Short billions for coming voter-approved projects, Sound Transit beginning ‘realignment’ process

With news that new estimates show light rail to Ballard and West Seattle will cost billions more than expected, Sound Transit will hold a public workshop this week to bring its board of directors up to date on the cost challenges:

The Sound Transit Board of Directors will convene a workshop on Jan. 21 as part of work toward planned July decisions on long-range capital program adjustments in response to revenue impacts and cost pressures. The 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. workshop will take place as a videoconference due to ongoing COVID-19 precautions and can be watched at the below link. Information on the realignment process and the revenue and cost challenges is available at soundtransit.org

“Sound Transit is facing an unprecedented and extremely challenging financial environment caused by two major, simultaneous factors: (1) a pandemic-driven recession that has severely reduced consumer spending and government agency tax revenues; and (2) unrelenting pressures in the real estate and construction sectors of the economy that are continuing to drive costs to levels significantly beyond those foreseen in our plans,” the agency’s “Realignment Overview” reads.

“With greatly depleted revenues and higher construction costs, Sound Transit will not be able to deliver many expansion projects on their original timelines unless we receive alternative revenue from federal or state sources,” the overview says. Continue reading

Happy Inauguration Day 2021, Capitol Hill

Twelve years ago, Capitol Hill marked the inauguration of Barack Obama with a celebration of change and bars and cafes open early to show the ceremonies. They wheeled a huge, heavy, 2000s-era TV into Victrola and Cafe Presse was so packed some had to listen to the proceedings outside on a portable boombox, while Central Cinema put it on the big screen.

In 2017, we chose another route for marking the inauguration as tens of thousands slowly stretched out through the streets from the Central District to the Seattle Center in the city’s first Women’s March. Continue reading

WANTED ARRESTED: Capitol Hill man charged for assaults on media as crowd tried to storm Washington governor’s mansion

A Capitol Hill, Seattle man captured on video wearing paramilitary style clothing, carrying an “assault type rifle,” and threatening media — and other pro-Trump rioters — during an attempt to enter the Washington governor’s residence the same day as the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol in D.C. earlier this month has been arrested on the eve of Inauguration Day and faces charges for threats and assaults against reporters during the day’s unrest.

The Washington State Patrol says Damon Huseman, 26, hit at least two members of media with bear spray and threatened to kill a third “within the next year” during his day of rage January 6th on the state’s Capitol campus grounds.

Huseman has been the subject of social media efforts attempting to identify people captured on video during the deadly D.C. actions and the attempted assault on Gov. Jay Inslee’s Olympia residence.

The Summit Ave resident faces charges of two counts of second degree assault for the alleged bear spray attacks and one count of felony harassment.

Charges were filed January 11th and a warrant was issued for his arrest but Huseman wasn’t taken into custody until Tuesday afternoon and was to be booked into jail in Thurston County.

It’s not clear what Huseman’s whereabouts were in the week and a half since the charges were filed and the warrant was issued.

According to the State Patrol report on the January 6th incident, Huseman threatened one media member as she struggled to keep him from taking her phone, telling the state government reporter and the crowd of media he was going to “shoot them dead” within the coming year. Continue reading

I-5 arrests part of Seattle MLK Day 2021 as thousands march from Central District

Seattle’s MLK Day 2021 celebrations Monday were a reflection of the times with marchers stepping off from the Central District socially spaced and masked and a protest effort that branched off and brought traffic to a stop on I-5 generating headlines across the country.

“BLM protesters arrested, cited with blocking Seattle freeway on MLK Day,” Fox News reported, wringing its hands with concern over “the acronym for Black Lives Matter” being painted across the traffic-snarled freeway.

There were 12 people arrested and at least two cars impounded, the Washington State Patrol reported. UPDATE: None of the dozen were booked into jail, the WSP tells CHS. The King County Jail refused the bookings, according to a state trooper spokesperson. We have not yet confirmed why they were not accepted. UPDATE x2: The refusals fall under current restrictions to reduce the number of people being held at the King County Jail during the ongoing pandemic.

Thousands more marched from 23rd Ave’s Garfield High to downtown in the city’s annual showing in respect to the slain civil rights leader. Continue reading

As a ‘Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic’ opens at Seattle University, Washington lowers threshold to 65+ and ramps up rollout — UPDATE

Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at Seattle University (Image: Swedish)

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday an effort to speed the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine across Washington that includes lowering the current threshold for those eligible to people 65 years old and up. There will also be a major new push from Washington’s department of health to coordinate statewide vaccinations — especially in a “high throughput” core across Snohomish, King, and Pierce Counties.

The changes come amid hope of a nationwide acceleration with the National Guard and FEMA deploying across the country to establish clinics. The federal government says it has distributed more than 31 million doses of vaccine around the country but so far only about 12 million doses have been administered. The Biden administration will also invoke the Defense Production Act to “maximize the manufacture of vaccine and vaccine supplies for the country.”

