Seattle Design Festival 2020 brings a ‘BEECON’ to 22nd Ave, new Black artist mural to Everyday Music

In a summer of cancellation, design lives on in Seattle and across the Central District and Capitol Hill. With the start of the annual Seattle Design Festival this week, organizers took a step beyond moving things to a virtual gathering celebrating creativity and form by bringing elements of the festival to every part of the city — including 22nd and E Olive St which is set to buzz with a temporary “BEECON” installation.

Put on by architecture firms Design in Public and AIA Seattle, this year’s festivities will look quite different from the multi-exhibition, site specific setup of years past that attracted thousands of visitors.

“I’m actually really excited about how this has forced us into the communities in a dispersed way,” festival organizer Annalee Shum said, “but in a way that can potentially have a lot of meaning for our community members.”

Beginning on Saturday, local artists and organizers will unveil exhibitions across Seattle — including three around the Hill — alongside a host of virtual events centered around this year’s “About Time” theme, which “asks how design can help us all respond to the urgent issues facing our society — racism, poverty, public health, and environmental stress among them.”

SATURDAY, AUGUST 15 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 16: The “BEECON/BEACON” art installation will tackle the theme of time as it relates to the coronavirus crisis and Black Lives Matter protests of recent months. “The idea of a street installation was sort of our way of inviting people to pause in all of this and to create a moment of reflection or engagement or curiosity,” VIA Architecture’s Solaja Ratcliffe said. Continue reading

Homelessness activists occupy Cal Anderson Shelterhouse — UPDATE: Swept

UPDATE 8/14/20 9:05 AM: A morning sweep by Seattle Police and the parks department cleared cleared out campers and tents and met limited resistance. Police grouped outside the park along with a collection of SWAT officers and a Bearcat vehicle starting around 8 AM and began the process of sweeping through the “temporarily closed” public space clear out the campers and activists. A small number of people could be seen bundling up tents and possessions as other stragglers continued to argue with police officers, many in riot gear. A few people climbed trees and slowed the process but did not resist when commanded to climb down and exit the park. We do not yet have details of any arrests involved with the clearance which was still underway as of 9 AM.

UPDATE 3:33 PM: The city says SPD made four arrests Friday morning.

A statement from Seattle Parks shared with CHS by Converge Media lays out the timeline of the morning’s sweep:

On Tuesday, August 11, group of approximately seven individuals forced entry into a building in Cal Anderson Park that is referred to as “The Shelter House.” The shelter house is a locked facility on Parks’ property and is only accessible to parks’ employees. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Post | Councilmember Sawant’s Statement in Response to Police Chief Best’s Resignation

From the Office of Councilmember Kshama Sawant

SEATTLE – Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), chair of the Council’s Sustainability and Renters Rights Committee, released the following statement in response to the resignation announcement by Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best:

“When Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced her pending retirement earlier this week, she joined more than half a dozen police chiefs around the country who have stepped down under pressure from the historic #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd uprising. The protest movement has been nothing short of an earthquake in American politics, exposing the endemic racism and police violence of US capitalism and putting mayors, police chiefs, and political establishments across the country on the defensive.

“Like many of the other soon-to-be ex-police chiefs, Chief Best has repeatedly lashed out at the movement and its demands, calling the protests a “riot” and blaming activists for police violence. She also directed her fire at the City Council for its passage of minuscule cuts to Seattle Police Department (SPD) funding for the remainder of 2020, declaring that she was unwilling to carry them out. This meager 2 percent reduction in the police budget has fallen shockingly short of the 50 percent defunding promised only weeks before by 6 of the 8 Democrats, but it was too much for Best. Continue reading

SPD says officer injured, two arrested as police step into clash between private security team and Capitol Hill protesters — UPDATE

(Image: Matt Mitgang)

(Image: @ENDDSeattle)

An officer was reported injured and two people were arrested after police say there were forced to intervene in a clash between a small group of protesters and private security on the eastern edge of Cal Anderson Park late Wednesday night.

A witness tells CHS the officer was splinted at the scene by members of the security patrol. A Seattle Police Department spokesperson says the injury required the officer to be taken to the hospital but Seattle Fire was not dispatched to the scene, according to 911 records.

