Beacon Bits, Getting Around edition: shuttling to Seafair, making light rail work, and who is riding Link?

This crowd of folks was in Mount Baker watching the Seafair hydroplane races in 1965. Plan to do the same this year? Light rail can get you there. Photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives.
This crowd of folks was in Mount Baker watching the Seafair hydroplane races in 1965. Plan to do the same this year? Light rail can get you there. Photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives.
Going to Seafair festivities this weekend? Forget your car, and take Link light rail! Take the light rail to the Othello Station and catch a free Seafair Express Shuttle to the front gate, or go to the Columbia City Station and walk approximately one mile to the main gate.


Roger Valdez of Beacon Hill writes in Sightline Daily about the long path to geting light rail in Seattle, and suggests steps the city will need to take to make it work in the long run, including smart land use policies that enhance and create transit demand by creating denser communities, and establishment of policies that will encourage and support transit ridership.


City Councilman Bruce Harrell reports his involvement in securing federal funds for lighting, pedestrian, and transit improvements at the Mount Baker light rail station and the Rainier Avenue South and South Jackson Street areas. The Rainier project will provide buses with “queue jumps” and traffic signal priority, as well as adding 15 bus bulbs. These changes will allow buses to save time by bypassing traffic and avoiding merges into heavy traffic. The Mount Baker project will involve lighting which will link the station with Franklin High School, and provide safer crossing for pedestrians on Rainier Avenue and MLK.


Nina Shapiro in the Seattle Weekly discusses issues of cultural disparity on Link light rail: is the train just “stuff white people like?” However, her article currently contains one big error — she suggests that riders of bus routes such as the #42 avoid Link because transfers from Link to the bus are not free. This is not true. Link tickets allow you to transfer to a bus for free. If #42 riders are avoiding Link for that reason, it is because of a misunderstanding of the fare system, and perhaps because Sound Transit/Metro haven’t yet done the best possible job of communicating how it works.

Beacon Bits, Necessities of Life edition: Food, clothing, and cool, cool desserts

Halo-halo. Photo by Bing Ramos.
Halo-halo. Photo by Bing Ramos.
Jesse Vernon at Slog writes about halo-halo, a cool and sweet Filipino dessert that’s especially tasty on warm days like today. Beacon Hill may not have a trendy ice cream shop (yet), but we do have halo-halo, at Inay’s and at Kusina Filipina!

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The Marination Hawaiian/Korean taco truck (yes, seriously) has begun a regular Thursday lunch residency at Dr. Jose Rizal Park, from 11am – 2pm. (Next week’s lunch is only until 1:30, though.)

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In the hubbub over Link’s opening day on July 18, we missed one other local opening: big-box discount retail has come to Southeast Seattle in the form of a Ross store on Rainier Avenue South, in the former Longs Drugs next to Safeway, 3820 Rainier Avenue South. MyraMyra at the Rainier Valley Post wrote about her visit and suggested some tips for a good Ross shopping experience (hint: it’s no Nordstrom). Ross sells discounted clothing, shoes, and various household goods.

Give it Up: An open letter to my local and state representatives

Link light rail has made it easier for many of us to go without a car for the last couple of weeks. Photo by Wendi.
Link light rail has made it easier for many of us to go without a car for the last couple of weeks. Photo by Wendi.
by Willie Weir

(Editor’s note: this is a guest post by Willie Weir, cross-posted from his blog, Yellow Tent Adventures. Check it out!)

Mayor Nickels–give it up. Seattle City Council members. You too. As well as King County Council members, Governor Gregoire, State representatives and all candidates for the above offices.

I’m talking about your car. For a week. Just a week.

You see, my wife and I answered the call to help the region and the planet by giving up our car over four years ago. With climate change upon us, it was imperative that we transition out of our auto-centric society. Get on the bus. Get on our bikes. Get out and walk.

There were plenty of incentive programs offered by our city and county governments, including the Way to Go Seattle: One Less Car Challenge. We took advantage of the Washington State Vehicle Redistribution Program… our car was stolen. We opted not to replace it.

We were in a good position to give up our car. We don’t have kids. We live on Beacon Hill with frequent bus service (and now light rail). We have stores, restaurants, a library, and a park all within a ten minute walking distance of our house. We both do most of our work from home.


