Friday, June 22, 2012

PHOTOS: Week two of Lake City Farmers Market

Summer is here and the Lake City's Farmers Market is in full swing. Thursday many neighbors came out, despite violence that occurred about a block away during the market.

Here are some photos from Thursday's market. Douglas Park Cooperative will be hosting a table at the market in the future and we are looking for community volunteers to help with the table. The plan is to have some craft activities for youngsters and we hope to also offer information to neighbors at the table. If you would like to volunteer some time at the table send a message to Annie Stocker:

We hope to see you out there!

Ravenna, left, and Bella, right, enjoy some time at the Lake City Farmers Market with their families.

Lydia Withrow of Tiny's Organic from Wenatchee

Beans from Alvarez Farms

People browse the market

Tamales from Patty Pan Grill

Cheese from Appel Farms

Strawberries from Kittitas Valley Greenhouse

Tomatoes from Kittitas Valley Greenhouse

Flowers from Snohomish County

Woodring's Northwest jelly and spreads

Rainer cherries

Zarah Hitner of Veraci Pizza rolls dough

Eggs from Sky Valley Farm

Half Pint Homemade Ice Cream

Veraci Pizza

Bread and Woodring's Northwest spreads

An assortment of tomatoes


Elena holds bread from Kaffeeklatsch

Thursday afternoon shooting puts Lake City problems in spotlight

Some of the problems our neighborhood regularly faces were put in a glaring spotlight on Thursday after a shooting outside of the 99-Cent Etc. store injured two people.

The location is a known gathering point where chronic public inebriates, drug dealers and others that exhibit nuisance behaviors regularly hang out. Judging from comments on news sites many people are uncomfortable going to the surrounding businesses because of the public inebriates and others that gather there. One commenter said "Much of Lake City appears to have become a north end ghetto."

The shooting happened next door to the Cedar Park Senior Housing Assistance Group apartments and across the street from the old Fire Station 39, a site the City of Seattle has proposed turning into housing for homeless families and low-income housing. Neighborhood groups, including Douglas Park Cooperative, are fighting the proposal as putting even more vulnerable people into an area already reeling from its addiction and violence problems —and an obvious lack of services that empower the community— would further encourage a vicious cycle.

Below is some of the coverage of the Thursday shooting. We have embedded videos where able and others are links to content on other sites.

KING5 coverage:

Q13 FOX coverage:

Here is a link to KIRO TV's story.

Here is a link to the Seattle P-I's story.

Here is the Seattle Times story. 

Here is info from the Seattle Police Department.

Two shot outside 99-Cent Etc. store

Medics and officers respond to the scene of a shooting outside the 99-Cent Etc. Store.
Two people were shot Thursday afternoon in the parking lot of the 99-Cent Etc. store near the intersection of 30th Avenue NE and NE 127th Street. One of the men was a bystander hit in the back by an errant bullet during an argument.

The Seattle P-I reported that the suspect in the shooting later turned himself in to police in Lake Forest Park about 6 p.m.

The shooting was first reported to 9-1-1 dispatchers about 3:49 p.m., as people were gathered nearby at the Lake City Farmers Market.

Police said there was a dispute between one of the men shot and two others in a nearby car. One man in the car fired multiple rounds, hitting the man he argued with in the leg. Another round hit a bystander in the buttocks.

A round also shattered the window of a residence at the Cedar Park Apartments and another was found next to a car in front of Grocery Outlet.

Most at the nearby neighborhood farmers market were unaware that there was a shooting about a block away. The sound of news helicopters hovering overhead drowned out a music performance but most went about their business.

One neighborhood resident said she was walking toward Grocery Outlet when an agitated man rushed toward her yelling about shooting someone in the butt. The man, known around the neighborhood as "Marine Dave," later returned to the scene and was treated by medics. He was rushed, along with the other victim, to Harborview Medical Center. Both are expected to survive.

Later in the evening a group publicly drinking in front of the Lake City Post Office said they know "Marine Dave" and that he was an innocent bystander. The group drinking in the parking lot also told the Seattle Times that the disagreement between the other victim and the shooter was over something "stupid" and should have been settled with fists.

"People have gotten lazy," the witness told the Times. "They want to just fire a gun when they should fight."

The people would not elaborate further on what the argument was over.

Witnesses at the scene said they heard six shots fired during the chaos.

Comments on news websites had lots to say about the direction Lake City seems to be headed and the number of people that gather in the area publicly drinking and panhandling. One reader from Lake Forest Park said, "Much of Lake City appears to have become a north end ghetto."

Hours after the shooting Douglas Park Cooperative held one of their twice-weekly neighborhood walks and had the largest turnout since the walks started more than six months ago.

Neighbors, many frustrated with the direction they see the neighborhood going, talked about problems in the neighborhood and discussed ways to combat what some see as the deterioration of their neighborhood.

View Lake City Shooting in a larger map

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Some letters to inspire....