The 11th Ave melee was set off after a patrol vehicle from private security firm Iconic Global nearly hit a small group of protesters gathered near a building at 11th and E Olive St, according to video from the scene and the witness account. Police say it was not clear why the security company was responding but that police had to intervene as the scene became heated between the protest group and the heavily armed security team.

UPDATE: A member of the Iconic Global tells CHS the arrival of an unmarked blue Yukon with SWAT officers — and a different vehicle-protester close call with the Yukon also nearly striking people in the area — also contributed to the tense scene.

As the crowd became more agitated over the presence of Iconic Global and the SWAT officers, the security team member said one protester rushed forward with a skateboard and was grabbed by police.

SPD tells CHS they were in the process of taking that protester into custody during the response when another rushed in and the officer was injured.

SPD says two women were arrested and booked into King County jail in the incident.

Iconic Global is one of at least three different security firms CHS has documented now working in the Pike/Pine area with heavily armed guards and a fleet of marked and unmarked vehicles that are often mistaken for police or law enforcement officials. Continue reading

Dining in the street may be the future of Capitol Hill food and drink — at least for the rest of Seattle summer

Let’s trade parking for places to sit and enjoy some pizza (Image: Harry’s Bar)

As King County nears the two month mark of the so-called “Phase 2” of reopening and restrictions on indoor dining have tightened  — with seating limited to members of the same household and scaled back bar service — dining al fresco seems to be the best way to enjoy your favorite reopening restaurants. Unfortunately, many Capitol Hill and Central District restaurants and cafes don’t have outdoor space. To help, the city has begun a free, “streamlined” process of offering six-month outdoor café and street closure permits.

UPDATE: So far 27 Capitol Hill restaurants have applied for temporary outdoor café permits compared to just 8 Central District businesses, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation, and nine Capitol Hill businesses — and none in the Central District — have shown interest in street closure permits.

“[W]e are preparing to do targeted outreach to small businesses on specific streets in high priority areas to ensure this information is available and accessible,” SDOT’s Brian Hardison said. “To avoid perpetuating existing inequities in the neighborhood, we’re working to ensure that we meet the needs of both businesses and residents.”

Some smaller, fast-moving examples can be found along 15th Ave E. Olympia Pizza III and adjoined Harry’s Bar are some of the first Capitol Hill spots to start outdoor curbside dining.

Owner Harry Nicoloudakis said building the sturdily fenced-in island — also known as a “streatery” — was an easy decision. Continue reading

After mayoral veto, Seattle Council passes smaller COVID-19 economic relief bill

The Seattle City Council voted Wednesday to override Mayor Jenny Durkan’s veto of its COVID-19 relief bill while agreeing to scale the plan back by millions as the economic crisis around the pandemic worsens.

Wednesday’s 6-2 vote overcame Durkan’s objections to the plan that will draw down on the city’s reserve funds in what the council hopes is a near-term fix until the city’s new tax on the payrolls of its largest companies can replenish the funds in 2021. The council’s most fiscally conservative member Alex Pedersen and Andrew Lewis were the votes against the override over concerns about a worsening economic forecast for the city and Lewis’s hopes to forge a compromise with the mayor. Continue reading

RapidRide G bus project on Madison: City says good news on federal funding and new plan for 2024 start of service

The City of Seattle says changes to its plans to build the 2.3-mile, 10-station Madison Bus Rapid Transit route have passed a key assessment and the project is now in line for tens of millions in federal funding.

The Federal Transit Authority is now moving the planned RapidRide G project forward in its Small Starts Grant program after a previous federal assessment found the Seattle plan lacked adequate contingencies for budget and schedule.

The revised RapidRide G plan could cost as much as $133 million to complete and won’t begin service until 2024 thanks to a now longer 36-month-long construction plan, Seattle Department of Transportation officials said Wednesday.

“I am thrilled that the critical Madison Bus Rapid Transit project is moving past this critical milestone. While Seattle builds the best transit and transportation infrastructure in the country, support from our federal partners has become even more critical,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in an announcement on the $60 million federal grant process. “As we deal with the effects of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to invest in a transportation system that gets our frontline workers, historically underserved communities and communities of color where they need to go quickly and reliably.” Continue reading

A small program to help Capitol Hill and Central District businesses through COVID-19 has 150 applicants — and 20 grants to give

Frame Central is taking appointments

The federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program officially ended on Saturday and — to give you a sense of how this is all going — progress on a new package of COVID-19 economic relief is stalled in the other Washington. In comparison to the trillions of dollars being debated in D.C., $2,500 isn’t much but a new relief fund from the GSBA for the Capitol Hill and Central District is hoped to bring some small measure of financial relief to a handful of shops, restaurants, and small businesses. And there is hope to grow the program to help more.