OK. Walking up the hill from the grocery store with a 20lb Thanksgiving turkey in an excursion-size backpack wasn’t easy. Waiting outside in a 40 degree drizzle for a bus that never came wasn’t fun. And taking 4 buses and a ferry to get to Sequim wasn’t convenient.

It didn’t take long to understand that for someone who owns a private vehicle, our city and region’s public transportation, bike paths and pedestrian corridors are top notch. Because when it isn’t easy, fun or convenient… you take your car.

When I joined the ranks of the carless, I began an education in how auto-centric our green little region is, and how far we have to go to get to be a truly livable place … for everyone.

How many of my neighbors park their cars across the sidewalk. How cracked and poorly maintained those sidewalks are. How fast the cars fly by on our residential streets. How few cars yield to me in a cross walk. How few bike racks there are outside the businesses I frequent. How poorly signed (or not at all) the bike routes are throughout the city. How terrifying biking can be in downtown Seattle. How little park space we have downtown and how much space we devote to parking.

So many issues and problems invisible to me while driving in my own personal vehicle.

Now I’m asking you all to give up your car. Not for four years. Just seven days.

For seven days live the life that few have chosen and many have no choice but to live.

Believe me, no matter how long you have lived in or served this region, you’ll learn things that will surprise you.

I know I did. And I’ve lived here for 25 years.

The best decisions about transit and neighborhood planning will be made by government officials who have taken the time to live a life without a car as an option.

Give it up.

We’ll all be glad you did.


Willie Weir
Beacon Hill, Seattle

Open post: Ideas for coping with the heat

A real frosty pitcher of beer. While the ice just waters down the beer and the extreme cold kills the taste, it looks rather inviting nonetheless. Photo by Ubi Desperare Nescio.
A real frosty pitcher of beer. While the ice just waters down the beer and the extreme cold kills the taste, it looks rather inviting nonetheless. Photo by Ubi Desperare Nescio.
The heat is getting to our computer equipment, even. Wendi’s monitor is flickering on and off (mostly off), my little cheap netbook has locked up several times, and the oppressive heat doesn’t make the prospect of sitting with the laptop terribly attractive either.

If you’re not lucky enough to have air conditioning, or if you’re getting a bit stir-crazy being trapped at home by your A/C, what are some places to head to, easily accessible from the hill, where you can hang out for a bit in a cooler atmosphere?

The Beacon Hill branch of the Seattle Public Library has air conditioning. Seventeen branches do. (I’m so sorry, Columbia City — sounds like your A/C-less branch might even be closed today!)

Wandering around inside Red Apple is refreshing, particularly near meats and in the frozen food aisle, lazily pondering which frozen fudge bar or ice cream sandwich would be best, but mostly chilling in the flood of cold air while standing there with the freezer door open.

Last night, we wanted to get out and get a meal somewhere cool with good food and drinks. I recalled the Collins Pub is just a half-block from the Pioneer Square tunnel station. A few blocks walk and we were in the elevator at Beacon Hill station. Once on the platform, it was a very pleasant temperature. A few minutes later, the air conditioned train stopped and we made our way to the Pioneer Square station and then up, out of the 3rd & Yesler entrance. Downhill and around the corner of the Smith Tower and we were at the comfortably cool Collins Pub. (I had a burger, impulsively with Field Roast instead of beef, with fries and tartar sauce. The burger was good, and the fries great. Wendi had a polenta dish with zucchini, broccoli, and a rustic tomato sauce. The polenta was good. The tomato sauce was a bit acid-y, and the broccoli was a surprise — Wendi hates broccoli. Luckily, I love it. Collins Pub offers a good selection of interesting craft beers. I had a pint of 21st Amendment‘s “Hell or High Watermelon Wheat” — surprisingly tasty and refreshing — and one of Ninkasi‘s “Radiant Summer Pale”, which grew on me the lower it got in the glass.)

What we’d like to know is: Where are you going and what are you doing to beat the heat?

