All posts by BHB Admin

3D printing workshop at Beacon Hill Library 8/15-16

3D printed toy horse figure. Photo by Creative Tools via Creative Commons/Flickr.
The Seattle Public Library will offer a workshop on 3D printing basics at the Beacon Hill Branch Library from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, August 15 and Sunday, August 16. Attendees will learn how to design 3D models from prototype to final product, and then send their models off to be printed–all for free.

This beginners’ workshop is a two-part introductory series that will uncover the core processes behind 3D printing and introduce the basic concepts behind Rhino 5 software’s 3D modeling tools. Participants will customize an object (think monograms or colors) then finish designing the 3D model and upload it to Intentional3D for printing. No prior experience with 3D printing is necessary to take this workshop.

After completing the workshop, attendees will be able to create 3D models in Rhino 5 for 3D printing. The Library will provide a coupon that covers up to $25 for the cost of printing a 3D model. 3D print jobs will be sent to Intentional3D for printing and will be mailed to participants.

The program is free and open to the public. Registration is required for both workshop dates. Participants are not considered registered until they have signed up for both workshop dates, 3D Printing Basics: Part 1 and Part 2, at the same location. To sign up, call the Beacon Hill library at 206-684-4711 or register online via the class listing in the Library’s calendar. Class sizes are limited to 10 attendees. Up to five people can be added to the wait list when the class size has reached its capacity. The workshops are intended for teens and adults.

The Beacon Hill Branch is located at 2821 Beacon Ave. S..

Sweet Dreams at Beacon Hill Meaningful Movies

Ice cream at the shop in the movie Sweet Dreams. Photo by Lisa Fruchtman.
Ice cream at the shop in the movie Sweet Dreams. Photo by Lisa Fruchtman.
On Friday, June 19, Beacon Hill Meaningful Movies will celebrate its first birthday. All neighbors are invited to enjoy the special movie Sweet Dreams, indulge in free popcorn and free drumsticks. Movies are screened at the Garden House (2336 15th Ave. S., across from the Shell station). Doors open at 6:15 for neighbors to chat and movies start at 7 p.m. sharp.

The movie series got its start in 2014 with a Small Sparks grant from the Department of Neighborhoods which funded the first six movies (paying for rent, screening rights, posters and popcorn). Since then community support from local business Joe McKinstry Construction Company and donations from moviegoers have funded the program. Our local series is a program of Beacon Arts and an affiliate of the Meaningful Movies Project based in Wallingford.

Three neighbors, Devin Hollingsworth, Jonis Davis and Christina Olson steer the project, hunting for great documentaries, inviting resource folks to the discussion circles that follow the movies, and searching for grants to sustain the program. They report that they have welcomed over 500 people in their first year from as many as 34 zip codes. Olson says, “It was meant to be a local movie series, an opportunity for neighbors to meet and discuss social, economic and environmental issues spurred by the movies. We’ve had some great discussions, and met some wonderful local film makers.”

Sweet Dreams, June’s movie, tells the story of the hard work of reconciliation after the Rwandan genocide. Women from all ethnic groups form a drumming performance troupe, and then move on to form a cooperative to build a business. They choose to bring ice cream to Rwanda for the first time. According to Christina Olson, “The movie chronicles the difficult road to making a dream come true. This is a movie that captures the great spirit of women who dare to dream.”

(Thanks to Christina Olson for this story submission!)

Opinion: School boundary changes affect Beacon Hill voters as well as students

by Erin Okuno

Current State

According to Seattle Public Schools, enrollment increased by 1,400 students this past school year and is expected to grow by 10,000 students in the next decade. To accommodate the growth and alleviate overcrowding, the district is looking to move elementary and middle school boundary lines. In the North East corner of Beacon Hill,, students’ assignments will take families from Beacon Hill International School to Thurgood Marshall, then to Washington Middle School in the Central District. Kimball Elementary students will matriculate to Washington Middle School instead of Mercer Middle School, and John Muir to Meany Middle School. Other parts of Beacon Hill are also seeing significant shifts as well.

