Free breakfast and other Halloween happenings on the Hill

Photo by TheCulinaryGeek via Creative Commons.
Tasha’s is offering free breakfast to kids in costume today (Halloween).  The kids’ menu has tasty treats for every little monster’s palate, and the family-owned business welcomes children of all ages. Mom and Dad might want to prepare for a long day by enjoying one of Tasha’s mimosas with breakfast.

Head to El Centro on Monday for the opening ceremony for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The Ofrendas (altars) are always amazing, and this event is a wonderful combination of solemn and festive celebration of those who have passed on.

Here are a few tips to keep your monsters safe while they’re being spooky (from the Centers for Disease Control—experts on scary!)

  • Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
  • Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
  • Only walk on sidewalks or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
  • Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
  • Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats unless you know the cook well.
  • Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult. Otherwise, stay outside.

Jefferson Park expansion finally opens

It’s official—we just received this press release from the city:

The new 43-acre Jefferson Park Expansion Project over the Beacon Reservoir complex is open to the public with all construction fencing being removed by the end of Friday, October 29, 2010. Parks opened the new play area and tennis courts to the public in August 2010.

The Pro Parks Levy funded park offers unparalleled view of the Duwamish and city with Olmsted inspired path system flanked with trees that offer a wonderful respite from city life. The extensive hierarchy of pathways through the site offer connections to the neighborhood and surrounding amenities.

Additionally, the park offers a grand lawn flanked by a gathering plaza, large open spaces with skillfully placed groves of trees, rainwater feature designed by The Berger Partnership Landscape Architects in collaboration with artist Elizabeth Conner, a large traditional play area, new tennis court with lights, terraced seating areas with vistas over the park, a comfort station designed by Parks Senior Architect Mohan Khandekar and a natural turf sports meadow over the lid.

Fencing will remain around the sports meadow on the Beacon Reservoir lid to allow the turf to fully develop. Fencing will be removed in summer 2011.

The future Beacon Mountain play area, funded in part by the Parks and Green Spaces Levy, will also remain fenced off. Construction on this Phase Two project begins in spring 2011. (emphasis ours—BHB)

Seattle Parks and Recreation worked with the Beacon Hill community, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), and other stakeholders to identify the best park features and priorities for Jefferson Park. A Master Plan for the site was developed in 2002 as a guide. Parks awarded the construction contract to Mid-Mountain Construction, and gave them notice to proceed in June 2009.

For more information please visit: or contact Andy Sheffer, Project Manager at (206) 684-7041 or

We got some emails and tweets yesterday indicating that the fences were coming down, so it’s good to hear the official word that yes, the park is open. Please comment and tell us what you think about the new park.

Beacon Bits: A troubled landmark

This iconic Beacon Hill landmark is a "troubled building," unable to find a new tenant despite the best views in town. Photo by Wendi.
The Seattle Times (Beacon Hill Blog news partner) reports that the PacMed/Amazon landmark building at the north tip of Beacon Hill is a “troubled property.” No replacement for primary tenant Amazon has yet been found, though the building has been on the market for almost three years.

* * *

The Seattle Public Library is raising fines and fees starting on Monday, November 1. Among the changes:

  • The daily fine for an overdue book, CD, or DVD will change from 15 cents a day to 25 cents a day.
  • The daily fine for an overdue interlibrary loan will change from 25 cents a day to $1 a day.

Also, all accounts with a balance of $25 will be sent to a collection agency, including accounts for children and teens.

You can find out more about the fee and fine increases at the library website.

* * *

“Drawing the Land,” by Elizabeth Conner, is the newest and perhaps largest work of public art on Beacon HillBeacon Hill Public Art

* * *

Angela Garbes of Seattle Weekly‘s Voracious blog notes a recent addition to MacPherson’s Fruit and Produce market (4500 15th Avenue South): day-old breads from Essential Baking Company. Yum!

* * *

The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and City Neighborhood Council (CNC) are currently seeking input from community groups throughout Seattle as a way to find out how to support the evolution of the Neighborhood District Council system as a key avenue for civic participation in Seattle.

Please take this survey if you are interested in Seattle neighborhoods, and spread the word to anyone else who may be interested in helping strengthen civic engagement in our city. The survey will be open until November 14.

* * *

We see on Craigslist that Salon Nouveau (2805 Beacon Avenue South) has a job opening for a salon coordinator. More information here.

