12th Avenue Square project ready to dig in

by Sebastian Garrett-Singh

A conceptual image of 12th Avenue Square Park presented in 2011 (Image: Seattle Parks and Recreation)

A conceptual image of 12th Avenue Square Park presented in 2011 (Image: Seattle Parks and Recreation)

Back in June 2011, CHS posted design meeting plans for a 7,322 square-foot gravel lot on E James Court. It will soon be 12th Avenue Square Park. Now, with funding and a permit in-hand the Department of Parks and Recreations is looking to begin construction by late-spring/early summer and build upon the 564 12th Ave empty lot next to Ba Bar restaurant.

“The acquisition of the space was a community-initiated project from the 2000 Pro Parks Levy Opportunity Fund Project,” said Kerri Stoops of Seattle Parks. The Department of Neighborhoods passed the property to the parks department in 2008 who have acquired a steady flow of funds to get the project rolling that will include a woonerf to run “along James Ct spanning between the 12th Ave Park to the south and the new Seattle University and Seneca group development to the north.”

You may be wondering what a woonerf is. Here’s your answer:

A woonerf (Dutch plural: woonerven) in the Netherlands and Flanders is a street where pedestrians and cyclists have priority over motorists. The techniques of shared spaces, traffic calming, and low speed limits are intended to improve pedestrian, bicycle, and automobile safety.

Before construction can start on the 12th Avenue parcel the City has to find the right contractor.

“The project is now permitted and will go to bid.  If there is an acceptable bid, we will most likely, start construction late spring, early summer 2014,” Stoops tells CHS. Plans for the square were initially on-hold in 2008, but after bringing in $500,000 for the woonerf project from a 2008 parks levy and hurdling the public vetting process in 2011 the path is clear for construction.

The Seattle Parks Foundation is also chipping in $70,000 with an additional $490,000 coming from the 2000 Pro Parks Levy.

When it’s all done it will look more Westlake than Cal Anderson Park:

Designed by Hewitt Architects, the group will stay on as consultants for the woonerf project, according to a parks department description. “The park project and the woonerf project will go through design development, construction documents and construction simultaneously,” the parks website adds.

In addition to the pedestrian promenade the park will include artistic touches created by Ellen Sollod, who collaborated with Hewitt Architects on the project. “The artist has been selected by the community,” said Stoops. Sollod also serves on the Seattle Design Commission and Public Arts Advisory Committee.

Stoops said the construction schedule is slated to take 100 days.

Hip hop artist Draze releases music video about Central District gentrification

Seattle hip hop artist Draze released a music video for his single “The Hood Ain’t the Same” earlier this month. The video shows landmarks and community members throughout the Central District and other south end communities.

“We could have just shot a bunch of buildings but it is the people who give these structures life. We wanted to highlight some of the real people touching the real community at a grass roots level.” says Draze. “As artists I think we have a responsibility to tell our truth to the people, regardless to how uncomfortable it may be. My city is alive but my community is dying, maybe this is my effort or Eulogy to get someone to care.” says Draze.

Here’s the full video from YouTube:

The People of the Central Area: Lori Kane, Author & Community Fan, CollectiveSelf.com

This post is part of a series of profiles of Central District residents, part of “The People of the Central Area” project developed and written by Madeline Crowley.

Photo by Madeline Crowley

About Lori:

Lori regularly opens her Central Area home to anyone who wants to work in a free co-working space, Collective Self. She and her friend, Knox Gardner, also brought the neighborhood the event Hopscotch CD, by involving many other contributing individuals and groups.

Hopscotch started as a small event and it grew, could you talk about that?

The idea came from my friend Knox Gardner who lives just off Jackson Street. He heard about HopscotchDetroit, they attempted to set a record for the world’s longest Hopscotch path (four miles) and they did it. As I was doing interviews, I kept hearing about Knox from different people who didn’t know each other. Then he emailed to say he was thinking about this Hopscotch event… so that was a sign that I should do something with Knox, even though I hadn’t even met him yet.

So, we started thinking about Hopscotch CD in February, posted in the Central District News to ask if people wanted to help. We asked our neighbors. Then, five or six people got together. We wanted it to be about getting to know each other. This is a neighborhood with an extraordinary number of busy people: a lot of technology people who work 60-80 hours a week because that’s just part of the gig, or instead people working three jobs while taking care of kids and parents.