School Board Director Voting 411

One of the unintended consequences of this shift is that many Beacon Hill residents will lose the ability to vote for school board members who represent our students’ assignments in the primary election. Much of Beacon Hill resides in School Board Director District VII, yet Thurgood Marshall and Washington Middle School are in District V.

Seattle Public Schools has seven elected board members. Each board member has a slate of schools they represent. During the primary election ONLY those residing in the director’s district are allowed to vote; the top-two candidates advance to a city-wide general election.

School board directors are an important part of a well-functioning and high-performing school district. They are responsible for approving the district’s budget, assuring sound legal and fiduciary practices, student assignments (as presently happening), and representing the public’s voice in school district decisions.

The Problem

The problem comes for those families who are a part of the boundary change. Beacon Hill to Thurgood Marshall, Kimball students moving on to Washington — our students will be sent to schools in District V. This means we lose the ability to vote in the primary election for a school board member representing our student assignment. This problem already exists in the north-end neighborhoods of Ballard, Crown Hill, and possibly other areas.

As South End residents we have more to lose by losing a vote in the primary election. Southeast Seattle schools aren’t performing as well as their North End counterparts. Voting for a school board director that represents our Beacon Hill students, how funds are allocated, and where students attend school is important.

What You Can Do

Now is the time to speak up and ask Seattle Public Schools what their plan is to address the discrepancy. Tell them how you feel about the boundary changes and wanting to keep Beacon Hill students in Beacon Hill. Let Seattle Schools know that it isn’t ok to take away this important voting right in the primary election.

As another neighbor wrote, Seattle Public Schools cannot afford to disenfranchise voters. As taxpayers and citizens we have a right and a duty to pay attention and vote in accordance to our values. I hope you will join me in pressing the need for Seattle Public Schools to pay attention to this important voter right. A feedback form and more information can be found here.

Zoning changes intended to prevent “suburban-style” development apply to Beacon Hill, too

Does this type of development belong in urban villages such as Wallingford, Lower Queen Anne, and Beacon Hill?
Does this type of development belong in urban villages such as Wallingford, Lower Queen Anne, and Beacon Hill?
by Chris Bailey

If you followed the issue of the development at Beacon and Horton, or any other development issues in Beacon Hill, you may be interested in a new zoning rule affecting some properties in the Beacon Hill Urban Village.

In response to some recent low-rise commercial projects with lots of surface parking (CVS pharmacies) proposed within pedestrian overlay zones, Council Member Richard Conlin drafted emergency land use legislation last month, which passed full council. The new rules aim to prevent further projects that under-utilize properties and attract more car traffic within higher density, pedestrian-oriented zoning. The main tool of the legislation is to set minimum FAR requirements for projects on neighborhood commercial lots within urban villages, station overlays, or pedestrian overlays. There are also further parking restrictions in the new rules that actually limit the number of parking spaces. The FAR refers to the floor-area ratio; for instance, 50% lot coverage and 4 floors would have a FAR of 2. See here, here, and here for more specifics.

While not specifically called out in the rule language or discussions I have read, I confirmed with Richard Conlin that this is a city-wide rule and the properties surrounding the Beacon Hill Station zoned NC2P-65, and -40 are affected by this new rule. The minimum FAR set by the new rule is 1.5 for the NC2P-40 properties and 2.0 for NC2P-65.

The emergency legislation appears to be in effect for a year, but the goal is to make it permanent. A public hearing is scheduled for October 30 and written comments will be accepted. More information on the hearing is available here.

Opinion: Beacon Ave development needs viable commercial space

View Larger Map. This Google Street View shows the building currently at 3227 Beacon Ave. S.

by Robert Hinrix


A developer is proposing a project at 3227 Beacon Ave. S., three doors south of Victrola Coffee. (Ed. note: see the the permit activity for this project on the DPD website.) The property has been occupied by a derelict and vacant apartment building, so in the most general sense nearly anything built there will be an improvement. However, the project as proposed does very little to improve the commercial district of Beacon Hill, in spite of the supposed requirements of the property’s NC1-40 zoning (meaning commercial property, to a 40-foot height).

