Saturday, March 10, 2012

Meet your new mail carrier

Mail carrier Elizabeth Breen on her new route.
We recently reported here on the Douglas Park Cooperative website that our mail carrier of 25 years, Mike Rexroad, was being relocated to a new area south of NE 125th Street.

Neighbors threw the longtime mail carrier a surprise going away party on his last day.

Part of his former route is now an auxiliary route, meaning that homes in that route will not have the same mail carrier every day and delivery times may fluctuate.

But for those south of 130th, you have been assigned a new carrier.

Meet Elizabeth Breen.

Elizabeth has worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 17 years. Previously her route was south of 125th but when Mike shifted to the south, she shifted north.

She will deliver all those important papers and packages to residents living between 125th Street and 130th Street,  and 23rd Avenue to 30th Avenue.

So if you are lucky enough to have her as your mail carrier, stop for a moment and welcome her to our neighborhood.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Input from residents, property owners within 1,000 feet of Old 39 requested by City

The City of Seattle is asking for input from property owners and residents within 1,000 feet of the Old 39. The fire station is currently being utilized by the Union Gosepel Mission as a temporary winter homeless shelter.

Many residents inside and outside of that 1,000 foot boundary have expressed strong opinions about the use of the old property as other possible uses for the property have also been discussed —and laid out in the Lake City Comprehensive neighborhood plan.

In the late-1990s the Lake City Comprehensive plan was a document crafted and agreed upon by members of the Lake City community and the City of Seattle. It envisioned changes in the neighborhood through 2014. The document outlines uses for the property once the new fire station was built.

The City's Department of Finance and Administrative Services has determined the property to be excess and is looking for input from residents.

The issue of the use of the site has been hotly debated as many feel the Lake City neighborhood has reached a saturation point with low-income services and housing. Some in the neighborhood have also discussed the passive way issues appear to be dealt with in the neighborhood instead of active programs that offer empowerment to low-income residents.

Below is the notice from the City of Seattle asking for input from those within 1,000 feet of the Old 39.

You may write or send a fax with your comments to

Department of Finance and Administrative Services
Attn: Richard Gholaghong
PO Box 94689, Seattle, WA

Richard Gholaghong at (206) 684-062


Fax (206) 684-0525

Comments are due by April 4, 2012 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Survey- the future of the old 39

Please take some time to help us with this important survey. The City office of Finance and Administrative Services is doing an evaluation of the property to determine if it should be repurposed or sold. They are collecting public comments as part of this process. The comments will be accepted up to April 4th. You can send your comments directly to them also. Be aware that these will be published and will be publicly available.

The Report and Recommendations will be submitted to City Council and Council will then authorize a plan of action ( repurpose or sale or sale with stipulations ).

We need to speak up about what we want done with that space. It is currently a publicly owned space and can be repurposed to Parks and Rec for much a needed Senior and Youth Activities Center and / or Job Bank. We can also stipulate terms of the sale and lobby Council to make an exception to the condition that the proceeds go back into the Fire Levy and instead be earmarked for the design and construction of a Skate Park.

The Lake City Comprehensive Plan does include requests for services for those with addictions and mental health problems ( which this community has done a fantastic job of putting in place and supporting ), but it also is clear about other community needs and the process of securing them.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Body removed from bushes on 125th and 35th

A body was discovered Wednesday night, behind bushes near the intersection of NE 125th Street and 35th Avenue NE, under the window of an office building.

At 10:33 the Seattle Fire Department's Engine 39, Engine 40, and Medic 31 were dispatched to the area after the body was discovered.

The deceased person was removed by a Seattle Police officer and a member of the King County Medical Examiner's office. Homicide detectives were not called to the scene, leading to the assumption that foul play was not suspected to be involved.

We will post more info if it becomes available.

View Larger Map

Douglas Park Meeting - Thursday, March 15th

Douglas Park Cooperative will be meeting at KaffeeKlatsch next Thursday, March 15th at 7:00 pm. Our guest speaker will be Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith. He will be speaking on the topic of liquor control and specifically about a new policy that the Mayor's office has been working on to either replace or augment the current Alcohol Impact Area concept.

If there is time after this discussion, Darryl may be able to answer more in depth questions about the future of the Old 39.

At the previous Douglas Park Cooperative meeting, the full meeting was a discussion about how to deal with Chronic Public Inebriety and the negative effects it is having on our neighborhood. We resolved to pursue an Alcohol Impact Area for Lake City to try to curb the sales of specific brands of alcoholic beverages that are preferred by people suffering from Chronic Public Inebriety.

A request was sent to Richard Conlin, who spoke out in support of the AIA concept at the February North District Council meeting, along with a map showing the location of off premises licensees and the requested boundary. He submitted the request to Bob Scales, the lawyer who reviews the requests at the city, to review the idea and report back to Council with an assessment of how to proceed. The boundaries are to be established by City Council Resolution before we can make a request to the Liquor Control Board.

Another component of establishing an AIA is to provide stats. Part of this requires collecting and documenting empties. We have collected nearly 300 empty high alcohol by volume beverages in the last month. This data is used for making a before / after comparison to verify the AIA is working.

Below is the map that was part of the request sent to Richard Conlin on February 8th.

Skatepark proposed for Lake City Playfield

A proposal is in the works to bring a skatepark to the Lake City neighborhood.

