Monthly Archives: January 2010

NOAA says it will review move from Lake Union to Oregon

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on Friday that it will review whether there was a “practical alternative” to awarding a lease to Newport, Oregon, for its Pacific fleet.

NOAA announced last August that it was moving its base from Lake Union, where its been based for over 40 years, to the Oregon coastal port.

The review comes in response to a decision by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) in December sustaining a protest of the move by the Port of Bellingham, one of the sites bidding for the NOAA base. The GAO’s decision hinged on the fact that part of the proposed NOAA base would be in a 100-year flood plain, which is a violation of federal regulations.

In a press release, NOAA’s chief administrative officer, William F. Broglie, said:

“NOAA is proceeding with all appropriate actions and intends to fully comply with GAO’s decision and recommended corrective actions.”

The press release says NOAA will:

  • Conduct an analysis of the proposals from 1801 Fairview Avenue East LLC (owners of the Lake Union base), the Port of Bellingham and the Port of Port Angeles to “determine if there is a practicable alternative that does not involve development in a base floodplain, and otherwise presents a feasible selection award under the solicitation for offers.” FEMA will make an analysis for NOAA of the floodplain issue as it relates to the four proposed locations.
  • If there is no alternative to Newport, NOAA will ask the General Services Administration to review its assessment to make sure it followed “generally-accepted GSA standards in reaching its conclusions.”
  • If there is no alternative to Newport, NOAA will post its draft assessment, including Newport’s plans to minimize flood plain impact, on its Web site. Public comment would be taken for 30 days
  • After the public comment period, “ NOAA would review comments and finalize the assessment report and make a final determination.”

NOAA expects to have this done by May 28.

The NOAA press release concludes:

GAO’s decision and recommendation did not require reversal of the award to Newport nor slowdown or stoppage of planned work. has comments from Newport officials and this from Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden:

“This is what agencies routinely do when the GAO makes recommendations,” Wyden said. “Now, Newport won this on the merits. It has been thoroughly vetted. I had a good, long talk with Secretary Locke (Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce) today and I am confident that this is another step closer to establishing the NOAA fleet in Newport because Newport has been consistently, based on the evidence, the best and most cost effective home for the NOAA fleet.” 

Our previous posts on the NOAA move are here.

Two Eastlake restaurants offer ways to eat and help Haiti

Two Eastlake restaurants are offering you a way to dine and donate to help victims of the Haiti earthquake. Both of these events end on Sunday:

  • Grand Central Bakery, 1616 Eastlake Ave. E.: When you eat at Grand Central (8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday), add a donation to Mercy Corps to your bill and the bakery will match it. They hope to raise $10,000, which includes a $5,000 donation from Grand Central.
  • Eastlake Bar and Grill, 2947 Eastlake Ave. E.: The fundraiser here is that $1 from the purchase of every half-pound burger will go to the Red Cross Haiti Relief program. The fundraiser will be going on at all four of the Neighborhood Grills locations: Eastlake, Greenlake, Southlake and Lake Forest. They’re open until 1 a.m. Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday marks 10th anniversary of crash that claimed popular Eastlake residents

The Tom and Peggy Stockley memorial bench features images from their lives in the tiles. (Photo courtesy Jo David from Flickr)

UPDATE: This post has been changed since it was first published. A photo of the memorial bench created for the Stockleys has been added.

A Seattle Times story this morning brought the reminder that Sunday will mark 10 years since an Alaska Airlines MD-83 airplane crashed into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, killing all 88 passengers and crew onboard. The plane was returning from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Among those killed that day were popular and well-known Eastlake houseboat residents Tom and Peggy Stockley. Tom was the wine columnist for the Seattle Times and “perhaps the nicest guy in Western Washington,” as one Eastlake resident who knew him wrote to me this morning. 

Peggy was active in the Floating Homes Association and other community groups. In a 2005 rememberance of her parents, their daughter, Paige, said of her: “My mother strolled the docks in folk dresses from her many wine trips with my dad, taking care of the dock cats, chatting with the neighbors and working on the Floating Homes Association newsletter and other Eastlake projects.”

Today, a memorial bench at Lynn Street Park celebrates the Stockleys in the colorful tiles that cover its surface. There are wine bottles, a typewriter, a cat, boats, ducks, flowers and more depicted on the bench.

If you knew Tom and Peggy, please feel free to share your reminiscences in the comments to this post.

Eastlake business owners gather, talk about merchants association potential

UPDATE: This post has been updated since it was first published. Susan Forhan is the sole owner of Eastlake Massage, not a co-owner.

As the saying goes, every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

For Eastlake’s business owners, that single step was a meeting Thursday morning at Cicchetti where the possibility of forming a merchants association was discussed. About a dozen businesspeople talked about the neighborhood, the business district and how an association might help them promote and improve it.

