Monday, March 31, 2008

Seattle School Board Backing Off on Southeast Promises

Story in the Times today about how members of the Seattle School Board are already talking about reneging on their promises to Southeast Seattle schools.

Some members of the board are rethinking the Southeast Initiative, the district's much-lauded effort to improve three underperforming South End schools: Aki Kurose Middle School and Rainier Beach and Cleveland high schools.

The School Board launched the initiative last year with $250,000 and a three-year plan to draw back neighborhood students to the schools. But as the district staff has continued to propose arts programs, more rigorous classes, additional class periods, teacher bonuses and other extras for Southeast Initiative schools, several board members have wondered aloud whether it's getting too expensive. And some have expressed frustration that the superintendent has not yet identified specific goals for the schools.

There's no budget yet, but district officials have estimated the Southeast Initiative could cost $3 million to $4 million each year.

At a board meeting earlier this month, member Michael DeBell called the situation "problematic."

Board member Peter Maier questioned whether the effort would be sustainable.

"Let's assume this works," he said. "Then the question arises, are we committed to many years of these kinds of resources?"

In an interview Friday, board member Harium Martin-Morris said he is open to backing off the Southeast Initiative if necessary — even reneging on commitments already publicized in the district's enrollment guide.

"I must confess, I have some reservations," he said. "I have to look at that and say, 'Gee, that's a lot of money, and can I use that money in a better way to still help those schools, but help even more [schools]?'"

OK, so the school board is totally willing to just let South Seattle schools fail without providing them with the extra help they need. Where are these people from? I'm guessing they come from north of the ship canal. Pathetic.

And how is it even legal for the district to let the north-end schools put on two plays and a musical every year, while Rainier Beach has to resort to illegal downloads if they want to try to put on a single performance? What is the official justification for all this inequality in services?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

After 50 Years of Toxic Dumping in Georgetown, GE Agrees to Do a Study

From yesterday's Seattle Times:

GE to consider cleanup options

The General Electric Co. has agreed to study cleanup options for contaminated soil, groundwater and indoor air at the Georgetown building the company used for decades to build and service aircraft parts.

Solvents leaked and were spilled in the building at 220 S. Dawson St., which GE used between 1949 and 1996, according to the state Department of Ecology.

Until it can get a cleanup under way, the company is running a system of sump pumps and fans to capture and vent pollutants.

Documents connected with the cleanup are available at, at the New Holly Library at 7058 32nd Ave. S., or by appointment at the Ecology Department's regional office at 3190 160th Ave. S.E. in Bellevue. Call 425-649-7190 for scheduling.

The public may comment by April 25 to Dean Yasuda at the Ecology Department: 425-649-7264 or, or by mail.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Clean and Green Event on Beacon Hill Draws 130

Craig Thompson's Beacon Lights blog has a photo of some of the 130 volunteers who worked to clean up the Jose Rizal Park area back on March 15. Thanks to every single one of you!

I swear to God, someday I will help out at one of these Beacon cleanup events. But ever since we moved here and inherited a jungle from the previous owner, I've felt that I want to finish cleaning up my own yard first before helping out with public spaces.

A picture of the jungle before we started cleaning it up (that much-abused willow tree was about to fall over and possibly kill someone):


And after we started working to tame it:


It's coming along. But the ivy continues to be a formidable opponent, especially along the neighbor's chain-link fence.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Introducing the Ice House

Today Sabey unveiled its plans for the building that will replace the demolished Stock House in the Rainier Cold Storage Complex in Georgetown. It will house six shops/restaurants, and they're now looking for tenants to fill those spaces.


Sabey and Johnson Architects seemed to have taken the community's comments to heart -- they came up with a building with the bricks and arches that everyone was asking for. And, honestly, on its own, I think it's kind of cute. (And I'd dance a jig in the street if this was replacing one of the godawful buildings up here at Beacon and Columbian.)



But I still worry what it will look like next to the real deal. You don't get any sense of that from the two photos above, or this crude rendering of all the buildings lined up on the street together. (This drawing includes an old section of wall that may or may not be saved, while the drawings above do not. If they have to keep the wall, they will construct a new building behind it.)


The bricks, very similar but not quite the same. The arches, very similar but not quite the same. I'm not loving it. But I think the neighbors will be relieved that nothing crazy will be going up there. And that's good.

Update: Here's the P-I story about this.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Theatre Off Jackson Not Buying Eagles Building

The cool folks at Theatre Off Jackson will not be buying the Eagles Aerie #1 building in Georgetown. From this afternoon's e-mail:

Hello Neighbors,

It is with much sadness that we make this announcement. Theatre Off
Jackson is no longer pursuing the purchase of the Eagles Building.

