Blotter | Police investigating after two nights of Cal Anderson gunpoint hold-ups

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  • Gunpoint robberies reported: Seattle Police investigated two armed hold-ups around Cal Anderson Park over the weekend. Saturday night, officers surrounded the park after one unsuccessful gunpoint robbery but were not able to track the suspect down. The victim told police he was approached by the male suspect around 9:30 PM near the pumphouse end of the park’s reflection pool but refused the man’s demands even though he was armed with what appeared to be a black, semiautomatic handgun. Police searched the area but could find no trace of the suspect described as a black male in his 20s, around 5’8″, wearing black pants and a black hoodie with the hood cinched tightly over his face. Meanwhile, police were called to another reported armed robbery in the park just before 8 PM Friday. We don’t have any details yet in that incident but we’re told police believe the crimes were committed by the same person.
  • UPDATE — Pot cookie DUI: SPD has posted details of another incident we were looking into from the weekend. Not mentioned in the report — the gun involved was reported to be a .223 Short Barreled Rifle, according to East Precinct radio:
    Police arrested a man Saturday evening on Capitol Hill after his expired license plates caught the attention of officers, who soon discovered he was driving while high on marijuana cookies while transporting a felon and an illegally stowed firearm in his car.East precinct Anti-Crime Team officers were on patrol Saturday night when they spotted an SUV with expired plates driving near 10th Avenue and East Pike St.  Officers Matt Blackburn and Brian Sunderland, and Sgt Ben Morrison stopped the SUV and began speaking with the driver. Continue reading

How two bicycle cops recovered a stolen bike in Cal Anderson

Seattle Police this week shared a rare story of the recovery of a stolen bicycle in Cal Anderson Park — and, thanks to a hard-working website, the return of the bike to its thankful owner.

The story starts with officers on patrol inside the Capitol Hill park last Saturday:

Officer Drew Fowler, a long-time cycling enthusiast, asked the man about his pricey silver Cannondale, and became suspicious when the man said he’d bought it from a website for $400–about one-tenth of its retail value.

Officer Fowler (pictured right) and his partner Jose Silva asked the man if they could take a look at the bike’s serial number, and he obliged. Officer Fowler quickly signed up for an account on and discovered the bike’s owner had listed it as stolen.

Police say the suspect was booked into jail for investigation of the theft and referred the case to mental health court. SPD’s full account of the incident is here.

The Seattle Bike Blog points out three important lessons for Capitol Hill bike owners:

  • First, it is very hard to get someone on bike theft, but much easier to get someone on the lesser crime of possession of stolen property. Even when someone has a stolen bike and a set of bolt cutters in his backpack (as with this case), it’s still impossible to prove he was the person who stole it without witness or video/photo evidence of the theft itself.
  • Second, there is a gray area in the stop and search phase. In this case, SPD says the man gave the officer permission to look at the serial number. But what if he had said no? Simply appearing “sketchy” is not (and should not be) cause for a search. Perhaps this is where Bike Index can help again. If an officer runs the make and model of the suspicious bike on their phone and finds a stolen listing, should that be enough cause for a stop and search?
  • Third, recovering bikes is awesome, so thanks to Officer Fowler for seeing this one through.

Given how the Cal Anderson recovery played out, it also helps to have a recognizably awesome bike, apparently.

Check out to register your ride. The most recently reported stolen bikes around Seattle are listed here.

Hugo House announces interim First Hill home until 2018 return to Capitol Hill

In December, CHS reported on the six-story, apartment development set to create a new 10,000 square-foot writing center home for Hugo House. Tuesday, the literary nonprofit and the Frye Art Museum announced Hugo House will move to First Hill during the demolition and construction:

“We love the Frye and are delighted to become partners in the Museum’s ongoing plan to build a cultural and intellectual anchor on First Hill,” said Hugo House Executive Director Tree Swenson. “Hugo House at the Frye keeps us close to Capitol Hill, which is central for our students, teachers, and so many people who attend our events. Visitors to our temporary home on First Hill will be pleased to find the same coziness and writerly atmosphere they’ve loved for years at the old Hugo House.”

The move to the Frye-owned building is planned to take place in “mid-2016.”

Hugo House's interim home (Image courtesy Hugo House)

Hugo House’s interim home (Image courtesy Hugo House)

“Hugo House will operate a full schedule of readings, classes, book launches, workshops, teen programs, and more at the Frye while its new building is being constructed,” according to the announcement. Hugo House will continue to offer “more than seventy classes per quarter” in the Frye’s building at Boren Avenue and Columbia.

