First Hill McDonald’s walkout kicks off Seattle fast food strikes — Early rally at Cal Anderson

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

IMG_0242Pro-labor coalition groups and backers of the $15 minimum wage were on hand Wednesday night as four workers at the First Hill McDonald’s walked off the job as a planned day of worldwide protest against low wages and unfair practices got an early start in Seattle.

“We are not respected by McDonalds corporation,” one striking worker who has been employed by the company for eight months and now makes 15 cents more than the minimum wage told CHS. “We as a team don’t get treated as such. This is about our self respect and dignity.”


This employee has worked at the First Hill McDonalds for five years. Originally from Mexico, he said he has been in the country for six years. His wages started at $7.15 he said and he now makes $9.32.

A rally is planned Thursday morning in Cal Anderson Park at the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed hour of 6:30 AM before workers and supporters march on another international provider of breakfast fast food. The actions are part of a global day of action planned for May 15th to continue to pressure international fast food chains to raise wages and improve their policies for workers.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray made a May Day announcement of his plan to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15. The plan is now in the hands of the City Council and Socialist first-year representative and labor advocate Kshama Sawant.

A statement on the Seattle strikes sent on behalf of pro-labor group Working Washington is below. Continue reading

Take note, Bertha, First Hill hospital tunnel project nearly complete

DSCN1442While drilling for the Alaska Way tunnel faces another massive set back, a lesser known — albeit much smaller — tunnel is nearing completion beneath First Hill. And workers didn’t need a janky boring machine to dig it either.

In order to connect a central sterilization area with future operating rooms, crews at Virginia Mason Medical Center have dug through roughly 90 feet of earth, oftentimes using only hand shovels, to construct the hospital’s new tunnel.

The staff-only tunnel will run in between Spring and Seneca to connect Virginia Mason’s Central Pavilion hospital with the newer Jones Pavilion at Spring and Boren, where the operating rooms are currently being built. Continue reading

Maybe Capitol Hill’s affordable housing won’t be built on Capitol Hill

The Decibel is part of a trio of affordable apartments planned along 12th Ave south of Capitol Hill

The Decibel is part of a trio of affordable apartments planned along 12th Ave south of Capitol Hill

It is possible the solution to affordable apartments for the people of Capitol Hill won’t actually be *on* Capitol Hill. The Decibel, the second in a triumvirate of affordable apartment projects from Seattle’s Spectrum Development Solutions on the edge of the city’s Yesler Terrace urban village project, is scheduled to take its first bow in front of the East Design Review Board on Wednesday night. It is joined on the docket by a four-story mixed-use project planned for a Central District corner home to a community hub – The Fatima Cafe. More on both projects, below. Continue reading

Prepare for Metro cuts with new First Hill commuter slide — UPDATE


UPDATE: A commuter takes the plunge on the new transportation system

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 8.17.44 AMArea civic leaders are unveiling a set of alternatives Thursday to help commuters get around the city should the Metro service-saving Prop 1 not gather enough King County votes before next Tuesday’s Election Day. While it’s not the warmest day for it, the new First Hill infrastructure will certainly be wet enough for a fast ride. Stop by. The new system utilizes ORCA cards and accepts transfers.

County leaders to announce “New Commuter Toolkit” featuring Slip ‘N Slides and zip line
Seattle – Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci, and Redmond Mayor John Marchione will announce a “New Commuter Toolkit” on Thursday. They will unveil plans for a zip line from Seattle to Redmond and have a prototype Slip ‘N Slide on hand for commuters from Capitol Hill to downtown. This will ensure commuters are prepared in case King County voters don’t approve Proposition 1 to prevent devastating cuts to bus service.

These new options are environmentally sustainable and promote an active, healthy lifestyle for commuters. Experts think King County’s 150 days of annual rainfall make our region a perfect place to test commuting by Slip ‘N Slide. Students and commuters will be on hand to demonstrate how to travel via Slip ‘N Slide, which will be set up alongside Seneca in Freeway Park. All are welcome to participate.

Eastside leaders will be on hand to unveil the preliminary design and route for a zip line to Bellevue and Redmond. This exciting new transportation option is also environmentally sustainable and will provide commuters unparalleled views of Mt. Rainier.

While buses currently serve thousands of commuters well every day, regional leaders stressed the need to prepare commuters for what life will be like if we don’t approve Proposition 1. Metro bus rides are facing the elimination of 72 bus routes and cuts to another 84 routes. These cuts will make it difficult or impossible for many students to get to school, seniors to get to medical appointments, and people with disabilities to get to work. That’s why an unprecedented coalition of businesses, labor unions, elected officials, and advocacy organizations have endorsed a Yes vote on Proposition 1.

