With its citizens asked to ‘stay home,’ Seattle easing parking restrictions including dreaded ’72-hour rule’

The City of Seattle is hoping a few temporary changes to its parking rules — including lifting of the “72-hour rule” — will help ease some of the daily pains during the “stay home” days of the COVID-19 response,

The changes announced Saturday include lifting enforcement of the rule requiring cars to be moved at least every three days and limiting towing of vehicles to situations that are causing safety or traffic issues.

The moves come after growing complaints over parking tickets issued as residents have been asked to stay home and limit outings to help stem the rise of COVID-19 infections and amid a few dramatic anecdotes of medical personnel and first responders having cars ticketed while the owners worked long hours. Continue reading

On Capitol Hill, the cure for COVID-19 confinement is a spring walk in the park

Anybody cluck clucking or tut tutting the sight of Capitol Hill parks busy with walkers, bike riders, skaters, bladers, and picnic makers should save their breath.

In these COVID-19-y days, you might need it.

With the arrival of meteorological spring and singles, couples, throuples, and families penned together to ride this whole thing out, Volunteer Park was a busy place this week even with social distancing the rule during Seattle’s COVID-19 response.

UPDATE: Officials are saying to stay off the playgrounds but, yes, you can enjoy the parks:

To follow COVID-19 social distancing guidelines established by Public Health—Seattle & King County and the Washington Department of Health, King County Parks and Seattle Parks and Recreations are closing sports courts, playground equipment, and other active recreation areas where it could be difficult to maintain recommended social distancing guidelines. Ballfields and playfields are open for walking and other non-team activities. The closure includes picnic shelters, basketball and tennis courts, ballfields, and other active recreation locations. Parks, natural lands, regional trails, backcountry trails, and beaches where social distancing can be maintained remain open.

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COVID-19 updates: testing and case count jump, Seattle Public Schools TV, Metro and light rail reductions, and a distillery pumping out craft hand sanitizer

Here are the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak and response around the Seattle region, Capitol Hill, and the Central District. See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959.

Through Thursday, March 19th — Source: King County Public Health, created by @LeiferMd. The latest updates are available here.

  • Numbers: Thursday’s case totals from King County Public Health are sobering. 131 new cases in a day marks a new high point for the county. The jump comes in lockstep with an increase in testing. University of Washington Virology reported that its testing has now reached capabilities of more than 2,000 people per day. With some 3,000 undergoing testing on Wednesday, it’s likely we’ll see new hight totals for positive cases soon.

Source: UW Virology real-time tracker. View latest totals here

  • Shelter in place: Gov. Jay Inslee was early in shutting down large gatherings and non-essential businesses. But the Washington governor hasn’t taken the state as far as others like California where so-called “shelter in place” restrictions are now in effect. With Seattle schools and most businesses closed except for deliveries or pick-up, what’s the difference? There are no prohibitions for people in Seattle to go outside for a walk or a bike ride — yet. Continue reading

A trip to a Central District grocery store during an outbreak in Seattle: picked over shelves, heroic workers, and ‘at risk shopper’ hours

One of the joys and wonders of living in a walkable area of the city is stopping by the grocery to grab something for dinner. Along the way, you are pretty much guaranteed to see a few interesting things as the residents and workers of the neighborhood come together to gather food and drink. Even in these COVID-19 days, that quick stop and wander through humanity is still an option. But it has taken on a much different mood.

Earlier this week, CHS stopped through the Safeway at 22nd and Madison, one of the hard working groceries serving the central city. There are reports that no matter what comes next including “shelter in place” restrictions, grocery stores in America will remain open. While many of the scenes here in Central Seattle were mundane, others were harder to comprehend. Toilet paper, cleaning supplies, beans, flour, and tofu are probably sold out. There are no eggs unless you get in early. Continue reading

At Capitol Hill’s Seattle Central, a struggle to keep up with the outbreak’s changes to education

(Image: Seattle Central)

The last week has been a whirlwind at Seattle Central College. It began with the suspension of in-person classes starting Monday through March 25, the end of winter quarter, a move the school saw as the least harmful option that could be quickly applied. And by the end of the week, Gov. Jay Inslee had extended that restriction for all Washington colleges and universities for another month, through April 24, to blunt the spread of the novel coronavirus, marking a monumental shift to online-only learning for the first few weeks of classes next quarter.

Smack dab in the middle of all this, the Capitol Hill school also had a student receive a presumptive positive test result for the coronavirus that, as of Friday, had 568 confirmed cases and killed 37 people across Washington, according to the state Department of Health.

“Like the UW and other major universities and colleges, we have to balance the potential risks of infection against the disruption of courses, tests, and the services that our students need to succeed in their studies.” SCC spokesperson Roberto Bonaccorso told CHS. “It is a moving target.”

Now 16,000 students are mostly missing from the middle of Capitol Hill.

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Seattle moving on COVID-19 economic relief including eviction ban for small biz, nonprofits, and arts orgs

The City of Seattle is moving forward on some key initiatives including a ban on commercial evictions to support restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, nonprofits, and arts organizations paralyzed by the social distancing measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Wednesday, Mayor Jenny Durkan is expected to sign an emergency order “prohibiting the eviction of small businesses and non-profits during the COVID-19 public health crisis,” Seattle City Council Insight reports. Among its restrictions, the order will prohibit “the eviction of a small business or nonprofit tenant for non-payment of rent or because an existing lease terminated during the civil emergency period.” A small business will be defined as a business with 50 of fewer employees “per establishment or premises.”

The move follows a similar ban on residential evictions in the city.

