Fire on 35th – Updated

We’re at the scene of a large fire response in the 600 block of 35th, right at the border between Madrona and Leschi.

It appears the fire started in the attic based on the broken windows and other damage there.

Bystanders tell us there were no injuries as the homeowners were out at the time of the fire.

There’s a number if high-end homes on this block, with excellent views due to their perch at the top of the hill overlooking Lake Washington.

More details as we get it…

Update: We spoke to neighbors who said that they saw the smoke coming out of the south side of the house, and neighbors across the street called 911. The fire appears to have started in the upstairs bedroom or bathroom, and caused significant smoke damage to the upper stories of the home.

This Weekend: Shakespeare at Garfield

One reason why Garfield is the most popular high school in the city is its very high quality arts programs. And in addition to their national award winning jazz band, the school has a really good drama program.

This weekend they’re wrapping up performances of their fall production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Shows start at 7pm on Friday and Saturday nights at the Quincy Jones theater at 23rd & Jefferson. Tickets are available at the box office ($7 for students and $10 for adults).

Should be a fun reason to get out of the house, walk to the city’s nicest mid-size performance venue, and be entertained by some really talented kids.

Metro study says routing 3/4 buses via Yesler would save time, $

Metro’s #3 and #4 buses are the workhorses of Central District transit. They each carry thousands of riders per day and rank in the top 20 busiest routes in the Metro system.

But regular riders of the #3 and #4 buses know that schedule reliability is not among their strengths, and a key cause of delay exists around Harborview where the buses have to negotiate a tight left turn from 9th to James, fighting all the way with a mess of other vehicles trying to get to and from I-5.

The county has definitely noticed that too, and are in the initial stages of investigation into possible solutions.

Metro spokesperson Linda Thielke tells us that it all started during work Metro did on how to cope with the closing of the Alaska Way Viaduct and speed up bus service through downtown. In that process Metro planners identified the turns to and from James, both on 3rd and 9th, as major causes of delay and began looking at alternatives.

One option that jumped out was Yesler Way, currently only served by the infrequent #27 route. It’s a much less congested roadway and doesn’t have any access to I-5, allowing it to avoid the rush of hospital employees that clog up James during rush hours.

The new routing would send buses up Yesler from James, turning left on 8th Avenue and then rejoining the usual path on Jefferson in front of Harborview.

Metro staff says that the new route would save an estimated 4-5 minutes per trip, and result in $997,000 annual cost savings for bus operations.

But moving the buses would require installing new bus wires on Yesler, 8th, and 9th Avenues. That’s expensive, and would require capital funding that Metro currently doesn’t have. And any attempt to move forward would require a significant amount of engineering, public outreach, and other planning.

So for now the project is staying in a conceptual phase. But as a regular rider of that route, we would definitely like to see that kind of time savings.

Lots of contaminated dirt coming out at 12th & Jefferson

Construction work has picked up at the corner of 12th & Jefferson in the last week as crews work to remove tons of dirt that was contaminated by gasoline and other fuels back when a gas station occupied the now vacant property.

As we reported on earth day two years ago, the property is just one of many around the neighborhood where the state is tracking long-term pollution from automotive services and dry cleaners.

The clean-up in this case was organized by Capitol Hill Housing, which is seeking city approval to build a new six-story affordable apartment building on that corner. Capitol Hill Housing’s Cecelia Gunn tells us that the clean-up is being funded from government environmental funds and the corporate owners of the former gas station.

The Seattle City Council should be taking up the rezone request for the property within the next couple of months. Stay tuned as we learn more about the outcome of that process.

First Place School low-income housing plan passes Hearing Examiner review

The plan by Central District’s First Place School to put 16 units of low-income housing on its parking lot was controversial with some of our commenters when we first reported on the project¬†back in March. But a hearing examiner’s review of the project found that “no written public comments were submitted to DPD or the Hearing Examiner on this proposal,” and the only testimony at the hearing was in support of the project. UPDATE: This post has been updated. Location information for the facility has been obfuscated due to privacy concerns.

The core issue is whether that mid-block parcel should be rezoned from L1 to L3, which allows more height, more building area, and reduced setbacks from the property line.

The hearing examiner looked at all of the factors surrounding the rezone and recommends approval of the project, having found that it has no negative environmental effects and supports the neighborhood plan’s goal of adding 650 new units of housing within the surrounding area.

