Monthly Archives: July 2009

City Council puts update process for Multifamily code on hold


Proposed improvements for multifamily structures

The Seattle City Council has halted proceedings on Seattle’s multifamily code update to give consultants time to run scenarios examining the proposed legislation for loopholes.

The good news is that the process should help eliminate holes in the code updates and make for a better process that includes a restructured design review process. The bad news is it’s going to take even longer to deliver the new rules.

The nearly 30-year-old code is outdated, and the Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Neighborhood Committee (PLUNC) hopes to turn the massive 277-page update proposal into a code that works for a modern Seattle.


According to PLUNC Chair Sally Clark, the delay is due to the lack of legislation for bringing Administrative Design Review into the code, a safeguard against possible abuse of code loopholes and an integral part of low rise zoning code. Clark said the Council plans on performing several exercises as well, involving real designs, to experience the code in action and help comprehension for all parties involved.

“We need to step back and take a new approach, as the narrative approach has not worked well for Council members or community members,” said Clark at Wednesday morning’s PLUNC meeting. Clark hopes the exercises will give the council a better framework to understand the implications of the code change than the “narrative approach”  – in other words, less talk, more study.

David Neiman, a member of the Congress on Residential Architecture’s (CORA) Northwest Chapter, is a strong proponent for updating of the code. Neiman expressed his view on the MFC delay in a recent CORA blog post, saying: “It seems that nobody on the Council feels comfortable enough with their understanding of the legislation to buy off on the idea that it’ll do more good than harm.”

However, Neiman is positive about the pause in legislation, saying the bill would not have passed without further investigation of its downsides.

CORA is sending a brief to the City Council that lays out a possible design for the exercise that the Council has planned, and contains recommendations on which aspects of the bill should be investigated.

The city’s multifamily code is a set of laws regulating structures like townhomes and apartment buildings. To read more about the proposed changes, visit the Department of Planning and Development’s Multifamily Zoning Update site .

Want to know what zone you live in? Go to this map , enter your address and click “Detailed zoning” at the bottom.

Lucas Anderson is the Seattle Editor intern for the network

Stats show Eastlake by the numbers (you may be surprised)

As we noted in a recent post, Seattle Police Department crime statistics for Eastlake are almost useless for those of us who actually live here because we get mixed in with other parts of the city (Capitol Hill, for instance).

This isn’t true of the statistics on population, housing and employment. The City’s Department of Planning and Development, in it’s Draft Status Report on the Eastlake Residential Urban Village, gathers up stats from the 2000 Census and the Washington Employment Security Department to give a look at Eastlake by-the-numbers.

And, what turns up may surprise you (keep in mind that these numbers are slightly out of date):

  • The estimated population for Eastlake in 2007 was 4,247.
  • The vast majority of us (87.7%) are white. The next largest ethnic group is Asian at 6.3%.
  • We’re relatively young: 44% of us are between the ages of 25 and 34. Next largest age group is 35-54 at 28.7%. Senior citizens (65 and older) are 4.2%.
  • A big surprise: The vast majority of Eastlake residents (75.6%) are renters. There are 902 units of housing here.
  • There are 2,760 households in Eastlake, or 14 per acre. The City’s target for density in 2024 is 15 households per acre.
  • We do pretty well financially: 82% of us have incomes of 2 times the poverty level or higher. Some of us aren’t so fortunate: 7.2% live below the poverty level (the poverty level for a family of four is income below $20,050 a year).
  • There are 724 jobs in the neighborhood and 259,994 square feet of commercial space.

Interesting stuff and worth checking out. The complete report is here.

Thanks to Tim Ahlers for sending along the link to the City’s report.

Great Eastlake Pub Crawl is Saturday

The fifth Great Eastlake Pub Crawl is this Saturday, July 25. Participants will visit six (or maybe seven) bars in Eastlake, having a drink at each stop.

Bars compete to see which can prepare the best original drink. Past winners include The Zoo Tavern (2005) for “Mojo’s Magic Cracklin’ Cure-All,” Romio’s (2006) for “Elisabeth’s Passion.” Serafina (2007) for “Goccia di Aranciata.” and Romio’s (2008) for “Romio’s Raspberry Kiss.”

