After ‘positive’ talks, New Seasons and community groups opposing new store set for Central District agreement — UPDATE: ‘Disappointed’

UPDATE 11/19/18 12:30 PM: Despite hopes of an agreement from representatives on both sides Friday, Monday, activists and community groups who have been engaged with New Seasons said they are “disappointed” that officials “gave no indication the company is committed to change.”

“We can’t wait around while New Seasons’ corporate leadership thinks a little more about respecting our community’s values, and we’re not going to stop calling on them to respect workers’ rights,” the group writes in a statement sent by the Good Jobs Coalition.

“We’re not going away,” the group writes, “and we call on other community members to join us…”

The full statement has been added at the end of this post.

The grand opening of New Seasons in Ballard included this group of protesters

Original report: Unlike what happened at its May opening in Ballard, you probably won’t see protesters greet New Seasons when it opens at 23rd and Union in 2019.

A company spokesperson said it plans to meet Friday’s deadline for a response after positive talks with community groups aligned to push back on the Portland-based grocery chain’s labor practices and its ownership’s anti-LGBTQ politics as it readies to open in the Central District.

Friday’s deadline is part of a community coalition’s demands for the chain:

During their meeting, organizers gave New Seasons co-president Kristi McFarland and other local reps a list of demands. If the demands are met, they said, their campaign against the company would stop. Among other things, they asked New Seasons to sign a neutrality agreement to let interested workers unionize, disclose workforce demographics, let low-income customers use Fresh Bucks to buy produce, stock affordable staple foods, and donate some of their local profits to affordable housing projects and community land trusts.

Nicole Keenan, executive director of Puget Sound Sage, an advocacy group dedicated to low-income people, communities of color, immigrants and refugees, has been part of talks with New Seasons and also categorized the negotiations as positive in a conversation with CHS Friday afternoon. Keenan joined reps from groups like the Squire Park Community Council in the discussions with New Seasons.

While we don’t yet know the specifics of the New Seasons response, the community campaign against the store which has included a “newseasonstories.com” website and neighborhood yard signs, appears to be approaching a fruitful conclusion.

UPDATE 3:40 PM: A New Seasons representative sent over the company’s response to the community groups. We’ve added the full letter at the end of this post. A company representative also provided the following statement:

At New Seasons, we are proud of our established track record as an active civic partner that is committed to directly engaging in building community in a way that reflects our shared progressive values. We’ve been working with a Central District Advisory Council made up of business leaders, local nonprofit representatives and neighborhood council members to understand the needs of the neighborhood, but when we were contacted by this group we wanted to hear their perspective as well. At the meeting, we shared our commitment to championing higher wages, comprehensive benefits for all kinds of families, an inclusive culture, as well as using our voice to stand up for affordable housing, hunger relief and other important social justice and workplace issues that affect everyone. We also took away some valuable ideas from our conversation that we will be exploring further.

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Midtown: Public Square shaping up with hopes ranging from My Sweet Lil Cakes to Bartell’s

Midtown: Public Square’s design still needs a few more tweaks

With the nonprofit-developed, affordable housing-focused Liberty Bank Building set to open to start 2019, the other major project planned to reshape 23rd and Union with a mix of market-rate and affordable housing from a for-profit developer is hoped to wrap up its public design process for a start of construction next year.

Lake Union Partners, developers for the Midtown: Public Square, met with neighbors last month for two design conversations to discuss “community opportunities” before the planned three-piece, seven-story apartment development with 429 apartment units and underground parking for 258 vehicles returns for what is hoped to be the final review of the project in December.

December’s review will follow July’s unsuccessful bid for design review signoff amid community complaints that design for the Midtown: Public Square project looked too “South Lake Union” and calls for a more Central District-centered process. Despite the concerns, the project is planned to remain under the purview of the East Design Review Board that covers neighborhoods including Capitol Hill, the Central Area, and Madison Park. It’s not clear what role if any will be played by members of the Central Area Design Review Board created earlier this year by splitting off the Central District neighborhoods from the East region in an effort to preserve and grow the historically Black culture of the Central District. Continue reading

23rd Ave work includes electrifying bus route but no timeline for RapidRide

(Image: SDOT)

The City of Seattle says the second phase of the $43 million 23rd/24th Ave corridor improvement project is going well with the biggest risk being sorting out how to reduce the number of utility pole required to electrify the route for Metro coaches.

The update in SDOT’s latest report on major capital projects keeps the timeline for the work on the stretch south of Jackson on pace for completion before next summer. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s king of pot adds the draw of clean cannabis and new E Olive Way shop

Uncle Ike’s Ian Eisenberg (Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill and the Central District’s top provider of pot, Uncle Ike’s has begun randomized pesticide testing on products directly from its shelves in an effort to incentivize vendors to provide clean cannabis and push the state to act.