* * *

A couple of upcoming events to be aware of:

  • Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson will host a Community Coffee Chat for parents, grandparents and caregivers of SPS students on Monday, November 1 from 6:00 to 7:00 pm at Asa Mercer Middle School, 1600 South Columbian Way.
  • El Centro’s Dia de los Muertos Opening Ceremony is Monday, November 1, at 5:30 pm. More information here.
  • Election Day is Tuesday! Get those ballots in the mail now!

Don’t forget to check our Events page for other upcoming events!

Tonight: Budget hearing followed by BeaconArts social

Photo by Anita Hart via Creative Commons.
Today is your final opportunity to attend a public hearing to give your opinion about this year’s city budget process.

City Councilmember and Finance and Budget Committee chair Jean Godden will join Council Central Staff Director Ben Noble to answer budget-related phone calls prior to the public hearing. If you would like to ask questions or comment on the budget, please call 206-684-0481 between 4:30 – 5:00 pm.

The hearing itself is at 5:30 pm in the Council Chambers, on the second floor of Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue. It will be broadcast live on Seattle Channel 21, and streamed online here. More information on Seattle’s budget is here.

Among the budget’s effects on Beacon Hill is the proposed closure of the Beacon Hill Neighborhood Service Center, along with the centers in Greenwood, Fremont, Queen Anne, Downtown, and Capitol Hill.

After the hearing, come back to Beacon for the Beacon Arts Social, from 7:30 to 10:00 pm at the Beacon Pub, 3057 Beacon Avenue South. BeaconArts describes it thusly:

Come find like minded souls haunting the streets and dives of Beacon Hill. Mourn the passing of our local pub, perhaps write a postcard to support 4 Culture. Discuss application of artistic principles in unused commercial lots. Develop an arts community on Beacon Hill, come short or long. Drink. Be Merry. Or Scary.

Jefferson Park, the missing jewel

by Joel Lee

Workers busy last week putting some of the new features in the park. Photo by kashgroves in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.
On April 30, 1903, Seattle leaders hired the prominent Olmsted Brothers, one of the first and most important landscape architecture firms in the country, to design a park and boulevard system for Seattle. On October 19, 1903, Charles Olmsted wrote of the Seattle park system that the “primary aim should be to secure and preserve for the use of the people as much as possible of these advantages of water and mountain views and of woodlands, well distributed and conveniently located.” Beacon Hill’s Jefferson Park was one of a handful of parks that the Olmsteds considered vital to the success of their plan and the health of the city, and joined a short list of important parks including Seward Park, Green Lake, the Arboretum, and Volunteer Park as key links in an “emerald necklace” of parks and boulevards connecting the city.

A new viewpoint shows the autumn foliage from Jefferson Park. Photo by Joel Lee.
Unfortunately Jefferson Park’s history has been more convoluted than these other parks, and the Park has gone through many changes over the years since the land was first purchased by the city in 1898. Named after President Thomas Jefferson, the area was used for everything from a “pesthouse” isolating smallpox patients, to military use, housing anti-aircraft guns and a G.I. recreation center when the land was requisitioned during World War II.

A large northwest section of the park was turned over to the water department where, until recently, it housed the two above-ground water reservoirs built a hundred years ago. This had the unfortunate side effect of taking what had been a key open green space and community gathering spot on Beacon Hill and converting it to a fenced-off barbed wire government compound which served as a physical barrier dividing the neighborhood.

Soon, however, the fences are coming down and once again Beacon Hill will be united. At 52.4 acres, Jefferson Park and its accompanying golf course are one of Seattle’s largest parks. Although some of the key components to the park such as the skate park and the Beacon Mountain Playground are not yet complete, it is already easily one of the nicest parks in the city. With its well-planned walkways and playfields taking advantage of the stunning views of downtown and Elliott Bay, it is easy to imagine how this area is going to become Beacon Hill’s new outdoor living room and one of the best green spaces in the Seattle park system. Perhaps more importantly, it will finally complete the plan that the Olmsted Brothers put into place over 100 years ago to unite Seattle with an “emerald necklace” of parks and boulevards, and bring Beacon Hill together with the rest of the city.

Joel Lee maintains the Beacon Hill Public Art website.

Got something to say? We welcome articles on topics related to Beacon Hill. Please email us your ideas.

A celebration in the Army Recreation Center, Jefferson Park, 1943. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives via Joel Lee.

Beacon and Lander pedestrian crossing update

On July 7, Mark Holland and I (representing Beacon BIKES) met with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Sound Transit to discuss options for improving the pedestrian crossing in front of the light rail station.  As it currently stands the crossing is not very safe.  The crossing distance is very long, people do not use the crosswalks, traffic moves too fast, and the bus stops complicate the foot and vehicular traffic patterns.  Add to this the surge of people coming from the light rail station and we have an accident waiting to happen.  You can see a previous post about the dangers of the crossing here.

