Friday, December 26, 2008

The Latest on Garbage

This contradicts the latest report (dated Dec. 24) on the SPU website. As a Thursday customer, I thought our garbage would be picked up today. But no, not till Sunday--

December 26, 2008
For Immediate Release


Andy Ryan
(206) 684-7688


Hans Van Dusen

Seattle Garbage Scheduled for Special Weekend Pickup
Conditions Permitting, Garbage Will Be Collected Saturday and Sunday

SEATTLE -- Special Saturday and Sunday pickup is being scheduled, conditions permitting, for the city's residential garbage, recycling, food and yard waste customers, Seattle Public Utilities said today.

Due to continued inclement conditions, today's customers (Friday, Dec. 26) are scheduled to be collected tomorrow (Saturday, Dec. 27) and Thursday customers (Dec. 25) will be collected on Sunday, Dec. 28.

Thursday and Friday customers are advised to leave their garbage at the curb through Sunday. Collection contractors will inspect neighborhood routes throughout the weekend for service opportunities. Customers scheduled for Monday through Wednesday pickup should set out their materials on their normal appointed days, next week. There will be no additional charge for setting out extra garbage.

Despite inclement conditions, the city's collections contractors have been running limited commercial routes around the clock this week, providing service to urgent commercial accounts where containers are accessible. Contractors are running 40 commercial trucks today to serve locations on major arterials and utilizing extra staff to access snow blocked containers. Approximately 40 percent of Seattle's business accounts have been collected this week.

"We are eager to resume residential services as soon as possible, but safety with our large trucks is our first priority," said Hans Van Dusen, Solid Waste Contracts Manager for Seattle Public Utilities. "Warmer weather is forecast for this weekend and next week, and we expect that will make it safer to send big trucks back into Seattle's neighborhoods."

Customers whose collections have been delayed by a week can set out double their normal amount of garbage at no additional charge. When setting out extra waste, customers are encouraged to place perishable food items in their collection containers and set bagged non-perishable items next to the containers.

Customers who have had their collections missed can also take their waste to Seattle's Recycling and Disposal stations, where it will be accepted at no charge. Seattle's Recycling and Disposal stations will be closed on New Year's Day, January 1.

Seattle Public Utilities' (SPU) web site ( and call center (206-684-3000) will be updated with the most current collection information. Customers can also be sign-up for CurbWaste E-News service alerts at

In addition to providing more than 1.3 million customers in the Seattle metropolitan area with a reliable water supply, SPU provides essential sewer, drainage, solid waste and engineering services that safeguard public health, maintain the City's infrastructure and protect, conserve and enhance the region's environmental resources.

Dirty Snow on Christmas Day





I've reported this graffiti.



Friday, December 19, 2008

Snowy Walk to Graham Street Grocery

I wasn't sure how often the 36 would be running today so I decided to get food from the Graham Street Grocery instead of trekking to Red Apple.

Looking east from the parking lot of the Chinese Baptist Church.


And looking west.


The Orcas/Beacon intersection.


Juneau Street, I think.


Another church.


I did see several 36s.


The west side of Graham was clsed to traffic.


There's the Graham Street Grocery.


The folks at the store could not have been any nicer. I bought a whole bunch of stuff, and they gave me free coffee and a snowman pin.

I passed a P-patch on the way home.


Not much to see there today.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to Complain About the #36 Passing You By

Aimee Curl at the Seattle Weekly complained today that the #36 has passed her by two weeks in a row, and this time she and the other passengers had to wait nearly half an hour in 20-degree weather.

One reader commented that she should file an online complaint about the service on the #36 route.

Since there's nothing I love as much as an online complaint form (except, perhaps, whining about the #36), I'll share the link with you all. Let's all file complaints when the #36 passes us by. Try to provide the stop location, time, direction, and bus unit # if you have it.

Metro online complaint form

I'm not sure it'll do any good, but they might at least be forced to keep track of all the complaints somewhere.

I haven't seen any mention of them in their ridiculous annual reports, none of which correlate any rider-focused metrics (such as number of skipped passengers, timeliness of service, number of assaults) to specific routes. But at least we'll know in our hearts that the data exists somewhere.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reporting Graffiti on Beacon Hill

Now that the "broken window" theory (the idea that graffiti-spraying and other forms of low-level delinquency promote further bad behavior) is proving to be true, I thought I'd make it easier for everyone to report local graffiti. I'll collect addresses of local commercial properties here -- just tell me where you often see problems, and I'll add them to this list.


Addresses of frequently graffitied commercial properties:

Christian Restoration Center
4351 15th Ave. S.

Red Bird Sports (the southern wall, facing the Grown Folks parking lot)
4868 Beacon Ave. S.

(You can use that same link to report graffiti on residential properties, but I am not going to list people's homes on this page.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This Has Nothing to Do with Anything

But I am super-excited for my friend Will (below at left in a photo from Election Day), who will be one of three musicians from Washington state to march with the Gay and Lesbian Band Association in Barack Obama's inaugural parade.


It will be the first time a gay and lesbian band will march in a presidential inaugural parade.

