All posts by Melissa Jonas


Kids eat free at Beacon Hill Playground this summer

Seattle summer food service program(This post was promoted from The Commons. Thanks, Melissa, for contributing to the BHB in The Commons!)

Seattle Parks will offer free lunches for kids aged 18 and under from noon-1 p.m., Monday through Friday, from now until August 14 at Beacon Hill Playground, 1902 13th Ave. S. Dates and locations are subject to change. Call 206-615-0303 for more information.

The free lunch program is a partnership between Seattle Parks and the Seattle Human Services Department’s Summer Food Services Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Find out more here.

Opinion: Community must work together on school boundary changes

Photo by Kei Noguchi via Creative Commons/Flickr.
Seattle Public Schools is scrambling to avoid overcrowding. They’ve introduced a proposal to move kids around called “Growth Boundaries.” Kids would be bused miles instead of attending a school two blocks away or another school less than a mile away. We must encourage complete transparency and work together as a community to keep Beacon Hill awesome. SPS needs to be thoughtful and engage our community more in the process before any decision is made.

Even if you don’t have a child in the Seattle Public School system, you are affected by this proposal. When families travel farther from home for school, they have less time to invest in our community. We have fewer eyes on the street and less of the daily interaction that makes our community so strong and interesting. We all benefit from the volunteer efforts and the small businesses started by families with kids. When families are forced to send their kids outside of the neighborhood they’ve invested so much time and money in, they may feel less committed to the community and may even decide to leave. Property values are affected by reference schools. Our homes may be worth less after this proposal is implemented because potential buyers are holding out for a better or more convenient school.

Please sign up now to “Walk the Boundaries.” It’s another important way to share feedback about the proposal. Feedback is due by October 1.

  1. Download the map for the school attendance area(s) you will review. Each map has a grid to use as a reference point when you submit your observations and suggestions.
  2. Drive or walk the boundary shown on the map. Look for portions of a school’s proposed boundary that have geographic barriers or local features that separate a specific area from the rest of the attendance area. (For example, we are recommending that the elementary boundaries in Southeast Seattle be modified so that the light rail is a dividing line.)
  3. Mark any issues on your map and note the reason, or note that there are no issues.
  4. Enter your results in the online survey. Please complete the survey one time for each school attendance area boundary you review.

While you’re “Walking the Boundaries,” remember: the City of Seattle has invested millions of dollars in Safe Routes to School and Neighborhood Greenways. The SPS proposal doesn’t take any of that valuable infrastructure into consideration.

“Walk the Boundaries” is only one part of the outreach. Please attend meetings and send letters to our school board representative,
Betty Patu; School Board President, Kay Smith-Blum; Sally Bagshaw, Chair of the City Council committee responsible for the Neighborhood Greenways; and any other elected or appointed officials you believe may be interested in this proposal.

I’m confident we can help Seattle Public Schools find a solution to the problem that works well for communities. I’m confident that Beacon Hill will work with Georgetown, Mt. Baker, Seward Park and other South Seattle neighborhoods to create a plan that meets the needs of students while maintaining strong communities. We must.

Please note: all opinions expressed or implied in this message are Melissa’s own and do not reflect the position of the North Beacon Hill Council or the NBHC Board. This topic is on the council agenda for Tuesday, October 1. Please attend the meeting at 7 p.m. at the Beacon Hill Library and share your ideas. (Melissa adds: “The NBHC does actually agree that Beacon Hill is awesome. That’s an official position.”)

Rules of the road not optional

Cars do not stop for pedestrians here as often as they should. Photo by Wendi Dunlap/Beacon Hill Blog.
How do you navigate our neighborhood? Do you stroll the sidewalks, amble the arterials, bike on Beacon or hike on Hanford? Perhaps you’re no pedestrian; do you prefer to press the pedal and speed on Spokane?