UPDATE by Sebastian Garrett-Singh: “It will be more and more difficult for people to get around,” said Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen, stating the sopping wet obvious Thursday afternoon. The Council Member who chairs Seattle’s transportation committee told the crowd that if Proposition 1 does not pass it will negatively impact not only bus riders commutes but drivers through increased traffic congestion overall. One purposefully absurd solution: a zipline.

“You can get on the zipline and fly right over Lake Washington,” said Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci. “This is plan D at this point,” said Marchione, to a chorus of chuckles.
A handful of attendees at the unveiling of the Seneca Slip ‘N Slide tried the new downtown express. James Sido of the Downtown Seattle Association said, despite the fun times, the Prop 1 vote is serious business. “We’re very much in favor of Prop 1,” said Sido. “This is a matter of equity. The demand is higher than it’s ever been. Now is certainly not the time to take that away from people.”


Blotter | Police search for Tuesday morning First Hill bank robbery suspect

First-Hill-Robbery-2-3.25.14-300x277See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • First Hill robbery: Police are looking for this man in connection with a robbery Tuesday morning just before noon on First Hill. You can call 911 if you have information about the incident.

    Seattle Police are currently searching for a suspect wanted in connection with a robbery at the Key Bank in the 1200 Block of Madison Street.  The robbery occurred at about 11:40 this morning. The suspect fled the bank on foot.  Below are images of the suspect, taken from bank surveillance cameras.  Anyone with information on this crime is asked to contact Seattle Police.

First Hill Forum has hopes of sorting out what neighborhood is — and what it could be

Crossing on First Hill (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Crossing on First Hill (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Capitol Hill rarely gets lost in the shuffle. Many of its issues — and opportunities — are well known and well communicated all the way to City Hall. Its next door neighbor First Hill has never quite amassed the same sense of communal spirit. But now the First Hill Improvement Association is looking to change that by gathering residents and community members together for the inaugural First Hill Forum on Saturday, March 22nd — an event designed to gauge the make-up of its denizens, determine what matters most to them, and then start the job of reshaping the neighborhood for the better, organizers say.

“We want people who work here to come, people who live here, people who come here for medical services -  everyone,” said said Mary Ellen Hudgins, president of the community group. “We’re really looking for a broad perspective of what First Hill is, and what it can be and should be for everyone who lives here and comes here.”

Hudgins hopes that the event will be the first step in many in raising a level community awareness. Already, Hudgins has seen dozens of new people expressing interest in volunteer work. She hopes that this momentum will result in a renewed sense of neighborhood solidarity.

Continue reading

Dangerous Madison Park crossing, 23rd Ave intersection, First Hill sidewalk considered for city fund

A proposal to help make for a safer crossing of E Madison near Trader Joe's didn't make the cut -- this year (Image: Doug McLaughlin via Flickr)

A proposal to help make for a safer crossing of E Madison near Trader Joe’s didn’t make the cut — this year (Image: Doug McLaughlin via Flickr)

Last week, a Department of Neighborhoods community group considered nine new street and parks project for central Seattle and Capitol Hill. Below, you’ll find the three projects that made it through and are being studied for feasibility by the city to be part of some $1.2 million in funding through the Neighborhood Parks and Street Fund. We’ve also included descriptions of all the proposals just in case you want to rally around one of the passed-over ideas next year or you find something to inspire a similar project in your own neighborhood. Continue reading

First Hill streetcar cables join Capitol Hill’s complicated web of wiring

With the First Hill streetcar permanently altering Broadway’s streetscape, you should also look up and take note of changes above. The power system required for the new trains has added to the already incredibly complicated web of wires that passes through the area. Intersections like this view at Pine and Broadway from earlier this winter are particularly amazing as infrastructure for the electric Metro trolley buses meshes with the new cables for the streetcar — and an amazing mess of other utilities.

A web of wires, as you can see, has risen above Capitol Hill for a long time (Image: Seattle Municipal Photo Archive)

A web of wires, as you can see, has risen above Capitol Hill for a long time (Image: Seattle Municipal Photo Archive)

An SDOT planner tells us the intersection arrays are a particular challenge because all the transit wires need to share the same plane but can’t come in contact. We’re told, by the way, that the Pine and Broadway is pretty much at capacity for any new wiring, by the way. You might also notice some gaps in the new system — the streetcar route is designed to utilize the vehicle’s momentum at certain locations to make it through.

