‘Save Saba’ — Sawant rallies support to protect 12th Ave Ethiopian restaurant, ‘stop gentrification in our community’

The 300-unit mixed-use building destined for the block

Inside Saba (Image: Saba Ethiopian Cuisine)

As her efforts to “Save the Showbox” continue to reverberate in Seattle land use and legal circles, District 3 representative Kshama Sawant is also putting her political muscle behind Saba, a 12th Ave Ethiopian restaurant facing displacement that has served the neighborhood for nearly 20 years.

“We need your support to call on the current owner, as well as any future owner, to negotiate an agreement that protects Saba Ethiopian Cuisine,” the petition Sawant has championed from Saba Tekle, daughter of the restaurant’s owner, reads. “The new owner could relocate the restaurant across the street, or temporarily relocate the restaurant while new construction is underway.”

Sawant first drew attention to the plight of Saba in September as she included the story of Workie Wubushet’s restaurant in an op-ed about Mayor Jenny Durkan’s budget proposal.

As of Sunday night, the petition calling for the restaurant to be protected has more than 900 signatures. Continue reading

Police investigating after report of dead body found behind 11th/Spruce building — UPDATE

Seattle Police and Seattle Fire were called to the area behind a 11th Ave apartment building Sunday morning after a caller reported finding what appeared to be a dead body in a pool of blood next to a handgun.

According to East Precinct and Seattle Fire radio dispatches, the man was found behind a locked gate in an alley near 11th and Spruce. The victim was reported to be deceased on the ground with a Glock-style pistol nearby.

Police were cordoning off the area and closing some streets to traffic in the are for the investigation.

UPDATE 1:45 PM: SPD says the death is not believed to be suspicious. The coroner is now responsible for identifying the victim and investigating the death.

CHS respects the sensitivity of covering suicide and attempts to cover incidents by sharing the facts in a responsible manner that provides information about what is happening on the streets and in the community around you. Here are two resources to help those in need: National suicide-prevention hotline: 800-SUICIDE. Local Crisis Clinic: (206) 461-3222.

Plans underway for new Yesler Tiny House Village in the Central District

A tour of the 22nd and Union village in 2016

People living near 18th and Yesler will gather Tuesday night to learn more about a plan to bring more neighbors to the area in a new Tiny House Village project from the Low Income Housing Institute.

“This new village will shelter homeless families, homeless students, seniors, veterans, singles and people with pets,” the announcement from LIHI says. Continue reading

Man shot near 25th and Yesler

Police detained a man who tried to leave the scene of a Tuesday night Central District shooting in a ride-share getaway car, according to the SPD report on the incident.

SPD says the victim was shot in the stomach but suffered non-life threatening injuries in the assault reported just around 10:30 PM Tuesday: Continue reading

Wrongful death and personal injury lawsuit filed over First Hill Streetcar bike crashes

The family of Desiree McCloud, who died in 2016 after crashing her bike on a track of the First Hill Streetcar, and a rider who survived her crash a year later at the same E Yesler trackway are joining forces to sue the City of Seattle.

“The Defendant City knew there were other bicycle crashes occurring when bike tire were caught in streetcar rail grooves before DESIREE’s injuries and death and SUZANNE GREENBERG’s injuries,” the lawsuit filed just before Christmas reads.

Suzanne Greenberg was injured when she crashed her bike near the spot at 13th and Yesler where McCloud had fallen a year after the deadly incident.

McCloud, 27, died following her May 2016 crash that led to calls for safety improvements near Seattle’s streetcar tracks. The city’s investigation was unable to determine if the First Hill Streetcar tracks had caused the fatal crash.

Their joint lawsuit reads like a project list any street, bicycling, and pedestrian planner would be familiar with in Seattle. Continue reading

Seattle Seed Company finds new space to grow on 12th Ave

Sander Kallshian became interested in gardening and the environment as a kid.

His family had a garden, and he started an environmentalist club with a neighborhood friend. With some humidifiers and forest wallpaper, he transformed his room into a rainforest.

“I was kind of the environmentalist of the family,” Kallshian told CHS.

That interest has now grown into an online and in store wholesale and retail seed and garden business that recently relocated to the retail space below a new microhousing development at 12th and Yesler. Continue reading

Just don’t call it Yesler Park

yeslersiteplan12th Ave SquareBroadway Hill. Seven Hills. Summit Slope.

