A neighbor wrote to tell us about a disturbing experience she had on Friday evening. I’ll let her tell the story (posted anonymously by her request):
Today I was arriving home from work shortly before 5pm, heading north on 14th Ave (near Atlantic). I noticed an available street parking spot near our house, on the right side of the street, so I slowed down and pulled into it. A car in the southbound lane was stopped with a left blinker on, presumably turning into a driveway. When I pulled into the parking spot, I could hear yelling from the guy in the turning car. I didn’t really figure out why until he turned into the driveway directly behind me, turned around and drove off. Apparently he wanted that parking spot and was trying to claim it. I recognized his car from seeing it parked in the vicinity, including when it was parked in a street spot for 5 straight days and eventually got towed.
Later on this evening, one of our neighbors knocked on our door to tell us they noticed someone had dumped trash onto the hood of my car. I went out to see for myself, and sure enough, there was gross garbage strewn all over my car — including compost waste and diapers. Lovely. I can only imagine he brought this garbage from his home, since our garbage pick up happened yesterday morning and most people’s cans aren’t on the sidewalks.
I attached a picture I took of my car with the garbage surprise. I’m hoping you post this anonymously, but wanted to send fair warning to my other neighbors about our sociopathic neighbor, and to tell others to keep an eye out for any foul play going on.
This is Beacon Hill, not Capitol Hill. Are any parking spots really that hard to come by?
Recently I have heard about several people in the North Beacon Hill area getting parking tickets for parking where they normally park every day. Some people were complaining about not having permits in a permit area; others didn’t know what they were ticketed for.
The one I heard quite a bit about at the store was a guy who got a ticket for “…nothing. I was just parked there. Tight against the curb and everything.” He then added that he was between two driveways, but he insisted that he was clearly not in front of either one. When I asked him what they cited him for, he did not know. He claimed it was not “clearly stated on the ticket.”
Tickets are supposed to tell you the Seattle Municipal Code violation number. And since they are printed out on little computer slips, I am sure they do. He just didn’t know how to read the ticket, or it did not read “You were cited because of this reason…”
My guess: SMC 11.72.110 – Driveway or alley entrance. Which says it is illegal to park within five feet of a driveway. (It reads: “No person shall stand or park a vehicle in front of a public or private driveway within a street or alley or in front of or in an alley entrance or within five feet (5′) of the end of a constructed driveway return or alley entrance return, or if none, within five feet (5′) of the projection of the edge of the driveway or alley.” — Ed.) Which means if our guy had a car 15 feet long, the space between the two driveways would have had to have been 25 feet to leave room for his car, and he would have to be parked perfectly.
Parking too close to a driveway makes it so the resident can not turn into, or pull out of, their driveway — effectively blocking them in. It is not their responsibility to try and “squeeze” around someone else’s bad parking habits.
El Centro de la Raza has opened their temporary light rail parking lot to the
public. Parking rates are listed here. The lot is in the south part of the El Centro site, directly adjacent to the Roberto Maestas Festival Street, across the street from Beacon Hill Station. The parking lot is an interim use of the site, limited to three years or less, after which El Centro plans to develop the site. Proceeds from the parking lot benefit El Centro’s human services and community building programs.
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Mayor McGinn recently led a delegation to Chongqing and Beijing, and while there distributed some Seattle souvenirs to local schoolchildren — including a Beacon Rocks! t-shirt.
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Doreen Deaver sent us this notice:
Now that the egg hunts are done, are you wondering what to do with all those plastic eggs? Jefferson Community Center is the place to bring them. We are recycling eggs! Bring them in and give them a good home. We can use them again. Thank you.
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.
The survey is part of an SDOT study of performance-based parking pricing strategies. In performance-based pricing, parking rates are adjusted depending on a set of data-driven characteristics. For example, rates could change by time of day or location, or seasonally. The expected result of the variable rates is to increase parking availability, and decrease the time drivers spend circling the block in search of a parking spot. This not only decreases the pollution caused by this practice, but also eliminates a fair amount of traffic. (This 2007 New York Times op-ed suggests that drivers searching for curb parking are about 30 percent of the traffic in central business districts.)