Sound Transit was planning to repave the section of Beacon between McClellan and Lander without improving the pedestrian crossing.  Beacon BIKES got wind of this and arranged a meeting to discuss options for pedestrian improvements as part of the repave.  SDOT was instrumental in setting up the meeting and convincing Sound Transit that this crossing needed to be improved (Thanks Sam Woods!!).  Based on our meeting SDOT came up with the following design.

The SDOT draft plan for Beacon Avenue. Click the image to load a larger, more-readable PDF of the plan.

The major features of the new design are a planted median, widened crosswalks at either end of the block, and narrowed travel lanes.  The narrowed lanes would mean that buses stop in lane.  In lane bus stops are being implemented all over the city as a means of speeding up the bus system.  The median would have a tasteful barrier down the middle so people could not stream across the street at mid block.  Instead, they would be directed to the wide crosswalks at the corners to cross.  With the widened sidewalks the crossing distance would be shortened making for a safer pedestrian experience.

The design that Beacon BIKES put forward did not have in lane bus stops but did include a raised crosswalk at mid-block.  Our logic here was that everyone wants to cross at mid-block to get to the bus, so why not give them an avenue to do that instead of forcing them around (also the raised crosswalk would act as a speed table and slow traffic down).  SDOT did not like the mid-block crossing idea because of the relatively short distance between McClellan and Lander, but we are still hoping they will reconsider.  :)

As is apparent from the rough nature of the design sheet, the plan is not finalized, so this is your chance to come up with an inspired idea that will make this pedestrian crossing safe and inviting while still accommodating bus, bike, and vehicle traffic.

In the meantime check out Beacon BIKES on Facebook, and come to our next meeting to join the fun. The meeting is on Monday, November 15, at the Beacon Hill Library, 2821 Beacon Avenue South.

Lewis Park project a finalist for Opportunity Fund

Rocco enjoys the view from Lewis Park. Photo by Valerie Craig in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.
Dee Dunbar, from Friends of Lewis Park, writes:

The Lewis Park Reforestation application has been selected for the final draft list of the Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund. A public hearing will be held October 25 at Miller Community Center (330 19th Avenue East). The Opportunity Fund Oversight Committee will be looking closely at community support for each project before selecting the final 15 proposals to recommend for funding. The hearing starts at 7:00 pm, but, we’re asking everyone to be there at 6:30 to show their support. Please let me know if you can make it… we’re going to be making up some signs for everyone to hold. The idea is for a few people to actually speak and everyone else stand up to show the support for Lewis Park.

If you are unable to attend the hearing, you can send an email showing your support of Lewis Park to Susanne Rockwell —

The Final Draft List for projects to receive funds from the Opportunity Fund has 15 projects with 3 alternates. The Oversight Committee will be making its final selection based on community support for the project. Friends of Lewis Park has asked for $260,000 to hire contractors to restore the steep slope areas of Lewis Park (volunteers cannot work in this area). Combined with the ongoing volunteer work, these funds will enable the restoration of all 5.1 acres of the park and provide North Beacon Hill with a safer, more livable neighborhood. As a Natural Area, Lewis Park will be transformed into an Urban Forest for generations to enjoy.

Please email/call if you any questions.

Friends of Lewis Park

Here is a link to the list of the 15 finalists and three alternate projects. Please note that one of the three alternates is also on Beacon Hill: the Santos Rodriguez Memorial Park at El Centro de la Raza.

Final project recommendations will be made by the Levy Oversight Committee to the Parks Superintendent on December 6.

Previous BHB posts about this round of Opportunity Fund applications are here.

Don’t hate the station, hate the game

Beacon Hill Station. Photo by Wendi.
Erica C. Barnett calls Beacon Hill’s gain the rest of Southeast Seattle’s loss in a Publicola article titled “South End Screwup”:

Today’s loser: Residents of Southeast Seattle who might, had Sound Transit not decided to build an expensive (and over-budget) station through Beacon Hill, have had two more light-rail stations in their part of the city.

Barnett’s analysis appears to be in error, however. She claims that:

…The distance between stations on the south end of the line is much longer than in the central, north, and (planned) east portions of the line: Nearly two-and-a-half miles from station to station, compared to just over 1.5 miles for the north section and just over a mile for the central portion.