Douglas Park Cooperative member and area resident Kevin Hilman —a skateboarder himself— has spearheaded a project to have a 'SkateSpot' built at the Lake City Playfield, now known as Virgil Flaim Park. Other neighbors are on board with the plan and after meetings and discussion among residents a conceptual drawing for the park has been created.

Lower-priced homes in our neighborhood are attracting more families to the area in recent years. The children and teens often have to travel outside of our neighborhood for activities and entertainment. One goal of the park would be to provide a place for youth to be active and have outdoor recreation in our own neighborhood.

"It gives youth and teens something to keep them from being bored or destructive," said Hilman

The nearest skateparks are at Dahl Playfield in the Wedgewood neighborhood and in Shoreline at Paramount Skatepark.

Residents that discussed the skatepark agreed that the largely underutilized park would be an ideal location. Use of a park is also known to discourage nuisance behaviors. The northeast corner of the park is sometimes a loitering spot for chronic inebriates when it is not being used for soccer games or other community activities. Part of the plan would be to discourage this behavior by having a regularly occupied and utilized park. "It would be the most continually used feature of that park," Hilman said.

The Lake City Comprehensive Plan, a fascinating neighborhood plan for our community written over a decade ago for goals from 1999 - 2014 requested a skatepark under Goal 11/ Strategy 3/ Action E.

Provide youth with lawful, constructive activities:
Develop a family-oriented skateboard park, modeled after the one in Ellensburg, with picnic benches, artwork and other public amenities, near the Civic Core.

The Citywide Skatepark Plan also has the Lake City Playfield, now known as Virgil Flaim Park, designated as a preferred candidate for a "SkateSpot," a skatepark that is fewer than 10,000 square feet.

The Citywide Skatepark Plan lists the cost for a SkateSpot at roughly $640k - a pretty steep price tag. However, there are funding sources such as grants for park improvements.

In April of 2011 Lake City Live reported about efforts to have a skatepark built in our neighborhood.

From that 2011 story:

A skatepark in some form has long been on the wish list for the neighborhood, so the project has strong support from various local businesses and community groups such as the Lake City Chamber of Commerce and the Lake City Development Council.  However, while the project has strong support, it needs more people to get to the next level.
What is currently needed is a core group of volunteers to drive the project forward. 
- designing, distributing flyers
- ongoing outreach to neighbors, local business, youth organizations
- grant writing
- exploring other fund raising opportunities 
If you live in NE Seattle, or know some skaters or skater parents that do, please let them know about this project, and encourage them show their support, or even better, to get involved. 

Above is a conceptual sketch of how a 10,000 square foot SkateSpot could potentially look in the Lake City Playfield. The drawing is for siting and for discussion purposes. The final design would possibly be different and public reviews would discuss the siting and features of the park. But wouldn't that owl look cool on Google Maps?

If you are interested in helping with this project, please contact Douglas Park Cooperative to find out how you can help.

