About Sam Heft-Luthy

I've lived on Capitol Hill since age 0.5. Now I'm channeling that Hill experience into my work as 2013 CHS Summer Intern, where I'll be reporting on community happenings, art, music, and just about everything going on around the neighborhood.

Community leaders look at hate on Capitol Hill — Night march planned this week


UPDATE: Thursday August 29th’s event has been postponed due to weather.

This summer’s spike in violent crime around Capitol Hill has included a disturbing companion — hate. CHS talked to gay community leaders about what is happening and this week’s march against the violence on the streets of Capitol Hill.

“I think there’s a number of things that we have to remember,” said George Bakan, editor-in-chief of Seattle Gay News and head of the Capitol Hill Community Council. “The Hill has grown, there’s a higher density of population.”

Bakan said this population boom may have made cell phone and wallet robberies more enticing, as there are a wider range of people for thieves to target.

“There’s the endless cycle of people trying to get money for their drug habits,” he said.

But this wave of robberies has been accompanied by something more sinister. There have been several apparent gay bashing incidents around the Hill, including a robbery at 23rd Avenue E and E John Street in July and a beating on Summit Av E earlier this month.

Social Outreach Seattle co-founder Shaun Knittel said he believes the two spikes in crime are closely related — outsiders targeting the community for robberies and assaults, sometimes expressing homophobic views.

“I think some outside influences have figured out that the gay community as a whole is a peaceful community,” he said. “They’ve figured out that they can hit and run pretty quick and get away.”

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Project will finish original plans for Capitol Hill Russian Orthodox cathedral — 80 years later


13th Ave’s Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral (Image: CHS)

When Saint Nicholas Cathedral was built in the mid-1930s, the group of builders fell short on time and the church’s entryway didn’t end up being built according to plan. 80 years later, the Capitol Hill Russian Orthodox congregation plans to revamp the cathedral entrance in the spirit of the building’s original design.

Today, the structure’s entrance sits under a covered porch with stairs that run straight into the church from the street. The new design includes two staircases that each run parallel to the street, similar to the layout of South Lake Union’s Saint Spiridon Orthodox Cathedral.

“Nothing is going to change with the domes or walls,” said the project’s architect Arthur Adamov. “Visually it’s not going to be a big difference.”

Adamov said the new design will allow for more space in the cathedral’s entrance, as well as allowing the congregation to install new air conditioning systems.

Fr. Alex Kotar said the congregation hopes to have the construction finished this fall.

Seattle Stand Down returns to Capitol Hill to offer services to homeless veterans

A Seattle Stand Down moment from 2011 (Image: Seattle Central)

A Seattle Stand Down moment from 2011 (Image: Seattle Central)

When veterans return home from war, they can end up feeling completely lost.

“They’re put out to pasture and they’re like ‘what do I do now?’” said Derek Mapes, who finished a stint in the airforce in 2010.

Often facing PTSD and homelessness, many veterans have a difficult time navigating the myriad of services and benefits available to them, Mapes said.

“It’s like dealing with the DMV,” he said. “You’re always in the wrong department.”

Mapes is a volunteer with Seattle Stand Down, a one-day comprehensive service program for homeless and disadvantaged veterans taking place September 11 that aims to address those problems. You can learn more and sign up to volunteer at theseattlestanddown.com.

The program, named after the military term for relief from duty, is in its third year of operation. Veterans can receive help signing up for VA and HUD benefits as well as a hot meal, a haircut, and a foot wash.

Many veterans do not know the full extent of the benefits they are entitled to, including disability and pension claims, Mapes said.

“That’s money,” he said. “Not much, but it’s money they’ve been missing out on.”

By consolidating all of the resources in one place, Mapes said Seattle Stand Down will be able to ensure veterans have a better understanding of the help available to them.

“All of these services are in one house,” Mapes said.

FareStart will be providing the hot meals as well as recruiting for their culinary training program.

Mapes said Seattle Stand Down is expecting to serve around 400 veterans with their volunteer staff of 150. Over the next few weeks, Mapes and other volunteers will be reaching out to the homeless community with posters and radio ads, trying to get the word out about the services available.

“Our issue is raising enough money and volunteer support,” he said.

The Seattle Stand Down will be occurring Wednesday, September 11, 2013 from 9AM-2PM at Seattle Central Community College’s Mitchell Activity Center. Women’s services will be provided in the Broadway Performance Hall across the street. Parties interested in getting involved can visit Seattle Stand Down’s website.