Hugo House events will be moved to the Frye’s auditorium with Elliott Bay Book Company and the Sorrento Hotel also pitching in.

Hugo House announced it will also start new programs during its stay on First Hill including “manuscript consultations and writing-group matchmaking.”

The 11th Ave development project is planned to be open by 2018 and will have room for Hugo House classrooms, offices, performance spaces, and studios for writers as well as a street-level cafe.

RIP, Cal Anderson wading pool plum tree

Tree split and downed probably by pre-dawn lightening

A casualty of recent storms bringing wet soil and wind, the old plum tree that shaded the area around the Cal Anderson wading pool near the park’s pumphouse was cut up to be hauled away this week.

A parks department arborist confirmed the storm-related death Tuesday. No, the old tree wasn’t struck by lightning though that would have been a cool way to go out.

Instead, the plum’s roots lost their grip in Cal Anderson’t soggy soil. There are currently no plans to replace the tree — especially as Seattle Parks looks at trimming the greenspace’s foliage further back and considers a $780,000 lighting plan to improve safety in the park.

Study recommends $780K+ investment to improve Cal Anderson Park lighting

Cal Anderson Park

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 12.10.11 PMNight time lighting at Cal Anderson Park has been a bit of a Goldilocks dilemma for Capitol Hill. Too little creates the potential for more crime and the perception the park is unsafe, while too much may actually have a similar effect and has been a nuisance for neighbors in the past.

To help guide the way, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce commissioned a grant-funded study earlier this year to analyze the current lighting situation and recommend improvements. The report from dark | light design released Monday recommends $780,000 to $960,000 worth of lighting improvements to make the park safer by making it more inviting.

CHCC executive director Sierra Hansen said getting more people to cross through the park at night is a top priority. “We want to use lighting to create more movement,” Hansen said.

Among the recommendations is an idea to mount LED lights on the park’s gatehouse to “softly illuminate the architecture of the gatehouse without creating an overwhelming visual element.” The study notes that the high contrast light around the shelter house plaza should be reduced by fully illuminating the plaza’s columns. The study also warns against over-lighting, especially with omnidirectional globes that shield views of the night sky.

Other recommendations include:Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 11.23.35 AM

  • Increase lighting along 11th Ave
  • Increase lighting on paths while decreasing visual glare
  • Light plants and trees throughout the park
  • Enhance park entrance lighting

Now the CHCC and groups like the Cal Anderson Park Alliance have to come up with the money to fund the plan. Hansen said the CHCC will lead an effort to seek a combination of private and public funding. Beyond lighting, the CHCC is also exploring improvements to the park’s landscaping to create a safer environment.

“There are some real challenging areas,” Hansen said. “Lighting can help, but it’s not going to be the silver bullet.”

Cal Anderson Park Lighting Study

Writers in residence: Hugo House’s future is six stories

Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 4.55.33 PM

The design for the future Hugo House Writers Center (Image: Weinstein A+U)

When the Richard Hugo House building gets demolished next year, the literary heart of Capitol Hill will beat on in a temporary space until the “place for writers” rises like a phoenix in a new writers center in 2017.

But those metaphors won’t be fully mixed until the 11th Ave mixed-use development the new Hugo House will be part of goes through what should be its final design review Wednesday night.

1634 11th Ave
Land Use Application to allow a 6-story, 80 unit apartment building with a 10,300 sq. ft. community center (Hugo House Writer’s Center) and 1,500 sq. ft. of retail located at ground level. Parking for 95 vehicles will be located below grade. Review includes demolition of existing structures (11,000 sq. ft.). / View Design Proposal  (9 MB)    

Review Meeting: December 16, 2015 6:30pm, Seattle University, 824 12th Ave, Admissions & Alumni Building
Review Phase: REC–Recommendation  See All Reviews
Project Number: 3020067  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice

Planner: Katy Haima

The intersection of development and Capitol Hill arts organizations rarely ends well. The Hugo House is proving to be an exception as a 90-unit, six story project planned to replace its 11th and E Olive home has put the nonprofit at the center of the development. With apartments above, the new Hugo House will give new meaning to writers in residence.

“The personality and character all centers around Hugo House and the owners desire to create a nicer than typical project on the Hill,” said Brian Oseran, a principal with developer Meriwether Partners. “We spent a lot of time understanding what that organization does and what their needs are.”

