Big changes coming to CDNews

We launched almost exactly three years ago as a software experiment. We had been building the Neighborlogs service for about 10 months before that, and we wanted a real-life way to “eat our own dog food”, which is the software term for using what you build so that you know first-hand how it operates.  It was all done in a rush one afternoon when a car ran over a baby stroller in a freak accident on 23rd Avenue.

We never expected CDNews to be a major focus of our efforts. But within a few weeks of light coverage, we developed a dedicated audience. And the interaction with that audience and the exploration of news in the neighborhood became an addictive process. Traffic continued to grow and we continued to feed news stories big and small onto the site. Now the site has hundreds of thousands of monthly page views, tens of thousands of unique readers, and thousands of registered users who form a close-knit online community of physical neighbors. In that time we’ve had just shy of 4,000 stories, thousands of photos, and tens of thousands of comments.

But CDNews was never our full time job. Most hours of the day were spent with software development, customer support, sales, and business meetings. But we could never resist the urge to keep up with the news of the day and try to keep our dedicated audience satisfied.

This week we’re making major changes at Instivate, our parent company that got its start in 2007. We’re rolling back our efforts on Neighborlogs and our content tools, and refocusing everything on our Seattle-based local advertising network.

And as part of that change, I’m stepping away from the company I founded, and starting next week in a really exciting new job at another local company. Justin Carder, our long-time VP of Business Development, will be taking over day to day operations at Instivate and driving things forward with the new strategic plan.

Those changes at Instivate will mean some changes here at CDNews too. The new job will require a huge amount of time and focus from me, meaning that I will no longer be able to be the main contributor, publisher, and editor of Some features will take a big hit, most notably the scanner, which has only worked through the years because we had quiet time in the office while we took care of other development tasks. It’s unlikely that we’ll find anyone else with the time and patience to take that on.

We’re actively looking for a new editor and contributors to come in an take things over from here. And in the meantime Justin will be helping to make sure things run smoothly here on the site.

But I won’t be going away completely. I expect to have some weekend time to devote to the stories that will still interest me and keep me curious about what’s going on in the neighborhood, and the occasional evening or early morning post to fill in where I can.

One of the funniest things over the last few years has been how the new people I’ve met refer to me as a journalist and know me primarily through what happens here on the site. It’s always seemed strange because my background is completely at odds with that and because so much of my less-visible time was spent on technology and business. But the fact is that in the new world being a journalist is much more about what you do than who you are or who you work for or what your educational background is.

Can you string a few words together to tell a story? Are you curious about what’s going on around you and have a few minutes to make a phone call, send an email, or go to a community meeting? Can you approach issues honestly and compassionately, even if you have and state your own strong feelings on a subject?  

If so, you too can be a journalist. And the internet gives you an immediate and effective platform to do it.

And if you do ever give journalism a try, I hope it’s as rewarding experience and I’ve had here on CDNews. Thinking about the upcoming changes the other day, I realized I’ve never done anything else in my personal or professional life that has generated so many supportive and encouraging comments from so many people. And nothing else I’ve done has resulted in so many online friends developing into lasting real-world friends.

But the bottom line is that the upcoming changes are good and necessary, and CDNews will live on with new voices and new personalities. So if you’re a reader, keep coming back. And if you’re an advertiser, please hang with us as we’ll depend on ads to provide salaries for the new contributors.

And a big thanks to everyone for making this such a fun experiment in neighborhood news!

A sad anniversary on Sunday, but paired with dedication of community-built memorial

Sunday will mark the first full year since Officer Tim Brenton was shot and killed with an assault rifle at the corner of 29th & Yesler.

That crime and tragedy has brought the Leschi community together, and the result of that cooperation is the new memorial to Officer Brenton’s life and service to the city that has quickly taken shape at the site of the murder.

The memorial will be dedicated on Sunday at 3pm in a sizeable ceremony. A large crowd of neighbors, family members, police officers, and other supporters are expected to be on hand for the official unveiling of the monument.

The city will be closing Yesler to traffic at 2pm, and the dedication ceremony is expected to run from 3:00 until 3:30pm.

Workforce housing project at 12th & Jefferson gets green light from hearing examiner

After learning earlier this week that the controversial Swedish expansion along 18th was rejected by the city’s hearing examiner, today we have found out that a very uncontroversial rezone request at 12th and Jefferson has gotten the green light from that same government authority.

The request from Capitol Hill Housing would allow for a six story building on the northeast corner of that intersection, containing 40 units of affordable housing and ground-floor retail below.

CHH’s Cecilia Gunn tells us that the final remaining step is approval of the city council.

And if you happen to drive by the property, you’ll see the signs of environmental cleanup, where crews are working to take out several decades worth of fuel pollution from a gas station that once sat on that corner. 

More details are available at the 12th Avenue blog:

New exhibit opening at NAAM Friday, featuring local health leaders

Our neighborhood museum is opening a new exhibit tomorrow that will honor more than one hundred local healthcare professionals for their work on improving the health of the African American community here in Seattle. Called “Checking Our Pulse”, it will explore the history of healthcare and the achievements of African American medical professionals in the Seattle area.

The exhibit will recognize the efforts of two residents here in the Central District. The first is Benjamin Danielson, who is the Medical Director at the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic at 20th & Yesler:

Dr. Benjamin Danielson joined Seattle Children’s Hospital in 1995. He has been the medical director of Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in Seattle since 1999, and he holds the Janet and Jim Sinegal Endowed Chair for the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic. The clinic has been an active part of Seattle’s multiethnic Central District since 1970, largely serving children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Dr. Danielson previously worked at a pediatric sports medicine clinic at Harborview Medical Center, a school-based teen health center and a primary care clinic in West Seattle, and was an emergency department attending at Seattle Children’s. Dr. Danielson splits his time between clinical care, administrative responsibilities, community advocacy and hospital responsibilities. He serves on several community boards, is active in mentoring efforts and participates in a number of Seattle Children’s committees. Dr. Danielson is frequently interviewed for KONG-TV’s “Ask the Doctor” segments.