As many of you know, the Theatre Off Jackson (TOJ) has wanted to
relocate or expand to Georgetown ever since Patti and I moved to the
neighborhood 2 years ago. When the Eagles property at the corner of
Michigan and Corson became available last summer, we saw an
opportunity to make our dream a reality.

With much help, we pulled together a team to win the bidding
competition and successfully contracted to purchase the property in
November. In the last several months, we completed our review of
the building and all of the legal details associated with it. We
have also been making efforts to raise funds for the purchase and
have attempted to negotiate with others interested in sharing the
property with us.

We are very sorry to announce that TOJ has not been able to secure
the necessary funding to move forward with the purchase of the
Eagles property. Despite our best efforts, this particular project
proved to be too ambitious for an organization of our size.

We are still committed to owning a home in Georgetown, and will
regroup to build support before seeking out another property. Of
course we are incredibly disappointed that we could not secure that
particular corner for both the theater community and the
neighborhood. A non-profit arts organization would have been an
exciting addition to Georgetown and, we think, a great asset to the

On behalf of TOJ's staff and Board of Directors, we offer a
heartfelt thank you to everyone who has offered support and
donations. Special thanks go to Sabey Corporation (especially Jim
Harmon) for being so generous with their time and mentorship. Their
contributions are invaluable, and we consider ourselves extremely
fortunate to have received their advice and guidance. We are also
grateful for the efforts of Kathy Nyland (of Georgetown), Keri Healy
(of Printer's Devil Theater) and Robin Tomazic (of Remax): all
offered their time and talents to make this project happen.

We have learned much and come farther than we could have imagined a
year ago, and have contributed to the much needed city-wide
discussion about preserving arts space for small organizations. We
look forward to helping solve this issue in the future – by securing
a permanent home for the countless independent arts groups that are
using TOJ and creating a permanent addition to Georgetown to nurture
theater and community.

Thank you,
Amanda Slepski
Theatre Off Jackson

Monday, March 24, 2008

Yet Another Asian Woman Attacked in South Seattle

The assailant pushed her to the ground and attacked her in her driveway around 2:30 this morning. A neighbor heard her screaming and scared off the attacker, who then drove away. The P-I story about this 23rd attack.

(In the headline -- "Another Asian woman assaulted on Beacon Hill" -- the P-I identifies the site of the attack, the 4200 block of South Webster Street, as Beacon Hill, though I consider that MLK/Renton Avenue area to be Rainier Valley instead.)

The police are asking for help finding this guy:

The suspect was described as black, 20 to 30 years old, possibly 6 feet tall and slender. He wore a green jacket, Jamieson said. Anyone with information is asked to call the Special Assault Unit at 206-684-5575.

Let's all keep our eyes and ears open. Beacon Hill residents have complained on this blog about how unfriendly their parts of the neighborhood are. Even if you've never met the people who live around you, please look out for them, like this woman's neighbor looked out for her. If you see or hear anything weird, investigate. You could be the one to stop this guy.

Developer Follow-up (Beacon Ventures, Sabey)

1. The Beacon Ventures folks still have not responded to my Saturday e-mail about when they plan to paint out the graffiti I originally alerted them to in mid-February.

2. Jim Harmon did write me back about my Friday e-mail about which "historical preservation principles" made saving the freestanding Brew House wall undesirable.

It's the piece of wall sticking out here in this photo I took in January:


From his Friday e-mail to the neighborhood:

Regarding where we are, the demolition of the Stock House will be
completed in the next few weeks. We have not reached a conclusion as to what to do about the remaining façade wall attached to the Brew House. While that wall does not pose an impending danger like the Stock House did, it does pose the matter of design and cost, as it looked to be several million dollars to retain it. In our discussions with the Landmarks Preservation Board, certain members expressed their desire to keep this façade. Additionally, certain neighborhood members expressed their concern and very much wanted to keep it. However, landmarks regulations recognize that the preservation of certain landmarked elements may be uneconomical and can grant an exception to the preservation rule. Our assertion is that it is not only uneconomic, but that it is undesirable from a design and historic standpoint (and there are certain historic preservation principles that this is based upon).

And from his response to me:

In response to your questions, the principle in question is termed façadism. Below are excerpts from submittals we previously made to the Landmarks Board and posted on our website:

* “We do not believe that retaining this wall is true to historic preservation and constitutes façadism since there is no structure behind it, historic or otherwise. We understand there to be divergent opinions, but façadism is not supported by many and is contrary to federal and local tax incentives, further indication of its standing.”