On the list for this year are the Eastlake Bar and Grill, Kristo’s, Louisa’s, The Zoo, Thai Siam and a mystery location.

Cost is $25 in advance (pay at PayPal) or $30 at the door. The event begins at 6 p.m. at the Eastlake Bar and Grill, 2947 Eastlake Ave. E.

More information at the events page on Facebook.

I Rode Link Light Rail — DAY ONE

Went to opening day of the new Link Light rail on Saturday.  It’s a nice smooth ride, and a fun time was had by all.  Lots of train excitement, live music, clowns and jugglers for the kiddos to entertain them in line.  For comparison, I also attended the opening day of Dallas’ DART rail in the late 1990s, and I can say that Sound Transit did a much, much better job of crowd management.  In Dallas, we were packed on like sardines that first day, and you wondered if it was safe.   Here, they carefully controlled how many people got on to the platform at a time.

I took some pics of the festivities.  Hope you enjoy.  I predict lots of new interest in neighborhoods like Beacon Hill and Columbia City, as they’ll be super convenient to downtown now.   My final shots are on the way back to Eastlake.  It was a rail day — Streetcar to LInk and back. Here’s the link to Flickr if you want full screen

A piece of Eastlake history gets a new coat (and location)

A familiar site at Lake Union Mail was anchored to a new position this week and polished up with a bright new cover.

The metal bench that has been sitting in front of the Eastlake store for 15 years now sports a new coat of bright red paint and a new location directly in front of Lake Union Mail, just to the right of the door.

Owner Jules James says the bench comes with a historic pedigree. At one time it was part of the ladder guard at the top of one of the smokestacks on the Lake Union Steam Plant (see our previous post). When the crumbling stacks were removed in the late 1980s, James came into possession of one of the ladder guards.

And how did that happen, asks a visitor?

“They were just sitting on the sidewalk,” he says with a smile. Construction personnel at the power plant said, “We don’t know anything.”

Sheryl Sirotnik, owner of the building that houses Lake Union Mail and Louisa’s among other businesses, found an artist who fashioned the ladder guard into a bench. And there it sat on the sidewalk between Louisa’s and Lake Union Mail.

Jules says it wasn’t high enough where it was and the color was gray. For the move to its new location (a few feet west and closer to the building), it’s been given a coat of bright red paint.

“It’s been brought to all its glory,” he says.

Next up will be bricks underneath the bench. Jules is pondering a design for the bricks, possibly one borrowed from other brickwork in the neighborhood. The bricks were surplus from the renovation of Seward School.

Painting of the bench was done by Jean Patterson, and installation was completed by Terry Goodwin, both Eastlake residents.

The bench is proving newly popular, Jules says. “Some people are using it as an office, but that’s OK because it’s an added level of security.”

Stop by and give it a test “sit.” The bench is shaded on these warm afternoons.

Crime stats for May: Hard to see Eastlake’s numbers

The Seattle Police Department has released crime statistics for May. And, for Eastlake, the numbers are … hard to fathom.

The SPD splits coverage of Eastlake between the East and West precincts. The dividing line is E. Lynn Street. North of Lynn and you’re in the East Precinct; south of Lynn and you’re in the West precinct.

This means that our stats are spread between two precincts. And we’re lumped in with two much larger areas: Capitol Hill  for the East Precinct, and downtown and Queen Anne for the West. The precinct map will show you the two beats we are part of, C1 and D2. 

Pulling just Eastlake’s numbers out of that is pretty much impossible. But, a couple of things are notable: There were no homicides in either of the beats we are part of, and rapes dropped from one in April to zero in May. And that’s down from two in May of 2008. 

You can see the other numbers for beats C1 and D2 in the accompanying chart. Total crimes were up 8% between April and May, but down 7% from May of 2008. Again, these numbers aren’t just for Eastlake but include a much bigger area. I’ve been looking at police calls in the neighborhood for a few months now and, just from a casual inspection, they seem to mostly cover property and vehicle theft, with the occasional drunken fight..

The SPD is reporting that, city-wide, crime is up 8% in the first five months of the year:

Increases have occurred in all crime categories except homicide, rape and vehicle theft.  The increases in robbery, burglary and larceny continue a trend seen in the latter half of 2008.  The increase in aggravated assaults reverses a downward trend from the last two years.