At least three Hill businesses still have healthy bottom lines under new paid sick leave rules

Mayor Mike McGinn signing the sick leave legislation into law at 12th Ave's Plum Bistro in 2011 (Image: CHS)

Mayor Mike McGinn signing the sick leave legislation into law at 12th Ave’s Plum Bistro in 2011 (Image: CHS)

One University of Washington study showed that a majority of employers are ignoring the new regulations. An industry think tank’s analysis has dubiously determined that 50% of employers “believe the law will increase their costs.” CHS talked to three Capitol Hill business owners who said implementing Seattle’s paid sick leave regulations hasn’t hurt their bottom line much at all.

Everyday Music had paid sick leave before the ordinance, and manager Josh Hansen said he was glad to see the measure pass.

“I think that’s one of the basic rights, for employees to be paid for their sick leave,” Hansen said. “If business owners aren’t willing to provide that for their employees, I think it’s a good idea to force them to.”

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LionTail, the Capitol Hill business run out of a custom built bike trailer


(Image: Henry Kellogg)

City planners aren’t the only ones helping make bicycling easier for Capitol Hill residents these days —Henry Kellogg took a break from his UW Mechanical Engineering degree to start mobile bike business LionTail Cycles, which installs cargo bike and electric boost systems.

Kellogg, who is based in Capitol Hill and runs LionTail out of a custom built bike trailer, said his goal is to get as many people as possible to make the switch from cars to bicycles.

LionTail has two major products in its catalog: cargo bikes, which Kellogg sells as new bikes or as a conversion service for existing bikes, increase carrying capability. Kellogg said he usually sells the larger bucket-seat bikes to parents.

“I’ll get an email, from almost always a younger parent — usually near Greenlake,” he said. “They have young kids and they ask me how they can get their kids around.”

Kellogg brings his bike trailer to the customer, dropping off the new bike or giving them a test ride and performing the installation.

“I’m on a bike trailing a trailer, often trailing another bike,” he said. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Lifelong Thrift Store undergoes one-day renovation

IMG_20130814_110905_931The Lifelong Thrift Store is soliciting donations after a recent one-day renovation has increased the number of items the shop can display. The store closed for one day last week so employees could re-arrange the racks and install new shelving near the entrance.

The new floorplan adds a housewear section in the shop’s Southwest corner and consolidates Men’s and Women’s clothes into one section.

“It’s not segregated by gender anymore,” said manager Tamara Asakawa.

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Blotter | Storage unit burglary attempt, mysterious bike theft

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959.

  • Attempted burglary An unknown suspect allegedly attempted to break into a storage shed Saturday morning in the 1000 block of Summit Ave E. The victim told police that the suspect tried to pull away the shed’s lock before giving up and leaving the area. According to the report, this was the third time in the last three weeks the victim had seen people loitering or evidence of people camping under the shed. The attempted burglary may be related to a June incident where someone broke into the storage unit and stole a chainsaw.
  • Bike robbery: Two bikes were allegedly stolen from a garage in the 700 block of 13 Ave E some time between Friday and Sunday. The victim told police he left his home Friday, securing the garage door. When he came home on Sunday, the report said, two bikes were missing. The officer on the scene was “unable to determine how the suspect made entry.”
  • Phone robbery: Police responded to two related smartphone robberies on the 1300 block of Spring St and the corner of 14th and E Olive St on Tuesday night. CHS first reported on the robberies here; this is what SPD reports:

Police were first called to the 1300 block of Spring Tuesday around 12:40 AM where the victim described his armed attacker as a black male, 5′ 8″, 250 pounds with a shaved head and wearing a grey sweatshirt and jeans.

Only minutes later, a couple called 911 to report being held up by a man with the same description at 14th and E Olive St.

No injuries were reported in either hold-up and the quarry both was the same — smart phones. The suspect reportedly leapt from bushy areas in both attacks. Police filled the area around the 14th and Olive hold-up and a K-9 unit tried unsuccessfully to pick up his trail. Police also believe the suspect may have stopped at the 15th/Denny 7-11 store at some point during his travels but were not yet able to access security video, according to police radio. An attempt to track one phone via a phone finder app also failed.


