East Precinct meeting talks pot, reform, but mostly violent crime in the CD with City Attorney and SPD brass

Thursday night, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and East Precinct commander Captain Pierre Davis met with community members in a packed Seattle University room to talk about updates on precinct crime and how SPD and the attorney’s office can better serve residents.

Many of those in attendance who spoke vented their frustration and concerns with both the nuisance of day to day criminal activity and more serious violence around Capitol Hill and the Central District.

“Cops can’t do everything,” Holmes told the crowd. “if there are building code violations, if there is something that SDOT can do… that [collaboration between departments] is something that my office is really good at helping pull in.” He added that law enforcement is not always the solution. “It could be civil, it could be regulatory.”

Violent crime, particularly in the Central District, was on most attendees’ minds, particularly the intersection of 23rd and Union, which has recently seen numerous instances of gunfire.

“It’s not about gentrification, it’s not about any of that shit. It’s about getting gangs off the streets … you can actually time it [when gun shots occur],” said one attendee.

Some speakers blamed the Midtown Center property at 23rd and Union for the criminal activity. One speaker called out property owner Tom Bangasser — who was present at the meeting — for not selling the property to developers fast enough because he was waiting as the value rises. Continue reading

Really good Garfield High boys basketball team faces really big challenge

(Images and video: Proof is N the Play)

As the pain of this year’s Super Bowl fades, here’s a chance to revive your Central Seattle sports spirit with some post-season basketball excitement from the Central District’s high school team.

The Garfield High School boys basketball team is really good — like top three teams in the state good. However, the team’s reclassification this year into the 3A division puts Garfield on track to face top ranked Rainier Beach in next month’s state tournament.

Last year, the Bulldogs won the state championship in their 4A division. Remarkably, the team managed to go undefeated in this year’s regular season with an almost entirely new lineup. The team’s final regular season win earlier this month briefly put Garfield in USA Today’s Super 25 national high school basketball rankings. Continue reading

Smash Putt a ‘go’ at 23rd and Union

10387630_362316220623926_6016634163602990726_nA community plan to buy the property? Those involved say it’s a long shot while simpler changes like better lighting and more business activity have helped.

And Smash Putt mini-golf themed madhouse bar? That’s in the hole:

SMASH PUTT! MEGA MINIATURE GOLF APOCALYPSE!
Limited Engagement Runs March 20th – July
Weekend evenings & Nights, 21+ with ID
1110 23rd Avenue (23rd & union st), Seattle
www.smashputt.com for tickets ($10–20) and times
Smash Putt! Mega Miniature Golf Apocalypse returns to Seattle for an epic throwdown. Presenting devious devices with wicked robotic brains engineered by industrial-artists and hackers. Putt-putt like you’ve never played it, in a pop-up nightclub setting like Seattle‘s never seen. Inventive, devious, and full of surprises.
Enjoy ingenious fun with an earnest low brow sensibility. Launch and load cannons, survive an earth- quake, challenge a poppin’ lowrider, dodge real lasers, and frustrate your friends with dynamic, destruc- tive games galore. Put your balls on the line for an experience you won’t forget!
Starting March 20th, a limited engagement of mechanized mayhem comes to Seattle‘s Central District. This unique grown-up playground is the perfect place for a date night, guys’ night, girls’ night, pub crawl, office outing, or just plain apocalyptic competition among friends.
Smash Putt! offers VIP lounges, a top-shelf bar with hand-crafted cocktails, local personalities, live entertainment, and good old-fashioned fun. Now available for private parties and corporate team-building.

911 | Warrant operation in Central District brings SWAT to 27th Ave — UPDATE

Seattle Police and SWAT raided a residence near 27th and Marion Tuesday night as part of a warrant and gang unit operation.

Backed by the King County Sheriff’s Guardian One helicopter above, the operation started around 8 PM. Police discussed some warrant details via radio as the operation was executed. Witnesses said multiple people were removed from the building and handcuffed in the street outside.

