). You can get a sneak peek of the building on Saturday from 10 AM to 4PM as part of National Cohousing Open House day.

The 12th Ave cohousing development isn’t a traditional cooperative. CHUC residents are their own developers. While tenants in a cooperative or condo building have to eat the costs of a developer’s profit, CHUC residents say there are keeping their costs as low as possible and will essentially impose their own rent control once they have moved in. The nine families making up the community are all equal partners in an company that obtained a loan to develop the building.

Looking back on what it took to get to this point CHUC co-founder Mike Mariano paused when asked if he would do it all again.

“If you think about it too much, you would never do it,” said Mariano, a principal architect at Schemata Workshop. “At some point you need to have that bigger vision in mind and that long term goal.”

As Mariano and the rest of the CHUC members discovered, financing is not easy when you’re not trying to simply maximize profits. Developing the property as a community was a means to an end for CHUC — ends that include communal meals and work in the rooftop garden, longterm stability, and a tight-knit support group that will hopefully last a lifetime. Continue reading

12 things CHS heard at Sawant’s Law Enforcement Diversion forum

There is funding enough to start the process of bringing a successful alternative to old-school drug policing to Capitol Hill and the Central District. But the future of the movement is murky.

Thursday night, City Council District 3 representative Kshama Sawant and the Capitol Hill Community Council held a forum at Miller Community Center in Capitol Hill on the Law Enforcement Diversion Program, or LEAD, and how to expand and implement it in her council district encompassing Capitol Hill and the Central District. The forum was approached as an opportunity to discuss mass incarceration and how programs like LEAD fit into broader efforts to roll back the impacts of the war on drugs and tough love policing.

Featured panelists included one of the original architects of the lead program, Lisa Daugaard, director of the Public Defender Association, LEAD program supervisor Najja Morris, Scott Lindsey, the mayor’s Public Safety and Police Reform Advisor, Turina James, a LEAD participant and former heroin user, along with Sheley Secrest of the NAACP and executive director of the Gender Justice League and statehouse candidate for the 43rd Legislative District, Danni Askini.

While praise for the LEAD program was abundant, speakers routinely stressed the importance of building on LEAD’s successes with more investment to ensure Seattle’s budding experiment in harm-reduction policing doesn’t fade away.

Last year, Mayor Ed Murray allocated one-time funding in his 2016 budget to help expand LEAD into Capitol Hill. Additional expansions and enhancement of LEAD services will require more money.

Advocates said that LEAD needs to be expanded equitably into areas like South Seattle and the Central District, and that more robust services for LEAD like housing for participants who are still actively using drugs is needed to fully realize the program’s potential. In line with her usual rhetoric, Sawant framed societal problems of drug addiction, mass incarceration, and homelessness as systemic ills of capitalism, and called on the audience to advocate for LEAD and other services and to “hold every politician at city hall accountable.”

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Here’s more of what CHS heard at Thursday night’s forum.

  • “There are activists who may be uncomfortable with the authority that LEAD places in individual officers to decide who is good for LEAD and who is not,” said Sawant. “Remember that SPD is still under investigation of the consent decree of the U.S. Justice Department. We have to remember that we are not arguing for this program as a license to whitewash the systemic issues we have in the police department.” Continue reading

Why did the Cal Anderson duck pool turn red?

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

There is a lot of water testing going on around here these days. Seattle Parks officials tell CHS they’re working to figure out why the Cal Anderson reflection pool water has taken on a red hue. If it turned purple this week, there would be no questions. But apparently water testing is needed to figure out what, exactly, is plaguing the duck-friendly pool. “Our crews will take a sample to have the water tested this week,” a spokesperson said. “Once we have results, we will develop a plan to drain, clean and refill the pool.”