The following letters are from an archive on the Fire Station 39 at the City Clerk's office. They were written to the Fire Chief shortly after Lake City was annexed into Seattle and the Fire Station was transferred to City ownership. As mentioned before, the Fire Station was used for more than just the Lake City Volunteer Fire Department. It housed the library and had a community space for many neighborhood organizations. After the City took over the space that was purchased and built with community resources, they removed the library and stopped providing space for community groups.

The first letter is from the Lake City Grandmother's Club - no kidding. The City response is written on the bottom left.

The next letter is from a group of 50 families with children who play accordions. The City denial of request follows in the second letter.

The next letter is from the Lake City Orthopedic Auxiliary who leased the Fire Station community room for years prior to the annexation. City's denial of request follows.

Make your voice heard regarding the old Fire Station

The City is seeking further feedback from Lake City residents regarding their report and recommendations for the future use of Fire Station 39 and the public involvement process. June 30th is the deadline for comments, so please take some time to write a letter to the city to let them know how you feel about the report recommendation. You can find an analysis of the report here.

You have a chance now to be directly involved in how that property is developed. It is at a key intersection in the future development of our community. Take a few minutes to get involved and make a difference. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Community Response to Fire Station #39 Disposition Report

 The preliminary report on the Fire Station #39 property recommends developing the site for low-income/homeless housing. This recommendation is based on FAS’s (Dept. of Finance and Administrative Services) evaluation of the site in terms of guidelines established by Council Resolution # 29799. The guidelines (and therefore the report) are structured around four main areas:

Lake City Community Center has inadequate ADA access, no sporting facilities,
and unsafe pedestrian access.

Lake City Community Center has inadequate ADA access, no sporting facilities,
and unsafe pedestrian access

Guideline A: Consistency with Statutes and Conditions of Purchase
The report provides an incomplete picture of the FS#39 property.
  • Both the property and improvements were originally purchased with community resources prior to its annexation.
  • Historically, the building has been used for many civic functions: a city hall, library, community center, and a volunteer fire department.
  • When the property was transferred via annexation to the City of Seattle, it continued to serve as a multi-functional civic space: a fire station, Neighborhood Service Center, and location for North Helpline.

None of these details are in the report. Understanding the community’s historic relationship with that property is essential to understanding the community’s wishes that it continue to be used as a civic space.

Also, FAS’s recommendation of a negotiated sale risks violation of Section 1.A.4.b regarding RCW 43.09.210 which requires it be sold at true and full value to a public service industry.

Guideline B: Compatibility and Suitability
The report contrasts traffic along Lake City Way with 30th Ave NE, saying that LCW is the retail corridor and painting a picture of 30th as a residential dead zone.  This is misleading.
  • 30th provides the primary entrance for the retail businesses on the Wilcoxon property (Elliott Bay, KaffeeKlatsch, FedEx, Bartells, etc.)
  • The nearby Seattle Gymnastics Academy is an example of a successful retail business that experiences heavy traffic, despite its lack of signage and its location on a dead-end street.
  • The report does not mention the Pierre Visioning Project anywhere in this context and this oversight is unacceptable. Outcomes from the Pierre Properties Visioning Workshop (conducted with Lake City residents in May 2012) indicate a desire to see 30th developed as a mix of pedestrian-friendly civic core and retail space.
  • This omission is compounded by the report’s recommendation, which does not align with the desired economic development of the area along 30th as outlined in both neighborhood plans.

Under Section 1.B.1 the guidelines require that FAS’s recommendation comply with adopted neighborhood plans.  The North District Comprehensive Plan clearly indicates the use of FS#39 property for civic purposes.

The report lists the following City-owned properties and claims they “serve the general community with recreational and educational opportunities.”  The report uses this list to argue against retention of the FS#39 property for Parks or civic purposes. A simple site visit would illustrate that these properties are not functioning in the way the report claims.

Satellite View of Lake City
click for larger view

Under Section 1.B.2 the report extensively details the need for more low-income housing throughout Seattle. However, the report fails to provide any details about why this low-income housing should be located in Lake City or at this site.

The only reasoning provided is a list of five “recent” housing developments. These are given as examples of “a multifamily and retail building boom,”  ̶  the implication being that more low-income housing is needed to offset this building boom. On the list:
  • Solara is the only “market rate” housing listed and it was built over 10 years ago.
  • The other four projects – all low-income housing – were built in the last 3 years.
  • There are more low-income/homeless housing projects breaking ground in Lake City this year that are not included in the report.
The City is using a recent building boom of low-income housing to justify adding even more. The report implies that the solution to a citywide problem is to concentrate low-income housing in Lake City.

Under Section 1.B.8 the guidelines require a review of “other priorities reflected in adopted City policy”. The Consolidated Plan and the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness are referred to as policies that supersede both the North District Comp Plan and the Lake City Civic Plan.