The results of the most recent naming of Capitol Hill-area parks haven’t resulted in the most interesting collection of public space branding.

Seattle Parks has announced an extension to the process to name a new park coming to the area where Broadway meets Yesler in the midst of neighborhoods undergoing massive redevelopment. The First Hill Streetcar and Broadway bikeway pass through the area. The city is now collecting nominations for what to call the planned 1.7-acre neighborhood park:

The scope of this project is to develop a 1.7-acre neighborhood park that is part of the Yesler Terrace Master Planned Community. The intent of the park is to serve as a gathering place for current and future residents of Yesler Terrace as well as people who live and work in the surrounding community. The 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy provides $3,000,000 for a new park at Yesler Terrace. Additional funding has been secured from the Seattle Housing Authority, State of Washington Recreation Conservation Office Recreation Grant, RAVE Foundation, Stim Bullitt Park Excellence Fund, Wyncote Foundation, and Pendleton and Elisabeth Carey Miller Foundation.

The $4.3 million park isn’t planned to open until spring of 2018. By that time, massive Yessler Terrace redevelopment projects from developers including Vulcan will be in the midst of construction creating hundreds of apartments in a mix of affordable and market-rate housing.

The deadline for submitting name ideas to the Parks Naming Committee is February 1, 2017:

The Parks Naming Committee is comprised of one representative designated by the Board of Park Commissioners, one by the Chair of the City Council Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Waterfront Committee, and one by the Parks Superintendent. Criteria the committee considers in naming parks include: geographical location, historical or cultural significance, and natural or geological features. The Park Naming Policy, clarifying the criteria applied when naming a park, can be found here
The Parks Naming Committee will consider all suggestions and make a recommendation to Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre, who makes the final decision. Please submit suggestions for park names for Yesler Neighborhood Park in writing by Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2016, and include an explanation of how your suggestion matches the naming criteria. Send to Seattle Parks and Recreation, Parks Naming Committee, 100 Dexter Ave. N, Seattle, WA 98109, or by e-mail to paula.hoff@seattle.gov.

As you can see in the most recent Hill-area park names, the process tends to favor geography. Here’s hoping the Yesler park might end up with something more interesting — and, maybe, just maybe, make somebody besides Henry Yesler the subject of some kid’s future 5th grade essay. If you’re looking for ideas, here are some discussions from the CHS archives about the naming of Seven Hills Park (we still don’t like it), and a bad idea that fortunately went nowhere for naming what is now known as Summit Slope Park.

Investigators unable to determine if First Hill Streetcar tracks caused fatal bike crash

In the moments before Desiree McCloud fatally crashed her bike near 13th and Yesler, she crossed in between the tracks of the First Hill Streetcar to pass a friend. After a police investigation, it remains unclear if it was the track that ultimately caused McCloud to flip over her handle bar and land headfirst on to the street.

“That question appears impossible to resolve,” said a SPD investigation report obtained by CHS.

According to investigators, all signs point to “operator error” in McCloud’s May 13th crash which led to her death a week later. Security camera video obtained by police show McCloud passing her friend while riding in between the tracks, but does not show the actual crash. McCloud was riding westbound on Yesler when she crashed shortly after passing through the 14th Ave intersection. Continue reading

Woman dies following bike crash along First Hill Streetcar tracks

Family and friends are mourning the passing of Desiree McCloud. The 27-year-old died Tuesday of injuries sustained the morning of Friday, May 13th when she crashed as she rode with friends near the First Hill Streetcar tracks at 13th and Yesler.

Investigation of the now deadly crash is underway.

The people riding with McCloud the morning of the just after 10 AM crash told police that McCloud appeared to wobble as they rode together westbound on E Yesler. One said she appeared to slip on or near the First Hill Streetcar tracks which run along E Yesler starting at 12th Ave. Two of the riders crashed and McCloud reportedly flipped over her handlebars and hit the pavement. Arriving medics found her face down in the middle of E Yesler, her face and body scraped from the crash. UPDATE: Police say McCloud was wearing a helmet when she crashed. McCloud was unable to provide a statement to police and was rushed to Harborview where she died Tuesday after more than a week of hospitalization.