The next step for the project is final city council approval of the rezone, which should come up for a vote within the next few months.

First Place School has obtained $4 million from the Washington State Housing Trust Fund and $500,000 from the Gates Foundation to construct the new building and is in a partnership with Catholic Housing Services. The schools goal is to provide new housing options for the families of its students who are in need.

Proposition 1 going down, putting youth & family court replacement at risk

King County’s plan to replace the dilapidated building that houses youth and family courts at 12th & Alder is in big trouble tonight with the apparent defeat of Proposition 1, which would raise the county sales tax to fund sheriffs, prosecutors, and courts. Part of that tax increase was dedicated to funding the proposed replacement for the 1970s era building that is part of the juvenile hall complex here in the Central District.

It’s not entirely clear tonight what that will mean over the long-term. We’ve not heard of any backup plans for the building replacement, and county studies have previously failed to identify other space where those court functions could be relocated. But given the increasing issues with the existing buildings, it seems unlikely that they could continue to function there for much longer.

We’ll dig into this more in the next few days and let you know what we learn.


BBQ Pit now open, "serving awesome food"

We were excited when we thought a new BBQ option was opening up across from the Twilight on Cherry last year. But evidently they ran into some delays, pushing things out a bit. 

Now CDNews reader Peter tells us that the shop is open, and he loves it:

I thought I would still pass along that The Barbecue Pit is now open on Cherry and 25th, across the street from the Twilight Exit…  Well its open and serving awesome food.  

Have you tried it? Let us all know what you think by leaving a review.

Love or hate the LED lights on Cherry? Tell the city

It’s been two months since the fancy new streetlights with their decidedly un-orange glow were installed on Cherry Street between 23rd & MLK. It’s part of a test to see whether the lights are appropriate for neighborhood arterials.

Now the city wants to know what you think. Fill out the city’s survey at

Everything you submit will be anonymous, and your answers will help the city determine whether the test is a success.


Cheeky Cafe gets "Suggests," high marks from Stranger reviewer

New CD restaurant and CDNews sponsor Cheeky Cafe got a “Stranger Suggests” mention this weekend and high marks in a recent food review. 

Reviewer Paul Constant says it will “make your stomach very happy,” and gives special mention to the spicy mac & cheese.

We caught dinner there two weeks ago and had a really good meal. I especially loved the Cheeky Chicken Meatballs.

Cheeky is still getting high marks from CDNews members too, with four and half stars in eight separate reviews.

Big crowd, many tears at dedication of Brenton memorial

Hundreds of neighbors, police officers, fire fighters, elected officials, and members of the Brenton family crowded around the intersection of 29th & Yesler today for a ceremony to dedicate the new memorial to the life and service of Officer Tim Brenton. The event was timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Brenton’s murder, shot as he sat in his patrol car on Halloween night in 2009.

East Precinct Commander Jim Dermody spoke to the crowd and said that Seattle police would be forever thankful that “a small group of Leschi residents felt so moved and affected that they turned small community gatherings at a residence on this block into a heartfelt fundraising effort culminating in the memorial dedicated today.”

According to memorial committee member Jeff Floor, the memorial was truly a grassroots effort, springing from a community desire to “do something other than saying ‘I’m sorry'” and to do it in a community-based way. Planning for the memorial began in living-room meetings at Robert Cipollone’s house, as they began to conceive the project that would replace the broken asphalt and sidewalk with an appropriate tribute to Officer Brenton’s service. Other memorial committee members included Judy Blanco, who was responsible for the design, and Susan Dodd. Then financial donations from community members and local businesses were paired up with the manuallabor of neighbors to construct the memorial within the last month.

The finished product was unveiled today to reveal a black stone badge with Brenton’s badge number, surrounded by cut stones inscribed with words that describe Brenton’s life, such as “father”, “husband”, “son”, “loyal”, “devoted”, “brave”, and “adventurous.” It’s surrounded by new plants and a small tree that symbolizes the ongoing lives of Brenton’s loved ones.

A candlelight vigil will follow later tonight at around 10:30pm, marking the time of Brenton’s murder.

Members of the Brenton family leaving flowers on the memorial site

Memorial committee member Rober Cipollone, left

Leschi community council President Sharon Sobers, and former President Thurston Muskelly