Two Eastlake residents — Susan Kaufman, owner of Serafina and Cicchetti, and Susan Forhan, owner of Eastlake Massage — organized the meeting. Kaufman said she had tried to form a similar group 15 years ago, but the business district wasn’t ready for it and it eventually dissolved. She’s optimistic that the time is now right to form an Eastlake Merchants Association.

“We’re ready,” Kaufman said. “We’re ready to collaborate as a group.”

Those present represented a variety of businesses, from restaurants to a dental office, a spa and two mail services, among others.

When Kaufman asked how people in the group perceived the business district, several agreed with Alcena Plum, owner of Louisa’s Bakery Cafe that it’s “a bit spread out.” While other neighborhood business districts are more compact, Eastlake’s runs from the University Bridge to roughly Zymogenetics, a long distance. It’s not easily walkable and that can make it hard to promote.

“Alcena brought up a good point,” Kaufman said. “We’re disconnected by geography.” There are too many vacancies, she said, adding that people will walk if there are businesses to draw them along. 

Lori Herbert, from Aesthetica Contemporary Dentistry, felt that one problem was the businesses don’t know each other and neighbors often don’t know the businesses. “We’re our own best referrals,” she said.

Other issues that make it challenging for local businesses are the fact that Eastlake is a busy street (it can be “intimidating,” one person said) and parking can be a challenge. On the plus side, the neighborhood is centrally located with good bus lines that make access easy.

Kaufman noted that the challenges facing Eastlake businesses can seem “daunting,” especially because everyone has their business to run. She advised that the group “chip away” at things and not try to take on too much too fast.

When she asked if the group felt like a merchants association was a good idea and if should they meet again, everyone said yes. The next meeting is tentatively set for 9 a.m. March 1 and each of those present was asked to recruit another business person to attend. Altercation at TOPS gets ugly‘s Casey McNerthney is reporting on an altercation at TOPS@Seward School last week that also made the Stranger earlier in the day.

McNerthney says the Seattle Police report says that in a French class, one seventh-grader asked another if he knew the “pen to skull” trick. When the victim said no, the alleged attacker reportedly held a pen in a closed fist and hit the victim in the head five times, drawing blood. 

But, McNerthney says, there’s a question about who instigated the altercation. See the rest of his blog post here.

Graffiti on I-5 noise walls: Who to call?

Eastlake’s new noise walls along I-5 are tempting targets for graffiti artists.

The walls are mostly inaccessible on the freeway side, but not totally. I noticed the graffiti in the photo on the Harvard E. side of the freeway on Monday. There’s a planting area on that side so it’s possible to gain access to the wall.

Tim Ditch, bridge supervisor for the Washington State Department of Transportation says that graffiti facing the freeway is the responsibility of his department. If it faces the street (which is much easier to access), the responsibility belongs to the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Ditch says that WSDOT has a graffiti report page on its Web site:

SDOT also has a graffiti reporting page online:

Ditch says the graffiti in the photo has been painted over. It’s still visible, but not nearly as bright as it was in the photos.

Eastlake resident proposes Submerged Parcel Park

UPDATE: This post has been updated since it was first publlished. Joe Mabel granted me permission to include his photo in the post.

Eastlake is already known for having one of the more unusual parks in Seattle: I-5 Colonnade Park, two acres of stairways and mountain bike trails located under the Interstate highway.

If Jules James, longtime Eastlake resident and businessman has his way, the neighborhood will be noted for another unique park: Submerged Parcel Park (SPP). James has submitted a formal proposal for funding for the park as part of the Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund.

The land in question is located under Lake Union in front of the ZymoGenetics building, the old Lake Union Steam Plant. This area is one of the last open pieces of Shoreline on Lake Union. James is proposing that it be formallly acquired as park land and incorporated into the Chesiahud Lake Union Loop Trail.

According to James’ proposal, the underwater land was originally platted and sold in 1907 as a funding mechanism for the Alaska-Yukon Exposition. One of the pieces of land was purchased by the Water Department to protect the outflow from the Volunteer Park Reservoir. Part of this land and a piece on the land was transferred in 1910 to the new Lighting Department as the site for a hydro-electric plant that used excess Volunteer Park Reservoir water to generate electricity.

City Light owns another piece of land in the area, which it has leased to the Lake Union Drydock for over 60 years, James says. When the steam plant ceased operations in 1984, the two pieces of submerged land became surplus but were never sold. ZymoGenetics built a floating sidewalk and a small dock within the Fairview Avenue right of way that are open to the public.

James’ proposal says the area is included in the Eastlake Neighborhood Plan “and has consistently rated a high Eastlake neighborhood open space priority.”

James admits in his proposal that the project “will not rank well” in the Green Spaces Levy’s criteria. Eastlake is considered to already have enough open space, he says. “Nor does SPP contribute much to solving social ills,” James writes, “such as too many miles driven or two few child-compatible urban housing units built.” 