UGM Shelter Advisory Council - Minutes - February 21st

Lake City UGM Shelter Advisory Committee
Meeting Minutes
  1. Call to order
Terry Pallas called to order the regular meeting of the Lake City Shelter Advisory Committee at 4:05pm on 2/21/2012 in the Lake City Community Center Meeting Room.
  1. Roll call
The following persons were present: 
  • Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission – Paul LaRose
  • Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission – Terry C. Pallas
  • At Large Business Member – Suzy Smith
  • Cedar Park Senior Housing Authority Group (SHAG) – Elena Earle, Jim Hicks
  • At Large Resident Member – Janet Arkills
  • At Large Resident Member – Chuck Dickey
  • Mennonite/Lake City Task Force on Homelessness (LCTF) – Sally Kinney
  • Lake City Development Council – Joe Simmons
The following persons were absent: 
  • Lake City Community Council – Cheryl Klinker 
  • At Large Business Member and Resident – Annie Stocker
  • UGM Shelter guest
  1. Approval of minutes from last meeting
Terry Pallas motioned to approve minutes, Joe Simmons seconded. Minutes from 2/7/12 were approved.
  1. SUGM Statistical Report
    • 229 registered guests to date (number represents guests who have stayed at least one night)
    • Bed nights from February 1-19:825 (36 men average, 7 women average) 
    • Meals served from February 1-19:  2186 (115 meals a day average)
    • UGM Rep. Paul shared, “In the last two weeks we have been able to assist 4 people in their pursuit of relocating back to family. These individuals have been stuck in the area and are now out of town and back in the presence of their family.” 
    • UGM Rep Terry noted the downtown UGM facility is opening an additional 32 beds in its recovery program in response to increased need (county-wide) over the last 18 months, hopes guests at LCShelter will opt into this programming.
    • SHAG Resident Jim Hicks noted that Veterans’ Affairs has inverted its policy of mandatory drug and alcohol rehabilitation before housing vouchers. Pointed out that any guests at LCShelter who are veterans should be able to access housing via the VA, given this new policy.
    • UGM Rep Paul noted he has dispersed LCShelter contact information to several Lake City businesses and received varying levels of interest.
    • Committee Member Janet asked how many calls LCShelter receives from local businesses, how are calls handled.  UGM Rep Paul said he has received a few calls per week. When he does, he sends UGM staff to engage persons. Janet asked about police involvement and Paul noted police are only involved when there is an incident onsite at LCShelter. 
      1. SHAG Resident Jim, noted he lives across the street from LCShelter, has observed increased incidents in the last three months, many that are not reported to LCShelter or to police. Cited example of 2/20/12 a group loitering and drinking by Blockbuster at 4pm, 2/21/12 group of 8-9 men in front of Sporthaus Schmetzer loitering and drinking. Stated it wouldn’t have mattered if UGM staff addressed these groups or not, believes they wouldn’t go to LCShelter because they wouldn’t be allowed to drink there.
      2. UGM Rep Paul noted police respond to reports of drinking loiterers by asking them to leave (citations not usually given).
Discussion ensued re: police handling of loiterers and its efficacy 
  • Committee Member Chuck noted group of homeless men blocking crosswalk by post office noon on (2/18/12) called police, men were back at 3:10 - called police again. Chuck noted he stopped at LCShelter at 4:10 and asked UGM staff to speak with loiterers, staff said it was not their job.  UGM Rep Paul responded he would discuss this with his staff.
  • Committee Member Janet cited similar experience with drinking/loitering on 2/11/12 with two people in front of post office, four blocking newsstands across the street from post office and three directly across from LCShelter (behind Papa Murphy’s).
    • Committee Member Chuck noted discrepancy of church involvement -  noted he does not see church involvement during the day in engaging homeless and intervening in nuisance behaviors, but does see avid homeless advocacy from churches via emails.
    • Mennonite/LCTF Rep Sally responded that churches do a lot to help people in Lake City.
    • SHAG Resident Jim noted conversations with police about inefficiencies with citations for public drinking. Is working to identify loopholes to enable police, businesses and residents to better manage nuisance situations. Suggested alternatives to the existing $27 citation that would provide more accountability, such as community service.
      1. Mennonite/LCTF Rep Sally noted that City Municipal Court has alternatives to paying citations, but doesn’t have ability to enforce this option.
    • SHAG Rep. Elena asked if LCShelter guests were involved in last week’s stabbing at 99Cent Store (across the street from LCShelter). UGM Rep Paul said he was unaware of any - no one came to speak with him or LCShelter guests regarding it.
    • Sally asked if UGM enters data into Safe Harbors. UGM Rep Terry said no, they are not required to, UGM has considered voluntary participation but not implemented it.
  1. Open Issues:
  1. UGM Rep Terry asked how UGM can help Lake City neighborhood as LCShelter closes in March. 
    1. Committee Member Joe noted that UGM’s model of service does not seem fit the needs of the service resistant homeless causing problems in Lake City. Also noted that the Mennonite/LCTF model of service has been ineffectual in addressing problem behaviors.
Discussion ensued re: UGM’s model of service versus Lake City Taskforce on Homelessness model of service
  • Mennonite/LCTF Rep Sally stated how helpful churches have been to Lake City community, noted how Melanie & Jonathon Neufeld helped place veterans into McDermott Place. Some disagreement between committee members ensued.
  1. Terry suggested UGM provide its “Morning Watch” and “Search and Rescue” programs in Lake City after LCShelter closes.  (Both programs aim to engage homeless and invite them to UGM facilities to receive services.)
  2. SHAG Resident Jim noted there was some nuisance behavior prior to LCShelter opening, but it was non-violent. Noted a “new” group of 5 or 6 violent individuals who pose danger to community. (Cited assaults in Bartell’s parking lot, at Fred Meyer, and groups of men engaged in fights.) Noted some are homeless, some are residents of McDermott Place. His concern is how to isolate these individuals who pose a threat to personal safety from those causing nuisances. 
Discussion ensued, re:“Jesse”: 
  • SHAG Resident Jim heard Jesse had been kicked out of LCShelter, asked UGM about this. 
  • UGM Rep Paul said he lives in area but has issues at home, utilized the LCShelter early on, but not lately, noted his behavior is escalating and indicated there may be mental health issues. 
  • Conversation ensued about cross-dressing homeless man who has approached SHAG residents for sex. 
  • UGM Rep Terry noted the advantage of having UGM Rep Paul available as a resource because of his relationship with homeless in the area, noted Paul will be unavailable after LCShelter closes. Recommended Morning Watch program or calling UGM’s mental health chaplaincy number to address issues.
  1. Committee Member Suzy discussed North Precinct safety meeting to address the idea that “crime doesn’t land in one lap”. Second meeting is called for 2/23/12. Invited UGM Rep Terry to come. Terry indicated UGM Rep Paul could attend.
  2. Committee Member Chuck stated his appreciation for LCShelter guests who have positive attitudes about helping with litter pick-up, contributing to community. Expressed frustration with homeless who do not work or help. Cited example of group of 8 people at Standard Station loitering & drinking.
  3. Committee Member Joe asked SHAG Rep Elena about SHAG facility, re: How are residents feeling about their security? Elena noted that building is locked down - all common areas are locked from 10pm to 8am. Noted that before LCShelter opened, SHAG regularly had homeless entering facility and sleeping in common areas. Stated the facility has not had more problems, but because lockdown and opening of LCShelter were simultaneous, it’s hard to determine cause/effect.
  4. UGM Rep Terry noted SHAG residents expressed safety concerns walking in neighborhood prior to LCShelter opening, asked if that’s changed. SHAG Rep Elena noted resident concerns are about the same, mostly because of loitering. Cited examples of loiterers congregated around post office, at Grocery Outlet, by Bartell’s and behind Papa Murphy’s. 
  5. SHAG Resident Jim described interaction with young woman in distress. Said she was afraid to go to LCShelter because of bad behavior of both male & female LCShelter guests. Jim asked about separation of men & women at LCShelter.
    1. UGM Rep Paul explained separation of men & women after 7:00pm until 6:00am (LCShelter day room is not separated). Notes there’ve been some complaints from women about men, but none this severe. UGM Rep Paul asked Jim to send her to Paul if he sees her again, noted many homeless females have inherent mistrust of males due to domestic violence issues.
Discussion ensued, re: Guest awareness of LCShelter closing. 
  • UGM Rep Terry noted it has been an ongoing conversation with guests for some time.
  1. Committee Member Janet noted the precedent of mistrust and tension established by the lack of forthright communication from UGM, the City and the Mennonite/LCTF prior to LCShelter opening. Requested UGM consider this in future dealings with Lake City or other neighborhoods.
    1. UGM Rep Terry stated that UGM wasn’t allowed to say anything to the community until Mayor McGinn put information about the LCShelter on his blog. Terry stated that UGM wanted to engage in conversations with community, but couldn’t until proposal was officially approved.
  2. Committee Member Chuck asked about the pastor’s meeting led by Clark Jennings. UGM Rep Paul noted it seemed very preliminary - sharing info about what they’re doing. Noted he broached idea of “adoption” of LCShelter guests, but has not been approached by churches for recommendations.
  3. Committee Member Suzy asked for list of what LCShelter needs. UGM Rep Terry referred her to wishlist at (type in “seattle union gospel mission”).
  4. Committee Member Janet noted quantity of empty beer cans collected directly across the street from LCShelter on 2/6/12. (Majority of cans found on east side of 30th Ave from Elliot Bay parking lot to back of 99Cent store on Penos properties.)
  1. Action Items:
  1. Adjournment
Terry Pallas adjourned the meeting at 5:10 pm. Next meeting 3/6/12.

