Sunday, June 29, 2008

Snapshots from the Inaugural Sunday Supper at the Corson Building

After peeking through the fence so many times, it was fun to finally get a chance to eat at the Corson Building.

They've come a long way since the start of the year. January:

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Yesterday:

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Sunday nights they're doing a fixed-menu, family-style meal -- Sunday Suppers. Tonight was the first.

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They served dinner outside.

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They encouraged us to walk around before dinner, and they brought us oysters and iced tea. We ended up sitting by that cool, good-looking couple in the photo, at left. And we sat across from the Belle & Wissel owner and his wife (another cool, good-looking couple), and Curt Doughty, whose photographs are part of the "Accidents Will Happen" exhibit that's there right now. (He's also cool, also good-looking, etc. The whole table was a pretty attractive bunch, and I bet they all vote regularly and clean up after their dogs too.)

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While everyone else toured the grounds, I loitered near the table so I could grab one of the seats with its own chair. If you looked like the freaking Venus of Willendorf, as I do now, you'd understand.

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Dinner was amazing, of course. I forgot what all we had, though I do remember rabbit liver pate, rabbit legs, king salmon, lovage, fava beans, ham and apple salad, morel mushrooms, baby carrots, strawberries, and fancy cheese.



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I want to come here for dinner every Sunday night.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Photos from Artopia

We stopped by Artopia very early in the day today, and I took some pictures.

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I loved the Engine Room exhibits, above, and I also loved Bruce Christian Andersen's Carnaval de Monstruos exhibit at Georgetown Tile Works. I hope it sticks around a while; I want to see it again.

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The Eagles!

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I've been ready for Via Tribunali to open for months now.

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The Corson Building too. And we have reservations there tomorrow night.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Seattle.gov's Neighborhood Crime Info: Totally Inaccurate

Last Friday I took the day off and finally followed up on a March post in which I questioned the crime data on the Seattle.gov website's "My Neighborhood Crime Statistics Map" section. I met with Terry Wittman, the manager for the My Neighborhood Map program.

And, yep, it's all screwed up. I totally stand by my original warnings:

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I'm sure Wittman's doing her best with the resources available to her. (And, as with most of my meetings at the Municipal Building, I came away feeling not angry but sorry for the people working with such large goals and small staffs -- in her case, two.) But, still, with such wildly flawed results, I wonder how valuable the program really is.

She couldn't tell me exactly why all the numbers I checked up on seemed off, but she had some suggestions, which I'll outline below. She also referred me to Shanna Christie, the head data coordinator at the Seattle Police Department. I have yet to contact her; in fact, I have yet to decide if I want to bother to contact her. This whole thing depresses me.

1. The SPD sometimes has negative numbers for certain crimes in a given month, but the My Neighborhood Crime Statistics Map people ignore these numbers. Negative numbers for crimes are listed if, say, a death listed as a murder in February is found to be accidental in March. The SPD would list that as a +1 for homicide in February and a -1 for homicide in March. However, the My Neighborhood Crime Statistics Map only lists positive numbers; "we don't graph the negatives," Wittman said.

2. The system involves a lot of manual spreadsheet futzing, and this leads to error. For example, Wittman said she thought she accidentally inverted all the crime statistics for the months of August and September 2007, and that's why my neighbor's murder wasn't showing up under September. Oops.

3. There is no QA. She and I looked to see if my neighbor's murder was showing up yet -- she thought it would be listed correctly now -- but it wasn't. And she doesn't know why. There is no one looking over the numbers that are posted to the site. She didn't even realize she'd mixed up all the August numbers with all the September numbers until she saw my post.

4. The SPD posts census tract information using 1990 census tracts instead of 2000 census tracts, like the My Neighborhood Map program does. Wittman said this shouldn't make any difference with Beacon Hill numbers (because our tracts haven't changed), but she does have to do some extra calculations for other neighborhoods. I can only imagine this introduces new levels of error.

So anyway. That gave me some insight as to why the My Neighborhood Crime Statistics Map information can't be trusted at all. But I still don't know why, for instance, the SPD doesn't list this murder in its numbers for December 2007.

