Capitol Hill food+drink | Dad’s dedication and a new generation — 30+ years of El Gallito

Elizabeth Lopez didn’t have to think long about what’s kept El Gallito open for so long.

“My dad’s dedication,” she said.

That dedication has kept the restaurant open since the early 1980s. Refugio Lopez was born in Mexico, but spent most of his life in the United States, living in Texas and Chicago before coming to Seattle in 1978. Lopez thinks it was 1983 or 84, when he opened El Gallito (Spanish for the little rooster). Refugio retired 13 years ago.

He brought the recipes with him from Mexico, Lopez said, and most of them, including classics like the enchilada sauce, haven’t changed since the day the place opened.

Like many small business owners, he involved his children, and Elizabeth and her brother, Ole, have worked at El Gallito since they were in high school. She grew up in the neighborhood, and her mother still lives on Capitol Hill, though Elizabeth has moved to Leschi and her brother to Madison Valley. Lopez said that as she’s gotten older, she’s grown to appreciate the business more, particularly how it can be good to be the boss, and make her own hours.

“We grew up, pretty much, in the restaurant,” she said. “I enjoy it more as an adult than I did as a kid.” Continue reading

After a 21-month road diet, first phase of 23rd Ave work complete

DSC00851The new, post road-diet 23rd Ave is now open.

The Seattle Department of Transportation began construction on the first phase of the three-phase project in June 2015, closing the road to northbound traffic between Jackson and John streets.

The newly designed road has gone from two lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction, with a center turn lane. It’s also been widened near bus stops, to allow cars to get past buses as they load and unload passengers. Continue reading

Big act of goodness: New Miller Park little library pops up ‘overnight’

IMG_1541Thanks to Andrew Taylor for this picture of a little good news in the Miller Park neighborhood.

After a February arson destroyed its predecessor, there is a new Little Free Library on 20th Ave near the Miller Community Center. Taylor tells us the new library appeared “overnight.”

Thanks to the unknown little free librarian who created it and restored a community asset. Let us know how we can thank you!

Neighborhood by neighborhood, Seattle working out HALA and Mandatory Housing Affordability changes

Some Miller Park residents are not happy with the proposed zoning changes for their neighborhood in the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.

Those residents will get an opportunity to voice their thoughts in small group discussions following a presentation on HALA, Urban Villages, and the Mandatory Housing Affordability proposal at a Community Design Workshop at 6 PM on Tuesday at the Miller Community Center.

Spencer Williams, a legislative assistant to City Council member Rob Johnson, said the input collected from community members at the workshop as well as from open houses the city has hosted and online and elsewhere will be analyzed by the Office of Planning and Community Development.

Madison-Miller Urban Village Community Design Workshop

“The meeting is happening many months prior to there being a final proposal before the council,” Williams told CHS. “We are really trying to stay engaged early.” Continue reading

A few sparks of hope for HALA proposals as Miller Park residents focus on affordability and density

The Miller Park Neighbors community group’s rallying cry encouraging residents to organize to address proposed increased building heights under the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda drew about 100 people to a Wednesday meeting.

Jonathan Swift, a member of Miller Park Neighbors, said the goals of the group include preserving the neighborhood, keeping it diverse and making it affordable.

But it was hard to find many examples of clear support for the city’s HALA proposals and with elements like a presentation from Wallingford anti-density advocate Greg Hill, it was hard not to see the proceedings under a “not in my backyard” light.

Jack Thompson, a leader in one of the small groups attendees broke into for discussion at the meeting, has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years. The diversity the group aims to keep applies both to the people living in the neighborhood and the housing options, he said. “We have a little bit of everything here,” Thompson explained. Continue reading

Puny act of evil: Little Free Library burns outside Miller Community Center

Someone’s weekend shenanigans included a destructive act of puny evil on 20th Ave E. The Miller Community Center’s Little Free Library went up in flames — likely sometime Saturday night, one neighbor tells CHS.

"RIP" :( Thanks to Andrew Taylor for the picture

“RIP” :( Thanks to Andrew Taylor for the picture

CHS wrote here about the book donation box’s World Book Night 2013 debut. “I think it’s a great way to connect the community and promote literacy and a love of reading,” a community center rep told CHS at the time. In the years since, the Little Free Library movement has taken off and you now find book boxes on many blocks across Seattle — and the world.