Valor Apartments - Early Design Guidance

Below is a flyer regarding a project that is going in on 33rd. It is a 21 unit apartment called Valor Apartments that intends to provide free housing for homeless vets with dual diagnosis ( addiction and mental illness ). The first floor retail will be occupied by CPC and will provide mental health services to the homeless. The property is being sold to Community Psychiatric Clinic by the Mennonites.

Part of the function of the Comprehensive Plan is for it to be used for evaluating these types of projects to see if it fits the community's desires and needs. You are free to attend these meetings to speak out for or against it, and the Comp Plan can be used to support your arguments.....

This was not received by DPC until after the 27th. The communication channels between the city and this area could use some improvements.

Notice of Design Review Early Design Guidance Meeting

(Top of image is north.)
Map is for illustrative purposes only.  In the event of omissions, errors or differences, the documents in DPD's files will control.
Area: Northeast    Address: 12517 33RD AVE NE
Notice Date: 02/09/2012

Contact: PAUL HANSON - (206)604-0993
Planner: John Shaw - (206)684-5837

The Director of DPD is convening the Design Review Board for an early design guidance meeting.

The proposal is for a four-story structure containing 21 residential units above 4,800 sq. ft. of commercial space at ground level.
The applicants have applied for Design Review related to development of this site.  At the early design guidance meeting, the applicants will present information about the site and vicinity.  The public may offer comments regarding the design and siting of a development on the subject site; and the Design Review Board members will also offer comments and identify those Citywide Design Guidelines of highest priority in developing the site.
Date:    Monday, February 27, 2012
Time:                      08:00p.m.
Location:                University Heights Center
5031 University WayNE
Room 209
For more information regarding this application or the Design Review process, you may contact the Land Use Planner listed above.  If you are unable to attend this meeting but would like to be informed of future meetings, please call the Land Use Planner to become a party of record.

Questions about the proposed amendments should be directed to Patrice Carroll of the Department of Planning and Development at (206) 233-7883,, or Ketil Freeman of City Council Central Staff at (206)

Future of the Old 39 - Lake City Residents' intent

Back in the mid 90's, hundreds of Lake City residents spent thousands of hours with the City crafting a Comprehensive Plan to use for guiding and evaluating the development of the Lake City Hub Urban Village. The City wanted to increase density in the area and the Plan was designed to make sure it was done in a way that improved the quality of life for the residents inside and surrounding the HUV.

An important part of this plan was to scale up and improve civic amenities in what the Plan calls the Civic Core. The policy adopted was for the city to acquire as much property close to or adjacent to the existing civic buildings to create a cluster. The intent for the Old 39 was to create an open space / Farmer's Market. It also made it a priority to provide an activities center for youth and seniors as well as a job bank. 

Here is some language from the document:

Under Goal 3, the old 39 is intended to be used as a park or open space, and a map of the Civic Core Plan shows the Farmers Market there.
Goal 3 - Develop a cluster of community public facilities, conveniently located and capable of serving the area's projected population.
Policy 1. Acquire parcels of land now, contiguous or very close together, that are necessary to build community facilities needed now and in the future.
Strategy 2: Implement the Civic Core plan.
Action G. Create park or open space on current fire station/NSC site.