We can all get along if we understand and follow the rules of the road–and maybe add some Beacon Hill courtesy and respect to our commute. As this lovely summer continues, remember that everyone has a right to be safe as we travel through the neighborhood. Next time you see your neighbor struggling to cross Beacon Avenue, remember to stop (not slow, not rush past so she can go behind you) for her. That gaggle of small children crossing McClellan on bikes and scooters? Whether they’re crossing on the Greenway at 18th in a marked crosswalk or 20th at the curb, stop and allow each and every one of them to reach the opposite curb safely.

Special heads-up: if you’re not stopping for pedestrians at the crossing on Forest and Beacon Ave, you might end up with a big ticket. The Seattle Police Department is considering an undercover pedestrian sting operation in that area–that slow stroller-pusher may just be a police officer. (Not that anyone reading this would ever speed past someone pushing a stroller across Beacon Avenue.) SPD may also choose to go with a good old-fashioned marked police car near the library to encourage drivers to slow down (obey the speed limit) and stop for pedestrians. This intersection is a well-known danger zone and SPD is taking community concerns seriously.

Here’s the law of the land:

“In Seattle, the speed limit on residential streets is 25 mph and 30 mph on arterial streets unless otherwise posted. Drivers are expected to know and obey the speed limit.”

That means that McClellan and Beacon have maximum speeds of 30 mph and all side streets have maximum speeds of 25. Notable exception: the Beacon Hill Greenway, which runs from I-90 to Lucile Street and has posted speeds of 20 mph.

Stopping for pedestrian. The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a crosswalk unmarked or marked when the pedestrian is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning.” (emphasis author’s.)

Bottom line: slow down and be alert for people trying to cross the street. It’s responsible, it’s respectful, it’s neighborly and it’s the law. If you’re interested in making it safer to walk/bike to school/work/shops in the neighborhood, consider contacting Feet First and/or Beacon BIKES for ideas.

Melissa Jonas has been regularly walking the not-so-mean streets of Beacon Hill since 2003, first with a dog and now with a preschooler. She’s the Chair of the North Beacon Hill Council, which meets next on Sept 10, 7pm in the library community room. All opinions are her own.

Do you have something to say? Send us your own opinion pieces on this or other Beacon Hill-related topics.

Neighbors seeing red over “Greener Skies”

Robert Bismuth of the Magnolia Community Council spoke at last night’s NBHC meeting. Photo by Wendi Dunlap.
West Seattle Blog recently captured the frustration of many South Seattle residents at a Ballard meeting regarding proposed changes in flight paths and landing patterns that may negatively affect Southeast and Southwest Seattle.

Many of the 60+ attendees at last night’s North Beacon Hill Council (NBHC) meeting were there to discuss their concerns with the proposed FAA changes—and especially the confusion and frustration about location and tone of the FAA outreach meetings.

The lively discussion included a succinct yet thorough history by Magnolia Community Council Chair Robert Bismuth of how Magnolia successfully defended airspace above their neighborhood from changes that would have have “exponentially” increased noise and pollution.

NBHC Board member Ticiang Diangson is working with community activists from Beacon Hill and other neighborhoods to form a task force to address concerns regarding the “Greener Skies Over Seattle” proposal. (See the FAA’s website about the project here.)

If that FAA link seemed confusing or overly technical to you, you’re not alone. The NBHC voted unanimously last night to support efforts by the task force regarding “Greener Skies” to extend the public comment period on the FAA Environmental Assessment until the FAA has given residents of potentially-impacted communities the opportunity to learn more about the project. The current comment period ends on September 14. (Addresses to submit comments are here.)

The NBHC is asking Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, Congressman Jim McDermott and Adam Smith to request the FAA hold public outreach meetings regarding “Greener Skies Over Seattle” in Southeast Seattle (of course, we’d prefer Beacon Hill), and also to extend the comment period beyond September 14 to give the FAA an opportunity to correct problems with outreach—and give our communities the opportunity to understand this proposal. Outreach materials need to be offered in the languages read by our communities and translation must be offered during the meetings.

(Melissa Jonas is the current chair of the North Beacon Hill Council.)

