Gay City has expanded E Pike library and resource center — and Three Dollar Bill Cinema as a new roommate

Time to hit the books (Image: Gay City)

Capitol Hill’s Gay City has opened its new library and resource center on E Pike. It also has a new partner in the expanded space.

Gay City, which promotes wellness in Seattle’s LGBTQ community by providing health services, connecting people to needed resources, allowing for artistic expression, and building community, has maintained a growing library for years. The Michael C. Weidemann LGBT Library, at Gay City first opened in 2009, when the nonprofit inherited the LGBT Lending Library from the closing Seattle LGBT Community Center, and now houses more than 8,000 books..

“It’s really about making our existing resources more accessible,” Gay City executive director Fred Swanson said of the opening of the new, larger facility. “More space means more room for people to access services, and more opportunity for programing through the library.” Continue reading

At Capitol Hill open house on Seattle single-family zoning, calls for big change, affordability

Representatives from the Seattle Planning Commission chose Capitol Hill to meet with community members Monday night to discuss the findings of a report that officials say shows major changes to Seattle’s single-family zoning are “necessary for the city’s future.” CHS stopped through the lobby of 12th Ave Arts to talk with people who showed up.

“Restoring the flexibility in housing types seen in Seattle’s historic residential neighborhoods is critical if the city is to achieve its goals of being a diverse, equitable and sustainable place to live,” a statement on the new “Neighborhoods for All” report reads.

Alex Broner, who says the housing issue is a personal one to him after struggling to afford it in Seattle in the past, thinks this report is a “good foundational step,” but wanted to know how the city transitions from the findings into policy that reflects the suggestions of the commission, which included encouraging more compact development on all lots.

“People whose housing is threatened or who lack housing really start falling down in terms of their ability to take care of themselves in every other way,” Broner, director of the Housing Now advocacy group, said. “It seems like something a society should be able to get its handle on, but we seem not to.”

“It’s only a first step, it’s only a foundation, we have to keep going. We need to, I think, allow these realizations to kind of liberate us from some old ways of thinking.” Continue reading

Harborview Hall finally put back to use as homeless shelter set to open

Attendees at last week’s information session on the reopening of Harborview Hall

Two years after the allocation of funding, the Harborview Hall shelter is targeting a December 15th opening, providing 100 beds for people experiencing homelessness to stay overnight.

Representatives from The Salvation Army and King County, which owns the property, met with dozens of community members, many of whom were Harborview Medical Center employees, last week in an open house on the hospital’s campus to discuss the opening of the shelter.

The Salvation Army will be operating the temporary overnight shelter, located at 326 9th Avenue on the first floor of Harborview Hall, which has been vacant since 2011. There will be a minimum of four staff members inside the facility while it’s open, according to The Salvation Army’s offsite shelter programs director Scott Moorhouse. Continue reading

‘Single family home neighborhood’ — the Madison Valley PCC mixed-use battle

An $85 filing fee — and lots of billable hours — is holding up a Madison Valley mixed-use apartments and PCC grocery project but the long, drawn out Seattle process to develop the property might finally be set to move forward.

Conflict between a community group attempting to use the State Environmental Policy Act as a defensive blanket and developer Velmeir Companies will come to a head by December as the city’s Hearing Examiner is slated to make a decision on an appeal against the project.

Save Madison Valley, a group aimed at maintaining the area as a “single family home neighborhood,” has been working, it says, to ensure that Velmeir commits to mitigating the environmental impacts of its 82-unit, mixed-use six-story development at 2925 E Madison.

The project passed through the first stage of the design review process finally in January 2017 after a relatively rare three sessions in front of the board. The design from Meng Strazzara was fully signed off on last September — but the project isn’t yet close to breaking ground.

Save Madison Valley is asking the Hearing Examiner to reverse the design review decision and the city’s determination on the project’s environmental impact and require the development to undergo new rounds of costly, time consuming review. It’s a strategy cut from similar cloth to the legal fight holding up Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability program that has cost the city plenty in legal fees — and maybe 717 affordable apartment units.

But Velmeir may not have to wait for December to move forward. Continue reading

Midtown: Public Square shaping up with hopes ranging from My Sweet Lil Cakes to Bartell’s

Midtown: Public Square’s design still needs a few more tweaks

With the nonprofit-developed, affordable housing-focused Liberty Bank Building set to open to start 2019, the other major project planned to reshape 23rd and Union with a mix of market-rate and affordable housing from a for-profit developer is hoped to wrap up its public design process for a start of construction next year.

Lake Union Partners, developers for the Midtown: Public Square, met with neighbors last month for two design conversations to discuss “community opportunities” before the planned three-piece, seven-story apartment development with 429 apartment units and underground parking for 258 vehicles returns for what is hoped to be the final review of the project in December.