Under Goal 11, the City is to make it a priority to purchase land within the Civic Core and to develop assets for the community’s civic pursuits.
Goal 11 - Provide public services adequate to serve current and future populations.
Policy 1. Land for capital facilities and other resources shall be acquired in anticipation of population growth, based on valid demographic projections.
Policy 2.  Community reviews or performance audits of current services will be conducted periodically to assess effectiveness.
Strategy 2: Work to expand or develop programs and services needed by a diverse
population to deal with mental iIIness, addictive dependencies, as well as the need for day care for young and old, a job resource bank, language services, recycling, a central family service center and other needed social services
Action A. Inventory available social services for young and senior citizenry throughout the Planning Area.
Action B. Evaluate the need for additional social services for young and old citizenry.
Action C. Provide needed facilities and services as identified. Suggestions include senior center(s) and teen center{s).
Strategy 3:  Provide youth with lawful, constructive activities
Action C. Develop a Lake City job bank.
Action D: Determine the best location(s) and develop a Teen Center(s) with after school and evening programs for youth.
Action E. Develop a family-oriented skateboard park, modeled after the one in Ellensburg, with picnic benches, artwork and other public amenities, near the Civic Core.

And here are a few pages with maps of the Civic Core Plan:

Future of the Old 39 - The City's intent

The City of Seattle is required to either repurpose or sell the Old 39 within 5 years of the completion of the new Fire Station 39. The end of this 5 year period is approaching. The Department of Finance and Administrative Services has been instructed by the City to start the disposition process. It is clear that both Council and the Mayor's office are intent on developing that property into low income housing with services on the ground floor. It is not clear who the property will be sold to in order to carry out this intent.

In a post that will follow, passages from the Comprehensive Plan will show the expressed intent of the residents of Lake City that the City agreed to adopt as policy. The City is acting against this policy and, by extension, the will of their constituents. The property sits within the Civic Core and the Goals, Policies, Strategies, and Actions stated in the Comp Plan make it explicitly clear that the city is to be acquiring property in the Civic Core and developing it for Civic functions - Farmers Market, Sports Courts, Youth and Senior activities Center, etc.

Please take the time to read through the following notice and to reiterate to the City what we want. They have a responsibility to listen to us and follow the policies established in the Plan. Many organizations from outside of Lake City are speaking out, advocating for more low income housing and homeless services at this location.

Our own neighborhood needs to speak up or the city will assume these organizations represent our community.


Info on the sale of the Old 39

Info on the disposition process

Email Comments to City rep Richard Gholaghong 

( or call Richard at 206.684.5212 )

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Disturbing residential burglaries on the rise in North Seattle

You have likely seen the headlines. Burglaries are on the rise in North Seattle.

But most concerning to residents and authorities is the method of these crimes.

Many are happening late at night, while the residents are home.

In the early morning hours of March 6th, three home were burglarized within a few block radius. The method in all seemed similar and was done while residents were home.

In one burglary, an adult female resident in the 4200 block of Meridian Ave North was woken by a voice yelling, “Let’s go.”  She then heard what sounded like footsteps running down the outside stair case.  After she  checked the house she realized the suspects stole car keys and personal electronics. The car was not taken.

Twenty minutes after calling 9-1-1, officers and burglary detectives responded. They discovered that the point of entry was an unlocked back door.

In another burglary a man was home with his wife and two young children while their home was burglarized.  Personal electronics, car keys and the victim's car were stolen. The vehicle is a gray 2011 Audi A4, WA license ADZ8091. (If you see the vehicle please call 9-1-1.)

On March 5th another home was burglarized in Wedgewood. A 2004 Toyota was stolen from that home.

And on March 3rd three homes were broken into. Personal electronics and a green 2005 Acura MDX, WA license AFV-9085 was also stolen. In all of these the residents were home at the time.

This trend is unnerving as eventually a homeowner will wake up and a confrontation will likely happen with the burglars.

Most of these incidents involve unlocked doors and windows. Some involve the burglars breaking windows and doors to gain entry.

To reduce the likelyhood that your home will be entered, lock all doors and windows during the day and at night. Also, keep electronics and valuables away from windows and visible areas that might invite a crime.

Lake City Community Council looks for input on survey

Are you aware Lake City has a community council? Do you feel safe in Lake City? Do you know your neighbors?

These are some of the questions being asked in a survey by the Lake City Community Council.

You can find a link to the survey here.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A visit to Elliott Bay Brewhouse and Pub in Burien

Elliott Bay Brewhouse and Pub, Burien

Much has been said about Elliott Bay Brewing Company moving into the Lake City neighborhood.  The future business has created a buzz in this corner of Seattle, especially among younger families and people looking for a business to help define our community.

Aside from their much-lauded beer selection and food, the expectation from many is that the pub will bring a vibe to the Lake City business core that has been largely lacking. Residents in West Seattle are known to be fond of their location and the Burien location is also known as a community gathering place.

Sure we have pubs and bars in our neighborhood, but many of them smell of the decades of cigarette smoke that was the norm before the state's ban on indoor smoking. That permanent odor is combined with a musty old-wood-frame-building smell that is uniquely Northwest. They are not necessarily places you would take visiting friends or family. And most of these businesses are also not welcoming to children. With the lower-priced homes in our neighborhood, the Lake City area is quickly becoming a popular neighborhood for young families.

