Community crime meeting takes on Capitol Hill, Central District package thefts

Many Deliveries

There are so many package thefts on Capitol Hill that we only mention the interesting ones in CHS blotter reports. With online ordering about to peak for the season, find out how you can keep your packages safe and how you can help your building be more secure at the next meeting of the East Precinct Advisory Council, Thursday night:

EastPac Meeting

Experts from the SPD’s burglary unit will be on hand to give you tips and answer questions.

Shop local, Shop the Hill 2017

It’s the season of giving and showing love. CHS is once again teaming up with the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and the Broadway Business Improvement Area to share local gift ideas and deals from Capitol Hill area merchants at capitolhillseattle.com/shopthehill/

You can let us know about your favorite shops here via Facebook and we’ll add regular updates to share through the holidays.

To learn more visit capitolhillseattle.com/shopthehill or follow Shop the Hill on Facebook, on Twitter @shopthehill and on Instagram @shopthehillSEA

If you’re looking to help spread the joy, here are 2017 donation drives, feed the hungry, and volunteer opportunities around Capitol Hill.

Seattle ‘Employee Hours Tax’ at center of budget debate — UPDATE

Seattle City Council budget chair Lisa Herbold’s job is to take the mayor’s budget proposal and shape it for the city’s most important priorities. This week, her committee will put the final touches on Seattle’s budget “balancing” process.

A new employee hours tax — sometimes referred to as a head tax — stands at the center of the effort.

“If we pass the Employee Hours Tax…  starting in 2018 we can begin to invest nearly $50 million each year and create 2,000 additional units of affordable housing over four years,” Herbold writes in an update on the budget process, “for both low-wage working families and formerly homeless individuals. This would more than double what the Housing Levy funds each year.”

UPDATE 2:10 PM: During Tuesday’s budget committee meeting, Council members voted against the employee hours tax proposal in a 5-4 vote. Those who opposed were Harrell, Juarez, Johnson, Bagshaw and Gonzalez. However, Harrell, Johnson and Gonzalez expressed support for coming back to the HOMES tax early in 2018.

While many in Seattle’s business communities have voiced opposition to the HOMES tax, Council members Kshama Sawant, Mike O’Brien, Kirsten Harris-Talley and Herbold have been planning a budget including its implementation.

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Seattle passes ‘Airbnb’ short-term rental tax

In an effort to raise funding to lift the city from an ongoing affordability and homelessness crisis, Seattle will tax short-term rentals like Airbnb.

The City Council passed the new tax Monday with plans for the cost to be tacked onto guest bills starting in 2019. A tax of $14 per night for homes and $8 per night for rooms is hoped to raise more than $7 million per year.

Much of the money raised by the tax is earmarked for the city’s Equitable Development Initiative to push economic development and fight displacement in the Central District, International District, and Rainier Valley.

The council pulled back on larger regulations for the industry that some say has contributed to higher rents in Seattle by taking available housing stock off the market. Regulations including limits on the number of short-term rentals a person can own will move back to committee before coming back to the full council.

The newly approved tax, meanwhile, might never be implemented. State lawmakers have also targeted the industry for possible taxation. A provision in the legislation approved Monday will put Seattle in position to remove its so-called Airbnb tax — If a statewide tax will provide similar funding opportunities to the city.

$2.75 — Metro will have simplified fare structure starting next summer

If the complicated pricing of transit zones and peak fares were keeping you from enjoying the services of King County Metro, boy is 2018 going to be a good year for you.

The King County Council Monday voted on a new flat pricing for Metro transit fares — $2.75.

“We’ve heard from the community, and we are responding by making riding Metro Transit in King County easier and more convenient,” said Rod Dembowski, chair of the county council’s transportation committee and prime sponsor of the legislation, said. “Riders, especially ones new to the system, should have the confidence to board a Metro bus and know the required fare. I hope the flat fare makes using Metro more understandable and encourages first-time users to ride Metro.”

“The new fare plan eliminates a payment system that fluctuated between time and distance and could cost an adult rider between the ages 19-64 anywhere from $2.50 to $3.25 a ride,” the county said in its announcement.