Despite a delay here and there, the streetcar is scheduled to be operating between Pioneer Square and Broadway via First Hill before the end of the year.

You can read more about the wiring work required to operate the streetcar, below, courtesy this SDOT blog post.

Work continues this weekend along the streetcar’s route. SDOT warns of partial intersection closures on E Jefferson and James at Broadway on Saturday, March 15th.

More from SDOT on the streetcar’s wires here:

Construction of the First Hill Streetcar (FHS) is moving ever closer to completion and will begin service later this year.Like virtually every other streetcar system in the world, ours will be electrically powered.  However, it will be the first in the US (and only the second system in the world) to incorporate an advanced hybrid battery system that means considerably less overhead wiring and the associated benefit of significant cost savings! Continue reading

Blotter| E Pike homeless assault, First Hill video shoot gun scare, messy Broadway car prowl spree

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

  • Homeless man beaten in E Pike assault: A man attempting to sleep next to a building at 10th and E Pike suffered a hand injury in an unprovoked attack last Thursday. According to the SPD report on the incident, the victim was unable to tell officers what had occurred as he woke up to the pain of the assault but a witness who saw the attack from nearby provided police with details of the 7:45 PM incident:
    Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 12.02.52 PMThere were no immediate arrests in the incident.
  • Broadway bank robbery suspect has long criminal record: The man alleged to have held up the Wells Fargo inside the Broadway Market before being captured by police minutes later when he fled to the nearby Summit Ave Top Pot is well known to police. We count 52 different criminal cases involving the suspect in King County and the City of Seattle since the early 2000s. His most recent arrests stem from less serious crimes including trespassing but he was also hauled in for investigation of felony harassment last August. The 38-year-old remains jailed for investigation of robbery.
  • Video “shoot” scare on First Hill: SPD rushed to 8th and Madison Monday afternoon to a report of a man with a rifle crouching on top of a roof. Police arrived to find a music video shoot underway. The Stranger says you can blame rapper Suntonio Bandanaz.
  • 17/Pike car theft: A thief had an easy time making off with a 2006 Chevy Impala Tuesday afternoon near 17th and Pike after the keys were left in the car’s ignition. The owner called police just after 3 PM to report the theft. Police were looking for the gray vehicle but it was not immediately located.
  • Victim beaten in I-5 camper dispute: A dispute among people living under the Denny overpass spilled onto the streets last Thursday night as police were called to Yale Ave beneath I-5 to a report that a male was being beat with a skateboard and metal pipe. Witnesses said the 7 PM dispute involved personal issues among campers and a confrontation over a previous argument:Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 11.57.32 AM

A passerby looks on at some of the mess left by an alleged car prowler at the northbound 49 bus stop on Broadway at Harrison.

  • Broadway car prowl mess: A suspected car prowler who may have hit multiple vehicles Tuesday evening left a messy, dramatic and perhaps telling trail of evidence along Broadway.

The incident began around 7:30 PM at the 49 bus stop in the 400 block of Broadway E. School assignments, wide-ruled paper, binders, shattered glass from a mirror, keys and various shards of metal decorated the sidewalk and street like confetti, fanning out from where a backpack, gym bag and other items sat near a bus stop bench. Continue reading

New voices from Capitol Hill businesses join public discussion on minimum wage amid sea of $15 Now supporters

IMG_4084IMG_4228It was one of the most boisterous Seattle City Council meetings… ever. Several hundred people packed into First Hill’s Great Hall Wednesday night for the first of a series of hearings on raising the minimum wage in Seattle.

The red-shirted masses of Kshama Sawant’s $15 Now campaign filled the 8th and Seneca auditorium waving signs and uproariously cheering on those who spoke in favor of a $15 an hour minimum wage.

Several Capitol Hill business owners were also in attendance, including many who have thus far waited to speak out in public on raising the minimum wage. CHS spoke with a handful of owners last week about ideas to smooth the ramp to a $15/hour minimum wage including phase-ins and a “total compensation” calculation. Continue reading

Reminder: Town Hall minimum wage forum on First Hill — Plus, ‘total compensation’ survey results

Wednesday night begins a new phase in the process to raise the minimum wage in Seattle as the City Council gathers at First Hill’s Town Hall for a public hearing on the issue:

The City Council Committee on Minimum Wage and Income Inequality & the City of Seattle Income Inequality Advisory Committee will hold a joint Public Hearing on Minimum Wage.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014        
Town Hall Seattle        
Eighth Avenue & Seneca Street        
 Seattle, WA 98101
Public Hearing—Members of the public may speak for up to two minutes about the idea of raising the minimum wage in Seattle. Doors to the event on Eighth Avenue will be open and speaker sign-in sheets will be available at 5:00 p.m.
You may submit written comments to Councilmembers at Seattle City Council, PO Box 34025, Seattle, WA 98124-4025 or or
Comments will be included in the public record.