  • The group allegedly responsible for a string of robberies appears not to have made an appearance since several incidents last week.
  • CHS received a lot of questions about an SPD incident near 11th and Pike Wednesday around 11:45 AM. According to police records and radio dispatches, a vehicle stolen this week in Eastlake was spotted in the area near a group of people involved in reported narcotics-related activities. SPD followed the car and made a stop near 11th and Pike where multiple people were removed from the vehicle and two people were taken into custody.

Overhauled Baltic Room celebrates 16 years of Capitol Hill nightlife

Celebrating its sweet 16 last weekend, Capitol Hill nightclub The Baltic Room is ready to show off a slate of renovations.

The space was originally home to disco hall Kid Mohair before it was bought by Seattle bar magnate Linda Derschang in 1997 who opened it as a piano bar. The space has undergone some growing pains as it has made the transition to dance club, said general manager Rion Haber.

“Everyone knew the space, but very few people knew what it was,” he said.

Haber said he and owner Jason Brotman have “spent the last two years resurrecting the place from a physical standpoint,” including remodels to the VIP area and the back bar as well as what they claim to be “the largest tap booze system on the West Coast.”

The dispenser looks very similar to your standard beer-tap setup, but it’s all custom made. A small fridge holds 10 three-gallon booze kegs, and there are 10 bottle-shaped tap handles, and a whole lot of potential for debauchery. General manager Rion Haber says he knows it to be the largest draft shot system on the West Coast—possibly the country. But when you Google “draft shot systems,” only stories about professional athletes and beer come up.

The birthday celebration over the weekend highlighted these renovations and will continue pretty much every time that new tap is fired off.

DeLuxe celebrates 50 years at Broadway and Roy


(Image: CHS)

Joe Rogel and son Barry Rogel have been at the helm of the DeLuxe Bar and Grill for almost 50 years, and they’re throwing a party to celebrate — Thursday. CHS caught up with Joe and Barry as they talked about the history of one of the Hill’s restaurant staples.

DeLuxe 50th Anniversary Celebration
The DeLuxe is getting ready to wrap up the celebration, and the anniversary party is this Thursday at 8 p.m. with live music from local band The Moonspinners from 9-11 p.m. Their eclectic music includes 60s-style pop influences and seems like a good addition to a party celebrating a bar/restaurant that’s been around since 1963.

There will also be giveaways, cake and lots of what the DeLuxe does best – burgers and beer. (And yes, anniversary food specials – like the $1.99 Old School Burger and $3 microbrew pints – are still going through Thursday.)

The DeLuxe has occupied the corner of Broadway E and E Roy Street since the early 1930s, where it operated under the title “DeLuxe Tavern and Steakhouse.” In 1963, Joe Rogel and Bernie Minsk made their first foray into the service business and bought the DeLuxe. Barry, of course, was a young child at the time.

“It was a business that you could buy and if you didn’t like it you could sell easily,” Joe Rogel said.

For the first three decades of its existence, the DeLuxe occupied only about half of its current digs — space that now belongs to the DeLuxe was originally home to a grocery store on one side and a Laundromat in the back by the kitchen.

(Image: The DeLuxe)

(Image: The DeLuxe)

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911 | Downtown shooting, fire at 23rd and Union’s Med Mix

  • Bus shooting: Seattle Times and pretty much every other media outlet are reporting a shooting on a bus at Third Avenue and Seneca Street at 8:45 this morning:

A 67-year-old Metro bus driver was shot this morning in downtown Seattle following a confrontation with a passenger, according to Seattle police.

The bus driver was shot several times around 8:45 a.m. while the Route 27 bus was at Third Avenue and Seneca Street, but his injuries do not appear to be life-threatening, police said.

The suspect, believed to be in his 30s or 40s, was then shot a short time later by officers near Second Avenue and Seneca, according to police. The suspect’s wounds were reported to be life-threatening.

Both men have been taken to Harborview Medical Center.

The bus driver is conscious and talking, according to Frank Abe, spokesman for County Executive Dow Constantine. (Seattle Times)

  •  23rd and Union Fire: CHS sister blog Central District News reported a fire early this morning at 23rd and Union mediterranean-meets-fried-chicken joint Med Mix. More on the situation as Seattle Fire Department investigates:

Seattle Firefighters responded early Monday morning to a fire at 23rd and Union’s Med Mix.

The call went out around 2:15 a.m. and the response was large. The fire was under control by the time CDNews arrived at the scene shortly afterwards.

Firefighters could be seen inside and there was a ladder leading to the roof of the standalone building on the corner, once the home of Philly’s Cheese Steak. (Central District News)