Seattle Department of Transportation would like some feedback on how well your restricted parking zone (RPZ) is working.
The North Beacon Hill light rail station area RPZ opened in 2009, restricting parking within the zone to two or four hours for those without zone permits. Residents and businesses within the zone received two free two-year parking permits and one free guest permit; those permits will expire on August 31 this year. Renewal permit decals will now be $65 each (previously, additional permits were $45), and guest permits will cost $30. Households are limited to four decals. Low income permits will be available for $10. RPZs in the Rainier Beach, Columbia City, Othello, and Mount Baker station areas will also expire at various times during 2011.
Have you noticed “hide and ride” parking in the neighborhood? Here at the BHB, we haven’t noticed commuters trying to park and ride, but we have seen a noticeable number of sports fans parking here for Sounders and Mariners games. Those events, however, are typically outside of the hours when the RPZ is enforced: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays.
The El Centro de la Raza parking lot is a step closer to existence. On March 21, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that allows parking lots of up to 100 spaces as interim uses on sites “occupied or owned by established institutions within a quarter mile of a light rail station, including the North Beacon Hill light rail station.” Earlier proposed versions of the ordinance limited all lots to 40 spaces.
“Parking, especially at places like El Centro de la Raza on Beacon Hill, will serve as a handy resource for game day fans.”
El Centro has expressed an intent to put 80 parking spaces on the lot directly south of their building, which is located across South Lander Street from Beacon Hill Station.
The ordinance also allows parking lots of up to 40 spaces on other properties within Southeast Seattle station areas, however, this part of the ordinance excludes the Beacon Hill station area.
The City Council’s press release on the ordinance quotes Councilmember Sally J. Clark: “We want to see these lifeless, empty parking spaces serve a use, at least until the economy rebounds. Allowing longer-term parking, particularly at places like El Centro de la Raza on Beacon Hill, will serve as a handy resource for game-day fans hoping to avoid parking around Safeco Field or Qwest Field.”
The ordinance will not allow permanent parking lots; permits for the lots will expire after three years.
I am completely sympathetic to El Centro’s need to produce income for their programs while we wait out the zoning process, and I’m excited to see what the long term development will bring to the community. However, I don’t think that a parking lot will add much of anything other than traffic, and it seems like El Centro could develop something, even temporarily, that would coincide better with their values of building the community and serving low income families. Here are just a few ideas to get the ball rolling, with hopes that we can think of more.
A mercado or traditional Mexican market. Stalls are rented for low prices and merchants offer a variety of goods. Mercados in Mexico are crowded, noisy, and kind of amazing. They are full of people shopping and offer choices for low income merchants and buyers to get their foot in the door.
A community garden. Although it wouldn’t be a big money maker, it could directly produce food for low-income people. There are plenty of crops that can be grown year round here with a little help, and classes could be offered. Plots could be given to low-income people and rented to others.
Food carts. How much fun would it be to have a choice between a variety of food carts for any given meal? Food carts can be very minimal, sometimes just a cooler strapped to a bicycle or a lemonade stand. Again, giving low-income people a chance to get their foot in the door of our economy.
Farmers’ markets tend to be seasonal, but I still love them. Even if it were only one day a week, it would leave the space open for other activities the rest of the week while bringing locally grown produce to the community and generating income.
I know that we are already getting a skate park, but I would love to offer up a place for young people in the community to gather. Probably not a big money maker, but still a good idea. Bring back the basketball court?
I know that mini-golf sounds like a weird idea. But think about it. A great family activity, and with a little shelter, it could be a year-round destination. Build some kind of giant Godzilla statue eating the Eiffel Tower and this could put Beacon Hill on the map and employ a lot of people.
We don’t really need a bookmobile since the library is so close, but as a kid this was a highlight of my youth. What other social services or small companies could be brought to the community by truck? Flower shop? Kite shop? Toy store?