Activities at the Hugo House run the literary gamut, from writing workshops for adults and teens, to author readings and performances, to book launches. Expanding classrooms and performance spaces were top priorities, said Hugo House executive director Tree Swenson. Continue reading

The Sawant? ‘Small efficiency dwelling’ building on 10th faces review

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 4.24.44 PMTwo projects on opposing ends of the affordable housing spectrum will will take their turn before the East Design Review Board Wednesday night. A proposed “small efficiency dwelling unit” project on Capitol Hill and a nonprofit affordable housing project on First Hill would create a combined 129 new studio-style apartments. The two projects will require the demolition of three buildings and a parking lot, adding needed density to their respective sites. Neither project includes commercial space.

120 10th Ave E
The building at the intersection of a surprising number of Capitol Hill narratives is on track to turn another chapter. Most recently used as the headquarters Kshama Sawant’s City Council campaign, a house and an adjacent apartment building near 10th and E John are slated to come down to make way for a 4-story, 49-unit apartment building. Continue reading

#defendseattle ‘Action Against Neo-Nazi Events’ planned for Sunday in Cal Anderson — UPDATE: Counter-protestors march on Broadway

#defendseattle anti-fascist demonstration - 19#defendseattle anti-fascist demonstration - 16 of 17With reporting by Bryan Cohen

UPDATE: The neo-Nazis never showed at Cal Anderson Park Sunday evening, but hundreds of sopping wet people rallied and marched on Capitol Hill to say they weren’t welcome anyway. After the larger crowds of protestors dissipated, a smaller core remained and began a familiar slow-motion race around Broadway and Pike/Pine flanked by an increasing police presence before the “order to disperse” was finally given around 8:15 PM and the cat and mouse game came to an end with a group of around 100 anarchists and anti-fascists milling about in Cal Anderson.#defendseattle anti-fascist demonstration - 18

Earlier in the night, Antifa counter-protestors braved the wind and rain to gather in the park to be ready to confront a skinhead group reported to be marching on Capitol Hill. A post on a white supremacist website appeared last week called for a gathering on Capitol Hill and in Ballard. From all appearances, that gathering did not occur. Continue reading

Central Lutheran celebrates 125 years of evolving faith on Capitol Hill

IMG_5463Changing with the needs of the community can keep you alive for 125 years. That’s what the leadership of 11th Ave’s Central Lutheran Church believes as the congregation prepares to celebrate the esteemed anniversary November 1st.

“The building continues to change,” Pastor Cindy Salo said of the aged brick chapel and administration buildings along 11th. “But the building hasn’t changed as much as we have. The church has had to become something different to survive in 2015.”

2015 has been an important year for big milestones for Central Seattle houses of worship. 19th and Madison’s Mt. Zion also marked 125 years of community.

Since its establishment in 1890, Central Lutheran, today sitting on the east side of Cal Anderson Park, has managed to continue its service to the neighborhood and its worshippers with openness and a dedication to equality and fairness for all people.

The church was first founded at 7th Ave and Union in a remodeled tin shop as a dedicated English-speaking Lutheran church, contrasting the various Lutheran institutions that catered to immigrants and their languages. The Capitol Hill location’s land was purchased in 1901 for $2,300, according to the Central Lutheran archives. Continue reading

Not so sharp assailant busted in Broadway traffic after Cal Anderson machete assault

The punchline: He is from Texas. The scary part: He was carrying a two-foot machete. And using the women’s bathroom at Cal Anderson Park. SPD arrested a 56-year-old man Thursday afternoon for investigation of assault after the “trained [expletive] killer” caused a major scene inside the Capitol Hill park.

Here are the would be funny except yikes details from SPD:

Machete-Wielding Man Flees Women’s Bathroom, Gets Stuck In Traffic
Police arrested a machete and throwing-knife-wielding man Thursday on Capitol Hill after he threatened a crowd of people who confronted him over his use of a women’s restroom in a park.

Officers responded to Cal Anderson Park just before 5 PM and and spoke with six people, who said they had confronted the suspect after spotting him inside the restroom.

During the confrontation, the suspect pulled out a two-foot machete, swung it around and shouted death threats at the half-dozen victims. The man then armed himself with a throwing knife and acted as if he was going to hurl it at his victims.

The suspect tried to make a getaway, dashing to a vehicle parked next to Cal Anderson. He drove off westbound on Pine Street, only to get stuck in traffic on Broadway.

When officers pulled up behind the suspect, he tried to weave his way down side streets to escape, but eventually stopped in a parking lot where police took him into custody.

Officers recovered the machete and throwing knife from the man’s car and asked him why he was armed with the blades. He informed them it was because he is a “trained [expletive] killer,” and explained he was using the women’s restroom because the men’s restroom in the park was full and he had an “explosive” bowel issue.

Police identified the 56-year-old man with the help of his Texas ID and booked him into the King County Jail for Investigation of Assault.