In a 2006 article Elliott Bay's West Seattle location was featured in the Seattle P-I. From that story:
It's a cozy, dark place, with high-backed booths and funky artwork. But the tiny bar, slightly harried wait staff, ample supply of crayons and a kids menu that features mandarin oranges, turkey rolls and veggies make it clear children are welcome.
In fact, the alehouse doesn't serve hard liquor, and it closes at midnight, because it courts sociable families, not hard-core drinkers.
Instead of darts and pool, the brewpub throws a kids appreciation day, sponsors youth soccer teams, plays their game films and sells children's T-shirts.
"I think our communities are starved for these opportunities," said co-owner Todd Carden." In the old days, ... you hung out with your kids." 

With expectations high for the new pub and brewhouse, we decided to drop in for lunch at the location in Burien recently to see what may be coming to our neighborhood.

The business core around the Burien location is more developed than our business core. It is near a major transit hub, across from the Burien Library and near Town Square Park. There seemed to be some similarities to our business core but downtown Burien was far more developed and had more modern urban amenities.

The main strip along SW 152nd Street has many small businesses in what appeared to be a high traffic and highly-walkable area. The brewery was across the street from a Grocery Outlet. There were a few other pubs and restaurants nearby. A Grand Central Bakery location and a few coffee shops were other businesses that stood out during our trip there. A nearby Trader Joes also grabbed our attention.

The brewhouse was warm and inviting. When our server found out we were from the Lake City area she showed her excitement about the brewhouse opening in our neck of the woods.

Now what we write here should not be seen as a restaurant review. Those typically take multiple visits and the ordering of many different dishes. Our experience was limited to one visit on a weekend afternoon. If you want to read reviews, Yelp has a thorough selection of opinions on the Burien location. After 105 reviews the site lists the business as having 4 out of 5 stars. (To really understand online ratings and opinions, stars should be ignored and the review text actually read.)

But during our trip we did find the food to be quite good.

Our party of four ordered the Blackened ahi with spinach and smoked mozzerella salad. We also ordered the Imperial ruben and a Cheeseburger with french fries. All were fantastic. In fact our only complaint about the food was that the serving sizes could have been smaller and the corresponding price lowered —especially after we also ate the towering Sweet potato gaufrettes as an appetizer.

Our server pointed out that the menu at the Lake City location will likely be different than the Burien location. However you can browse their menu here.

The sampler
We also tried the beer sampler (after all, it is a brewery). The sampler included five of their most popular beers. Five were well-regarded and one was deemed a bit too bitter —but no one in our party particularly liked bitter beer.

The brewmaster is obviously a master of his craft. A few of the brews were fantastic and alone could make us return as regular customers.

Our bill for a family of four (two children) came to about $50. If we would have ordered from the Happy Hour menu it would have been much less but the food selection on that menu was limited. And since we were visiting from the north end of King County we figured we'd order what we really wanted —it was worth it.

It wasn't quite as inexpensive as our meager pocketbooks had hoped, but as stated earlier, the portion size and corresponding price could be smaller. However, the price we paid did not sting as much because the food, beer and service were so good.

Another element of the business that has many excited is the impact they have had on the communities where they have opened. A former employee told us that it was an enjoyable place to work and that the owners practiced what they preached in regards to their socially responsible business practices. They are highly-regarded in the business communities where they are located. From their website:
Over the past thirteen years in West Seattle, Elliott Bay Brewery & Pub has been a leader in sustainability, philanthropic support, and instrumental in creating an amazing sense of community in the neighborhoods which it serves.  Elliott Bay Brewhouse and Pub, the company's second brewpub, opened in Burien in March of 2007. The Burien Brewhouse, like its West Seattle sibling, supports a progressive company culture and socially responsible business practices.
The Burien location offers a happy hour every day from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and from 10 p.m. to close. They also offer a weekend brunch from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The most recent update from the owners says they are hoping to open the Lake City location by the end of March.

Below is a map showing the location of the Burien pub.

View Larger Map

LC Shelter_Meeting Minutes from 02/07/12

The UGM LC Shelter Advisory Council is meeting every other week now. Below are minutes from early February.

Of note:

Bank of America confirmed that they hired a security guard 2 weeks after the UGM shelter opened due to panhandling and loitering around their ATMs. 

The One Night Count in Lake City counted 14 people in the Lake City area (145th to 95th / 15th to the Lake ) sleeping in cars or outside. To put this in context, there were 1,898 total unsheltered homeless counted that night in the City of Seattle. The count last year in Lake City was 22.

The shelter guests want to help with clean ups and were disappointed when a weekly walk was canceled. 

Jonathan Neufeld answered a question about the function of the Valor Apartments that he is working with Community Psychiatric Clinic on. The Mennonites are selling the property that God's Little Acre is on for CPC to put in a 21 unit apartment with psych services for vets with dual diagnosis ( addiction and mental problems ). The early design guidance for this project happened last Monday, February 27th. DPD gave less than 3 weeks notice on their site. 

A UGM rep mentions in the minutes that some of the shelter guests "hang out" at the drug house on 25th and 127th.

See comments in red below regarding responses to the question of dealing with "service resistant" individuals.