If the investigation confirms that the tracks caused the crash, McCloud’s death will be the first involving a bicyclist and the new line that finally opened for service earlier this year. The tracks have been in place since 2014. The dangers for cyclists riding around streetcar tracks are well known. Seattle’s South Lake Union line has been notorious for crashes — though we’re not aware of any deaths involving that route. But the busy street environment can make the dangerous interactions difficult to avoid. On E Yesler where McCloud crashed, the tracks curve onto the street to and from 14th Ave and are adjacent marked bike lanes and yellow signs warn of the tracks. There is nothing to prevent a rider from inadvertently crossing into the track line where tires get easily stuck.

Elsewhere on the First Hill Streetcar route, planners included the separated Broadway bikeway to reduce bicyclist interactions with the tracks. The Seattle Bike Blog published this safety guide for riding near the tracks.

McCloud’s friends and family have been raising funds to help cover her medical bills. “As many of you probably heard, Desiree passed away this morning,” the latest update reads. “I want to thank everyone who donated here; the amount of love and support shown here and elsewhere was amazing.” You can give here.

UPDATE: The Seattle Bike Blog has posted several remembrances of McCloud sent by friends. Here’s one passage:

Des was an amazing human being who created a whole community in Seattle. She was was an integral part of welcoming me when I arrived here three years ago. She was always there to help someone in need. From helping her friends change out their wardrobes because she thought they lacked fashion sense to rescuing friends from the Midwest and helping them find jobs in Seattle. She was always there for us. She volunteered with the Girl Scouts as a troop leader and service unit manager. She taught Magic: The Gathering to many people with the Lady Planeswalkers Society at our weekly meet ups and at conventions across the region. She was ferociously intelligent and would debate you about anything and everything.

UPDATE 5/26/2016: Seattle Department of Transportation spokesperson Rick Sheridan said SDOT does not know “if the streetcar tracks played any role in the crash.” “Our review process will help determine if any modifications to the roadway are warranted,” he writes. The full statement is below:

The Seattle Department of Transportation was notified of the fatality at East Yesler Way and 13th Avenue by the Seattle Police Department (SPD) on May 25. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Desiree McCloud.

SPD informs us that their investigation is ongoing at this time. Following our standard protocols SDOT will undertake a fatal collision review process, which includes gathering data and conducting a site check. Our review process will help determine if any modifications to the roadway are warranted.

At this juncture, we do not know if the streetcar tracks played any role in the crash. The bike lanes are separate and outside of the streetcar’s trackway at this location on Yesler. Careful consideration about bike facilities occurred during the design of the First Hill Streetcar’s alignment, with bike lanes placed away from the rails and rail crossing points designed as near to perpendicular as possible.

UPDATE 5/27/2016: A friend of McCloud — and others — posted some strong reactions to the SDOT statement on streetcar track safety:

Adam also shared an image of the “ghost bike” that now marks the spot where McCloud suffered the fatal crash:

Broadway Bikeway gearing up for May opening — Yesler Hill Climb ahead

The future Yesler Hill Climb

The future Yesler Hill Climb

The First Hill streetcar might not have its cars finally manufactured until the fall but the (mostly) complete Broadway Bikeway could be open as early May. Meanwhile, Seattle Bike Blog also has news of a potentially excellent addition to the area’s biking infrastructure — the under the radar Yesler Hill Climb.

First, SBB reports that the bikeway is likely to be fully open by May:

The Broadway Bikeway is getting so close to being paved all the way to Yesler, but it may not be fully opened until project work wraps up in May. This late opening is to avoid situations where people encounter unexpected closures due to continued construction, as has been a problem at the north end of bikeway.

In January, CHS reported on the ongoing construction on the Capitol Hill Station pedestrian underpass beneath Broadway that will lop off the northernmost reaches of the bikeway even after the possible May opening. Still, as the Bike Blog notes, the opening of the bikeway will still create “a protected space to bike all the way from Yesler Way to Seattle Central Community College.”

And, when yet another swarm of area construction and development project is complete, Seattle Bike Blog says there will be a new connection to the bikeway and streetcar route’s southern reaches.

Here is what the future home of the Yesler Hill Climb looks like today. The image up top is how planners hope it will look in the future. You can learn more about the climb from SBB.Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 4.56.30 PM