While the developer could in fact be building a commercial/residential building that would nearly fill the lot, the proposal as it stands is for five townhomes and parking. The one townhome facing the street will be designated a “live-work” space; this fulfills the legal requirement to make a commercial space. It also means that there will be no actual design review and very little opportunity to influence the nature of this project. For Beacon Hill’s commercial district, this is most unfortunate. Instead of a possible restaurant space, or several decent shop spaces, we are likely to get a barely viable space that’s part of someone’s home, facing the street.

But it is not too late to influence the course of this project. If you are interested in making a comment, it can be sent to, cc’ing; she is the designated planner. You absolutely must include the project number in the subject line: it is 3014661.

Because DPD has allowed the developer a “streamlined design review,” it appears that, for a key commercial property development here on Beacon Avenue, the city’s (two week) comment period is already over, but that is not the case. If enough people respond to this proposal, it can still be changed and improved, as permits have not been issued and review is happening right now. It is recommended that comments focus on the lack of commercial space, the fact that the zoning is NC1-40, and that there is only one proposed commercial entry on Beacon Avenue, our principal arterial. For a 5000-square-foot commercial lot in nearly any other area of the city, multiple commercial entries would be required.

By skirting design review the developer will be able to sell his five townhomes and never think about it again — but we on Beacon Hill will have to live with this development forever. Please send in your comments!

Robert Hinrix has been involved in many neighborhood projects and groups, including the North Beacon Hill Council.

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

Opinion: Crosswalks needed at unsafe intersections

View 14th Ave. S. dangers in a larger map. This unsafe stretch of 14th Ave. S. should be improved, says Mark Holland.

by Mark Holland

The intersections at 14th Avenue South and College and Walker need crosswalks.

I live on the corner of 14th Avenue South and College. On August 6, the night of the rollover accident, I was on the street within 10 seconds of the impact which was deafening. I had to pull my car away from the wreck as it burst into flames, after stopping the passenger from fleeing as the driver ran down College toward the greenbelt.

In the last wreck at this corner, five teenagers in a stolen Honda roared up College eastbound toward 14th, crashing into the curb, taking out two trees, up onto the sidewalk where they nearly hit a group of kids on the corner. The suspension was damaged and they all jumped out of the moving vehicle which rolled up onto the sidewalk across 14th and landed against a retaining wall. The motor was still running and I saw there were no keys. I had to pop the hood and pull the plug wires to stop the engine. Every six months or so my neighbors and I have to deal with carnage on this corner. Luckily we have great neighbors around here. Any time something happens everyone is out on the street within seconds. Police and Fire respond within minutes. It’s a great place to have a disaster. Everyone does their part. I wish I could say the same for SDOT.

The bicycle lane on 14th gets painted every three months, but the center yellow line does not. SDOT just painted the center line after the accident, but before it was barely visible.

Cars speed on this section of 14th because it is engineered to be a speedway. Northbound Beacon traffic hits the “slip lane” (SDOT’s term) at 14th and takes the turn at full speed, bypassing the four way stop intersection, just as the traffic engineers designed it to. At the end of the “slip” lane the driver looks north on 14th and sees a green light three blocks down at Hill, and nothing in between. There is no cross walk, curb bulbs, signage or anything on 14th to tell drivers there is a lot of activity at College, or at Walker.

I just had an application for a crosswalk at 14th and College turned down by SDOT. It costs $15,000 to install a crosswalk. More if you want curb bulbs. For $30,000 we could install crosswalks at College and at Walker in front of the store.

SDOT said they did not see 20 people per hour cross at College, and the intersection is under bus trolley power lines, which is apparently a problem. Those are their reasons for doing nothing.

