The *5* final projects that could make Central Seattle streets and sidewalks safer

Olive at the I-5 onramp *AFTER* a previous round of pedestrian improvements. Probably some more work to do, no? (Image: WSDOT)

Olive at the I-5 onramp *AFTER* a previous round of pedestrian improvements. Probably some more work to do, no? (Image: WSDOT)

Earlier in May, CHS shared details of 15 projects that could make Central Seattle streets and sidewalks safer. Each of the 15 probably could. But only five of them will — or will have a chance to thanks to the East District Neighborhood Council and the Neighborhood Street Fund. Below are the five proposals that were recommended by the council and will now be passed through SDOT’s “high level design & cost estimate” vetting process. Once that feasibility analysis is complete in September, the council can rank the five finalists and pass them back to SDOT for possible implementation. There are apparently no guarantees in the world of NSF projects. “There is NO guarantee they will pick any of our ranked projects – they have their own process separate from our own,” an email announcing the East District finalists reads.

The five 2016 proposals are below:

  1. Melrose Promenade – Olive Way & Interstate 5 areaScreen Shot 2016-05-09 at 9.30.26 PM
  2. Melrose Promenade – Pike to Pine ImprovementsScreen Shot 2016-05-09 at 9.31.14 PM
  3. 12th & Main signalScreen Shot 2016-05-09 at 9.42.34 PM
  4. Safe Walk to Montlake SchoolScreen Shot 2016-05-09 at 9.43.19 PM
  5. E Madison St and McGilvra Blvd E intersectionScreen Shot 2016-05-09 at 9.45.29 PM
February 23, 2016 Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) call for applications
March 2016 Briefings for Neighborhood District Councils on NSF Program
April 17, 2016 Deadline for submitting NSF Proposals to SDOT
May 2016 Screening of proposals by SDOT and selection of 5 projects by each of the 13 Neighborhood District Councils for further evaluation
June – August 2016 SDOT conducts a high level design & cost estimate of the 65 projects selected by the neighborhood District Councils.
September 2016 Each Neighborhood District Council prioritizes its own list of projects.
September – October 2016 The Move Seattle Citizen Oversight Committee evaluates all proposed projects and makes funding recommendations to the Mayor & City Council.
November 2016 2017 Budget adopted
2017 SDOT designs projects
2018 SDOT builds projects

‘Clopening’ time: Seattle on the clock for secure scheduling

June on Capitol Hill, Starbucks on Olive

The subject has been bubbling up in Seattle public discourse for around six months now. Last fall, local progressive labor advocacy organization Working Washington and Starbucks baristas protested their inconsistent and unpredictable work schedules, which labor advocates say act as barriers for low-income workers to scheduling life necessities like college classes or childcare or budgeting living expenses. A few months later, in his 2016 state of the city speech, Mayor Ed Murray highlighted secure scheduling as a key low-wage worker equity issue and said his office would work with the City Council to address it.

“We know that having a secure schedule of hours helps workers plan their budget, plan for childcare, enroll in school or take a second job – and we know schedule predictability will most help low-wage hourly workers,” Murray said in his speech.

Here are a couple chances to get involved or learn more: Thursday night, “join a live tele-town hall over the phone and over the internet about the fight for secure scheduling in Seattle. When: 6:00 pm, Thursday, May 26, 2016. Where: You can listen in live over the phone by calling 855-756-7520 Ext. 32020#, or join live online at” On Friday, the committee will hear from Lonnie Goldan, a researcher at the Economic Policy Institute who has studied the issue, on her findings and national data. Tune in to Seattle Channel at 9:30AM to watch. On June 16th,Working Washington is holding a “Secure Scheduling Story Slam.”

With a $15 minimum wage already under Seattle’s belt, City Hall along with labor and business interests have turned their attention to the next big issue affecting the city’s proletariat and their bosses: secure scheduling.

“The response has moved pretty quickly from when workers first spoke out about it, and that’s heartening. There’s been a tremendous amount of support expressed by both the council and the mayor’s office on the need to move forward and do something to address secure scheduling,” said Sage Wilson, a spokesperson for Working Washington. “This is a really urgent issue for workers week to week.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill, Central Seattle lose in updated bike master plan

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 5.35.16 PM
The Seattle Department of Transportation has released the updated, $64.1 million Seattle Bike Master Plan Implementation Plan (PDF) — the agency’s most recent annual blueprint for rolling out bike infrastructure projects over the following five years. But to the frustration of local bike advocates, many infrastructure projects (like protected bike lanes and greenways) have been delayed or dropped altogether from SDOT’s game plan. And Capitol Hill wasn’t spared.