The property is protected by a 1990 City Council Resolution that says it can’t be sold without “a process with provides significant opportunity for public participation” and directs the mayor to “consider how both Submerged Parces of the Lake Union Steam Plant property be maintained as open space.” 

James’ fear is that someone will find a way to buy the property and threaten this open waterway “thus compelling us into a crisis response.”

“I’d rather act with quiet prudence now,” he writes, “than by headlining desperation later.”

Joe Mabel has a photo on Wikipedia of the area where the park would go which also includes the dock and the ZymoGenetics building.

The official criteria for the levy’s Opportunity Fund are on the PDF attached to this post. 

The Eastlake Community Council has an article online about the Lake Union shoreline that mentions the submerged land (see item #1).

Seattle Times loves Cicchetti

The Seattle Times’ Providence Cicero reviewed Cicchetti, Serafina owner Susan Kaufman’s new restaurant, and came away impressed. “A charming hangout with echoes of Venice,” the headline from last Friday’s paper says.

Cicero highlighted the bar’s extensive list of cocktails. “The bar gets more acreage than the kitchen because this is a drinks- driven place,” Cicero notes.

As for the food at Cicchetti, Cicero says:

The food riffs on Mediterranean flavors. It’s simple, uncomplicated fare and many of the two dozen hot and cold plates rank high on the bell curve of bar food.

What did she like? Port and fennel sausage, red snapper, the “oven floor cheese,” salt-cod fritters and ricotta fritters.

In conclusion: “Unpretentious, convivial and affordable, Cicchetti attracts a broad swath of citizenry. I suggest you park your gondola in the shade and give it a try.”

Read the whole Seattle Times review here.

We previewed Cicchetti in November here.

Burgers for Haiti at Eastlake Bar and Grill Jan. 29-31

Eastlake Bar and Grill, 2947 Eastlake Ave. E., has a special fundraiser going on next weekend for victims of the Haiti earthquake: $1 from the purchase of every half-pound burger will go to the Red Cross Haitian Relief Fund.

The fundraiser will be going on at all four of the Neighborhood Grills locations. Besides Eastlake, those include Greenlake, Southlake and Lake Forest.

Another fundraiser coming up at the Neighborhood Grills will be on Feb. 3 and will benefit the University District Food Bank (full disclosure: I volunteer for the food bank).

Order off the special menu that night and two thirds of the price of your meal will go to the food bank. Order off the regular menu and 50 percent goes to the food bank.

“Sorry no steak night or coupons that evening,” the Grills say on their Facebook page. “We’re trying to raise some money!”

The University District Food Bank serves a large part of north Seattle, including Eastlake. In 2009, they served 52,945 customers and distributed 2.1 million pounds of food.

School board passes transition plan with Seward set-aside, 2-years of transportation

The Seattle School Board passed the attendance transition plan for the 2010-11 school year late this evening. The vote was 6-1 with school board director Betty Patu the lone dissenting vote.

The plan includes a one-year continuation of a tiebreaker provision setting aside 20 percent of kindergarten seats at TOPS@Seward School for Eastlake children. The provision has been in effect for several years but will probably disappear after 2010-11 when a new geographic zone tiebreaker is created for Seward.

The big focus of the evening for TOPS parents was a last-minute change to the transportation grandfather clause in the plan. The original plan had said current students at a school who live outside the school’s service area would continue to receive bus transportation for five years. That was reduced to two years.

The change has the potential to be a big blow to TOPS which is an alternative school and draws students from all over the city. Many students come from southeast Seattle and won’t be able to get to TOPS without school bus transportation.

Several TOPS parents spoke movingly about the impact this would have on the TOPS program’s diversity. June Fung said she feared “the school will lose the wonderful diversity that took years to build.” Wayne Duncan slammed the district, saying that posting the transportation change on the district’s web site after midnight last Friday was “a breach of trust.”

The parents asked the board to consider returning to the five-year transportation grandfather provision, but an amendment to do that was defeated.

School Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson assured board members that they were free to revisit the transportation grandfathering provision at any time in the future. Board President Michael DeBell said he didn’t expect the issue to be revisited until the district had run through next year’s enrollment cycle.

Board members’ comments prior to the vote indicated that they were aware of the stress the transition plan process had placed on parents and students.

“I wish we could have had a simpler transition,” Board President Michael DeBell said.

It was obvious from their comments that the school board sees many issues unresolved with the transition to the new neighborhood attendance plan.


  • Linda Shaw from the Seattle Times reports that the board won’t guarantee that children entering kindergarten this fall will be able to attend the same school as their older siblings, but they’ll try to place as many together as possible.
  • The West Seattle Blog reports on how the board actions tonight affect schools and families there.