Monday, January 30, 2017

Apartment and Condo height limit increases

Proposed height increases: click for larger version
The City of Seattle's HALA (housing and livability agenda) is proposing zoning drastic changes in parts of our neighborhood. Neighbors in the (mostly) single family part of the neighborhood (north of John /Thomas) are concerned about the changes and are organizing to suggest better alternatives to the City. I have made the blog and listserv available to that group.

HOWEVER the City HALA proposal would also add 10 FEET to the height of any new buildings in the multifamily part of our neighborhood (the area between John/ Thomas and Madison).

What can we (in the multifamily area) do to help? 
What might our strategies be?
  • The Single Family part of our area is facing a large upzone (from Single Family to Low Rise Multifamily 40 feet) and is considering suggesting a smaller upzone, to both preserve their neighborhood and to allow more affordable housing.
  • The multifamily parts of our area are proposed to all be upzoned by one floor (10 feet) so there's no middle ground we can offer.
  • The purpose of HALA is to increase density and affordability, so we could point out that we have already increased greatly in density, and have always had lots of affordable housing (thanks in main part to Capitol Hill Housing) and hence already meet the goals of HALA and so don't need to change.

Andrew Taylor

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Passing the torch

Back in 1990 a group of neighbors living near Meany Middle School formed the Miller Park Neighborhood Association, in response to rampant drug dealing around the school. The neighborhood association prospered and I became the newsletter editor, then a co-chair, then the website guru, then the blogger. We participated in the City's Urban Village planning in the late 1990's, helped design the Miller Community Center, and built the fountain next to it. (And along the way we fought off a TV tower and lobbied for better ballfield lights and a better ballfield). Eventually the neighborhood became so quiet that the need for a neighborhood group sort of tiptoed quietly away.

Back in 2013, neighbors expressed a desire to organize again, and we had an initial meeting (having stated our goals on this blog), and a committee meeting and declared ourselves to be Miller Park Neighbors. Not a lot has happened since then, other than the now completed Greenways project, and the new neighborhood group quietly languished, other than a few blog posts (see blog archive, on the right margin).

A group of neighbors is now concerned about the impacts of the City's HALA proposals on our neighborhood, and is working to inform the neighborhood of the issues. One of Miller Park Neighbors' co-chairs (Julianne Anderson) has left the neighborhood, and the other (Guillaume Mauger) is too busy to continue, but has agreed that we hand the reins of "Miller Park Neighbors" over to this new group, which includes several members who've been active in the neighborhood for the last 30 years that I know of.

We hope that this new group will:

  • educate us about HALA and what to do about it, via several meetings, etc.
  • appoint some temporary neighborhood association co-chairs
  • have a meeting to formalize the revived Miller Park Neighbors and formally elect some officers.
They already have a blog editor and a core group of neighbors working on the HALA issues.

I wish them all the best in their efforts to maintain the health of our quirky little neighborhood.
Andrew Taylor

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A rash of burglaries

What the ashes look like.
My house was broken in to last Wednesday during the day - broke a kitchen window, rummaged
around and seemingly left with nothing other than my house and car keys and my wife's ashes.

I posted this on (in case anyone saw the ashes) and got lots of sympathy (but no ashes):
My home was burglarized yesterday (20th & John). Broken window. Thief apparently searching for valuables - lots of drawers emptied out. Only obvious item missing is a clear plastic bag containing about 3 lb of my late wife's ashes. See photo: it's a fine white powder. If you see it around I'd sort of like to get it back. (I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so did both). I had scattered some of the ashes (hence got closure) but thought of a great location for the rest (it's been > 5 years so it's not been a pressing issue!). I have reported this information to the police.
Several other similar posts on Nextdoor - clearly one active burglar around, going only for expensive watches and jewelry. This follow-up post from Nextdoor provides excellent advice:

We were also burgled two weeks ago (Jan 9th) during the daytime on Olin Place. Similar story to what other neighbors here have experienced. They broke the glass in our backdoor and took only jewelry and watches. I agree with Trevor Cobb, they must have a way to sell these things much more easily, quickly, and safely than other items like lap tops and the like which they ignored. I haven’t seen any of it on eBay or Craigslist, so I wonder if they are using one of the other online options people here have mentioned.
And as someone else noted, there seems to be quite a lot of this going on right now on the Hill. The investigating officer said it was the third burglary call he got that day alone.
One thing the SPD officer did say about prevention is to get an alarm system that makes a lot of noise, ie, loud enough that neighbors can hear it when it goes off. He said the racket tends to send them immediately running. He also said one method they often use to identify houses to rob is to go door to door ringing the doorbell with some scam story to present and if no one answers at a house, they go around to the back and try to find a way in. There are doorbell-type devices that connect to your phone so that if someone rings it, you are called and can respond to whomever is on the other side of the door as if you were in the house. 
Curiously, he also recommended keeping a clean glass jar full of quarters next to collections of jewelry and watches. The coins are apparently irresistible and when they grab the jar to empty it, they leave their finger prints.

Update (1/25/17) from a Nextdoor fellow vicitm
Just a quick update on our situation, the detective has us looking at jewelry next week. They have apprehended suspects that were caught with goods that appear to match ours. We'll circle back if we're able to confirm as much.

Sounds similar to the work of this burglary group, though I'd never thought of my life as "high end".