I got the feeling that the SPD might have its own issues with data. Wittman explained that it's a very paper-oriented process, with each precinct sending its own numbers to Central, where they are then collated. Apparently they've been making the move to a new computerized system all year long, but they still haven't figured it all out yet, and that's why halfway through this year the SPD site is still saying "Statistics available through December, 2007."

So, basically, don't trust the numbers you see at Seattle.gov. They might be right, they might be wrong -- you'll never know.

Living Near Jose Rizal Park

Today I got an e-mail from a young woman who was planning to rent a house right by Jose Rizal Park with a couple of friends. She's now wondering if they should look for a safer area to live.

I believe she and her roommates plan to park on the street some of the time. Would they be safe walking around that area after dark?

I know there's a lot of car prowls in the area (aren't there?), but that's true of many neighborhoods in Seattle. Their main concern is safety, of course, but it is a pain to deal with car break-ins all the time too.

Does anyone have any advice for this group?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fifth Sexual Assault This Month Near the Jungle

Yesterday a 21-year-old woman was beaten, choked until unconscious, and raped in the Jose Rizal dog park at the north end of Beacon Hill, by the Jungle. This makes at least the fifth sexual assault in this area this month. (See previous post.) Neighborhood activists are asking that women not visit the dog park alone at this time.

A work party is being held this Saturday, 6/28, at 9:00 to cut down some of the brush that allowed the perpetrator to hide until the victim was in close range.

No story on this has been posted at the P-I or Times yet; here is the Q13 story.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Four Sexual Assaults Around the Jungle Already This Month

Well, at least four. You have to assume that a lot of assaults around the Jungle go unreported.

The P-I story.

It's hard to know what to say about this. The attacks occurred around the Jungle, a collection of illegal homeless camps in the greenbelt on the northern slopes of Beacon Hill. There's been a lot of outrage from some citizens lately about the city's efforts to remove all the personal belongings along with the debris (human waste, garbage, drug paraphernalia, etc.) from the area. But the city's shelters can't hold all these people, and many of them don't want to stay in shelters anyway.

I'm not sure what the best way is to express concern that these camps may be helping to create an atmosphere that allows for dangerous drug use and rampant sexual violence. I know that I especially hate waiting for the loathsome 36 across from Jose Rizal Park, where the other waiting passengers are often drugged up and really loud and angry and unpredictable and kind of scary. I used to work up there and had to be extra careful when there was a Jungle rapist on the loose.

But it's uncharitable to want to see the Jungle camps removed until the city provides housing for everyone.

Anyway, I obviously have no solution to offer, so I shouldn't say anymore, lest I open myself up for personal attacks. When Beacon Hill blogger Craig Thompson wrote about the situation in the Jungle for the P-I last December, he got a scathing response from Real Change publisher Tim Harris, who called it "fantasy." When Thompson invited Harris to take a walk there with him to see for himself what Thompson described in the article, Harris said, "I briefly considered accepting your offer just so I could get you alone in the woods so a group of homeless people could kick your ass for denying them the right to survive, but my core beliefs in non-violence rendered that strategy unfeasible."

Everyone should feel free to comment on what's happening around the homeless camps, but please, no threats of violence, even if joking. There's enough real violence going on that comments like that aren't very funny.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Green Space Levy Should Go Toward Green Space

The Jefferson Park Alliance is asking for our help. A City Council committee is working to put a parks and green spaces levy on the ballot in the fall. Unfortunately, even if the levy ends up on the ballot, Jefferson Park and other Southeast parks will still get the shaft unless we can help shape the levy now.

The money currently earmarked for Jefferson Park would barely cover the increased cost of expenses that were already approved in the Pro Parks Levy. In other words, in this $120 million levy, Jefferson Park gets nothing new. However, almost one-tenth of the entire levy would go to building (not green space) upgrades at the Asian Art Museum, including air conditioning. I mean, that's all well and good that the Seattle Art Museum's visitors and collection should be kept cooler, except why should the funding come out of a green space levy, when there's such little money for green space as it is?

Read more about the levy here.

Anyway, the Jefferson Park Alliance is asking that you read the letter below and e-mail parksandgreenspaceslevy@seattle.gov BEFORE TUESDAY, JUNE 24th.