There aren’t many details on the fire that destroyed the box just north of the community center. From Seattle Fire records, it doesn’t appear than anybody saw the fire in time to call the department in. We’ll check with SPD to see if there were any calls to police. We’ve also asked Seattle Parks if there are any plans yet for their center to rebuild the small but popular community resource and how people might be able to help.

UPDATE: We get the feeling this crime might not ever be solved. SPD tells CHS the fire was reported well after the incident Sunday morning around 10 AM. Police didn’t find much to go on besides a lighter found near the scene. It was checked for fingerprints but nothing useful turned up.

UPDATE 2/14/2017: The parks department is taking a hands-off approach, it sounds like. The library was “a community-led initiative,” a spokesperson tells CHS. “We didn’t take the lead on building the box and don’t have information on how the community can replace the box.” Your move, community.

Miller Park Neighbors make call to ‘protect’ neighborhood from affordability proposals

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-4-13-52-pmAs the city rolled out its Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda roadshow last month, CHS reported on a split on Capitol Hill — those living in already dense areas generally support the proposed upzones and changes, while those living in less dense areas generally, well, don’t. That fault line is especially apparent around the Miller Park neighborhood where the area around the Miller Community Center is slated for a boost to mostly 40-feet for townhouses, row houses, or apartments with 7 to 10% affordability. Near the southeast corner of the Miller Playfield a 50-foot zone and 11% affordability is proposed.

Other areas of Capitol Hill that sill have a strong presence of single family-style homes like North Capitol Hill are insulated from the HALA proposals. But many Miller Park residents, apparently, are feeling exposed. A longtime neighborhood group is being rejuvenated as the Miller Park Neighbors have organized a “critical meeting” on the HALA proposals next week:

Join Your Neighbors to Protect Miller Park Neighborhood!

CRITICAL MEETING Feb. 15, 2017 Continue reading

CHS Pics | Capitol Hill — and its living building — soak up chilly January sun

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

With highs in the 30s, Seattle’s La Nina January has started the year off with a chill. But the sharpest cold has also coincided with sunny, clear days. That’s good news for Capitol Hill living building the Bullitt Center where the solar arrays have been collecting about 43% of the office building’s energy needs from the sky.

The solar powered start to 2017 continues a trend. In 2016, the building generated more power than it used:

The Bullitt Center opened at 15th and Madison in 2013 and is still considered one of the greenest office buildings in the world. In October, CHS reported on efforts to kickstart the city’s Living Building incentive program to encourage more projects like the Bullitt. Capitol Hill is also home to 10th Ave E’s Bertschi School and its Living Science Building. Meanwhile, the next big green project on the horizon on Capitol Hill is slated to rise at 13th and Pike where plans are moving forward for Seattle’s first Passive House-certified mixed-use project.

John/Thomas intersections from Capitol Hill Station to Miller Park selected for major pedestrian improvements

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-11-05-59-amOften overshadowed by the more bustling sections of Capitol Hill, the “John and Thomas corridor” is nonetheless a crucial pedestrian and transit passageway through the neighborhood. Thanks to a community-initiated proposal, 11 intersections in the corridor between Broadway and 23rd Ave are on deck for a $1 million pedestrian safety upgrade paid for by the Seattle Neighborhood Street Fund.

The proposal from David Seater, a volunteer with Central Seattle Greenways, calls for installing curb bulbs along all the corridor’s un-signaled intersections. It was recently approved by the Neighborhood District Council, setting up a final vote at City Council.

“I walk along John/Thomas frequently and have been frustrated with how unsafe and difficult it can be to cross at any of the intersections without signals,” Seater said. Continue reading

State says good news after Capitol Hill gypsy moth spray

Washington State Department of Agriculture officials aren’t declaring victory but the latest trap counts indicate its spring eradication strategy in the war against the invasive gypsy moth was a deadly one for the pest.

“While it is too early to declare the spring treatments a success, this year’s trapping results are very encouraging,” said Jim Marra, WSDA’s Pest Program Manager who oversaw the spraying program. “Two to three years of trapping after treatment are necessary before WSDA determines whether a treatment has been successful,” the announcement on the latest counts reads. Continue reading