Lake City UGM Shelter Advisory Committee
Meeting Minutes
  1. Call to order
Paul LaRose called to order the regular meeting of the Lake City Shelter Advisory Committee at 4:04pm on 2/7/2012 in the Lake City Community Center Meeting Room.
  1. Roll call
The following persons were present: 
  • Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission – Paul LaRose
  • At Large Business Member – Suzy Smith
  • Cedar Park Senior Housing Authority Group (SHAG) – Elena Earle
  • At Large Resident Member – Janet Arkills
  • At Large Resident Member – Chuck Dickey
  • Mennonite/Lake City Task Force on Homelessness (LCTF) – Jonathon Neufeld
  • At Large Business Member and Resident – Annie Stocker
The following persons were absent: 
  • Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission – Terry C. Pallas 
  • Lake City Community Council – Cheryl Klinker 
  • Lake City Development Council – Joe Simmons
  • UGM Shelter guest
  1. Approval of minutes from last meeting
Chuck Dickey motioned to approve minutes, Elena Earle seconded. Minutes from 1/24/12 were approved.
  1. SUGM Statistical Report
    • 207 registered guests to date (number represents guests who have stayed at least one night)
    • Bed nights from January 2012 1770 (47 men average, 11 women average) 
    • Meals served from Jan. 10th- Jan. 22nd is 4509 (146 meals a day average)
    • No new sign-ups for recovery program (2 to date)
    • UGM Rep. Paul shared a quote from LCShelter Guest Bruce: “From day 1 I started downtown, but was able to return to Lake City. That was my only option. I find myself having the possibility of being employed and the LCShelter has helped me in a very significant way. I depend on the good meals and a place to sleep. I see people needing help getting on their feet and joining the program SUGM offers.”
Discussion ensued re: Recidivism rate of homeless & how it’s tracked.  UGM Rep Paul and Mennonite/LCTF Rep Jonathon noted statistics are available nationally, but not locally. Jonathon noted it is unusual for first-time homeless to utilize shelter services.
    • UGM Rep Paul shared that Officer Kip Strong told the Lake City Development meeting on 1/25/12 that he has not seen an increase in criminal activity in Lake City since the LCShelter opened. 
    • Committee Member Suzy noted that while there may not be an increase in criminal activity, there has been an increase in nuisance behaviors, to the point that local businesses are hiring security. UGM Paul LaRose requested meeting minutes note that Lake City businesses are having to hire security.
    • One Night Count results for Lake City for 1/27/12 were 14. Mennonite/LCTF Rep Jonathon noted the previous year’s count was in the 20’s. UGM Rep Paul noted 54 were in LCShelter that night.
  1. Open Issues:
  1. Dispersing LCShelter contact info - LC Chamber of Commerce unresponsive. Advisory Committee agreed to table contacting Chamber for assistance.
    1. Committee Member Suzy requested that businesses experiencing ongoing nuisance behaviors be individually contacted by UGM representative. 
    2. UGM Rep Paul stated he will instruct UGM Staff to distribute LCShelter contact info, (noted arrival of new intern at LCShelter helpful in relieving staff to achieve such tasks), asked which areas to target. 
    3. Advisory Committee members agreed Bartell complex, Grocery Outlet complex, both sides of Lake City Way between 120th & 130th should be contacted.
    4. Committee Member Janet requested Bank of America and Lake City Library be included as well. Noted conversation with Bank of America manager who stated BofA had to hire a security guard 6 weeks ago to deal with panhandling/loitering issues near ATMs and outlets on northwest side of building.
  2. Mennonite/LCTF safety patrol - None last week. Committee Member Chuck requested litter patrol bags be sorted, (recyclables separate from garbage) and returned to him for counting. Mennonite/LCTF Rep Jonathon noted future litter pick ups will concentrate on Lake City Way, unless otherwise requested.
  3. UGM Rep Paul asked what the perception of garbage in Lake City area is since LCShelter opened. 
    1. Committee Member Suzy noted overflowing canisters, business owners having to clean up storefronts upon arrival at their storefronts. 
    2. Committee Member Janet noted she sees more garbage on daily walks through LC core than during summer. 
    3. UGM Rep Paul noted that the Thurs. garbage patrol was missed last week, asked if there could be a make-up litter patrol if Thurs. patrol is missed. 
    4. Mennonite/LCTF Rep Jonathon amenable to leading make-up litter patrols dependent on his schedule.  
    5. UGM Rep Paul noted several LCShelter guests expressed disappointment over canceled litter patrol because they enjoy receiving incentive cash cards for participation.
    6. Committee Member Chuck noted he leads a Lake City litter patrol with Community Court workers on Wednesdays, requested litter pick-up scheduling not overlap with that.
  4. Network of Churches - 
    1. Mennonite/LCTF Rep Jonathon noted involvement of local churches with homeless. Cited Lake City Baptist Church offering spa days for homeless women and Boundless Grace Ministries offering Bible studies.
Discussion ensued, re: Update on Niko.
  • Mennonite/LCTF Rep Jonathon stated that Niko is progressing on paperwork/returning to Fiji; Niko’s family and church pastor involved.
  • Mennonite/LCTF Rep Jonathon noted that Niko’s friend Ken, is submitting application to Westgate Chapel recovery program in Edmonds. 
  • Committee Member Janet asked how Westgate recovery program is different than UGM’s recovery program, since UGM’s program is available.
  • UGM Rep Paul noted that people either like or dislike UGM’s recovery program; can be selective in choosing a recovery program to suit them.
    1. Committee Member Janet asked Mennonite/LCTF Rep Jonathon about construction of Valour Apartments (Community Psychiatric Clinic is purchasing two properties from Seattle Mennonite Church to build housing for veterans, to be opened in 2013, 12517 and 12513 33rd Ave. NE). Janet asked if that housing will absorb any of the people left when LCShelter closes.