While a working reservoir still lurks below Cal Anderson (CHS wrote about it here in 2015 when the facility was due for a cleaning), the reflecting pool next to the pump house is purely for aesthetic. There has been a reservoir at the site for 115 years. After the state mandated that Seattle’s open water sources needed to be covered in the early 1990s, community groups helped lead an effort to cap the reservoir with a park. The ripple pool and water mountain have become an iconic element of the neighborhood. But a murky red pool? Not as much.
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Union members throw support behind Central Co-op’s Capitol Hill Station bid

DSC02980Somebody hand you a banana at Capitol Hill Station? They’re part of the #coopthestation campaign to help the E Madison-headquartered Central Co-op win its bid to be the anchor grocery store at the 85-foot development slated to rise around the Broadway light rail station where empty pavement sits today.

Now, a group of members from UCFW 21 — “the largest private sector union in Washington State” and representative for Central Co-op’s nearly 100 unionized employees — have sent an “open letter” to Gerding Edlen partner Jill Sherman calling on the developer to “do better by local workers and choose a union grocer where workers have a voice on the job, and earn a living wage.”

The full letter is below. Central Co-op, by the way, is a CHS advertiser.

Labor groups and District 3 rep Kshama Sawant have already come out swinging against Portland-based developer Gerding Edlen’s consideration of Portland-based grocery chain New Seasons for the light rail project. Continue reading

Here’s what police say really happened in Broadway/Pike shooting

Tuesday afternoon outside of QFC, there really was gunfire, there really were two shots fired and broken grocery store glass, and, even though he couldn’t be found, there really was a man who got shot.

Police say they believe Tuesday’s shooting at Broadway and Pike was an act of self-defense by a legally armed man. Here’s what the shooter told police:

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Arriving officers cuffed the shooter during the initial investigation but eventually released him at the scene. He told police he didn’t know the man he said attacked him. Witnesses at Broadway and Pike that afternoon agreed that it appeared the shooter was the victim:

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Two shell casings were recovered at the scene. But the man who was shot could not be found… until three and a half hours later:

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Police say the man who was shot was not taken into custody but could face charges for the assault. They also report that he wasn’t pleased to find out the shooter wasn’t arrested:

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Police tell CHS that the shooter’s actions — even as they played out on a crowded corner in the middle of Capitol Hill — appear to have been entirely legal.

What some Capitol Hill businesses are saying about the Seattle minimum wage study

Researchers from the University of Washington presented before a full City Council their early analysis of the impact of Seattle’s gradual march to a universal $15 minimum wage. The report — the first in a series of several commissioned by the council in tandem with their passing of the original wage hike ordinance — showed that, aside from a roughly 7% price increase in Seattle’s restaurant industry, there hasn’t been runaway cross-industry price inflation like some critics predicted. So, what do Capitol Hill’s bar, restaurant, and retail business owners have to say about the findings?

The report surveyed 567 Seattle businesses (the majority of whom have less than 500 employees, the city’s definition of ‘small business’) and 55 employees between the months of January 2015 and May 2015. During that period, the ordinance raised hourly wages to eleven dollars for non-tipped workers and ten for those receiving tips or medical benefits. And while the report didn’t find substantial price inflation (a look at grocery store, gasoline, and retail prices showed no noticeable increase), in addition to the recorded uptick in restaurant prices, a majority of employers surveyed said that they have or plan to raise their prices in order to accommodate the new labor costs.

“The bottom line is if there’s any place we can find price impacts, it is in restaurant sector,” research Jake Vigdor from the University of Washington Evans School of Governance and Public Policy told the council.

Capitol Hill business owners say these findings aren’t shocking. “We all knew that prices would go up and we’re seeing that as a result,” said Pike/Pine nightlife entrepreneur David Meinert. “I don’t think anyone should be surprised at that.”

Rich Fox, co-owner of Poquitos restaurant on Pike and the Rhein Haus on 12th, agrees. “What I see [in the report] is pretty consistent with what we’re dealing with at this point,” he said. “We’ve raised prices to account for the increase in labor.”

Both Fox and Meinert say that they haven’t raised prices universally (like bumping everything up 2% or what have you), but have strategically looked at what has been selling and where they think they can push consumer spending limits. “You pick your battles, where there is acceptable room to move and what you’ve sold in the past,” said Fox. Continue reading