You can contact the Jefferson Park Alliance at JPAlliance@hotmail.com with questions, or post them here.

Hi Neighbors

I am an advocate for the green levy being put together under Council auspices through a 22-member volunteer committee. I am advocating that $3.6 million more be added for Jefferson Park on there (total of $7.6 million), and another $1.8 for other SE Seattle projects that aren't on the list yet. I got really excited about the levy by going to the Great City event at the downtown library earlier this year.

After sitting through the most recent meeting (Tuesday the 17th) I feel totally discouraged. The biggest project on the proposed levy list is to add air conditioning and seismic upgrades to the Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. The building is owned by Parks and operated by SAM. This project is currently targeted for $11 million, 9% of the total levy of $120 mil. Meantime, literally dozens of smaller parks projects that acquire and develop green space are being bumped off.

I really think that green space advocates need to cry "foul". I am sure SAM needs to get this work done somehow but I totally disagree with using our tiny open space levy for building projects. Air conditioning may be important for art, but there is nothing green about it.

Anyway, I am looking around for other sources of money for museum at the State and Federal level so we can spend our open space and parks money on things that will grow green.

Please write to your colleagues who are concerned about greening Seattle and ask them to request that this project come off the green levy and receive funding from a more appropriate source so we can get the parks projects built. The community center levy proposed for 2010 would be the right spot.

Write today! The last meeting of the committee is next Tuesday so your voice is important right now. Here is the levy committee e-mail:

parksandgreenspaceslevy@seattle.gov

Frederica Merrell
Jefferson Park Alliance

Beacon Solstice Bike Parade

Some North Beacon neighbors are having an informal little bike parade tomorrow. Sounds like fun:

Come have some summer fun at the Beacon Solstice Bike Parade and Potluck, happening on Saturday, June 21st, 4-8pm! We'll gather on the 1700 block of Forest, btwn. 17th and 18th, 1 block east of Beacon Hill Library. There will be potluck dining, bike decorating, face painting, bike parading and live music!

Bring your bikes and a potluck dish to share with a crowd. We'll have drinks and dessert available. In the interest of greener entertainment, bring your own plates and silverware to cut down on paper products (we'll have extras if you forget).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Metro Route 12

I've mentioned before how I don't like the loathsome 36. And the feeling seems mutual. I mean, I'll be standing right there, obviously waiting for it, but it'll pass me right by as if I didn't even exist. So rude!

Today I took the bus from downtown up to 19th Avenue East. I caught the lovely 12.

Even at 5:25 p.m. at 4th and Marion, everyone could find their own seat.

As we went up Madison, the driver played a prerecorded message for us. It was from some Metro goofball, explaining that the high price of gasoline had increased ridership. He apologized for the overcrowded conditions and promised that they'd be adding larger buses to popular routes in the fall.

I wondered why the hell they were playing that tape on this particular bus. Because here we are on Madison, at the peak of rush hour, before we even turned onto 19th, near the fancy pants part of Capitol Hill.

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I left my bus pass at home and the smallest bill I had on me was a $5, and I didn't even mind handing it over because the smooth, fast, uncrowded ride was better than a cab ride.

It's not like this is news to anyone here, but those of us only served by the 36 are getting totally screwed.

Isn't Manny's Beautiful?

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Another Call to the South Precinct Non-Emergency Number

Last time I had a noise complaint, I tried calling the South Precinct non-emergency number. But when I just got an automated response, I escalated my noise complaint to 911, per the instructions on the City of Seattle website.

But I guess the officials at Aki Kurose Middle School (whose playfield users were witness to some shooting a couple months ago) just aren't as persistent as I am. When a 14-year-old student reported to school officials that she had been raped at gunpoint by another student during school hours last week, they just dutifully left a message on that South Precinct non-emergency voice mailbox and waited for the police to call them back the next day.

The story in the P-I, in the Times.

(Honey, are you reading this? Screw the fancy nursery furnishings. Let's start saving for private school now.)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Today's Neighborhood Events

Georgetown Music Fest.

Georgetown Art Attack.

Maple School Greenbelt Restoration. I should have posted about this weeks ago -- sorry! Here are the details.