Tuesday, Durkan announced a $1.1 Million Arts Recovery Package to “support creative workers and arts and cultural organizations impacted by COVID-19.” Continue reading

CHS Pics | Capitol Hill goes quiet — Plus, you can help with CHS ‘TO GO’ and ‘STAY HOME’ lists

Monday night, CHS found a very quiet Capitol Hill. In 48 hours, the neighborhoods of Central Seattle transformed from warily busy pockets of activity to a state of battened down storefronts and handwritten signs imploring “we’re still open.” The Comet Tavern was covered in plywood and coffee shop patrons lined up one by one, spread out as much as possible, for a warm cup on yet another weird day of COVID-19.

Here is a look at what CHS found.

There is more the photographs do not show.

Many of the neighborhood’s restaurant, bar, and shop owners and employees have worked up plans to stay in business and serving during the weeks ahead as officials hope to slow the spread of the virus. Elliott Bay Book Company is filling phone and online orders. Optimism Brewing can sell you “takeout” beer over the internet. Terra Plata served up paella for its customers to take home and enjoy Monday night. Starting Tuesday, by the way, the city announced it is converting “on-street parking spaces near restaurants to temporary loading zones to facilitate curbside meal pickup.”

There are also solutions beyond consumption. 12th Ave’s Northwest Film Forum is moving the annual ByDesign Festival online. The screenings of the 20th annual edition of the film festival can be purchased by event or with a full festival pass. The festival begins Wednesday night. Continue reading

Washington steps up COVID-19 restrictions — Seattle restaurants and bars must close or go takeout or delivery only

With the spread of COVID-19 continuing at a concerning pace and bars and many restaurants in busy neighborhoods like Capitol Hill still able to draw a crowd, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Sunday night he is calling for the temporary shutdown of restaurants, bars, and “entertainment facilities” across the state.

The governor said King County has agreed to implement the ban immediately.

The move follows two weeks of efforts to slow down the spread of COVID-19 that began with stern warnings, shifted to more aggressive restrictions, and how now ramped up to near a full shutdown of non-essential gathering places. Continue reading

COVID-19 updates: Ban on residential evictions, restaurant stats, Capitol Hill layoffs and worker fundraisers, ‘Weekday ridership estimates for King County Metro Bus’

Here are the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak and response around the Seattle region, Capitol Hill, and the Central District. See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959.

  • No evictions: Responding to pressure from District 3 representative Kshama Sawant and in the wake of Friday’s declaration of National Emergency, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced plans for an Emergency Order for a temporary moratorium on residential evictions in Seattle. “With the President’s national emergency declaration, I will be taking additional actions in the coming days focused on more relief for our workers and individuals hardest hit by this emergency, including a moratorium on residential evictions,” Durkan said. “We cannot let individuals lose their homes or go hungry at this critical time. Over the coming days, we will announce more support from the City for individuals and families and be prepared to connect more individuals with other non-profit and philanthropic resources.” Durkan also said she was “deeply concerned” the federal declaration doesn’t make “direct financial assistance to individuals, which is a lifeline for people in so many disasters.” Earlier this week, Sawant called on Durkan to “o help Seattle’s renters, homeowners, and struggling small businesses from the ravages of the Coronavirus crisis.” “Seattle must act by immediately stopping evictions and foreclosures, by requiring tenants and homeowners be given time to make up their payment obligations, and by requiring landlords to extend expiring leases,” Sawant said. Continue reading

COVID-19 updates: Capitol Hill Library and Seattle Asian Art Museum close, ‘model-based estimates of COVID-19 burden’ working paper

(Image: Emerson Salon on Instagram)

Here are the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak and response around the Seattle region, Capitol Hill, and the Central District. See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959.

  • UPDATE 2:10 PM: Governor Jay Inslee extended the ban on large gatherings and events and is shutting down schools statewide — beyond the original King, Pierce, Snohomish three-county restrictions. Inslee also announced “restrictions on in-person classes” for Washington colleges until April 24. That will push instruction online for colleges across the state including Seattle University where students say the plan is to finish the year with remote instruction. We’re asking the school what this will mean for SU-owned housing. Parents are saying their students have to move out of dorms by the first week of April. UPDATEx2: Seattle U says it is “extending its suspension of in-person classes through the Spring Quarter” — this includes the remainder of the semester for the School of Law. Students living on the campus are “being asked to move out of their residence halls as soon as possible and no later than April 4” —
    Residence halls and food services will remain open to those needing an exception and who are approved to continue living on campus due to extenuating circumstances. Dean of Students James Willette is providing additional information in an email to students and parents this afternoon, including details about support from staff in Housing and Residence Life (HRL), refunds and more. Recognizing current challenges, concerns and restrictions relating to travel, HRL staff will work with students not currently on campus on a case-by-case basis to coordinate moving out at a date later than April 4 if needed.Seattle Central College will also operate remotely through April 24th.
  • Library and community closures: With Seattle rallying — as much as possible — around the effort to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19 to give health facilities time to keep up, the weekend begins with a question — what is left to cut? The latest announcements bring a closure to all of the Seattle Public Library branches including the Capitol Hill Library starting Friday night and planned to last through April 13th. The city also announced the shuttering of all community centers, pools, environmental learning centers, and all other recreation facilities until April. The moves are intended to help reduce and slow spread of the coronavirus. They will also be especially impactful for homeless and under sheltered people who depend on these spaces for a warm place to hangout, charge a phone, or, yes, go to the bathroom. The city says its shower program will continue to be available at the Delridge, Green Lake, Meadowbrook, and Rainier community centers as well as Miller Community Center on Capitol Hill, and all Seattle Parks bathrooms and handwashing stations will remain open, the city says. At Miller, CHS found the bathrooms available outside the community center have been closed for weeks under a “seasonal closure.”
  • Arts and museums, also: The Seattle Asian Art Museum just reopened after three years of closure and construction. Now it will be closed through April 13th Continue reading