The city’s Department of Planning and Development has confirmed that the First Choice car detailing/car wash business that is operating at the corner of Beacon Avenue South and 15th Avenue South is not allowed to operate at that site due to light rail station area and pedestrian overlay zoning regulations. The case is being referred to the City Attorney’s office for enforcement action, and the owner of the business has been informed of the decision. Our understanding here at the BHB is that there is a certain grace period for the business to relocate, so the business may be in operation for some time still.
In other local business news, neighbor Chris sent in a tip about an interesting, and saddening, listing on Craigslist today: Grown Folks Coffeehouse has closed, and they are selling all of their equipment. A potential bargain for someone else who wants to open a coffee shop, but a substantial loss for Mid-Beacon Hill. (This closure wasn’t entirely unexpected. We mentioned the land use application for their lot last month, and it was known for months before that the lot owner was looking to redevelop the property. –Ed.)
Awhile ago we posted about the plant pilferer recorded by security cameras while stealing people’s shrubs. Neighbor April reports that several neighbors have identified the man as someone who lives near 16th Avenue South and South College Street. A police officer watched the security video, and spoke to the man, who denied stealing the plants. April says “Unfortunately, that probably is as far as it will go — it would be very unlikely that he is actually going to be charged with the theft unless more evidence is provided by others.” If your garden is also victimized, please file a police report.
The folks at First Choice car wash at 2507 Beacon Avenue South have filed for a construction permit to “Establish use of a portion of commercial building as an auto detailing service, per plan.” The building continues to be zoned NC2P-40, which means that, according to the city land use code, “Drive-in or drive-thru businesses are prohibited” at the site.
The First Choice Car Wash at 15th and Beacon has been granted an extension on their compliance deadline for filing permits for the business. The new deadline is June 1. The building currently is permitted for a retail use, not for car washing, detailing, and stereo installation. However, as posted earlier, the building is also zoned NC2P-40 (Neighborhood Commercial 2, Pedestrian-Designated Zone, 40-foot height limit), which means that no drive-in or drive-through businesses are allowed. A change-of-use may not be possible in this location.
Beacon Hill cannot have these signs, legally, unless a Business Improvement Association, historic district, or Chamber of Commerce is formed here. The district group would then need to get 60% of the businesses in the area to sign on, carry $1 million in liability insurance, and then obtain a Street Use Annual Permit from the city. Who knew?
Even in districts that allow such signs, it is illegal to have more than one sign per business, and they have to be directly in front of the business. First Choice has had up to three signs in front of their shop, and one across the street.
Sidewalk signs are relatively harmless, but one can see why limiting each business to one would be a good idea. The signs are taking up space in the public right-of-way, after all. In the case of the car wash, the signs are right in the entrance to two crosswalks. This is probably not an ideal location for pedestrian safety. (Nor is their driveway, as can be seen in the photo with this post.)
Since Beacon Hill’s Chamber of Commerce has gone dormant, it’s not likely that sidewalk signs will be made legal on the Hill anytime soon. In the meantime, First Choice and several other local businesses are violating a law that most of us have probably never even heard of.
The North Beacon Hill Council met tonight at 7 at the Beacon Hill library. Very briefly, here’s what went down:
Reps from DPD present talked about outreach and prep for the next planning meeting May 30th.
An ad hoc committee and an outreach subcommittee of the Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee is seeking a six month delay in the DPD neighborhood planning process to get outreach to more of the community and focus more closely on neighborhood issues specifically instead of Southeast Seattle issues generally.
Beacon Mountain Playground is moving forward with phase 1 of the project.
An SDOT representative will be at the June meeting to provide an update.
Some background on the Sound Transit tunnel voids was given by Roger Pence. There are believed to be only two unfilled voids remaining and they are being actively worked on.
Some discussion of the pedestrian safety, zoning, and environmental issues around the new car wash occurred, leading into a proposal to form a committee to work on attracting additional businesses to the hill and a motion to write a letter to the DPD concerning the zoning conflict with the transit overlay area.
Police updates included notice that staffing hours will likely change soon, focusing more bodies during the times of day when they’re needed. Also brief discussion of car prowls, burglaries, graffiti, car accidents, prostitution, etc.
Asian Express’s liquor license renewal is mentioned to be coming up soon, and it may be an opportune time to work out a “good neighbor” agreement to reduce the sales of high-alcohol beverages.
Volunteers were sought to staff the NBHC booth at the Jefferson Park festival on June 6th.
Michael Richmond mentioned the possible upcoming city council and mayoral candidate forums this fall. Previous candidate forums are said to have been especially well attended here on the hill.
The Piñata Party will be on July 18th this year — the same day as the Sound Transit Link Light Rail grand opening. This may be both good and bad.
Newly elected board members:
Did I miss something or get something wrong? Let us know in the comments.