The event wasn’t going to be about making a 4-mile Hopscotch path, we wanted to do a semi-circle from Jackson to Union. I wanted to do from 18th-23rd Avenues along Union Street because that’s my stretch of the neighborhood. Knox wanted to do MLK and then down Jackson. Originally, he wanted it to work with the SeattleGreenways program.

The part of the Hopscotch path connecting Jackson to Union followed the Seattle Greenways’ proposed Central Seattle Greenway, with one minor deviation so that the path would cross Jefferson safely at an existing crosswalk. We started meeting and getting ideas of what we should do for an event. We just wanted it to be fun and playful, that’s enough. If you can get people to play together, to have fun together they can add to the event themselves.

Not everyone sees it like that, not everyone wants to have fun, and not everyone wants to get to know the neighbors, either. For us both the motivation was to meet other neighbors, to build community and all that comes with that.

We started by asking people if they wanted to participate by doing things along the route.  We applied for a Small and Simple Grant but didn’t get the grant until mere moments before the event, so expenses were all out of pocket. Now, we’re getting reimbursed for that, which is really nice.

We had a small group of people laying 2-miles of Hopscotch path so we took a Block Captain approach and asked people to take ownership of their own blocks. That worked well everywhere except Jackson because of the big businesses there. Union Street is small businesses and homes. The core organizers of Hopscotch knew those businesses, so the business owners totally embraced the event. They went way above and beyond to participate. Katy’s Coffee did a rummage sale on Union, they had balloon artists and buckets of sidewalk chalk and had neighbors who did face painting. Alex at 20/20 Cycle had a vintage clothing sale on the sidewalk. A chiropractor did free adjustments and gave out coupons. Meter Music School participated. Fisher and Shawn of Alley Cat Acres brought fresh eggs from their chickens and made breakfast all day for people. Jean Tinnea, who is a long long time resident who did the neighborhood garden tour for over a decade, and her friend Mary Pat organized a Flea Market. They’re raising money for a Central District Public Arts project. Magpie Clothing participated too. They all embraced it and loved it.

Still, what really made the event big was the Central District Association’s Derryl and Sharon Durden. They were long time Central District residents, wonderful human beings. They used to own a bunch of property in the area, like the Neighbor Lady building. The Durdens figured out what they could do for Hopscotch though they don’t even live in the neighborhood anymore.

The Central District Association decided to do something big on Union and their friend Angela Knight, a firecracker of a human being, pulled together in three weeks a carnival in the parking lot of Med Mix. It was amazing, the most fun carnival I’ve ever been to: they had fire trucks, they had a bouncy boxing ring with huge soft gloves, they had magicians, all this stuff for kids.

It was great fun. They really helped us make inroads into the African-American community and into the kid-community. Angela had friends at Garfield High School who got posters made, got students to come and help, and to show up the day of the event. That was really nice and it just sort of bloomed from there.

There were yard sales. The Lake Washington Girls School got involved. Centerstone had a pop-up adventure play and free hot dogs in their parking lot. The Block Captain, there, Kenton, did an attempt at a Guinness Book of World records for the most people hopscotching at the same time. They needed 380 people and they got 330. It was so much fun.

I knew it would be fun to hopscotch with kids, but hopscotching with other adults in a parking lot with 300 plus people, it was so much fun. We just showed up at there but the Guinness Records people require it to have a sign-in sheet, contact information with 300 people in this space. Kenton set up about a hundred courts for 4 person teams. By the time we finished signing people in and I went to join my team, I noticed that the whole parking lot had been decorated with sidewalk chalk. People had decorated their own courts and it was just awesome. One group had numbered their squares with animals that increased in size, so it started with a worm as Number 1 with number 10 was a dinosaur. It was just cool.

How did that shift you experience of living here in this neighborhood?

The biggest thing for me was making new friends from the process of organizing the event, not even the event itself. Far more important than the event itself is the sheer number of people we know. That has exploded. (Lori stops speaking for a moment to cry) It was really awesome.

I was really struck that day at how amazing this neighborhood is with the variety of people here. We are really lucky to have a ton of people here from East Africa. Even after the event it was fun to keep getting pictures of hopscotching. We used a flour and cornstarch for the hopscotch grid that was supposed to go away after 3 rains. As it turns out, Detroit rains are much heavier so that equals about 10 Seattle rains. It will go away eventually. Weeks after the event people were sending us pictures people on the hopscotch path. One Sunday there was a photo in front of Immaculate Conception Church. There was a First Communion of a little girl from the Filipino community wearing a dress that looked like a wedding dress. She’s hopscotching in this big dress with her little brother who’s a little formal suit with a tie and a vest.