Everyone loves a flea market, right? A slightly less-permanent version of the market, it offers a chance to socialize and meet neighbors while you sell your old junk and obtain new junk. Another good foot in the door of the economy.
There has been a lot of talk about creating an outdoor cinema, but it’s hard to imagine a better area than next to the light rail station. It could become a destination for people all along the light rail line and could be in conjunction with many other uses.
What about a mini amusement park? Many rides are designed to be portable and could be cleared out when the time comes to build more permanent structures. Lets be honest, if we had a giant Ferris wheel I would ride it every day. Wouldn’t you?
Beacon Hill is (and historically always has been) a community of mixed incomes, cultures, ages and lifestyles. I am sometimes teased by friends from other ’hoods for what seems like excessive neighborhood pride, but there’s a lot to be proud of! Our Neighborhood Council is an active and effective voice for the community, and meetings are almost always respectful and productive. Even comments on our neighborhood blog manage to stay civil most of the time.
I hope we can maintain the positive and productive tone as the process moves forward to plan the next stages of development activity at El Centro de la Raza. El Centro staff, volunteers, patrons and tenants are part of our Beacon Hill community. I don’t understand the “us versus them” tone that creeps into conversations and comment threads about El Centro—especially when we’re all in the same room. We share the same goals and priorities: making Beacon Hill safe, vibrant and successful for everyone who lives, works, plays, studies and shops here.
El Centro de la Raza is working towards a goal to develop affordable housing, commercial space, and a public plaza. They are trying to build the “beloved community.” The need is real and the goals are attainable. While the process of changing zoning around the light rail station moves forward, El Centro is trying to activate their now-vacant south lot. They want to encourage vendors and food trucks, and to improve security and pedestrian access. They also need revenue and are proposing a gravel parking lot with 80 spaces for commuters and sports fans.
In 1972, the “Four Amigos” inspired countless volunteers to pressure elected officials for access to a space that would become a community meeting place. The original Beacon Hill Elementary building was vacant and seemed an ideal location. Their passion and dedication still inspire 38 years later.
El Centro de la Raza is the Center for all Peoples. The name is Spanish; the roots and mission multicultural. Roberto Maestas is the man best known for the occupation that led to El Centro’s foundation, but a photo of those involved in the occupation would make a classic Benetton t-shirt.
Today, the people who seek services (and those who provide them) are astonishingly diverse. Blonde acupuncture clients share the halls with East African mothers picking up children who learned Spanish with their Filipino classmates. Ukrainian seniors wait in line at the food bank staffed by Latino volunteers coordinated by an Asian AmeriCorps leader.
El Centro’s clients and staff are more than culturally diverse. They also represent the economic diversity of Beacon Hill. The food bank and meal programs help our hungry neighbors. All services are supported by donors and volunteers who have extra time, money, or other resources to share. Several small businesses and independent nonprofit organizations thrive as tenants in the building.. Public art and cultural events are offered throughout the year. El Centro is also the new home for Tots Jam, the toddler music class that started at ROCKiT space.
In addition to the work that goes on inside the building, El Centro advocates for and represents those in our community who might not otherwise participate in the political process. Through translation services, advocacy training, public meetings hosted at accessible times, and other means, El Centro staff and volunteers engage and inspire the community.
I’m not thrilled about parking lots on Beacon Hill. I don’t like any part of the idea. However, I’m willing to support El Centro’s efforts to build a temporary lot while the slow zoning process moves forward. A safe, accessible area with vibrant small businesses is a better short term use of this area than an empty lot. Some small income to help support programs is better than nothing.
El Centro is a vital part of the incredible community I’m proud to call home. They need our help so they can help us.
Oh, by the way… a group of diverse community activists are working to secure public meeting space on Beacon Hill. The North Beacon Hill Council is working with the Beacon Hill Merchants’ Association and other groups to request free access to office space in the library. We need a place to share community information and provide storage and meeting space. Please contact the Mayor’s Office and City Council members to support our efforts. We’re not asking people to occupy the space—an email or tweet should suffice.