SPD has not yet confirmed any arrests and we do not yet know the details of the warrant or warrants being served at the address. There were no injuries reported during the operation. UPDATE: SPD confirmed the warrant operation but a spokesperson said there would be no additional information available tonight. UPDATE 2/25/2015: SPD said they expect to be able to provide more information on the operation later today. UPDATE x2: Police say the raid was the culmination of a two-month investigation. The report details three arrests — one 31-year-old man who police say tried to flee the area, and two women inside the home. Police say they also seized guns and drugs. The full report on the incident is below. Continue reading

Hollow Earth’s Magmafest has mission beyond the music in 2015

Hollow Earth's Jamie Fife (Images: Josh Kelety for CHS)

Hollow Earth’s Jamie Fife (Images: Josh Kelety for CHS)

2014's Magmafest included the Eiderdown Records Sound Salon in Hollow Earth's "specially" equipped studio (Image: Hollow Earth)

2014’s Magmafest included the Eiderdown Records Sound Salon in Hollow Earth’s “specially” equipped studio. There will be a second Eiderdown Sound Salon on March 14, 2015. (Image: Hollow Earth)

It’s time again for Magmafest, a month in the Central District of independent live music and arts organized and put on by the volunteer-run Hollow Earth. The 2015 edition of the festival slated to start up on March 1st with a two-part “warm-up” featuring a collage-making party (with Magma Soup) and then show with music and poetry.

But there’s a new, bigger, more expensive mission of this year’s fest.

The event comes as Hollow Earth Radio is easing into its recently acquired low power FM license from the FCC, and the opportunities, growth, and challenges that it has created. Specifically, raising a “ridiculous” figure to pay for an expensive new transmitter and antenna to broadcast Hollow Earth’s waves.

Carly Dunn, a volunteer coordinator at Hollow Earth who has been with the station for around two years, said that the energy around Magmafest has changed since getting the LPFM license.

“I think we’re definitely thinking about things like money now,” Dunn tells CHS. “Before it was like ‘yea, wouldn’t it be weird if we did this!?’ But now with shows I’m thinking ‘man, what can I do to get people out here, and giving and stuff’.” Continue reading

Mount Zion campaign party, Capitol Hill cafes targeted in #blacklivesmatter protests

(Image: @local_maxima via Twitter)

(Image: @local_maxima via Twitter)

Protesters targeted a Saturday night campaign kickoff and Sunday morning brunches around Capitol Hill in a series of actions inspired by the #blacklivesmatter movement.

Saturday, a small group drew a huge police response to 19th and Madison’s Mount Zion Baptist Church when the protest group attempted to disrupt the campaign launch party for King County Council member and noted Seattle black leader Larry Gossett. Gossett, whose district includes Capitol Hill and the Central District, joined the rest of the county council earlier this month in unanimously approving an ordinance to build a new youth detention center at 12th and Alder. Continue reading

As 12th Ave justice center moves forward, juvenile court judge calls for racial reform

Juvenile court judge Susan Craighead.

Juvenile court judge Susan Craighead.

Justice isn’t color-blind, at least in King County.

According to a special report published last month, black youth in KC are roughly six times more likely than white youth to face a judge in juvenile court. And while the number of youth referred to juvenile court has been falling for years, the bulk of that benefit has gone to whites.

Speaking on behalf of the more than fifty judges on her bench, she says, Judge Susan Craighead is calling for a series of “listening sessions” with key players in the juvenile justice system. This includes representatives of government institutions which are “upstream” of the court—police, schools, and child welfare services — but also the families and communities most impacted by juvenile courts.

“We feel like we need all hands on deck to try to figure out what more can we do with this problem,” Craighead told CHS. Continue reading

With gunfire joining sounds of construction, 23rd and Union property owner tries simple measures as bigger changes loom

(Image: Wayne Walsh via Flickr)

(Image: Wayne Walsh via Flickr)

Since the new year, reports of gunfire and increased criminal activity around 23rd and Union have amplified calls for police and property owners to ramp up safety efforts in the heart of the Central District even as millions of dollars in development spending flows into the intersection. The sprawling Midtown Center property on the southeast corner has lately been a source of concern for neighbors in the area.