A neighbor sent it to me as she was watching the family try to get the kids to take a formal event picture but the kids just kept hopscotching away in their fancy outfits. We were sent a lot of photos of people in front of Swedish Hospital, one in particular was of a girl with a broken leg. Her African-American was family hopscotching behind her in a wheelchair.

To read the full story, click here.

Man seriously injured in car/scooter collision yesterday

A collision at 12th and Boren yesterday left a man seriously injured, according to Seattle Police Department’s blotter. A small sedan crashed into his scooter around 1:24 PM.

More from SPD:

Preliminary investigation indicates that a black 2013 Yamaha scooter was traveling northbound on 12th Avenue South approaching Boren Avenue South. At the same time a 2001 tan Honda Accord was traveling southbound on Boren Avenue South approaching 12th Avenue South. The two vehicles collided in the intersection, causing the motor scooter operator to be ejected and thrown to the pavement. The events leading up to the collision are unknown at this time and remain under active investigation.

Fire department medics responded to the scene and transported the adult male operator of the scooter to Harborview Medical Center with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Officers evaluated the 82-year-old female driver of the Honda for signs of impairment due to alcohol and/or drugs.  No signs of impairment were detected.

There were no citations issued at the scene, which is standard procedure in serious traffic collisions requiring extensive follow up investigation and collision reconstruction.

Traffic Collision Investigation Squad detectives responded to the scene and continue to actively investigate.


Waid’s, again, in liquor license fight at 12th and Jeff

(Image: Waid's)

(Image: Waid’s)

As the neighborhood continues to grow and change around it, Waid’s Haitian Cuisine Bar & Lounge is fighting for its life. Again.

“It’s a black thing,” owner Waid Sainvil tells CHS.

“This is the only place in Seattle where black people from all over hang out.”

It has to do with gentrification, Sainvil says. The area around Waid’s continues to change with new development and more business investment spreading south from Capitol Hill. Across the street, Capitol Hill Housing’s The Jefferson apartment building opened in 2013. Seattle University, in the meantime, continues to invest in the area and plans a major campus expansion in the neighborhood over the next decade.

Sainvil says the state liquor board is working to deny the renewal of the liquor license for his eight-year-old lounge at 12th and Jefferson following a sting last year in which minors were able to purchase alcohol at the nightclub. The bust continues a string of attempts to strip the club of its liquor license over the years. Seattle Times columnist and Central District resident Danny Westneat wrote about the last round of challenges for Waid’s in 2010. “Is it possible both sides are right?” Westneat asked. “That Waid’s is Seattle’s most dangerous bar? And also one of its most generous?”

Supporters and patrons are again rallying to support Sainvil in the face of the closure threat. The East Precinct Advisory Council, a community group focused on area crime and public safety issues, has announced that public officials will be on hand to discuss the club as a portion of its February meeting Thursday night will focus on Waid’s:

Although several citizens enjoy this nightclub, for several years the surrounding neighbors have stated concerns about late night noise, violence and other unsettling activities in and around the establishment.

Our EastPAC February agenda will feature an update about Waid’s (and other nightclubs, should you have questions) and the opportunity to voice your concerns and ask questions.  We have invited Officer David Stitt, the Washington State Liquor Control Enforcement representative for our area, and Bill Reddy, who coordinates the City of Seattle Nightlife Premises Regulatory Enforcement Unit. Also present to brief you on the City’s activity relating to this matter will be the East Precinct City Attorney Liaison, Matt York.

Waid’s supporters are organizing an effort to be present at the meeting and speak up for the embattled club:

One of the issues on the agenda is the renewal of the liquor license for Waid’s, which has been under attack from a handful of voices in the neighborhood.

My personal experience is that Waid Sainvil is a generous, community-oriented business owner. And I have never seen or heard any problems, even when I have been there on New Year’s Eve, a time when even the most mellow establishments sometimes have problems erupt.

Sainvil says the support will be helpful as the proceedings over his liquor license play out this spring.

“I’ve done everything that needs to be done. I’ve hired new security. It’s not noise coming from the building,” he said.

“This is a small group of people who have a loud voice. It’s time for the other people — the great majority — to stand up and say no.”