Keep Helping Noemi's Kids

My e-friend Amber, the editor of the Rainier Valley Post, has asked me to help publicize her efforts to collect money and other needed items for the children of Noemi Lopez, who was murdered in her home by her ex-husband a week and a half ago.

She's collected over $3,500 so far, which is fantastic, but doesn't cover the needs of the three kids, whose hard-working mother is gone and whose father is hiding out in Mexico.

You can make a donation through a PayPal link at the top right corner of her blog.

I should have posted this when she first asked me to, or even before she even asked me. I bug her all the time about things I want her to cover, or local problems I want her advice on, and she always does her best to help.

She's been running the whole show in terms of response to the murder, from protesting local newspaper coverage to organizing a community vigil to collecting funds for the children to providing news updates beyond what the police are saying. (Meanwhile, she's also trying to keep up with the endlessly changing news on the school closures and doing on some investigative work on the New Holly/Brighton shooting incident Saturday night.)

Though I wasn't impressed by her blog at first -- I thought she was basically just rewriting stories from the daily newspapers and, worse yet, press releases from the mayor's office. (And I'm still not fully on board with her "Bus Bitch" writer, or with the "hip twenty-something" who writes the "Myra, Myra on the Wall" column.)

However, nowadays, Amber's own posts represent some of the best news reporting in the city. It's advocacy journalism, of course, but, Christ, if any neighborhood ever needed an advocate, it's the Rainier Valley in 2008. More and more, her work shows that she's both a tireless investigator as well as a passionate crusader for a neighborhood that's been ignored by the city for, well, forever.

Anyway, I'm personally uneasy about making monetary donations while I'm on my extended unpaid leave from work, but I'm making a contribution to Noemi's kids, who have been through more than I could even imagine and could really use the help right now. I'm doing it for them, but I'm also doing it for Amber, who always does so much for the rest of us.

Beacon Hill Flats: Apartments, Condos, Apartments

Even before the severity of the economic downturn became daily news this fall, I thought that the "luxury condo" conversion of the old 1950s Cascade Apartments complex at 14th and Holgate was ridiculously optimistic.

But you couldn't fault Beacon Flats' PR job. They had a snazzy website, Google ads, a trendy type treatment ("b e a c o n F L A T S"), and, of course, their own silly tagline ("city living with an edge").

Back in the spring, I got irritated that the team doing the classy remodel on the building wasn't classy enough to proactively clean up the prominent graffiti on the building. So I filed a complaint with the city about it, and they did clean it up (and even planted some struggling bamboo plants in front of the former mess).

Then the units went up for sale. And mostly sat. Though I do remember checking the website and seeing that at least a couple of the upper units ended up being listed as sold as the prices were dropped.

I'm not sure what happened to those, because now the units are all listed as rentals, and the county classifies the property as an apartment building.

However, there's still a hint that this building once aspired to be a condominium. Some schizophrenic language on the site advertises "Only 1 Condo left for Rent!"

Monday, December 1, 2008

When Is a Store Not a Store?

When it's a warehouse.

The space at 2510 Beacon Ave. S., current home of Hui Trading, is zoned Neighborhood Commercial 2 ("A moderately-sized pedestrian-oriented shopping area that provides a full range of retail sales and services to the surrounding neighborhood"). In other words, it's supposed to be pedestrian retail.

View Larger Map

However, if you look at the Seattle DPD's own webpage for this
property, you will see that its present use is being listed as a warehouse:

"Present Use: Warehouse"

Which, in fact, it is. It's a food import / wholesaling business, and this is where the food is stored before heading out to restaurants.

The business is mentioned in a P-I story as being a rice importer/wholesaler:

"Wen Hui, the owner of Hui Intertrading, which supplies about 100 restaurants in the Seattle area with rice, said Wednesday that it was now taking seven weeks, rather than four weeks, for shipments of rice to arrive from Thailand."

It's no big secret that this is a warehouse and not a store. The first DPD complaint about this was logged way back in 2004. But someone high up at the DPD must have a crush on Mr. Hui or something, because the Department let Hui Trading fail to pass inspections on this single complaint 11 consecutive times in 2004... and in 2005... and in 2006... and in 2007 without being forced to "comply" until February 2008 -- four years after the complaint was filed.

But they didn't really comply. It's still a warehouse. When Inspector Kevin Hou came around for his 12th inspection, they must have finally used Jedi mind control on him or something to make him think that it was a retail store.

So some pesky neighbor filed another complaint in May. They failed a few inspections by Inspector James Blackmon, so at some point the importer decided to cloak their warehouse with a printout in the window, which you gotta see to believe:


These are not the droids you're looking for, Inspector Blackmon!

So, anyway, the neighbors have complained again.

They've failed the first inspection. Their front doors were locked during business hours:


We'll see how this goes. They've been unlawfully operating a warehouse in that space since at least 2004, and neighbors have been continually complaining about it since 2004. It seems like they get to perpetually be in violation year after year after year after year without any consequences.

I just hope that this complaint doesn't get dismissed if the doors happen to be unlocked during the next inspection. I wish the inspector could just look at that room full of sealed brown cardboard boxes piled on the floor, without any cash registers or salespeople or merchandise displays or price tags, and say, "Duh -- this is a warehouse, not a store," and be done with it once and for all.