In Capitol Hill and broader Central Seattle, key protected bike lane projects and a number of greenways were either slashed entirely or postponed in the updated BMP implementation. To name a few, the protected bike lanes linking downtown to Capitol Hill on either Pike or Pine has disappeared from the updated BMP entirely (this project was slated to be completed by the end of 2016), along with the protected bike lane on South Jackson street (scheduled for 2019), the East Pine street greenway and the East Denny Way greenway linking the new Capitol Hill light rail station to the eastern residential heart of the neighborhood (both projects were supposed to be completed in 2019). Then there’s the protected bike lane extension on Broadway, which got bumped to 2017 after originally planned to be finished in 2016.

Capitol Hill did, however, gain a planned greenway on E Republican, linking the north end of Broadway to the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway that runs the length of 23rd avenue on parallel streets. But the win isn’t enough to offset the losses for local bike advocates.

“Like everyone else we’re frustrated,” said Brie Gyncild, co-leader of Central Seattle Greenways. “These sorts of [changes] make you wonder, how accurate is any of this?” said Gyncild. “We’re always just about get our next project.” Continue reading

Here’s the plan to make room for 120,000 more Seattleites by 2035

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 5.29.13 PMLast year around this time, CHS posted about four alternatives being weighed as the City of Seattle prepared to update is 20-year plan. Ed Murray’s office has now prepared the mayor’s recommended Seattle 2035 plan and is ready to move it forward with City Council to guide the development of neighborhoods across the city in the coming decades. Here’s what Mayor Murray has to say about the framework his administration is championing:

Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation and while this growth provides a booming economy, we must continue to focus that development in livable, walkable neighborhoods with the amenities that help people thrive. With this comprehensive plan, we will build a more equitable future for all residents with better access to the affordable homes, jobs, transit, and parks that make Seattle vibrant.

City officials are shaping the plan to accommodate an expected 120,000 additional people living in Seattle by 2035, around an 18% increase from the current population. The planning process included racial and social equity factors, environmental management, and job and economic factors and builds on Seattle’s “urban village” strategy which “encourages most future job and housing growth to specific areas in the city that are best able to absorb and capitalize on that growth.”

The recommended plan is focused on six high level policies and goals, according to the mayor’s announcement:

  1. Guide more future growth to areas within a 10-minute walk of frequent transit
  2. Continue the Plan’s vision for mixed-use Urban Villages and Urban Centers
  3. Monitor future growth in greater detail, including data about racial disparities
  4. Increase the supply and diversity of affordable housing consistent with the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA)
  5. Update how we measure the performance of the city’s transportation and parks systems
  6. Integrate the City’s planning for parks, preschool, transit, housing, transportation, City facilities and services

The comprehensive plan originally adopted in 1994 was last updated in 2004. The policy document is now in the hands of the Seattle City Council for review, a public hearing, and approval by the end of the year. You can learn more at

The full recommended plan is embedded below. Continue reading

Design review overhaul: Rule on fewer projects, put meetings online, split Capitol Hill at Pine

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 2.19.56 PMSeattle’s process for gathering public and expert feedback on new building designs is poised to undergo the most significant update since it was established in 1994. For starters, we may be saying goodbye to the East Design Review Board.

Under changes proposed by a 16-member advisory group to Seattle’s design review program, the East DRB jurisdiction, which covers Capitol Hill, would be sliced between three new areas in order to lump the neighborhood’s high-rise zones with a new Central DRB that would also cover First Hill. Capitol Hill would be divided along E Pine, with the north half coming under a new Northeast DRB and the south half going to a new Southeast DRB.

“I think it makes sense that there be a more high-rise focused designed review board,” said Amanda Bryan, member of the Central Area Land Use Advisory Committee who also sat on the advisory panel. “I think (the boundaries) will move around depending on how people feel about it.” 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.”


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

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

Civic duty | Sawant ‘End Mass Incarceration’ forum, EastPAC community crime meeting

Thursday night brings overlapping opportunities to meet and learn more about how we police the streets of the East Precinct. The gatherings also present views of two strikingly different points in the path to crime and justice.

11217973_1158704170841245_4819840984223012997_nCity Council member and District 3 representative Kshama Sawant will present a forum discussion of efforts to expand the city’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program:

Please join me and the Capitol Hill Community Council on Thursday, April 28th at 7 pm at the Miller Community Center (330 19th Ave E, 98112) to discuss how we can implement the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (L.E.A.D.) program in District 3 as a possible alternative to failed “tough on crime” policies.