El Centro planning further park improvements

This happy child plays at the Santos Rodriguez Memorial Park. Photo by Melissa Jonas in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool in Flickr.
After extensive improvements to equipment and the addition of a covered picnic area, El Centro de la Raza opened the Santos Rodriguez Memorial Park playground to the public last summer. It’s been a hit with community members of all ages.

But wait, there’s more! Through the Parks and Green Spaces Opportunity Fund, the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department awarded El Centro an additional $350,000 to improve the park further.

To learn more and be part of the design process for the upcoming park improvements, attend the first public meeting about this project on November 15 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at El Centro de la Raza’s Salvador Allende room, Room 106. El Centro’s address is 2524 16th Ave. S. Find out more about the project at the project’s website, or read the meeting flyer.

Create art chairs with painter Fulgencio Lazo

Art Chair #1, painted by Kathleen McHugh earlier this year. Photo courtesy of ROCKiT space.
ROCKiT space is hosting a work party on Saturday, November 5 as part of a continuing project to decorate art chairs for community events. The “Have a Seat, Beacon” project, which began earlier this year, will create 45 chairs that are also individual works of art. This free workshop with Oaxacan and Seattle-based painter and print-maker Fulgencio Lazo will provide participants with the opportunity to transform a plain metal folding chair into a painted art chair.

Lazo, who resides on Beacon Hill with his family, will share his technique and aesthetic approach at the workshop, as well as painting two chairs himself. His work has been exhibited extensively in Mexico, Japan and the United States. Sue Peters of the Seattle Weekly wrote about him in 2005: “There’s a simplicity and joy to Fulgencio Lazo’s work that’s refreshing. His oil paintings evoke Paul Klee and Marc Chagall in their vividly whimsical celebration of family, heritage, and community in his native Oaxaca.”

Space is limited, so the free workshop is open to the public by reservation. No experience is necessary, and the workshop is bilingual. For more information or to reserve a spot in the workshop, contact Sheba Burney-Jones at or 206-669-4574.

(Wendi Dunlap also contributed to this article.)

Neighbors attempt to reduce impact of alcohol on Beacon Hill

As usual, the 10/4 North Beacon Hill Council meeting was jam-packed with a variety of topics. The majority of the meeting was dedicated to efforts to organize an Alcohol Impact Area (AIA) in North Beacon Hill. North Beacon Hill neighbors are attempting to organize an AIA to increase public safety. To learn more, visit their Facebook page at Beacon AIAI.

AIA supporters believe that implementing an Alcohol Impact Area in Beacon Hill will increase public safety and lower costs to taxpayers by decreasing the need for first responders (Seattle Police Department, Seattle Fire Department, etc) called to assist those incapacitated by alcohol. A first step to implement an AIA is to report all incidents of public inebriation and collecting/taking photographs of all alcohol related litter (especially cans/bottles of restricted brands).

Per the WA State Liquor Control Board: “The purpose of an Alcohol Impact Area is for local authorities to have a process to mitigate problems with chronic public inebriation or illegal activities linked to the sale or consumption of alcohol within a geographic area of their city, town or county, but not the entire jurisdiction. An Alcohol Impact Area is designated by geographical boundaries as defined in Washington Administrative Code Chapter 314-12.”

The WA State Liquor Control Board evaluated AIAs in 2009. Results are here. One interesting conclusion: people living in Alcohol Impact Areas reported that they were happier!

“Overall, in comparison to the results of the 2006 survey, people living within the Alcohol Impact Areas are now more positive as evidenced by the following:

  • 26% of people rate the overall quality of life in their neighborhood as excellent (20% in 2006)
  • ƒ

  • 60% of people say they notice chronic public inebriates in the neighborhood (69% in 2006)
  • 18% of people say that drug activity has increased (24% in 2006)
  • But, 28% of people say that crime has increased (23% in 2006)”

(Source: Seattle Alcohol Impact Area Evaluation Executive Summary, 2009.)