The new adult fare also will not affect the roughly Metro riders who pay ORCA Lift—Metro’s low income fare program— or youth, senior, and disabled fares. The agency says roughly 2/3 of its riders will pay the standard adult fare.

The new flat rate goes into effect starting July 2018.

‘High Wind Warning’ — Forecast says gusty Monday in store for Seattle — UPDATE: Power out to more than 11K around Capitol Hill

Lights out for QFC

UPDATE 11/13/2017: Above, scenes from a darkened Broadway. More on the night’s power outages, below.
UPDATEx2 11/14/2017: More than 3,000 were still without power Tuesday morning around the Hill — many of them around the Summit Ave area of the Hill. More updates below.

Original Report 11/13/2017 8:57 AM: Batten down the hatches. And charge your mobile devices. The National Weather Service says wild winds will whip western Washington Monday afternoon:

A “High Wind Warning” has been issued for the Puget Sound and Seattle through 9 PM:

* WIND…South 25 to 40 mph with gusts TO 60 or 65 mph.

* SOME AFFECTED LOCATIONS…The I-5 metro corridor from Lewis
county north to Snohomish county. Includes the greater Seattle
area, Bellevue, Tacoma, Bremerton, and Olympia.

* TIMING…Late this morning through early this evening.

* IMPACTS…Falling trees and limbs, power outages, and minor
damage to structures.

While the grid serving Capitol Hill is about as stout as they come thanks to work to move wires underground, big infrastructure investments for Capitol Hill Station, the ongoing development in the area, and First Hill’s medical services core, the leafier edges of the neighborhood and surrounding areas like the Central District have plenty of water-soaked trees and branches.

We’ll be on the watch for any power issues. The Seattle City Light Status page is here. Let us know what you’re seeing. You can check out area streets on the CHS traffic cameras page and see current conditions including recent wind speed readings on the CHS weather page.

UPDATE 4:50 PM: With winds peaking just before 5 PM, Seattle Fire was responding to reported wires down on Belmont Ave at E Olive Way after a tree or branch fell in the area. There were reports of a transformer explosion and wires down across a few parked vehicles in the area. Meanwhile, a tree took down utility lines at 22nd and Prospect around the same time. Continue reading

Blotter | Driver OK after bat thrown off Pike overpass smashes through windshield

(Image: WSP)

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • Bat through windshield: The Washington State Patrol reports that a woman suffered minor injuries after a bat apparently thrown from the Pike overpass slammed through her windshield Saturday. Pictures of the aftermath were posted by the WSP Saturday afternoon. There were no immediate arrests. If you have any information that could help in the investigation, call SPD at (206) 625-5011.

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More tough times for Tully’s: 19th/Aloha cafe to close

As can be the usual around Capitol Hill, smaller local changes around big coffee can be the harbinger of things to come.

People familiar with the situation say the longtime Tully’s cafe at 19th and Aloha is set to close later this month. According to court documents, the struggling Seattle-based coffee chain has larger problems.

CHS has found a series of judgments against Global Baristas, the holding company that took over the struggling chain in 2013. They include more than $300,000 owed in taxes to the state of Washington and decisions including a $102,000 judgment for unpaid rent on the company’s Western Ave offices earlier this month. Continue reading

Rule #1: No ugly buildings — Capitol Hill design guidelines up for review

Boxy. Monotonous. Ugly. We’re not sure changing the process will change the results but the City of Seattle wants to hear from you at this Thursday’s open house on changes to the Capitol Hill Design Review Guidelines.

“It’s been ten years. A lot of development has happened since then. There has been a change in the urban fabric, and there has been a call from the community to review those guidelines and bring some fresh light into them,” said Patrice Carroll, a planner with the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD). “This is advice that the board gives to someone who is developing a project.”

Capitol Hill Design Guidelines Update Open House

The guidelines, which haven’t been updated since 2005, serve as a neighborhood-specific vetting framework for projects that go through the city’s broader design review process. These guidelines inform how design review boards evaluate the exterior aesthetic of proposed projects (the guidelines include metrics such as building materials and building shape). Continue reading