However, the 2009 Seattle Transit Blog article in which she has found this statistic is not referring to Southeast Seattle when it describes “South Link.” The existing light rail line, from Westlake south to Sea-Tac, is known as “Central Link,” and is listed on the STB article with an average station distance of about 1.2 miles. “South Link,” on the other hand, is used in the STB post to refer to the extension of the line from Sea-Tac to Tacoma (or Redondo/Star Lake — it’s unclear which version of the proposed line is being referred to here). The distance between the Rainier Valley stations actually averages (very roughly) 1.25 miles.

Also mentioned in the Publicola article is a statistic from the February 2010 Metro/Sound Transit rider survey (also discussed on Seattle Transit Blog), showing low ridership numbers at Beacon Hill station, with only two percent of riders boarding at Beacon Hill. To put the number in context, this total was just above SODO and Stadium stations (one percent or fewer), and just below Mount Baker, Othello, and Columbia City (each of which accounted for three percent of daily boardings). SeaTac/Airport (30%) and Westlake (23%), unsurprisingly, accounted for the highest number of boardings.

More recent numbers released by Sound Transit last month (February – June station activity based on actual boarding data instead of survey responses as was the February survey) found here and here show Beacon Hill Station with more boardings than Columbia City, Othello, Rainier Beach, SODO and Stadium, and more deboardings than all of the above plus Mount Baker, and only a few short of Pioneer Square.

Opinion: Seattle kids need you to vote yes on Prop 1

Photo by Rupert Ganzer via Creative Commons.
by Stephan Blanford

Seattle’s school kids are facing a serious threat to their education and need your Yes vote on the school levy this November.

The State of Washington has cut over $32 million from Seattle’s public schools since 2008. As if that weren’t bad enough, the state is now facing a $4.5 billion shortfall. Olympia has signaled that even more cuts are on the way, and school districts are bracing for the worst. Our schools now face a $32.8 million budget shortfall for the 2011-12 school year with more to come.

To help make up for some of these cuts, state legislators changed the law so school districts could ask local voters for help during these difficult economic times. Our public schools are asking voters to approve a three-year, $48.2 million property tax measure this November that will make up for just some of the cuts our schools have suffered.

Voters should approve Proposition 1, the Seattle School Levy. The measure will provide roughly $6 million to purchase textbooks and basic classroom materials, $17 million to support teachers in the classroom, and over $25 million to reduce the number and severity of cuts to educational programs and services.

At 12 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, the owner of a $400,000 home would pay just $48 per year to support our kids. That’s a small price to pay over the next three years to support our kids in this time of crisis, when they need our help the most.

The community is solidly behind this levy. The Beacon Hill International School PTA board voted unanimously to support the levy. Mayor Mike McGinn, County Executive Dow Constantine, the 34th, 36th, 46th and 47th District Democrats, Seattle Metro and King County Democrats, the teachers’ and principals’ associations, business groups, PTAs, the Seattle City Council, community organizations, and many other individuals and groups have endorsed the measure. They give their support because they know schools need our help.

I am shocked that there are opponents to this levy who say that because “this levy is only 3% of the budget; it won’t hurt kids.” Don’t be misled. That 3% represents nearly $50 million that our schools desperately need.

Opponents also point to an audit of the school district and say that the district needs to fix their accounting first. Schools First, the standing citizens’ group that works to pass school levies, closely monitors the fiscal health of the district. They are confident that all the audit findings are being addressed.

Our kids need us to vote YES on Proposition 1, the Seattle School Levy. Seattle’s 47,000 public school students are counting on us. This year’s ballot is filled with many issues and candidates. I encourage everyone to turn the ballot over and vote for the School Levy first—even though it’s last on the ballot!

Stephan Blanford is the Legislative Chair of the Beacon Hill International School PTA.

Do you have an opinion? We welcome opinion articles on topics related to Beacon Hill. Please email us your ideas.

Beacon Bits: Stale and crumbly

[Some quickies of varied age and interest. –Ed]

Who’s got the worst storm drain in the city? We do!Seattle P-I’s Big Blog

Chow Bio of The Station’s Luis Rodriguez in The Stranger.

Inay’s gets a visit from a Seattle Times reviewer.

Former Beaconian Roger Valdez revisits and discusses transit-oriented development and tunnels in the Daily Journal of Commerce.

Angela Garbes of the Seattle Weekly nabbed a bag of peppers from the informal farmers market near the VA.

Blue Scholars ‘mature’ with a show at The Paramount this Wednesday — Matson on Music in The Seattle Times