Saturday, June 28, 2008

Photos from Artopia

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











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.





The Eagles!


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


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


Friday, June 27, 2008'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 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:


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 They might be right, they might be wrong -- you'll never know.

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.

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 BEFORE TUESDAY, JUNE 24th.

You can contact the Jefferson Park Alliance at 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:

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

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.

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.


The silent auction was pretty quiet.


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






Outside they were serving burgers.


So I got one.


Rosso Nursery had a stand there.


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



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.



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



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


And at Inform.


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


Beacon Hill Festival Today

Stop by the Jefferson Community Center between 11 and 4 today for the Beacon Hill Festival. I'll try to stop by and post some photos later if I finish my housepainting project in time.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

You Have Until 6/11 to Comment on the Christian Restoration Center

You have about a week left to make public comments about traffic, parking, and environmental issues related to the development at the Christian Restoration Center. There will be at least one more design review meeting later on, but this is your one and only shot at raising concerns specifically related to traffic, parking, and other environmental issues associated with this large-scale project.


Submit your comments here:

From a neighbor's e-mail about the situation:

As some of you may have noticed, the white sign is up at the former Christian Restoration Center building on 15th Ave, indicating the start of the 14-day public comment period (you may have also gotten a letter from the Seattle Dept. of Planning and Development regarding this). Based on what the DPD project manager told me (see below), we have until June 11 to comment on traffic, parking, and environmental issues from the project. This is the public's only chance to do so. At the prior meeting in March, it was clear that many in the neighborhood, while pleased with the general direction of the project, are concerned about the potential traffic congestion and parking problems from such a large complex, particularly at the bottleneck turning off 15th Ave S onto S Oregon St. Please let the DPD know your opinions by going to the following DPD link:

And here's the DPD's e-mail about it:

The process will proceed as follows (give or take!):

*Report of the meeting will be published and sent to all that attended the Early Design Guidance meeting, 3/11;
*The applicants will move forward to MUP stage and submit full plan sets and a design package that responds to the Board's guidance from the 3/11 meeting. A two week public comment period will open when the MUP application is accepted by DPD, which is when the public will have an opportunity to comment on traffic, parking, and environmental issues relative to the project. Notice of application will be posted on DPD LUIB website, and residents within 300 feet of the project will be mailed the notice and alerted that they may then comment on the proposal,;
*The project will go to the Design Review Board once again (perhaps two more times, depending on the response to earlier guidance), and the public will have another chance to meet with the applicant and Board to see the progress of overall design;
*The Board will make final recommendations for the project and the applicant will be expected to address those recommendations;
*The entire process could take up to another 10 months or so, and as a recap will entail one public comment period and one more public meeting.

Feel free to stay in touch for status updates. I'm in the office M-F, 6:30-4:00 p.m., off every other M.


Catherine McCoy, Land Use Planner
Seattle Department of Planning and Development
700 5th Ave Suite 2000
PO Box 34019
Seattle WA 98124-4019

Phone: (206) 684-0532
Fax: (206) 233-7902

Here's one neighbor's review of the design meeting from a few months ago.

Here's a link to a Stranger blog post about the project.

And you should really check out this big long picture-filled PDF with architect plans for the space. You'll find sketches like this one, their "Scheme 2" proposal:


Coffee for El Centro de la Raza

The Beacon Hill ("Hilltop") Red Apple is selling coffee to benefit El Centro de la Raza. For every 12-ounce bag you buy, $1 goes to the Beacon Hill-based Latino support organization.


And it's good!

Learn more about El Centro de la Raza here.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Georgetown in Today's NYT


Saying Goodbye to 30,000 Honeybees

As I mentioned in the last post, Thursday night we discovered a swarm of honeybees in the plum tree in our backyard. The night was warm, so half of them were still out and about, but the other half were home, protecting their queen. Again, here's a picture of the solid ball of bees, all settled on top of each other.


We looked up resources for honeybee removal and called Jerry the Bee Guy, who would take them for free and find a good home for them. In fact, he was available the very next morning (by which time the ball of bees was twice as large).

He said he didn't used to wear his protective hat when collecting swarms because honeybees in this state are usually very docile. But once in a while he'd run into a genetically aggressive bunch, so now he wears his gear, just in case.


He told us that the swarm, like all swarms, was in transit, and it wasn't likely to stay in our plum tree very long. Honeybees prefer more sheltered spaces, like a hollowed-out tree or a nice warm attic. The queen bee had just stopped to rest while worker bees scouted out potential homes. If they had taken up residence in someone's attic and started a hive, it probably would have damaged the house. It also would have been much harder to remove them, and they may have ended up getting destroyed.

So I felt OK about them getting vacuumed up into Jerry's water cooler jugs. He's either going to take them to his own apiary in Monroe, or sell them to another apiary. He said these seemed like very nice bees.

One of the jugs.



The other jug.


He told us that this swarm -- which he calculated at 30,000 strong, a very healthy-sized swarm -- recently started from an established hive somewhere within two miles. The hive had developed a second queen bee, so the first one needed to leave, taking one-third to one-half of the hive with her.


When Jerry was done vacuuming, he said he thought he'd collected 99.7% of the honeybees. And he said the stragglers would likely return to the original hive, where they would be welcomed back, despite their traitorous ways.

Unfortunately, he wasn't absolutely positive that he collected the queen, or that she would have survived the vacuum process. She's very fragile now, with a heavy abdomen swollen up with eggs. He told me he'd know in a couple days and that I could check in with him to find out what happened.

So I e-mailed him this morning, and we're still not sure, but things are looking good so far:

"I plan to open the box today when it gets a little warmer. It looks like a GREAT swarm so far. When I put them in the box here they displayed all the signs of the queen being present, so I have high hopes for this colony. I'll let you know when I have confirmed my guess."

And I'll let you know when he does.

Update. Heard from Jerry:

"I found the queen today....she's a nice, fat, healthy lady. I also got an email this morning from a beekeeper friend who has lost a colony, so I am going to pass this swarm colony on to her. The timing was good and everyone will be happy, including the bees. Thanks for calling me to get the swarm."

Unrelated P.S. Congratulations to my friend Phyllis Fletcher, who last night won a first-place regional Society of Professional Journalists award for this NPR story about the NCAA.