Tuesday, CHS was on hand as City Council member and $15/hour champion Kshama Sawant warmed up for the Town Hall with a debate on her home turf at Seattle Central. Sawant acknowledged the fragility of small, local businesses in the debate. “This economy does not support small businesses,” she said.”It is an obstacle-riddled path to start a small business,” she said. Full coverage of the “War on Wages” debate is here.

CHS also surveyed readers on possible solutions for helping to protect local businesses as the higher wage is implemented. You can see the results through this morning below.

Here are the mitigations the more than 50 respondents who identified themselves as business owners said they were most likely to support:


Here is how the few (20) who said they owned businesses that employ minimum wage workers answered: Continue reading

City Hall | Council looks at SPD discipline, minimum wage forum planned for next week on First Hill

  • SPD discipline: It turns out a new Seattle mayor, too, is having trouble managing his police force. The Seattle City Council is taking a swing at the problem of SPD’s resistance to police discipline with a special Wednesday session of its public safety committee chaired by Bruce Harrell. Here’s what the Stranger has to say about it: “The city council seems super-annoyed that as they try to watchdog the police department, even they can still discover brand-new ways cops can get off the hook.” Here’s what Harrell says about the 2 PM Wednesday session:
    The purpose of the committee meeting is to hold an open and transparent discussion regarding the following issues:
    1)    Chief Bailey’s decision and explanation of his disciplinary review process and plan moving forward; how does the Chief arrive at settlement process?

    2)    Provide clarification on the current Office of Professional Accountability complaint process.

    3)    Provide clarification on the Grievance Procedure under Appendix A of the Seattle Police Officers Guild contract.

    4)    What are the questions raised to improve the process in resolving grievance cases in a timely manner and work plan to identify a solution?

    “As we implement the Department of Justice’s Settlement Agreement and search for a new permanent Police Chief, we must send a clear signal that police misconduct will not be tolerated,” said Councilmember Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee. “There must be a transparent system with appropriate checks and balances.”

  • Car service regulation: The Council’s taxi committee is expected — finally — to vote Thursday on regulations and driver caps for new-era car service companies like Lyft, Sidecar and UberX. You can review the proposed Transportation Network Company, Taxi, and For-Hire Vehicle Regulations here. In case you were wondering, alderman Macklemore doesn’t like the plan. And, lest you think regulations are stifling progress toward a fair and open market, here’s a reminder that even the new era can produce shenanigans of commerce.
  • Minimum wage town hall: We’ve told you about upcoming opportunities for public discussion about raising the minimum wage in Seattle. Here are the details for a City of Seattle forum March 5th at First Hill’s Town Hall:
    City Councilmembers will host a Town Hall on Wednesday, March 5 to hear input from the public relating to raising the minimum wage in Seattle. The meeting will be jointly-sponsored with the Mayor’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee. This will be the first official public forum for Seattleites to share their thoughts on the concept of raising the city’s minimum wage.

    Each member of the public will have up to 2 minutes to address Councilmembers, committee members and the town hall audience. Public comment sign-up sheets will be available in the building’s lobby at 5:30 p.m.

    The City Council’s Select Committee on Minimum Wage and Income Inequality will have the second of nine scheduled meetings to discuss the issue on Friday, March 21 at 9:30 a.m. in City Council Chambers. For future meeting dates, visit the Council’s Minimum Wage webpage (meetings are subject to change). A video recording of the hearing will be available on the webpage after 4 p.m. on Friday, March 7.

    The city will also host what it’s calling “an online town hall” on income inequality through the month. We’ll post more about the online portion soon.

  • Metro vote: OK. Not City Hall, exactly, but the King County Council has approved the plan for a ballot measure on local funding to support Metro services and fund road repair. We’ll vote on the tax measure in April. The Council also approved a 25 cent fare increase in March 2015 and required Metro to create an implementation plan for the low-income fare by June 1 of this year. CHS wrote about the “Plan B” for funding Metro here earlier this year.