December’s review will follow July’s unsuccessful bid for design review signoff amid community complaints that design for the Midtown: Public Square project looked too “South Lake Union” and calls for a more Central District-centered process. Despite the concerns, the project is planned to remain under the purview of the East Design Review Board that covers neighborhoods including Capitol Hill, the Central Area, and Madison Park. It’s not clear what role if any will be played by members of the Central Area Design Review Board created earlier this year by splitting off the Central District neighborhoods from the East region in an effort to preserve and grow the historically Black culture of the Central District. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s king of pot adds the draw of clean cannabis and new E Olive Way shop

Uncle Ike’s Ian Eisenberg (Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill and the Central District’s top provider of pot, Uncle Ike’s has begun randomized pesticide testing on products directly from its shelves in an effort to incentivize vendors to provide clean cannabis and push the state to act.

The program, called Ike’s OK, started in October with five products and will continue testing five more products each month indefinitely as a way of regulating a market that is under very little government supervision. The state only requires potency testing certificates of analysis with each product, but no similar documentation for pesticide testing.

For Tobias Coughlin-Bogue, a journalist who has written extensively on pesticide use in pot, the legalization of recreational marijuana, which came in December 2012, was just the first step toward it becoming a safe consumer good.

“It’s not complicated, it’s not like we did any real wizardry,” said Coughlin-Bogue, who helped develop the program. “It’s just a basic safeguard, but it’s one that we should have had four years ago.”

Uncle Ike’s is one of a handful of companies in the retail pot business but its sales outstrip competitors by a long shot. And soon, even more Capitol Hill pot will come through Uncle Ike’s as the chain prepares to open a new location on E Olive Way. Continue reading

Tree of Life: Sadness — and calls to action — at Seattle vigil

Mourners gathered at Seattle’s Temple De Hirsch Sinai Monday night to commemorate those lost in Pittsburgh over the weekend and build community through the tragedy.

“Tonight Pittsburgh is a town in Washington state, and the Tree of Life synagogue is a synagogue in Washington state, and the reason for that is that we have one heart over the loss of this assault on the Jewish community,” Governor Jay Inslee said. “We all share a common destiny of hoping for survival and that survival depends on eliminating the concept that there is an other.” Continue reading

To boost the Seattle dream of an electric car in every affordable garage, public charging stations being added across city, including one on Capitol Hill

(Image: Seattle.gov)

Elon Musk wouldn’t be pleased with the delivery timeline but Capitol Hill is lined up to host one of the city’s 20 planned public electric car chargers hoped to, um, jumpstart the adoption of electric vehicles in Seattle and make the automobiles more accessible.

Seattle City Light is making plans to install 18 more of the DC Fast Chargers for electric vehicles at 10 to 15 curbside and off-street locations across the city one of which will be located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

“We feel that as a public utility we have a responsibility to our ratepayers to invest in and implement solutions that support sustainability,” Jenny Levesque, community outreach manager for Seattle City Light, said at Monday’s Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council meeting. Continue reading

15 things CHS heard at Rep. Jayapal’s Capitol Hill town hall

7th Congressional District Rep. Pramila Jayapal spoke with over 100 constituents Thursday evening at The Summit on Pike as part of her ongoing efforts to get out the vote and boost campaign donations across the nation ahead of the November 6th midterm elections.

The Democrat spent the previous four days in four different states stumping for candidates challenging Republican incumbents including Ohio’s Aftab Pureval, the first Tibetan American running for U.S. Congress, and Kara Eastman in Nebraska. Jayapal was planning next to visit Los Angeles and New Mexico, among other places, to try to help boost chance of a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives following the critical midterm vote.

Jayapal said she was asked if she was exhausted. “I said ‘yeah, maybe, I haven’t really given myself the time to think about it’ because you know what, I will be more exhausted if we don’t flip the house,” Rep. Jayapal said. “So I’m going to do everything I can to flip the house.”

15 Things CHS heard at the ‘Don’t Agonize, Organize’ town hall

  1. Rep. Jayapal does not think of her platform as progressive. “These are centrist ideas in that they serve the center of the country,” she said. “Why should centrist mean serving the top 10 percent?”
  2. When prompted by an attendee, Rep. Jayapal said “I love the idea of a federal jobs guarantee,” referring to the idea pushed by progressives across the nation that every American should be entitled to a job that pays $15 per hour and includes benefits, such as health care and child care. Continue reading

‘Seattle Rainbow Housing’ — Study shows affordability crisis hits LGBTQ seniors even harder

Capitol Hill Housing is planning LGBTQ and senior affordable housing at 14th and Union

A report commissioned by the city’s Office of Housing found that there are several key challenges facing seniors in Seattle’s LGBTQ community, including inadequate services, lack of stable affordable housing, and high rates of discrimination and bias in housing.

“We wanted to understand the LGBTQ senior housing and service needs in the local area, especially given how the cost of housing is increasing,” Karen Fredrisken Goldsen, a professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Washington, said. “Certainly there are concerns regarding the lack of housing affordability and accessibility in Seattle, King County.”

The report, led by Fredrisken Goldsen, found that Seattle “is falling behind other major metropolitan areas in addressing LGBTQ housing and senior needs.” Meanwhile, cities like San Francisco, California have invested millions of dollars to address the needs of LGBTQ older adults.

“With LGBT older adults, if they lose housing, it’s often difficult for them to secure new housing,” Fredrisken Goldsen said. Continue reading