Also included is Devon Love, the Project Director for the Center for Multicultural Health, who “has helped to move the organization forward in its outreach efforts and goals through local and national presentations which have enabled the work of CMCH to be recognized and influential in the community.” Love also serves as Chair of Steps to a Healthy King County, which focuses its efforts on ways to reduce the effects of asthma, diabetes, and obesity.

The museum is offering an online sneak peak today at 1pm, where two local doctors will give a live preview of the exhibit. You can catch that in the video player below.

The exhibit will open to the public Friday at 11am and run through June of 2011. NAAM is located in the old Colman School building at 2300 S. Massachusetts.

23rd & Pike car wash bought by owner of Philly’s property

The self-serve car wash at 23rd & Pike has a new owner. Formerly a part of the Chester Dorsey car care empire, it was lost in foreclosure last year, closed for a while, and reopened in February under a new owner.

Now we’ve learned that Ian Eisenberg, owner of the empty fast-food store at 23rd & Union, has purchased it from the previous owner. He’s posted an ad in our classifieds area, looking for a person to help tidy up the two properties on an ongoing basis. The ad says “I want to maintain a very tidy appearance,” which seems like a good sign for the neighborhood, given previous issues with graffiti on the property.

Eisenberg tells us that other car wash improvements are on tap, and he’ll have more details on that soon.

Use iPhone on the street? Watch your back – Woman lost hers on Jackson

The iPhone map is a fantastic tool if you’re out and about. But a woman found out this week that being focused on your phone on the street can make you a target for losing it.

According to a new police report, last Friday she was walking westbound on Jackson from 23rd “using the GPS feature of her Iphone” when to teenagers in black hoodies grabbed her phone and took off.

The victim was not injured in the robbery, and she chased them for a bit westbound before giving up.

Swedish dealt setback vs. community members, lose hearing examiner decision on expansion

In our three years of covering real-estate issues on CDNews, we can’t ever remember a case where neighborhood residents won an appeal before the city’s hearing examiner.

But that all changed today, when community leaders learned that they’d won their hearing on the controversial proposed expansion of Swedish Hospital east across 18th Avenue.  The low-rise office buildings, between Cherry and Jefferson, would back up against a row of single-family houses. 

Appelants made the case that the proposal to put medical offices on that block violated the hospital’s Master Institution Plan, and would require a “major amendment” to that plan before moving forward. That more complicated process would give the community a greater voice to determine the parameters of any expansion, vs. just allowing Swedish to move forward with their plans otherwise.

Quoting from the decision:

Considering this MIMP as a while, and harmonizing all of its provisions, the original intent was that approved development with the greatest bulk, scale and intensity be concetnrated on the central campus block … and significantly reduced at the eastern edge along the half-block abutting residential development on 19th Avenue.

 The (Sabey) proposal is not consistent with the original intent of the MIMP.  The bulk, scale and intensity of over 131,000 square feet of medical office and retail space, and parking for 344 vehicles, massed along the entire block on 18th Avenue far exceeds the bulk, scale and intensity of the 48,000 square-foot structure with 30 parking spaces, and the 3,500 share foot structure

Community leaders are speculating that Sabey, the property developer working with the hopital, will likely avoid going through the major amendment process, and will instead just move forward with a completely new plan for their Cherry Hill campus, something that better fits their timeline and was the preferred option for the community from the beginning. That process would include a large amount of neighborhood involvement, and could give Swedish the option of placing the intended medical office buildings on other more central areas of the campus. 

Sabey also has the opportunity to appeal the hearing examiner’s decision to Superior Court within the next twenty-one days. However, the outcome of that process is long and uncertain, potentially making it a bad bet for the two companies.

Contrary to rumors, Madrona arsonist still on the loose

We got a note from a neighbor on the Madrona block where a house was set fire following a burglary, asking if we could confirm rumors that the suspect in that arson had been arrested over the weekend.

Members of a neighborhood email list described the arrest made on 26th Avenue between PIne and Howell on Friday night:

My neighbors across the street saw a man with a shaved head prowling around my house around 7:00 last night. He was throwing a ball and went into my back yard. He was apparently on our front porch as well. He was also seen climbing the side of a neighbor’s house two doors down.

The police said the guy was in custody because he fit the description of the arsonist. They said they saw hime walk around our entire house before they arrested him. My neighbor told me he was African American and young with a shaved head. I did not press him for further details. The police checked the perimeter of our house for combustible materials. There were alot of police. No materials were found at our house but I do not know about the other houses he visited.

Although we couldn’t reach Seattle Police spokespersons in multiple attempts yesterday, our friend Jonah at did speak to them and was told that the Madrona arsonist is NOT in custody. The suspect arrested on Friday night was NOT the right guy.

Here’s the sketch of the suspect released last week. If you know or see this man, call 911 immediately:


Community preps Brenton Memorial for dedication next Sunday

The community capped off months of planning, donations, and hard labor on Saturday as about twenty people braved the weekend rain to put the finishing touches on the memorial to fallen officer Tim Brenton. The group included neighbors, community leaders, and members of the Seattle police force.

All of the stonework for the memorial was installed on Thursday of last week, leaving landscaping and cleanup of the surrounding area for community members to finish up on Saturday.

A plywood shell covers the main feature of the memorial, and will stay in place until the memorial is formally dedicated on the one year anniversary of Brenton’s murder next Sunday.