* “...we do not believe that retaining the North Wall is within the spirit of historic preservation as it constitutes façadism[1], and we see the removal of that wall as an opportunity to open the remaining historic structures to sight from Airport Way as well as reasonable vehicular access into the historic areas.”

* "[1] This point is emphasized by the fact that significant tax incentives are provided to retain historic structures by both federal income tax and local real estate tax credits; however, no such economic incentives are provided for retaining a building façade."

It’s also referred to as facadomy. See Wikipedia reference and citings here

Hmm. I'm no expert, but that Wikipedia link about facadism seems to suggest that preservationists believe that maintaining an entire building is preferable to maintaining just a facade. However, it does NOT seem to suggest that preservationists believe that destroying an existing freestanding facade is preferable to maintaining it. Maybe someone more knowledgeable about historical preservation would like to weigh in?

[Update/sidenote: Here's a 3/25/08 Crosscut article about Seattle's historical landmark designation process.]

Beacon Hill: Now Serving Queen Anne

A few weeks ago I think I mentioned that I regularly search the P-I and Times sites for mentions of "Beacon," in the hopes of catching a reference to the hill or avenue.

On an average day, the search returns no news stories. But today I happened to find a Beacon Hill reference in a story titled "Residential parking zone divides neighbors on Queen Anne."

The Beacon Hill mention comes from a quote from the coordinator of the Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce. It turns out that some Hilltop residents are sick of competing for street parking with the customers and employees of local businesses. Here's the business-side quote:

"We believe a single mom working at one of the restaurants has as much of a right to park as anybody else. Taking a bus from Beacon Hill isn't really an option for them," said Margaret Irvine, coordinator of the chamber.

I wonder if she's thinking of someone she actually knows who's a single mom who lives on Beacon Hill and would have to take the 36 (and a transfer) if she couldn't find free parking for more than two hours.

Or I wonder if she just made that up to make it sound like she's protecting the relatively disadvantaged here in the South End, as opposed to the relatively wealthy who like to spend more than two hours at trendy bars, fancy breakfast spots, and posh boutiques.

And I wonder if she named Beacon Hill to gain some extra sympathy for her cause because any woman who takes the 36 and walks home may have to fend off that increasingly bold assailant/groper/asshole.

Anyway, it's just funny to me that the Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce representative called out Beacon Hill in that ridiculous quote in which she pretends to represent the interests of restaurant workers instead of their employers. It's been a pleasure to serve you, Hilltop merchants! Just let us know if you need anything else from us today.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

3rd Annual Georgetown Super 8 Film Festival on 4/19

Mark your calendars:

The 3rd Annual Georgetown Super 8 Film Festival

This year 75 filmmakers are busy creating short films of epic proportions to
share with you. Over half of these people are your neighbors and the rest
come here to work and play. Come share in their artistic creations.

When: Saturday, April 19th
Where: Rainier Cold Storage Building, 5790 Airport Way South
Time: Doors open at 6pm, Films begin 6:30pm
Suggested Donation: $5, no one turned away for lack of funds

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Daffodils in Comet Lodge Cemetery

I went to go investigate that fairy ring down in Comet Lodge Cemetery.

It's not really a ring. More like a U.


And fairies probably didn't put it there.



I'm not particularly superstitious about this supposedly haunted place, which I've written about before, but this 1-year-old's epitaph does creep me out a little.


I think it says: "Weep not, father and mother, for me, for I wait in glory for thee."


New Photos of the Christian Restoration Center

Bummed around the neighborhood this morning, snapping some pictures. Noticed that the Beacon Ventures folks have not yet painted out the graffiti at the Christian Restoration Center.



I just sent them a quick e-mail asking what's up with that. I'll give them a chance to respond before following up with the mayor's office. I submitted the original complaint about the graffiti to SPU on February 13 or 14, well over a month ago.

Broken Walk Signals?

A local jogger recently wrote to the P-I about a broken walk signal at Beacon and Spokane. From the 3/16 P-I:

Question: Eric Meltzer says his usual jog takes him to the intersection of Beacon Avenue South and South Spokane Street, where his run comes to a halt.

"I always press the walk button, but I have never seen the walk sign illuminate and end up crossing against the 'don't walk' symbol," he says.

He wonders if the button even works.

Answer: Marx of the Transportation Department says the button wasn't working -- but it works now. Marx said a Department of Transportation crew went out last week and fixed it.