EastPAC-Logo-2015-Small_3Meanwhile, the SPD-backed East Precinct Advisor Council will hold its monthly meeting with a focus on the latest crime trends and enforcement efforts around Capitol Hill and the Central District:

Please join us for our monthly meeting. We will review: The current SeaStat report for Seattle with a focus on East Precinct. The Micro Community Police Plans Current initiatives

EastPAC April Meeting
April 28th, 6:30 to 8:00 PM in room 142 at Seattle University’s Chardin Hall, 1020 East Jefferson

Ending Mass Incarceration | LEAD: An Alternative to Jail and Prison
April 28th, 7:00 to 9:00 PM at the Miller Community Center, 330 19th Ave E

Expanded list of seismically risky buildings could spur a new development wave on Capitol Hill

(Image: CHS/Data Source: City of Seattle)

(Image: CHS/Data Source: City of Seattle)

The City of Seattle has added some 300 buildings to its list of old brick structures most at risk of damage or collapse in the event of a major earthquake. Among the 1,160 “unreinforced masonry structures” counted in a recent report, Capitol Hill continues to have the most of any neighborhood in the city.

The latest URM survey added 16 Capitol Hill structures to the city’s 2012 list, bringing the neighborhood’s total count to 152 URM buildings — 13% of all URMs in Seattle. 44 were counted on First Hill and 24 were counted in the Central Area/Squire ParkScreen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.39.07 PM

Property owners with buildings on the list began receiving notifications this month from Seattle’s Department of Construction and Inspections. No immediate action is required, but it may be in the future.

Finalizing the inventory of URMs is an important step in the city’s goal to one day mandate all URMs undergo seismic retrofitting. Currently, property owners are only required to retrofit URMs when there is a major upgrade or change of use of their building. The city has been working on a mandate for years and the City Council is not expected to consider legislation until 2017.

The report found the vast majority of Capitol Hill’s URMs had no evidence of retrofitting, although it is possible some work was overlooked. Owners have an opportunity to challenge the URM designation or offer additional information, but they will need to hire an engineer to perform an in-depth analysis of the the building, according to the report.

That could kick off another round of Capitol Hill preservation developments and demolitions. Earthquake prevention work can be an enormously expensive, especially for individual owners who may deicide to sell in the face of such costs. It happened before at the Callahan Auto building and many fear a retrofit mandate would put many businesses and independent property owners in jeopardy. By using preservation incentives, DCI says it wants to save as many buildings as possible.

“The last thing we want to do is to encourage people to demolish these structures,” said DCI spokesperson Bryan Stevens. “Generally speaking, I think people want to see these structures preserved.” Continue reading

City Council Notes | Seattle drinking water update, Business Improvement Area rules, Stonewall

Here are a few items of note from Monday action at City Hall:

  • Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 3.41.07 PMSeattle drinking water warning: The Council heard Monday that the Seattle Public Utilities warning that drinking water in the city’s older homes could be contaminated with lead can be, well, watered down. From SPU:
    Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) said today that two days of extensive testing in five Seattle homes confirms the city’s water continues to be safe to drink. The utility started testing after learning last week that Tacoma Public Utilities had detected high levels of lead in four water samples taken from galvanized steel service lines. In response to that information, SPU asked Seattle residents to run their water before using it if the water had not been run for a while. SPU then initiated its own tests to see if the problems reported in Tacoma exist here. The Seattle test results announced today are well below the action level for lead of 15 parts per billion (ppb). The highest level recorded in Seattle’s tests was 1.95 ppb.

    SPU has also rolled out a new tool to look up information about the water pipes serving residences at

  • Switch to districts = more work = more City Hall employees: The City Council voted Monday afternoon to approve a new legislative staffer for each of the body’s nine elected members:
    In 2013, Seattle voters approved an amendment to the City Charter that changed the way that Councilmembers were elected. Beginning in 2015, seven of the nine Councilmembers were elected by district, with the remaining two positions being elected “at large.” The additional staff support provided by the new positions in this ordinance will be used to address the increased workload resulting from this switch to district elections.
    Some questioned why Council members need more support simply because of the switch to districts in Seattle. The Council voted 8-1 Monday to approve the new headcount.
  • Business Improvement Area rules: Monday, the full Council also approved a clean-up of the rules used to govern the city’s Business Improvement Areas — just in time for the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 plans to greatly expand the neighborhood’s BIA.
  • Stonewall: Also passed Monday:
    A RESOLUTION expressing The City of Seattle’s fervent support for the designation of the area around the Stonewall Inn as a National Monument to be administered under the purview of the National Parks Service.