Midtown owner Tom Bangasser tells CHS he is taking steps to try to curb nighttime crime. Last week, Midtown shop owners put up larger “no loitering” signs and Bangasser said he has met with police to discuss stepping up loitering enforcement, especially at night. Still, Bangasser said he can’t control deeper issues in the community.

“We’re about to spend $215 million on this new jail center, maybe that should go into jobs,” he said. “Some of these guys are just hanging out because they don’t have jobs.” Continue reading

Swedish to group opposing expansion: ‘Cease and desist’

Lawyers for the Swedish healthcare group have sent an “IMMEDIATE CEASE AND DESIST WARNING” to Washington Community Action Network (WA CAN), CHS has learned over the group’s efforts to fight the expansion of the Cherry Hill campus.

Swedish's 'Cease and desist' letter to WA CAN

Swedish’s ‘Cease and desist’ letter to WA CAN

On January 27th, three WA CAN organizers approached people in the waiting areas of Swedish’s Cherry Hill campus, handing out copies of both Swedish’s own charity care application and a WA CAN brochure about Swedish’s handling of medical debt. When a representative of Swedish’s management spotted them, he escorted the organizers out. The next day, the left-leaning community organizing group received a hand delivered letter from Swedish’s lawyers, which read in part:

you shall immediately cease and desist all activities on the Swedish Medical Center Cherry Hill Campus…[including] handing out any form of communication to hospital staff, patients or visitors, and speaking to any hospital staff, patients or visitors on any subject.

WA CAN organizer Xochitl Maykovich told CHS that WA CAN has been unsuccessfully trying to take its concerns (outlined in this white paper) to Swedish CEO Tony Armada for months. “In the interim,” she said, “we decided that people need to know about charity care, and so we gave patients in the waiting room…charity care applications…[And] we put a few on the ER [waiting area] table…We were very polite, and the people that I talked to, they were like, ‘Oh wow, thanks.'” Continue reading

Despite protest, County Council votes to build new youth detention center


After nearly five hours of impassioned public testimony that drew an overflow crowd and a brief police response, the King County Council unanimously approved an ordinance to build a new youth detention center at 12th and Alder Monday evening.

Dozens of people packed into the County Council chambers to voice their opposition to the controversial plan to replace the county’s crumbling youth detention center with a smaller capacity Children and Family Justice Center. In the 7-0 vote, the council approved a $154 million contract with developer Howard S. Wright to construct the new facility, which is expected to be complete in 2018.

Public testimony was tense from the start. Council member Joe McDermott began by asking dozens of people who didn’t have a seat to wait outside the chambers until their name was called to comment. Most refused to leave and the meeting was recessed several times until the standing crowd was allowed to stay. Continue reading

Soaring Jewish population has nucleus in Seattle’s new inner city

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The 2014 Light the Night celebration at Gay City’s Calamus Auditorium brought out some spectacular holiday finery

Each dot represents 10 Jewish households. The dots are placed randomly within each zip code (Image: Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle)

Each dot represents 10 Jewish households. The dots are placed randomly within each zip code (Image: Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle)

Seattle’s central neighborhoods have the densest population of Jewish households in the metropolitan area, and the numbers are growing.

According to a recent study (PDF), the number of Jews in greater Seattle has increased 70% since 2001, the last time a similar study was conducted. The Jewish population boom is outpacing Seattle’s overall growth. The city’s roughly 33,000 Jews now outnumber residents claiming Norwegian ancestry. The Seattle Times reported on the trends last week.

According to the report, much of the growth has come from Jewish individuals and families moving into the city — only 23% were born in the area. Seattle’s availability of skilled jobs, progressive culture, and well educated population appears to have been a main driver in the Jewish population boom. 89% of Jewish adults surveyed had a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree. Researchers estimated the total Jewish population in the greater Seattle area today to be around 63,400. Continue reading

With more kids on the way in Central Seattle, schools readying Capitol Hill, CD construction projects

As Central Seattle’s population jump continues, Seattle Public Schools is trying to keep pace with the resulting projected increases in student enrollment via renovations to pre-existing facilities as well as construction and property acquisitions for entirely new schools. Projects slated to transform buildings on Capitol Hill and in the Central District are moving forward — despite a few obstacles — meaning in coming years the Hill will have a middle school again and the one-of-a-kind World School will have an overhauled new E Union campus.