Restoration Kickoff Party!
Maple School Natural Area, Beacon Hill
Hosted by the Northwest Environmental Education Council

Saturday, June 14 ~ 10 A.M. – 2 P.M.

Come celebrate the newest addition to our "restoration family" - the Maple School Natural Area! Devastated by ivy and blackberry, this pedestrian corridor and greenspace is in need of some community TLC.

Get outside and join us for an afternoon of food, fun, and good ol' hands-on restoration! Bring your work gloves, comfortable clothes, a water bottle, and lunch. We'll provide tools, snacks, and extra water.

The park is located at the corner of S. Lucile St & 18th Ave. South. Parking is on the street on Lucile or 18th.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Who Knows, Just Allow Them to Get Involved

I came across an interesting Beacon Hill post in a blog about transit-oriented development in Seattle.

Case in point: Beacon Hill, a low density neighborhood minutes from downtown with phenomenal potential for views. They’ve got a new branch library and Jefferson Park is a stone’s throw away. And they’ve got a light rail station set to open in a year. So what is the prospect for [transit-oriented development] in Beacon Hill?

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There ain’t no way to turn this neighborhood into a transit-oriented community that can properly support the multi-billion dollar investment [the light-rail station] that has been dropped in its lap without upzoning a good deal of single-family properties. And that is going to be uncomfortable for many people in Seattle. The residents in Beacon Hill have come a long way since the mid-1990’s: at a recent neighborhood charrette some local residents agreed to going up to 85’ at the Red Apple site, and upzoning all along Lander Street to create an east-west neighborhood commercial corridor. This is all a good start, but a long way from what the city, the region, and the transit system needs to happen in this station area. So…how do we get the neighborhood to support a much more significant upzone? And if the neighborhood can’t get there, how does a city infamous for lengthy process and compromise do the upzone anyway?


I agree with the thrust of the post, and the blog -- that urban growth should be concentrated, and that means increasing density, starting near commercial areas and transit hubs. (But, please, could we please have a taste of some big-city amenities, like organic groceries and a restaurant with a wine list, before we get a bunch of ugly-ass eight-story condos?)

Still, as a Beacon Hill resident, I can't help but be put off by some of the condescending commentary. I came away from the post feeling not like "wow, they really make an enticing case for our neighborhood to pursue upzoning by the light-rail station" but more like "we better watch our butts because it sounds like these people want to come down here and give us a spanking!"

Some of the comments:

--This is obscene. They really need to be building AT LEAST 6-8 story buildings around the station.

--Leave the Beacon Hill station shuttered until residents will agree to extensive upzoning in exchange for its opening.

--Maybe even go as far as opening the station, get people used to it, then threaten to take it away unless they upzone.

--Some will come kicking and screaming [to high-density, transit-oriented neighborhoods] when they tire of the gas prices.

--We need to show [Beacon Hill residents] the beauty that density can bring and even let them help design it. Perhaps letting them put in a nice community square near the station (with new Pro-Parks funds?) or a very specific zoning area for where they want commercial vs. residential, or allowing them to put in increased sidewalks or designate specific design criteria for certain areas. Who knows, just allow them to get involved and imagine their own little European vista up on the hillside.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Beacon Hill Festival

It took longer than we thought to put a coat of paint on the baby's room, so we barely made it to the Beacon Hill Festival before it closed.

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The silent auction was pretty quiet.

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The gym was livelier, with the last dance performance of the day, by the Jefferson Community Center Breakdancers.

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Outside they were serving burgers.

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So I got one.

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Rosso Nursery had a stand there.

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Someone bought some Ceanothus from them, as I did a couple years back.

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Coincidentally, we're painting the baby's room a similar color to this. We're having a girl, and we chose blue for her room. Not to be contrary or anything -- I just couldn't imagine hanging out in a pink, yellow, or green room. Plus, I think the cool blue will look great next to the orange-ish oak floor.

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Does this seem harsh or reasonable? I can't decide.

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After the festival, we went looking for a new dresser. Me looking pregnant at Chartreuse.

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And at Inform.

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We didn't find a dresser. But we did finish the last coat of paint in the room.

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