Walking with Tica: Exploring the neighborhood

A white kitty watches as Tica and Melissa walk by. Photo by melissajonas.
A white kitty watches as Tica and Melissa walk by. Photo by melissajonas.
Like several thousand of our neighbors, we rode the new Sound Transit trains on July 18. There were so many people in Beacon Hill (literally inside the hill) that first weekend–and it went so smoothly. I am proud of our neighborhood and proud of our city. Congratulations us!

What does Link light rail have to do with walking my dog? The streets around the station have been opened up. We adapted to the construction–traffic, streets and sidewalks blocked, noise, and the visual obstruction of the big blue wall. It’s been six years that we haven’t been able to walk along Lander. Six years that we’ve had to crisscross McClellan to get to Red Apple from the west side of Beacon.

Those of you with dogs probably understand how easy it is to get into a routine (some might say rut) and walk the same route every day. We walk by the same houses, sniff the same bushes, greet the same dogs… it can get dull. As of now, we have new choices! Getting across Beacon doesn’t involve dodging big trucks.

I posted several new pictures to the Beacon Hill Blog Flickr pool from our July 18 walk. We met new neighbors and noticed new kitties and discovered some really fun lawn art.

Take advantage of the weather and the newly-restored intersections to explore a new section of Beacon Hill this week–and bring your camera. Let’s see what we can find!

Cat found attacked by wild animal

A sad message came to us on Sunday:

Hi Wendi & Jason,
We live at 20th and Lander and found an attacked blackish brown cat this morning.  We think it was killed by a wild animal last night sometime but didn’t hear anything.  We don’t recognize as one of the regular cats around and it doesn’t have any tags but looks too well groomed to be feral. We’ve already called Animal Control and they said they’ll be up to remove the body. We have a picture of the face (not too gruesome, but not postable either).  We can e-mail it to anyone who thinks that it might be theirs.
Thank you,
Patrick & Leigh

You can reach Patrick at

There are quite a few wild animals in and around the Hill, including some coyotes. We hope your pets are safe and sound.

Street trees and fruit trees to sprout on Beacon Hill

Photo by WxMom.
Photo by WxMom.
Once upon a time, Beacon Hill was covered with a green forest. You can contribute to making it green again through the Neighborhood Matching Fund Tree Fund. This project provides free trees to neighborhood groups to plant in planting strips on residential streets. Yes, free! Groups of five or more households on a street can get together to apply for the trees. The deadline is August 21; here is the application. This year, Tree Fund participants who plant neighborhood street trees in a group can also select one fruit tree per household to plant on their private properties.

Speaking of fruit trees, the City Fruit project at has a calendar project in the works, and they are looking for photos related to growing urban fruit, to feature in the 2010 calendar. Photos might show urban orchards, harvesting, jam, bugs, etc. The deadline is September 1, and photos should be sent to

Lastly, today at 2pm, the City Council will discuss a resolution to prioritize the protection of Seattle’s tree canopy, and legislation to create an Urban Forestry commission which will advise the Mayor and Council on urban forestry issues. If you have an opinion on the matter, you may want to call the council or the mayor this morning.

South Precinct: Adiós Capt. Liggins, hello Capt. Emerick

Captain Dave Emerick, new commander of the SPD South Precinct. Photo courtesy SPD.
Captain Dave Emerick, new commander of the SPD South Precinct. Photo courtesy SPD.
A big shake up in the command-level of the Seattle Police Department was announced this morning. Of relevance to Beacon Hill and other areas in the South Precinct:

Captain Dave Emerick, a 25-year veteran of the police force, is leaving the Violent Crimes Section to become the new South Precinct commander. Captain Emerick will lead approximately 83 officers assigned to Patrol Operations, including a Community Police Team and a plain-clothes Anti-Crime Team. Captain Emerick has previously served in the Gang Unit, Narcotics Section, Homicide Unit and Harbor Patrol. This will be Captain Emerick’s first precinct command.

Captain Les Liggins, a 24-year veteran, is departing the South Precinct to assume command of the Narcotics Section, where he will oversee three squads of detectives and the Drug Court Liaison. Captain Liggins brings to the assignment experience leading the Metropolitan Section (SWAT, Mounted Patrol, and K9 Patrol), Fraud, Forgery and Financial Exploitation, Auto Theft, and Audit Accreditation and Policy.

For more details on other changes in the SPD command structure, see the this article on the SPDBlotter.