For comparison our lovely “Greenway” just cost $420,000 for a little over two miles and there were no accidents recorded at any of the intersections affected by the Greenway, according to SDOT. Except for the weirdness at Beacon and Hanford, most of the Greenway seems to consist of lots of stop signs in inexplicable locations and bicycle stencils on a quiet neighborhood street. Other than that, 18th is the same as it’s been for the last 100 years: missing sidewalks, curbs, and gutters north of College.

SDOT has the police reports. They know the accident numbers. Why is all the focus on an already safe Greenway, when we have truly dangerous roadways that are due to “bad” driving, but also due to “bad” traffic engineering, or lack of any engineering at all, like at College and Walker?

We need crosswalks, curb bulbs and ramps with “Stop when pedestrians are present” signs at College and at Walker. SDOT is installing crosswalks like this all over the city but there is not one on Beacon Hill. Why not?

The “slip” lane has got to go. It sends cars speeding through the intersection creating conflict with traffic merging onto 14th from the four way stop. Often vehicles “slip” through in a train of several cars. If the first car accelerates, they all do, while tailgating. That is when the honking and screeching of tires happens at College where the northbound vehicles are moving 40+ mph. The vast majority of honking and tire screeching interactions involve a speeding northbound vehicle on 14th and a westbound vehicle on College turning in either direction onto 14th. Most accidents involve a northbound vehicle on 14th.

The light at Hill is always green unless someone presses the button to cross. It simply draws drivers forward. Drivers think they need to make the light before it turns red, but it never changes unless a pedestrian pushes the button. Even the buses speed down this section of 14th. Maybe the light at Hill should be replaced with a yellow yield or crosswalk light with curb bulbs and a more visible crosswalk. What is the point of a 24/7 green light?

Beacon Hill should be paying more attention to what SDOT is doing or not doing in our neighborhood. The thing to remember about SDOT is the Mayor pretty much has all the control. There is little the City Council can do except approve or disapprove the Mayor’s plans. Just like the rest of us.

Mark Holland is a long time Beacon Hill resident, a founding member of the Jefferson Park Alliance (JPA), and served on the Jefferson Park Planning Committee (JPPC) during the North Beacon Hill Neighborhood planning process from 1998-2000.

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

View Larger Map. The “slip lane” shown on the right in this satellite image is hazardous, says Mark Holland.

Pilot project could bring better broadband to Beacon Hill

by Mira Latoszek

Slow and unreliable internet service is a problem for many Beacon Hillers even though we live minutes from downtown Seattle and the headquarters of companies like Amazon and Microsoft. According to UPTUN (Upping Technology for Underserved Neighbors – an advocacy group for reliable cable and high-speed Internet at an affordable cost), Seattle’s permitting process for installing new broadband cabinets is part of the problem.

The process is slower and more restrictive than that of other cities, causing hold-ups or cancellation of several broadband upgrade projects planned for 2012 and 2013. Robert Kangas, a Beacon Hill neighbor and member of UPTUN, released a presentation comparing Seattle’s process with that of other cities. It’s worth reading if you wonder why your house is still stuck with 1.5 Mbps DSL.

In February, Bruce Harrell sent a letter expressing support for a broadband pilot project on Beacon Hill to the North Beacon Hill Council. The project would allow CenturyLink to deploy two fiber-to-the-node sites and provide homes near the sites with 80-100 megabits/second broadband speed before the end of 2013. If successful, the approach could be followed in other parts of Beacon Hill and Seattle.

On Wednesday, June 5th at 2PM, the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee of the Seattle City Council will discuss the proposal. The discussion will take place in the City Council Chambers at Seattle City Hall. The Committee will discuss the issue in its next scheduled meeting on June 19th and vote on whether or not to support it. If the proposal is approved by the committee, it will then move forward for review and approval by the whole Council. The agenda for the meeting is available here.

In addition, there will be a presentation and discussion of the pilot project tomorrow night (Tuesday, June 4) at the North Beacon Hill Council meeting at 7 p.m. at the Beacon Hill Library. Representatives from CenturyLink will present the details of the pilot project and be available to answer questions. Details of the two areas for the pilot can be viewed in this document.