Thursday’s EastPAC meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 PM in Seattle U’s Chardin Hall Room 145.

Open House tomorrow for Central Area Neighborhood Greenway and 23rd Avenue corridor projects

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is hosting another open house for the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway and 23rd Avenue corridor projects tomorrow, February 26, from 5:00 to 7:30 PM at Thurgood Marshall Elementary (2401 S Irving Street).

In case you need a reminder, SDOT’s summary of the projects:

23rd Avenue connects a variety of users to businesses, educational institutions and residences in the Central Area and beyond. This area also serves high volumes of vehicles, pedestrians, people riding bikes, and transit users (approximately 5,800 daily– the 8th highest ridership in King County). Today, the road is in poor condition with hundreds of patches where potholes existed, narrow lanes, a lack of turn pockets at key intersections and is bordered in many places by narrow and uneven sidewalks.

To balance the needs of users in the area, SDOT will redesign 23rd Avenue between E John Street and Rainier Avenue S (Phases 1 and 2) from the current four lanes (two lanes in each direction) to three lanes (one lane in each direction and a center turn lane). Between E Roanoke Street and E John Street (Phase 3), the road will remain four lanes. SDOT will also implement a nearby neighborhood greenway, called the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway. This greenway will provide a safer, calmer street for people to walk and ride bicycles.

The purpose of our projects in the Central Area is to balance safety, mobility and reliability needs for a variety of users in the area, as well as enhance the local community and natural environment.

More info

Central Area Neighborhood Greenway: www.seattle.gov/transportation/centralgreenway.htm

23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements Project: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/23rd_ave.htm

[email protected]

Voters will have a say in Metro’s future

County residents will vote in April on measures to boost King County Metro’s budget, including a $60 car tab fee and a tenth-of-a-cent sales-tax increase.

Bus fares will also rise beginning in March 2015 in another effort to help Metro. Yesterday, the Metropolitan King County Council voted to raise fares by 25 cents, so peak one-zone rides will cost you $2.75 and peak two-zone rides will be $3. If the ballot measure is approved, it will raise $130 million per year, with $50 million of that going to repair streets around the county. The remaining $80 million will be earmarked for Metro and for county-maintained roads.

These efforts are attempts to avoid Metro’s threatened 17 percent service cut after the state legislature chose not to act on Metro’s behalf. Metro said in November it would slash service, including cutting and reducing several routes in the Central District. If the budget picture didn’t improve, Metro said it would eliminate routes 4 and 27 and reduce service on routes 2, 3, 7, and others.

The council also created a low-income fare program to reduce the burden of a fare increase on low-income riders. If the tax measure passes, the county’s approval of a $1.25 low-income fare will go into effect. If voters do not pass the measure, low-income fare will be $1.50.

If passed, the April 22 ballot measure will do several things:

  • Increase the King County sales tax by 0.1 of a percent for ten years;
  • Establish a $60 vehicle fee;
  • Distribute 60 percent of the net revenues of the ballot measure to provide funding to maintain Metro transit service hours at current levels. If any funds remain after maintaining transit service hours, evenly split the remaining funds 50/50 between transit and unincorporated road purposes;
  • 40 percent would go to cities for transportation improvements and the county for unincorporated area road purposes allocated based on population;
  • Specify that the funds must be used for transportation improvement projects contained in the County’s, Cities’ or Puget Sound Regional Council’s approved transportation plans (as updated by the individual jurisdictions);
  • Establish a low-income rebate program that rebates $20 of vehicle fee for vehicle owners whose household income is less than 45 percent of the county’s median household income.

The sales tax increase and the $60 car tab fee would expire after 10 years.

LHPAI prepares for two upcoming events

It’s looking to be a busy spring at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute (LHPAI), which is gearing up for two major events.

The first takes place this Friday, February 28. “A Salute to the 60’s & Motown” is a musical variety show featuring seasoned performers in a send-off to Black History Month. Tickets are on sale for $20 in advance or $25 at the door. More from LHPAI:

‘Salute’ is a mini-musical about the hit-producing superstars of the 1960s such as Diana Ross and the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye and others who sang a staggering number of hit songs. Providing a memorable entertainment experience with classic numbers, smooth dance routines, multiple costume changes, and the sounds of legendary performers, ‘Salute’ is presented under the direction Ernest Pumphrey, Sr. and features Ernest Pumphrey Jr., Josephine Howell, Makini Magee, okanomodé, Tiffany Wilson and Mark Cardenas.