The report also refers to an unfinished Needs Assessment conducted by the Office of Housing & Dept. of Human Services as if it is a foregone conclusion that the site is appropriate for low-income housing. This Needs Assessment is not currently available to the public, nor was it available when the preliminary FS#39 report was written.

The housing developments cited within the report speak for themselves. In the last 3 years, Lake City has added 75 units of homeless housing for people with substance abuse problems and another 21 on the way for dual-diagnosis homeless, two SHAG subsidized senior housing developments and four large SHA projects.
  • This does not include all of the other low-income housing in the area, such as Oxford houses, Section 8, DSHS group homes, subsidized apartments, etc.
  • The report also does not take into account Lake City’s lack of equity with other Seattle neighborhoods in terms of economic development, pedestrian access and civic amenities.
  • Nor does the report address the impact of the many “negative” community aspects located nearby, such as adult entertainment facilities, gun shops, marijuana related retail, etc.

Under Section 1.B.4 (Economic Development) the report states, “there may not be an immediate market for stand-alone commercial development due to the poor economy.” This is a direct contradiction to Section D (Potential for use by the General Public) where the report states, “The property would likely receive multiple, market-rate offers if made available through an open competitive process.”

Under Section 1.B.5 the guidelines require review of the property for potential as a park or open space. Yet this report only examines the possibility of the space as a community center, which would require an expensive upgrade. The option of tearing the building down and creating open space was not considered. Extensive community feedback suggested:
  • Transferring and land banking the site for future development as civic space, such as a skate park, a flex-green space/outdoor music or theater venue, or a permanent location for the LC Farmer’s Market.
  • These options would not require an expensive acquisition or intrusion on existing parks space.
  • Funding for a skatepark in Lake City is currently being secured and the FS39 location would be ideal for size and location. The design could also incorporate other beneficial community components, such as a covered structure with community garden green roof. Produce from the garden could be used to support North Helpline.

Under res 29799 “Procedures for the Evaluation of the Reuse and Disposal of the City’s Real Property,” Section 5.A reads “It is the intent of the City to strategically utilize Real Property in order to further the City’s goals and to avoid holding properties without an adopted municipal purpose.”  The City’s Skatepark Masterplan does indicate a potential municipal use for that space and we request a meeting with Parks to discuss this option.

Guideline C: Other Factors
Under Section 1.C.1 the “highest and best use” should be considered. The reports own finding is that the property’s highest and best use is as market rate housing with first floor retail and that the highest return to the city would be through an open bid process.

Under Section 1.C.1.1 (Physically Possible), the report mentions that, “Thirtieth Avenue Northeast has been closed to through traffic about three blocks north of the subject.  This inhibits the flow of traffic moving north and south across the front of the property.”  This is false.  The street that is closed to through traffic is 27th Ave. NE, which is adjacent to the new fire station, not the old.  30th Ave. NE remains a busy through street.

Under Section 1.C.7 the “conditions in the real estate market” are described. The report refers to information from Colliers International that says developers are “anxious to build” in Lake City. They also say 812 housing units will be built in north Seattle  between now and 2014 by private developers- adding further demand for civic amenities that are currently lacking.  This again contradicts the claim in Section 1.B.4 that “there may not be an immediate market for stand-alone commercial development due to the poor economy.”

Lake City Memorial Triangle

Guideline D: Public Involvement and Sale Options
The report states that FAS received comments from 219 separate individuals. This is also misleading. A petition with 203 signatures was gathered in person by Lake City residents and submitted to FAS, bringing the total comments received to 422 individuals.
Of that 422, over 90% state a preference for converting the property into a civic amenity. Only 9 explicitly state their support for low-income housing. These numbers present a striking contrast to the City’s recommendation.

The end of the report recaps the three potential options:
A)    Use of the site for civic amenities
B)    Selling the site via an open bid process for market-rate development
C)    Use of the site for low-income/homeless housing and services
The report disregards option A by stating that DPR could not run two separate Community Centers. Yet nowhere in the community feedback is it documented that the public was asking for 2 community centers. This is an intentionally narrow definition of the feedback received.
The end of the first paragraph states “DPR has purchased and is planning the development of a large park site three blocks southeast of this property.”  Assuming this is the recent acquisition on 33rd Ave. NE, this park site is 10,000 square feet, hardly a large park. The intent for that park space is as a community garden for the immediately adjacent low-income housing tenants.
FAS ignores option B and recommends option C because it helps fulfill a municipal goal. This completely disregards FAS’s own determination of the “highest and best use” of the property. It also disregards the will of the community as repeatedly expressed by the hundreds of residents who participated in the North District Comp Plan, Civic Plan, Pierre Visioning Project, recent petitions and letter writing, as well as the hundreds of residents who spoke out against the City’s intent at public hearings regarding this property.

This response was created in conjunction with the Lake City Neighborhood Alliance (LCNA), a coalition of representatives from different neighborhood groups throughout the Lake City area working to inform and empower our diverse community.

Original post on Families for Lake City