Much depends on the support of the community. A number of Beacon Hill residents will attend the meeting on Wednesday to testify in support of the pilot project, but more support is needed. Please show your support by attending the meeting if you are available or by sending an email to Bruce Harrell ( and other City Council members.

Plaza Roberto Maestas project moving forward

A proposed design for the plaza and stage at the Plaza Roberto Maestas project.
A proposed design for the plaza and stage at the Plaza Roberto Maestas project.

To the community from El Centro de la Raza:

In late February El Centro de la Raza presented to the community its latest designs for Plaza Roberto Maestas (PRM). We have been delayed in getting this post out to the wider community by the significant fight for State housing resources for this project in Olympia right now. PRM is the mixed-use community-inspired transit oriented development project that will be built on El Centro’s currently vacant south parking lot, next to the Beacon Hill Light Rail Station. It will be 113 units of affordable housing over 30,000 square feet of daycare, multi-cultural community center, retail/restaurant and office space. The latest design renderings incorporate feedback gathered from over ten community meetings and focus groups that took place in 2012. ECDLR just scheduled its first City of Seattle Early Design Guidance meeting for June 25th at 6:30pm at Wellspring Family Services on Rainier Avenue. This meeting will kick off our permitting process and is open to the public.

A rendering of a design for the 17th Avenue South side of the project.
A rendering of a design for the 17th Avenue South side of the project.
Plaza Roberto Maestas will be built in the spirit of Dr. King’s “Beloved Community.” It will be a physical place that honors the history and culture of El Centro de la Raza, while serving as a “town center” gathering place for the larger Beacon Hill community to utilize and enjoy.

For those that have not been able to attend community meetings to date, we have compiled this post and the following Frequently Asked Questions to maximize information sharing and community awareness of the project. In the near future, El Centro de la Raza hopes to co-host a meeting with the North Beacon Hill Council, Beacon BIKES and SDOT to talk about parking, traffic and pedestrian safety in the Beacon Hill neighborhood around this project. We will announce a date for this meeting soon.

Please feel free to contact Kate Gill de la Garza, Project Manager, with any questions about PRM. She can be reached at 206-860-2491 ext. 202 or at

Read on for the FAQs about the Plaza Roberto Maestas project:
Continue reading Plaza Roberto Maestas project moving forward

Opinion: Greenway improvement at Beacon/Hanford hazardous, unnecessary

A car crosses Beacon illegally at the Hanford/Beacon intersection, which was recently revised to “right turn only” for cars going east/west. Photo by Wendi Dunlap/Beacon Hill Blog.
By George Robertson

I drove the length of the Beacon Hill Neighborhood Greenway from the freeway to Jefferson Park on April 7. It was parallel to my usual route and I was curious. There were no bikes anywhere to be seen on the Greenway, but I did see two bicyclists pass northbound on Beacon Avenue when I was parked for a minute or two at South Hanford Street and Beacon Avenue South contemplating what to do about a traffic revision blocking my path. I could have chosen backing up a block and illegally around a corner to get back onto 18th, after discovering that anyone headed for Victrola on the opposite side of Beacon Avenue now needs to make a right turn, a U-turn, and another right turn to get across Beacon Avenue on Hanford Street. I’ll use my Fifth Amendment right to deflect any questions about which option I chose to find a route across the street.

The car counts and traffic history of the intersection at Beacon Avenue South and South Hanford Street prior to the recent “improvement” have been normally uneventful, and there is simply no reason for obstructing any normal vehicular access in any direction to continue safe bicycle use at that intersection. Yet we see a river of money being wasted there inconveniencing and endangering the high frequency of bicyclists using that intersection bound north-south on Beacon Avenue South, in favor of nearly mythical bicycle usage frequencies east-west on South Hanford Street.