“Capitol Hill didn’t just have to deal with COVID and anything related to that but also the protests, the riots, teargas, CHOP — there were so many different layers that the business owners have to work through,” the GSBA’s Ilona Lohrey said.

GSBA, Washington’s LGBTQ and allied chamber of commerce, is launching this project using a $50,000 donation from Comcast. GSBA will divide the donation into 20 grants of $2,500, but Lohrey told CHS they hope to raise funds to double that number and provide 40 grants. The first round of grant-giving will focus on businesses in Capitol Hill and the Central District and, in particular, LGBTQ, BIPOC and women-owned businesses. Continue reading

As Tigerly Ox heads north, new shave ice spot Kakigori Dessert Cafe moves in on E Madison

Image: Kakigori Dessert Cafe

A new dessert spot has moved into Vietnamese eatery Tigerly Ox’s former home bordering Capitol Hill and the Central District at 22nd and E Madison.

Kakigori Dessert Cafe is now open and bringing Thai, Japanese and Korean fusion to E Madison with uniquely flavored sweet toasts and milk-based shave ice — like bestseller mango and sticky rice bingsu.

Owner Day Anujornrapan, who also runs Thai fusion restaurant Thai by Day in Edmonds with his family, saw the E Madison location as ideal for rolling out Kakigori’s creative dessert menu and says the pandemic heightened motivation to get the business up and running.

“I think life is too short and if you have a passion, do it — just follow your passion there,” he said. “That’s why I decided okay, this is my passion, I want to do it. I want to create a happiness to people.” Continue reading

With no CHOP regrets, Chief Best to step down — UPDATE

Best at a community event when she was a rising star in SPD’s ranks

Outgoing Chief Best and Interim Chief Diaz at Tuesday’s press conference (Image: SPD)

Embattled Seattle Chief of Police Carmen Best announced she is stepping down in a morning press conference nearly two years to the day of her 2018 swearing-in ceremony with Mayor Jenny Durkan at City Hall.

“As the new police Chief, I’ll continue to lead our department through a culture of continuous improvement and innovation,” Best said at the time.

Little did she know.

Tuesday morning, Best said it was time to go — but it’s not because her salary will be cut, the months of protest, or losing the debate over the police budget battle. Best said she is leaving because of the “animus” against her exhibited by the Seattle City Council and protesters. She put on a brave face over the decision.

“That’s not being defeated,” Best said. “That’s leadership and that’s being smart.”

Monday, the council approved a series of cuts and budget shifts to begin what officials say is a process of defunding the Seattle Police Department and shifting the city to a “community-led public safety model.”

A mayor who opposes the cuts and possible legal battles await.

Best will not stick around to see the changes through. The first Black woman to lead the department. and a career law enforcement officer rose through the ranks at SPD with wide support in Black and faith communities, her resignation is effective September 2nd. Deputy Chief Adrian Diaz will step in as the interim chief of police as the process to find a new chief plays out.

Tuesday, Best said she could not be part of layoffs she says will start with the department’s newest — and, therefore, most diverse — recruits.

“This is not about the money. It certainly isn’t about the demonstrators,” Best said. “I have a lot thicker skin than that. It’s about the overarching lack of respect for officers.”

Mayor Durkan, meanwhile, levied heavy criticism on the city council. “They wanted to micromanage and play mini police chief,” Durkan said. “Cut here, cut there, do this, do that. It showed a complete lack of respect and frankly a misunderstanding of how the department even operates.”

Despite the harsh attacks and the mayor repeating her assertion that the council had “targeted” the chief, both Durkan and Best stopped short of calling the council’s vote racist. Best would not go there, saying she is “not using that harsh word,” Durkan would only say the budget process was unlike any other she’s seen.

UPDATE: Activists responded to the idea that Best had been personally targeted. Continue reading