      1. Mennonite/LCTF Rep Jonathon stated Valour Apartments is specifically for particpants in Community Psychiatric Clinic’s THRIVE program (THRIVE serves veterans with a background of mental health and addiction issues). 
      2. Mennonite/LCTF Rep Jonathon stated he is unaware of any homeless in Lake City who participate in THRIVE program, noted he’s made many referrals but no one has stuck with programming.
    2. UGM Rep Paul stated One Life Church is planning a dinner for LCShelter in March.
    3. Clark Jennings is hosting a pastors’ meeting at LCShelter on 2/8/12. UGM Rep Paul and 10 other pastors will attend. Paul stated he will broach idea of churches sponsoring individuals (as LCShelter closes) at this meeting.
    4. UGM Rep Paul noted Hunger Prevention will provide lunches for LCShelter on Tuesdays and Fridays.
  1. Drunken/loitering issues. 
    1. Committee Member Suzy reported Seattle Police had detained two homeless on hood of police car on her way to Advisory Committee meeting. 
    2. UGM Rep Paul reported Ace Hardware called & requested LCShelter send staff member to deal with loiterers, loiterers had already dispersed when UGM staff arrived. Paul asked if there are any other “hotspots”, noted new addition of UGM intern frees up staff time to deal with these issues.
    3. Committee Member Suzy noted Chevron.
    4. SHAG/Cedar Park Rep Elena noted Laudromat (by 99 store)
    5. Committee Member Janet noted Post Office
    6. Committee Member Annie noted group of homeless loitering on south side of Elliot Bay Brewery construction fence and littering.
    7. Mennonite/LCTF Rep Jonathon noted ramp behind Value Village, indicated that Seattle police visit that area 2 or 3 times a day.
    8. Committee Member Chuck reported woman by bus stop by Bartells with bags looked like she was going to camp there. Said he’d never seen her before.
    9. Committee Member Annie noted activity on 25th where there’s a known drug house with prostitution (police are pursuing civil abatement of property).
Discussion ensued re: Activity at drug house on 25th 
  • UGM Rep Paul noted he’s aware of drug house, Committee Member Annie asked how he is hearing about it. 
  • UGM Rep Paul stated several LCShelter guests have mentioned the house; some who “hang out” at the house, and others who would like to see activities at house stopped.
  • Mennonite/LCTF Rep Jonathon stated he knows several people who’ve stayed at the house, indicated he just helped a woman move out of that house and into McDermott Place. 
  • General consensus on detrimental effects of house on surrounding area.
Discussion ensued, re: Homeless encampments on 5th & 12th at 145th.  
  • Committee Member Chuck noted he regularly sees homeless walking from encampments on 145th towards LCShelter/Lake City Way (past Olympic Hills Elementary) and vice versa. Noted there’s a lot of people encamped there, many he’s never seen before. 
  • Mennonite/LCTF Rep Jonathon noted size of encampment determines whether city will provide resources (case managers from Reach program) if encampments are reported.
  • UGM Rep Paul stated he would send UGM Staff Member Alex to these encampment areas to introduce himself. Jonathon suggested Alex bring CJ or someone with “street cred” to help with introductions.
Discussion ensued, re: Is City of Seattle aware and does City have plan for dealing with different types of homeless (“service resistant” versus “service accepting”)
  • UGM Rep Paul noted city is aware and Seattle offers many programs for homeless. 
  • Group discussed rights of homeless to choose homelessness, rights of residents affected by nuisance behaviors, lack of legislation to deal with chronic inebriety, etc.
Discussion ensued, re: Housing & homelessness
  • Mennonite/LCTF Rep Jonathon postulated that homelessness can be solved with radical housing options, “political will”, public generosity, and use of “harm reduction” models. Cited example of City of Seattle building McDermott Place to house chronically homeless veterans. Theorized that publicly funded housing sets people up for success and saves taxpayers money.
  • Committee Member Janet noted that housing still brings issues and costs taxpayers.  Cited hidden costs of McDermott Place, including: residents who frequent nearby Chevron station for alcohol consumption, police involvement with inebriety issues, and effects of inebriety on businesses and neighbors.
  1. Survey of Lake City neighborhood. UGM Rep Paul requested discussion be tabled until UGM Rep Terry Pallas is in attendance. Noted complexity of survey, potential for contention and division. Committee Member Chuck noted that a thorough survey would take 6 months to a 1 year to conduct. Several committee members agreed survey was not viable idea.
  2. Survey of LCShelter guests. UGM Rep Paul stated UGM will conduct internal survey of LCShelter guests. Stated that survey would be used internally for UGM data gathering and would not be used externally to advocate for extension of shelter in the Lake City area.  Several Committee Members requested survey results be shared with Advisory Committee and Paul agreed. 
  3. Newsletter. UGM Rep Paul stated LCShelter newsletter is in progress, noted LCShelter guests don’t like telling their stories, indicated newsletter will be used internally, not externally.
    • Committee Member Suzy suggested adding a section to UGM survey so respondents can indicate how Advisory Committee can provide support as LCShelter closes.
  1. Action Items:
  1. (UGM Staff) Will distribute LCShelter contact info as discussed.
  2. (Jonathon/Chuck) Will coordinate scheduling of litter patrols.
  3. (Paul) Will survey LCShelter guests and share survey results with Advisory Committee.
  1. Adjournment
Paul LaRose adjourned the meeting at 5:03 pm. Next meeting 2/21/12.