The newly created islands at Beacon and Hanford are a hazard to bicycle traffic. They create a choke point in the north-south traffic flow on Beacon Avenue. There are north- and southbound bus stops in both curb lanes of Beacon Avenue South at South Hanford Street. The new concrete traffic islands squeeze all north- and southbound through traffic into a much narrower than usual lane width on either side of the concrete island. The new concrete islands block and occupy what used to be, and is everywhere else, the relatively traffic-free safe refuge area provided by a continuous two-way center left-turn lane. The hazard that represents to bicyclists on Beacon Avenue South should have been sufficient reason to prevent the islands from ever being built. But it did not. Now if we want to prevent inevitable injury at that intersection, we are faced with having to overcome the inertia of embarrassed SDOT engineers to remove the three recently built left-turn-lane-blocking islands there. I hope that public opinion will help that process move swiftly.

The needless disruption of normal turning movements of automobile traffic into and out of the neighborhoods east of Beacon Avenue South from and across Beacon Avenue, both westbound and eastbound, should motivate residents there to call for remedial action. When you consider that South Hanford Street is the only street connecting with Beacon Avenue South that goes east of 19th Ave S. between South Spokane Street and South Stevens Street, interfering with left turns southbound on Beacon Avenue South represents a very significant disruption of normal traffic in and out of a very large neighborhood area east of Beacon Avenue for hundreds of families every day. Rerouting daily east-west trips on South Hanford that would go left or cross Beacon Avenue, to South Stevens Street or onto the already overloaded Spokane Street unfairly burdens their neighbors living on the South Stevens Street route with the displaced traffic. The new median islands and traffic restrictions at Beacon Avenue South and South Hanford Street are, unsafe and are frankly ridiculous traffic engineering overkill. Bicycles and bicyclists as a special interest group do need to be accommodated, on every street, but not to the point of reckless endangerment and/or exclusion of other rightful users of the streets.

George Robertson is a Beacon Hill resident of more than twenty years, an architect, an artist, and an occasional writer of self-described “often-incendiary rants that annoy the neighbors.”

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

Some anonymous neighbor expressed his or her opinion about the revisions at the Beacon/Hanford intersection by stickering one of the new signs there. Photo by Wendi Dunlap/Beacon Hill Blog.

Students participate in El Centro phone bank for school levies

Chief Sealth students participate in a phone bank in support of the school levies. Photo courtesy of Mwiza Kalisa.
Chief Sealth students participate in a phone bank in support of the school levies. Photo courtesy of Mwiza Kalisa.

by Mwiza Kalisa

Schools First, a non-profit volunteer-led organization that conducts Seattle’s public school levy campaigns, is seeking volunteers for phone banks at the organization’s headquarters. Yesterday evening, Chief Sealth High School students, parents and community members made calls at Beacon Hill’s El Centro de la Raza to remind voters to renew two upcoming school levies.

On February 12, Seattle voters will be asked to renew two property-tax levies that bridge state funding gaps and support facility improvements for Seattle Public Schools. Proposition 1, a $551.9 million Operations Levy, will provide funding for approximately 27 percent of Seattle Public School’s operating budget over the next three years. The school levy will help fund teachers’ salaries, textbooks, transportation, a sixth period for high school, and security and special-education programs, among other basic day-to-day costs not fully funded by the state. Proposition 2, the $694.9 million Capital Levy (BEX IV), will provide funding to maintain, improve and expand school buildings. Both propositions are renewals of existing levies. If approved, these levies would cost the owner of a $400,000 home $13 a month over what the homeowner pays on the expiring levies.

Blanca Olivera, a student at Chief Sealth High School, joined the volunteer callers at the event. “I think [the levies] are going to help us at the end of the road for everything we need,” she said. Olivera added that some of the challenges her school faces are large classroom sizes and outdated technology.

Phone bank opportunities for volunteers are Friday and Monday 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the McKinstry Innovation Center, 210 S. Hudson Street. Students who are interested in participating can receive community service hours.

Contact Kerry Cooley-Stroum at or Dayna Lurie at for more information.