Washington’s vaccinations have reached around 201,000 people — around 41% of the prioritized population in the state’s first tiers focused on health system workers and high-risk seniors — but far fewer than had been planned by this point and a pace that officials said must be ramped up given worries of increasing spread of COVID-19 and variants.

The state’s new goal is to reach 45,000 people a day — nearly twice as many as are being vaccinated against the virus now.

Continue reading

Here’s why this Capitol Hill restaurant is open for indoor dining — and why others will probably soon follow

(Image: Boca)

King County and the entire state may be still facing high levels of new cases and remain mired in Phase 1 of COVID-19 restrictions but, yes, those were real people you saw dining inside a restaurant on Capitol Hill.

New “open air” guidelines from the state are allowing certain venues to restore indoor service at limited capacity. One restaurant quick to move forward under the new rules is Broadway’s Boca Resto Bar and Grill.

The move has also made the 400-block Broadway E Argentine style eatery a popular subject of news tips to CHS from readers concerned about a possible violation of health departments restrictions.

But Boca is playing fair and square by the rules, its ownership says.

“We have been working with officials to ensure we are up to date on the ever changing dining restrictions,” Connor Casas Beaux tells CHS. Continue reading

The mayor of Capitol Hill: Why you should vote for Andrew Grant Houston

(Image: agh4sea.com)

With incumbent Jenny Durkan set to stand aside, the 2021 race for Mayor of Seattle is wide open. CHS will be talking with candidates as they arise and join the race. Our first 2021 “Mayor of Capitol Hill” conversation happens to be with someone who could actually claim that title — Capitol Hill resident Andrew Grant Houston.

Andrew Grant Houston moved from Austin, Texas, to Seattle shortly after the 2016 election as an architect to focus on building housing in a city in dire need of more affordable apartments.

Since then, he has been laid off twice, started his own firm that was crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic, and covered city government on Twitter to make a living before getting a job as an interim policy manager in Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda’s office.

Now he’s running for mayor.

Houston, a 31-year-old Capitol Hill renter, has been frustrated by what he sees as constant delays by Mayor Jenny Durkan on needed action on everything from the West Seattle Bridge to implementing safe-injection sites to appointments to city boards that can hold up the legislative process. He says that a mayoral campaign isn’t necessarily a good next step, but the “necessary next step.” Continue reading

Central District’s Amazon Fresh grocery store will have ‘micro-business’ neighbors including new QueenCare shop

Mathews at the small retail space at 23rd and Jackson soon to be home to a new QueenCare (Image: Vulcan)

Seattle commerce giant Amazon won’t be the only commercial tenant calling the Central District’s new mixed-use Jackson Apartments home.

CHS reported here on the the start of hiring to open a new Amazon Fresh grocery at the corner of 23rd and Jackson in the new mixed-use development from Vulcan.

Part of the project includes a “public plaza and retail pavilion” along S Jackson with “three micro-retail spaces” — QueenCare, a Black and woman owned body-care company from an area resident will be part of the mix thanks to a partnership with with the developer and Seattle entrepreneurial empowerment nonprofit Ventures.

“Opening our flagship location at the Jackson Apartments represents my story full circle,” owner Monika Mathews said in an announcement of the new lease from Vulcan.

“When I moved to the Central Area, I was to the point that people probably thought I was going to be a statistic,” Mathews said. “But I was able to learn and grow, and acquire the skills of entrepreneurship, many of which I learned through Ventures.”

Mathews called the opportunity “a great example of equity in action.” Continue reading

Pot in Seattle is too white: Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force shaping plan to create new opportunities in state’s retail marijuana industry

Owner Ian Eisenberg watches a 2016 protest targeting his Uncle Ike’s pot shop at 23rd and Union

By Melissa Santos / Crosscut.com

A plan to bring social equity to the state’s mostly white marijuana industry was delayed by COVID-19. Now, things are inching forward.

Even before this year’s Black Lives Matter protests, Washington state’s legal cannabis industry had a well-known problem with race.

About 4% of the state’s population is Black. But Black people have a majority stake in only 1% of Washington businesses that grow and process marijuana, according to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, while roughly 3% of retail cannabis shops are majority Black owned. Some remain skeptical of those figures and say the picture is actually worse.

So, when former basketball star Shawn Kemp opened a shop that was initially billed as Seattle’s first Black-owned cannabis dispensary, headlines followed.

Except Kemp’s store didn’t do anything to budge those statewide numbers. In fact, he owns only 5% of the store that bears his name — and the business is actually majority white owned. The communications firm that originally promoted the store as Seattle’s first Black-owned cannabis dispensary later said it shouldn’t have done so.

For many, the dustup once again highlighted the lack of diversity in the state’s legal pot industry and the need to fix it. Continue reading