LHPAI also has a trailer for the event:

Later this spring, LHPAI presents its 11th Langston Hughes African American Film Festival, with documentaries, youth-made films, an LGBTQ mini-fest, experimental work, sci-fi, family-friendly screenings, and more. The festival runs from April 26 to May 4.

Three films have been confirmed for the event:

Toussaint L’Ouverture: a two-part action epic based on the life of Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L’Ouverture, a leader of the Haitian independence movement during the French Revolution, who emancipated slaves and established Haiti as a black-governed French protectorate.

The Magic City: the poignant story of young sisters Tiana and Nia, and their new friend Amiya. Victims of abandonment, abuse and the Florida foster care system, the resourceful trio use their street smarts to survive while plotting to conceal the death of the sisters’ aunt.

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids: Family mini-fest. This beloved animated series ran from 1972 to 1985. It centered on Albert (known for his catchphrase “Hey, hey, hey!”), and his friends who hung out in a Philadelphia junkyard. Together this group of Afro-American inner-city kids shared educational adventures and finished each episode with a song played on cobbled-together junkyard instruments. It was created, produced and hosted by comedian Bill Cosby and was based on Cosby’s childhood memories.

LHPAI will release the screening dates and a complete line-up of films and other events in March.




Blotter | Shooting at homeless encampment; Detectives shut down crime ring trafficking in government benefits

Your weekend blotter updates:

  • A fight led to a shooting at a homeless encampment under the Yesler overpass at 4th Ave and Terrace Street late Saturday night, says the Seattle Police Department. Just before midnight, the 50-year-old victim was involved in an altercation with three other males at the camp. According to SPD:

The victim was striking a subject using a 2X2 board when a reportedly uninvolved male approached and shot him.  The suspect fled the scene on foot.  The victim walked a few feet and collapsed on some bedding in the encampment on the west side of the street.

Seattle Fire responded and transported the victim to Harborview Medical Center with critical injuries.

Homicide and CSI responded and processed the scene.

The investigation continues

  • A team of detectives and members of other agencies working in concert over two weeks shut down a large crime ring accused of trafficking and fraudulent use of government-issued Electronic Benefit Transfer (“EBT”) cards at a S. Jackson Street market. SPD detectives with the Seattle Police Department’s Major Crimes Task Force (MCTF) worked with officers from the East Precinct’s Anti-Crime Team and Community Police Team, the Department of Social and Health Services’ (DSHS) Office of Fraud and Accountability and federal agents with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The investigation involved activities at the Minh Tam Market. SPD’s blotter has more:

On February 19th, 2014 the Major Crimes Task Force executed a total of eight search warrants surrounding two separate trafficking rings, arresting four suspects and seizing over $427,000.00 in U.S. currency located in bank accounts, the suspect store location and the suspect’s home residence.

During the first phase of the investigation, several undercover sales of EBT benefits were sold to a female suspect in her 60’s, who processed transactions at various stores for food items. She then paid undercover officers approximately 50 cents on the dollar for the benefit amount used on the EBT cards. Undercover officers were told by the suspect that the food items that she was purchasing were being resold to other unidentified suspects, who own and run Seattle area restaurants. Those restaurants have not been identified at this time. The female suspect was arrested yesterday but has not been charged yet.

In the second phase of the investigation several additional undercover sales of EBT benefits were sold directly at Minh Tam’s Market, which then gave the undercover officers cash back at the same rate of approximately 50 cents on the dollar. The undercover officer would simply meet up with an associate/employee of the store, walk inside, approach the store clerk and let them know how much of their government issued EBT benefit funds they wished to sell. The store clerk would make the transaction and give the undercover officer approximately half of the cash amount, which the store transferred into their account. In two of the undercover transactions, the associate/employee, who met with the undercover officers and introduced them to the store clerk, also sold the undercover officers suspected rock cocaine as a portion of their food stamp transaction payment.

The suspects in these cases potentially face a multitude of charges including Food Stamp Trafficking and Money Laundering.

The Washington State Attorney General’s Office has agreed to open up a case on the suspect(s) with the U.S. Attorney’s Office possibly looking at federal charges as well.

This case is still ongoing and continues to be investigated by the Seattle Police Department’s Major Crimes Task Force along with the USDA and DSHS.