City of Seattle studies did not inquire whether residents within AIAs enjoyed a higher quality of life, but did discover:

“…A decrease in offenses related to chronic public inebriation: Adult Liquor Violations, Parks Exclusions, and Criminal Trespass. In addition, the sobering unit van also saw a 9% decrease in pick-ups over the same pre-mandatory AIA and post-mandatory AIA periods of time.” (Source: June 2008 Report on Mandatory Compliance Efforts in the Seattle Alcohol Impact Area.)

Department of Neighborhoods Program Manager Pamela Banks attended Tuesday’s meeting and cautioned that North Beacon Hill would face an uphill battle to implement an AIA. Resources and staff are currently stretched very thin in Seattle and the AIA process is difficult.

Other options to reduce public inebriation and increase public safety were discussed, including asking neighborhood businesses to voluntarily participate in a “Good Neighbor” agreement limiting sales of banned beverages and requesting increased enforcement of existing laws.

Beacon AIAI supporters hope to engage the community in efforts to make Beacon Hill safer. For more information, visit their Facebook page or email

Big trucks busy on Beacon Hill

A sturdy tent is being constructed for fire trucks to park in during the seismic upgrades at Station 13. Photo by Melissa Jonas.
There’s lots of construction happening on the hill right now. Work on Beacon Mountain has begun in Jefferson Park. Fire Station 13 is getting a fancy temporary parking structure for the fire trucks in preparation for construction work to make the building more stable during an earthquake. The temporary public pay lot at El Centro is being graded and drainage installed; the goal is for the lot to be completed within a month.

Each project is noteworthy in its own way, but all Beacon Hill toddlers and preschoolers need to know is: BIG TRUCKS! Lots of big trucks! Please allow extra time on your next outing to appreciate them.

Construction of the Beacon Mountain Playground is underway. Photo by Melissa Jonas.

Many options for family fun on the Hill

Beacon Hill is a great place for people of all ages and features many opportunities for entire families to have a great time. Here are a few ideas to get you started—please share your favorite places/activities in the comments!

ROCKiT Space is thriving after the relaunch in January. Headquarters are now in the Garden House at 2336 15th Ave. S. (directly behind Baja Bistro; parking in the alley, on street or just walk there) and events are happening there and all over Beacon Hill.

High Chair Happy Hour happens every third Tuesday (the next ones are on April 19 and May 16) from 3:30-6:30 p.m. BYOB (baby/bigger kid). It’s good, cheap fun on Beacon Hill: $5, or free for ROCKiT members. No alcohol sold, but you’re welcome to bring your own (as well as other food/drink) to share.  Must be accompanied by a minor to attend.

Tots Jam, a ROCKiT Space favorite, is held at El Centro every Wednesday at 9 a.m. Bring your toddler and $5 (free for members) and rock with Suzanne.

The Beacon Hill library has story times for toddlers, preschoolers, and the whole family. Toddler story time, Spanish story time, and Bilingual Kaleidoscope are only a few of the choices.

Thanks to our neighbors’ successful efforts to improve the parks on Beacon Hill, we have three (3!) awesome new playgrounds on Beacon Hill.

The play area at Jefferson Park has been open for several months. Don’t let the fences surrounding the future Beacon Mountain deter you—head over and check out the many ways your kids (and you) can climb, swing, hang and rock. Several refreshment options are available in the south end of our business district, including the Jefferson Park Field House, Victrola 3 and El Quetzal (now serving beer; just sayin’).

Jefferson Park also boasts a fantastic indoor playground on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Inflatables, riding toys, push toys, balls, and tons of other ways for toddlers to tire themselves are available for only $2!

Santos Rodriguez Memorial Park at El Centro de La Raza is now open to the public (closed during posted hours to protect the safety of the children enrolled in programs on site) and features new playground equipment for a variety of ages. Amenities such as benches for parents and a permanent chess board are in the works. I highly recommend a visit to The Station (directly across the street) before or after your park visit.

Beacon Hill Playground has new play structures, too! Swings, slides, a secure tunnel, and other fun await at our northernmost playground.

I’m sure I”m missing something—please share your ideas/events in the comments!

A few of the ways to keep busy in the playground at Jefferson Park. Photo by Joel Lee.