Wow, that was fast. Has anyone else noticed any other broken signals around the neighborhood that we can report and get fixed?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Stock House Replacement Plans to Be Unveiled 3/27 and 3/38

Sabey has decided not to hold another public meeting but to meet with individuals privately about the new designs. The claim is that this will allow more people to stop by when they like and give their input, but I feel that something will be lost with this approach. Community meetings allow people to hear what other people have to say, and they also give people the opportunity to observe quietly if they prefer. (It also provides people with a good excuse to get together with their neighbors for a beer before or after the meeting.) Showing up at a developer's office and personally asking to see designs take a little more guts, I think.

In any case, this will all go through the public design review process, so there will definitely be public meetings in the future.

I'll plan to take a look at the designs on Thursday and post pictures, if they'll let me, that evening.

Anyway, here's the Sabey mail about all this. It sounds like the wall attached to the Brew House might be saved after all, which is cool:

Hi All:

Well, it has been awhile, but we are finally ready to present our
plans for the building to replace the Stock House. We attempted to
reflect comments from the neighborhood and to improve the building
design both from a utilitarian and aesthetic standpoint. Hopefully,
you'll agree. Rather than having a big meeting, we'll simply have
open hours for people to stop by. This will allow for more leeway in
people's schedules as well as a greater opportunity to respond to
questions. Therefore, we will be available on Mar 27 & 28 from 4 to
6:30pm at our office on the backside of the General Office right
across the street from the 9 lb Hammer and Smarty Pants (6004 Airport
Way). We'll have various perspectives to help you understand the
design along with several people to explain it.

These plans will continue to flex as we move forward because of
design adjustments and changes required by the City and others. The
City will need to issue a Master Use Permit (MUP) and a Construction
Permit. The MUP relates to the use of the building (in this case,
office and retail). It focuses on the parking, traffic, site, etc.
requirements of the use proposed. These requirements aren't
generally difficult for a fairly self-contained development of this
size. Therefore, so we don't have to re-file every time there's a
small change, we try to show maximum use and impacts at the outset.
Our MUP application will be submitted shortly and will take about 6
months or more to be issued. A separate Construction Permit will
require what are called 75% drawings for the plan reviewers to go
through them in detail. These plans will go through design review
from the Landmarks Preservation Board. All of this will involve
public notice and input should you care to formally participate.
There will be notices posted on site regarding this. From an
informal standpoint, please feel free to share your feedback with us
for ongoing design consideration.

Regarding where we are, the demolition of the Stock House will be
completed in the next few weeks. We have not reached a conclusion as
to what to do about the remaining façade wall attached to the Brew
House. While that wall does not pose an impending danger like the
Stock House did, it does pose the matter of design and cost, as it
looked to be several million dollars to retain it. In our
discussions with the Landmarks Preservation Board, certain members
expressed their desire to keep this façade. Additionally, certain
neighborhood members expressed their concern and very much wanted to
keep it. However, landmarks regulations recognize that the
preservation of certain landmarked elements may be uneconomical and
can grant an exception to the preservation rule. Our assertion is
that it is not only uneconomic, but that it is undesirable from a
design and historic standpoint (and there are certain historic
preservation principles that this is based upon). However, in light
of the response and additional time, we are reviewing our plan for
both the wall and the Brew House to see if they can be economically
redeveloped together. The key here is the structural engineering.
We are midway on this process as we have been very much focused on
the Stock House's replacement. We will report back on this at a
later time.

So, there you go. We'll look forward to seeing you on the 27th or
28th. If those dates don't work, please contact me and we'll find
some alternative times after that. Also, the plans et al will be
posted on our website once we've had an opportunity to present them
to the community.

Thank you all,

ph 206 281 8700 | email | website

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Loretta's! (Or, South Park Is the New Georgetown)

Tonight we tried Loretta's, the new South Park burger tavern from the Nine Pound Hammer folks. (To find it, just head down the main drag until you see a bunch of white dudes standing outside, admiring each others' motorcycles.)


And I decided that every neighborhood needs three places just like this. (Beacon Hill doesn't even have one.)

Burgers, fries, steak, salad, beer.


Plus a little bit of liquor.


And pork, salmon, and soup.



They serve Roger's Pilsner, a rare treat.


The fries were the soggy kind, but really tasty.


And they put their salads on plates, not in baskets (thank you!).


We ate all our food.


(Which is OK because I'm finally starting to look pregnant and am just going to keep gaining weight no matter what, hurray!)


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Beacon Hill Groper"?

In a comment on a recent post about the Beacon Hill Groper, Kim said she was tired of hearing the media call him by that name because it downplays the severity of his crimes.

I've been calling him a "groper" because it's a specifically sexual reference; he's not randomly attacking people for no clear reason. No, the sick asshole is targeting only women, specifically Asian women. The term "South Seattle assailant" isn't meaningful. South Seattle is full of assailants.