The program, called Ike’s OK, started in October with five products and will continue testing five more products each month indefinitely as a way of regulating a market that is under very little government supervision. The state only requires potency testing certificates of analysis with each product, but no similar documentation for pesticide testing.

For Tobias Coughlin-Bogue, a journalist who has written extensively on pesticide use in pot, the legalization of recreational marijuana, which came in December 2012, was just the first step toward it becoming a safe consumer good.

“It’s not complicated, it’s not like we did any real wizardry,” said Coughlin-Bogue, who helped develop the program. “It’s just a basic safeguard, but it’s one that we should have had four years ago.”

Uncle Ike’s is one of a handful of companies in the retail pot business but its sales outstrip competitors by a long shot. And soon, even more Capitol Hill pot will come through Uncle Ike’s as the chain prepares to open a new location on E Olive Way. Continue reading

Liberty Bank Building: vision of equitable development, great views of the CD

A ceremony to celebrate a financial boost to its vision of inclusive development also provided en opportunity for an early tour of the nearly completed Liberty Bank Building Monday in the Central District.

“I’m a product of the Bronx, New York. Raised in Baltimore. Used to having a lot of diversity in our lives. Coming to the Pacific Northwest, I was stunned and a little lonely for a while,” Regina Glenn said Monday inside the under construction building. “Coming to this project it reminds me of that pulling together that we had.” Continue reading

Tacos Chukis joins growing family of food and drink around 23rd and Union

That guy up top? That’s Beto Salmeron. He just opened his fourth Tacos Chukis — the largest yet — in the Central District.

CHS told you all about the new 23d and Union taco joint here as it prepared to open last week. Here’s a look inside the Graham Baba-designed restaurant. Continue reading

Women Can Save The World – Fall Forum Series

3rd in FSP’s Fall Forum Series
WOMEN Can Save the World
• The 21st century rise of working women
• What does it mean to be socialist feminist?
• What about men?

Speaker: Guerry Hoddersen
Feminist and civil rights veteran who collaborates with women revolutionaries in Latin America. Affirmative action advocate and
co-founder of United Front Against Fascism.

Savory Pork Loin or Vegan Field Roast dinner at 6:00pm, Program starts at 7:00pm

Door donation $3.00, strikers and students $1.00
Dinner donation $9.00 (vegan option)

New Freeway Hall, 5018 Rainier Ave S. Seattle
On #7 bus line and near Columbia City light rail station

Sponsored by Freedom Socialist Party

For more info: 206-722-2453, FSPseattle@mindspring.com or Facebook.com/FSPseattle. For childcare or work exchanges, please call three days in advance.

U.S. Marshals: Operation Triple Beam Jet City clears 72 ‘violent offenders’ off Seattle streets

This operation came with its own Flickr set (Image: U.S. Marshals)

A U.S. Marshals-led task force made up of multiple federal, state and local law enforcement agencies including Seattle Police and the King County Sheriff cracked down on gangs across the region from July through October but officials can’t say if the interdictions and arrests will help bring justice after a wave of gun violence and the September murder of a Central District man with gang ties.

Operation Triple Beam Jet City is the latest in an ongoing federal effort to curb the illegal drug trade and gang violence on a regional basis in areas across the country. Officials said another Triple Beam operation — a triple beam is the type of scale you might remember from science class and reportedly is popular with drug dealers — just cleared more than 500 drug dealers, gang members, and sex offenders off the streets in the state of Mississippi, garnering praise from U.S. Attorney General and Southerner Jeff Sessions.

Around “Jet City,” the fed-led operation wrapped up with the arrest of 263 fugitives, 149 of whom were gang members or associates, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. A U.S. Marshals deputy said the agency could not provide the names of people arrested in the effort “as some individuals may not be in custody anymore.” Of the arrests, 108 “violent offenders” — 72 with gang ties — were taken into custody in Seattle. Continue reading

Tacos Chukis ready to go big in Central District at 23rd and Union

Broadway-born Tacos Chukis has a new headquarters but the neighbors around 23rd and Union are probably more interested in the grilled pineapple and adobada.

The latest expansion of the small Seattle chain including its new central kitchen is set to open Saturday in the Central District.

“This will be our central base and supply our other restaurants,” owner Beto Salmeron tells CHS about the biggest Tacos Chukis yet. Continue reading

Where, when, and why Capitol Hill calls 911

We’re #2!

Residents and businesses around Broadway and Pike/Pine have produced the second highest number of 911 calls so far in 2018 but a huge bulk of the calls on Capitol Hill and across the city involve traffic issues and disturbances involving noise or fighting, according to a newly available dataset from the Seattle Police Department.

SPD’s new online dashboard tracking the number of 911 calls it receives comes after years of complaints that the department’s focus on completed crime reports obscured the true levels of crime and safety issues in Seattle neighborhoods: Continue reading