“Overall we’re anticipating to grow by over 1,000 students per year,” said Stephan Blanford, the Seattle School Board member who oversees the district covering downtown, Capitol Hill, and the Central District.

“Most of that growth is not necessarily in the neighborhoods where we have capacity, and so we’re trying to bring capacity on as quickly as possible; more seats, more buildings.”

The downtown core is lacking in elementary or middle school facilities, despite the area’s significant population (PDF) and housing growth over the last decade, with many kids commuting to other neighborhoods — including Capitol Hill — for school.

Last summer brought about opportunity for Seattle Schools. The former Federal Reserve building on 2nd between Spring and Madison was up for grabs as a possible location for a downtown school, free of charge for both the land and the building. But, after opting to bid on the property rather than take it with strings attached (i.e $53 million in renovation costs within three years of the acquisition), the school district fell out of the game when the auction price flew past their maximum bid of $5.8 million, according to Blanford. The property’s winning bidder will pay $16 million, the Seattle Times reports.

Despite the lost bidding war, other Seattle Public Schools capital projects in the central city are moving ahead. Continue reading

Smash Putt mini-golf themed madhouse bar teeing up for 23rd and Union

Mini-golf good times coming soon -- hopefully -- to 23rd and Union (Image: Smash Putt)

Mini-golf good times coming soon — hopefully — to 23rd and Union (Image: Smash Putt)

(Image: Smash Putt)

(Image: Smash Putt)

The inventive minds behind the “mechatronic robot art miniature golf-themed pop-up nightclub” known as Smash Putt are devising a Seattle return. This time around, you won’t have far to walk to tee off.

After vacating an industrial SODO space two years ago, CHS has learned that plans are in the works for the pop-up gaming space to open at the sprawling MidTown Center property, which includes the large empty space left behind by the U.S. Post Office at 23rd and Union.

Smash Putt co-creator Mike McCracken told CHS that Smash Putt’s ninth incarnation could be open by early April and would likely stay open for about three months. That is, if the group can once again maneuver around city and state regulations that don’t easily conform to temporary nightclubs.

“Everything is all tentative on (permits) coming through,” he said. “We’re hopeful, but not 100% confident it’s going to pan out.” Continue reading

Bid to rezone 23rd and Union block for six-story future denied… for now

MidTown Center will someday rise to six stories... but not yet (Image: CHS)

MidTown Center will someday rise to six stories… but not yet (Image: CHS)

As one of its driving members announces his campaign to join the Seattle City Council, the community group Central Area Land Use Review Committee is also celebrating a quiet victory at 23rd and Union.

Late last month, the City Council’s planning and land use committee declined to approve rezoning of the 106,000 square-foot MidTown Center property that includes a downsized Post Office, a handful of small businesses, liquor store on the southeast corner of 23rd and Union. The voting Council members said it was a matter of trying to add conditions to a hypothetical future project.

“The problem that I have with doing the approval with conditions is we’re approving a project that doesn’t exist,” Council member Sally Clark said.

“I have no doubt that this corner should be 65 feet in some way,” she said. Continue reading

Central District slow growth activist will challenge Sally Clark for City Council seat

As Capitol Hill prepares to dive into its first-ever City Council District 3 election, remember that two at-large races will require some attention, too. One of those is shaping up around development and land use and could have big repercussions for Capitol Hill and Seattle’s Inner City.

Last week, Central Area activist Bill Bradburd announced he would challenge incumbent Sally Clark for the at-large Position 9 seat. Clark, who was appointed to council in 2006, is a policy wonk (some would say too wonky) who has spent several years on council trying to balance developer and resident priorities on various zoning and land-use issues. Bradburd, 57, is also a land use buff, but decisively of the community activist ilk.

“All the politics in the city really boil down to land use and zoning,” Bradburd recently told CHS. Continue reading