Another commenter, apparently a Seattle Times employee, pointed out that his/her paper has not called him a "groper."

Out of curiosity, I looked up the term "Beacon Hill Groper" to see who all has been using it.

KOMO has. (That link goes to a story that recaps last night's Beacon Hill Elementary PTSA meeting, where police spoke about the incident. As I figured, they didn't say anything noteworthy. Just "walk in pairs," "scream," "call 911," "maintain extra vigilance," etc.)

King 5 has, but they feel guilty enough about it to put it in quotes. They've also called him the "bus stop groper."

And someone on MySpace is calling himself the Beacon Hill Groper.

Anyway. I'm happy to call him something else if there's a more accurate term -- I just hope that doesn't end up being the "Beacon Hill Rapist."

Georgetown: "On-the-Verge Nabe"

It really is over, isn't it?

DailyCandy, originally a mailing list for pampered Manhattanites but now available in most rich American cities, has declared Georgetown an "on-the-verge nabe."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

And Here's the Times Story About the Groper

From today's Seattle Times:

Seattle police bike officers have increased their patrols of the Beacon Hill neighborhood in response to the latest in nearly two dozen sexual attacks on Asian girls and women.

Police say the man has groped, chased and even knocked down 22 girls and women in Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill since August 2006. The victims have ranged from teenagers to a 52-year-old. No victim has been raped or critically injured, and police said the man normally runs off after his victims have screamed for help.

The cops quoted in this story are unusually frank, saying "We're highly unlikely to catch this guy," and that the intention of their stepped-up patrol is to make people "feel" safe.

The principal at Beacon Hill Elementary invites the public to come to the PTSA meeting at 7:15 tonight at the school; some police will be there to discuss the incidents.

Feel safe!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Beacon Hill Groper Attacks 22nd Victim

I don't even know what to say about this anymore.

In the middle of the day on Thursday, this man attacked his 22nd (reported) victim, this time right by the 76 station on the 2400 block of 14th Avenue South.

From yesterday's P-I:

"The victim, a 28-year-old woman, was walking home from the store when a man approached her from behind, covered her mouth, knocked her to the ground and assaulted her. Two people nearby saw the attack. When the assailant noticed them, he broke off his assault and fled."

"[The perpetrator] has been described as a black male of medium height, thin build, in his 20s or 30s. He has worn a variety of clothing and in some cases has hidden behind a green ski mask or red scarf."

Interesting that the Seattle Times didn't think a 22nd sexual attack in South Seattle by the same asshole warranted a mention in the local section.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Late Afternoon Snack in Georgetown

I really wanted a Chopper from Smarty Pants but settled for a Southwest Chop Salad from Taco Time.



Taco Time's Southwest Chop Salad only contains 189 calories per 12-ounce serving (not including dressing). I'm not sure how many servings this is.


In any case, it's a very lonely meal.


My Beacon Hill Garden in Mid-March

(Like how I try to make this topical?)

It's Garden Bloom Day, and I'd like to show you some things that are and aren't in bloom in my garden today.

This elk grass produces brown flowers in summer. They should look nice next to the bronze container, whose Japanese maple will have purple leaves by then.


I've always loved this little Viburnum davidii, even though it doesn't produce metallic blue berries because it's all alone up here. It needs a cross-pollinating buddy.


It's lame that my winter hazel doesn't bloom until nearly spring.


I don't know what this plant is. I'm not crazy about white blossoms, but they don't last that long.


This Euphorbia self-seeds, I've noticed. I see little ones popping up here and there.


The rosemary blooms a lot.


We need to get these lovely sedum in the rock wall soon.


I think this counts as blooming.


Alliums on their way.


The sedum wall with some Scotch moss, which will unfortunately start blooming white at some point.


Bless these sedum for shutting out weeds.


I think hens and chicks are OK here and there.


So pleased with the way this section has filled out.





My nine Julia Phelps Ceanothus do not yet form a hedge, but you can see that they will. I will probably need to remove every other one at some point. It's always hard not to plant things too close together.


One of the plants has started to bloom.



In April, all the little purple buds on all 11 plants will bloom blue. It's incredibly beautiful.


The donkey tail Euphorbia is the success story of the moment.


They look so happy to be alive.




I fear the Point Reyes Ceanothus will eventually crowd this one out.


I want more fiery orange heathers.


The Cryptomeria, which looked iffy over the winter, are now doing fine.


Thank you, sedum and Euphorbia.


And hello to the girl fetus I've been carrying these last several months. You are already loved.