Capitol Hill Seattle reported that one of the major drivers for the increase in the East Precinct was a big rise in thefts, up 43% from the same period in 2008. That trend is slowing somewhat, CHS reports.

Deadline is July 31 to sign up for Night Out block parties

Once a year, the City of Seattle allows neighborhoods to barricade a street and hold a block party without requiring a permit. This year, the event is on Tuesday, Aug. 4.

It’s part of the national Night Out Against Crime event. The idea is to help neighbors get to know each other and their neighborhood, and to celebrate their anti-crime efforts. If neighbors know each other, the idea goes, they will work more effectively together to help prevent crime.

From the Seattle Police Department’s web site:

Night Out is a great opportunity to celebrate your efforts to keep your neighborhood safe. Pat each other on the back for your continued involvement and dedication to public safety. It is also a great time to invite new neighbors to join you and talk with friends and family who may not enjoy the benefits of a Block Watch about getting one started. And we’ll have our officers out to as many Night Out celebrations as we can, to say “Thank You” in person!

To register your neighborhood, go to the SPD’s web site. You’ll find a registration link on the right hand side (Eastlake north of Lynn is in the East Precinct; sound of Lynn it’s in the West Precinct). Also, there are downloadable posters and signs to help out with your block party.

We have a new, easier-to-remember web address

Eastlake Ave. now has a new, shorter and easier-to-remember web address:

The old address will still work but I’d encourage you to bookmark and use the new address. Google maps in the posts may not work if you come in to the site from the old address. Contributors are especially encouraged to use the new URL.

Your logon and password will operate the same. And, we’re still part of Neighborlogs.


Eastlake houseboat burglar takes a purse … and a car

A Lake Union houseboat burglary netted the thief the victim’s purse and her car in a break-in earlier this month.

According to the police report, the burglar entered the houseboat moored in the 2600 block of Fairview Ave the night of July 3rd. The report states the suspect entered the house through an unlocked door, and took the purse of a 58-year-old woman staying at the residence. The purse contained keys to the victim’s car. The thief then made off with the purse and the vehicle, which the report valued at over $15,000.

The report did not provide information on what type of car was stolen. According to the report, no fingerprints were found at the scene.

Clean up and hot competition at the Eastlake Bouledrome

Next Tuesday is Bastille Day and what better way to acknowledge French independence than with a community work party to clean up the Eastlake Bouledrome for the season?

A group of neighbors gathered Friday evening at the Bouledrome, located in the street end park at Fairview East where East Louisa would intersect (if only Louisa went through). It was a great chance to help the neighborhood and find out a little history of the park and the Bouledrome (and learn how to play petanque).

Linda Furney, Carsten Stinn and their son, Enzo (Teamenzo), were instrumental (with the help of many neighbors) in getting the project done in 2006. According to a blog post from Teamenzo in 2007, it took about six months of working with various City departments and local businesses to create the Bouledrome and petanque court.

The site had previously been parking for a dock and boat repair business. When the business was closed and the dock replaced by houseboats, the street end became available for development. Teamenzo and other neighbors sprang into action to make the park and petanque court a reality.

Dirt for the court came from Safeco Field. The special clay soil used on the pitcher’s mound is rotated every two months, Carsten said, and he was able to get some for free. Granite curb stones removed from Pioneer Square were obtained from the city and form the edges of the court. Linda wrote the explanation of petanque that is on a plaque next to the court.

I’m not going to go into all the details of how you play petanque, mainly because I don’t know them. You can read more about the game on the Petanque America web site (they also sell equipment).

It’s the French variation on the Italian game of “bocci.” In brief, the small orange ball you’ll see in the photos is called the “piglet.” The idea is to roll the large silver balls as close to the piglet as possible. Beyond that, you’re going to have to ask Linda and Carsten.

Helping out with the clean up party Friday were Teamenzo (Linda, Carsten and Enzo), Marsh and Sue Bugge, Canek Gordillo and Kate Milenba, Tim Ahlers and yours truly.

The Bouledrome is always looking for new players and for people willing to help out. One concern is getting enough water to plants around the court. If you’d like to help out or play, wander down in the evenings and there’s likely someone around who can show you the game or talk to you about volunteering. 

Check the Petanque America web site for more information, including more photos and a story about the Eastlake Bouledrome.