Category Archives: Life on the Hill

Is this your dog?

This cute dog is hanging out at 12th and Massachusetts without a leash.
Neighbor Joseph writes, “Can you help finding an owner for this dog? He hangs out around 12th and Massachusetts. He seems to be friendly and I am sure he lives near by so if anyone knows who he belongs to, I have an extra leash!”

Seattle does have a leash law which requires dogs to be on-leash at all times when on public property, except at off-leash areas. There is an off-leash area on North Beacon Hill at Dr. Jose Rizal Park.

Broadstripe issues resurgent

A flood of messages on the BAN and Beacon Hill neighborhood mailing lists this weekend appear to indicate that over the last several days, widespread connectivity and bandwidth issues have been affecting Broadstripe customers on the hill.

Some neighbors have observed significant packet loss, an issue that has a definite negative effect on data throughput. At 13th and Atlantic, Kevin D. noted when using the website that he was “getting 7% and 8% packet loss regularly. Upwards of 28-31% packet loss as the worst case.”

Amy K., having attended last week’s UPTUN meeting, recommends some people to contact with complaints:

Please send your complaints to Broadstripe and City of Seattle as listed below.

Seattle office: (800) 781-0947
(Monday-Friday) 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. PST
(Saturday) 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. PST
John Bjorn:

City of Seattle:
Office of Cable Communications –
Tony Perez:

Residents in Mid- and South Beacon Hill have Qwest DSL options. Most of North Beacon is too far from a “central office” to get adequate DSL service. Clear wireless internet is available throughout the hill, but many residents find it difficult to get adequate reception quality.

(We, too, are Broadstripe internet customers located near Beacon Ave and South Stevens. Our most recent tests at 8:30 pm show 9 Mbit/sec downloads and 2 Mbit/sec uploads via — we’d love to know what your speeds are like and where. Please give it a try yourself and note your results in the comments.)

Today is Election Day. Vote.

Today is Election Day. In the “Vote by Mail” elections we have now, most of us do not head for our local polling place to cast our votes, but mailed ballots must be postmarked today or returned to a ballot drop box by 8:00 pm. (Be aware that if you get your mail to the mailbox after the final pickup of the day—even if it is before 8:00—you won’t get that November 2 postmark.)

If you prefer to drop off your ballot and save postage (no stamp is required if you use a drop box), there is a drop box at the King County Administration Building, 500 Fourth Avenue. Other in-city drop boxes are in Ballard and the University District. See this page for the list of all drop boxes in King County.

There is another nearby option to vote: the Accessible Voting Center at Union Station, 401 South Jackson Street in the International District. The accessible voting center is intended to provide voters with disabilities the opportunity to vote on an accessible voting unit, but is open to all voters. There is also a ballot drop box at the center. If your mail ballot was damaged or lost, you can vote at the center, but you must bring identification. See more about the accessible voting center here.

King County is estimating a total election return of about 720,000 ballots, or 68 percent of registered voters. Election results will be reported on the King County Elections website at 8:15 pm tonight and updated on following days at 4:30 pm.

Photo by Theresa Thompson via Creative Commons.

Wellspring helps homeless children and families find stability

(This is the second of two articles today about family homelessness and two Beacon Hill-area non-profit organizations that provide services for homeless families and families in danger of losing their homes. The articles are part of a wider project in conjunction with The Seattle Times and other neighborhood news blogs to address the topic of family homelessness. See the project’s home page at the Times and the previous article here at the BHB.)

by Melissa Jonas

Wellspring Family Services is one of the oldest nonprofits in Seattle. They have been continuously operating since 1892, beginning as the Seattle Charitable Society in Pioneer Square. The organization has grown and changed, responding to community needs. For the first time in their 108 year history, all the programs came together in one building when they moved into their Rainier Avenue location. This location was chosen because it’s accessible to public transportation and is close to where clients/client families live. Wellspring also partners with 200 other agencies in Seattle and greater King County, coordinating referrals to identify the greatest variety of resources available. In 2009, Wellspring served over 7257 children and adults.

Invisible Families: The homeless you don’t see

Invisible Families: The homeless you don't see

They squeeze in with relatives, couch surf with friends or camp out in cars. More families are quietly becoming homeless, driven to the edge by a lack of jobs and affordable housing. The Seattle Times and its local news partners tackle the topic together. Project home

One important sign of a successful program is how clients feel about the services they received. Family Services clients are motivated to help the agency in a variety of ways. When she was 5 years old, Rena Mateja raised $506 in coins to benefit Morningsong, the child care program at Family Services. Now she has help! Seattle musician Caspar Babypants (otherwise known as Chris Ballew of the Presidents of the United States of America) has teamed with Rena Mateja and Wellspring to launch the “Kids Helping Kids” fund drive. Caspar was so inspired by Rena Mateja’s success story that he wrote a special song, “Happy Heart”, about her. Each donation, regardless of amount, submitted by September 1, 2010 to Wellspring’s “Kids Helping Kids” contest will be entered into the drawing for a chance to win a song written by Caspar. To participate, kids must register at The winner will be announced on September 23.

A teacher at Wellspring Family Services reads a morning story after picking preschoolers up from shelters. Photo by Melissa Jonas.

Rena Mateja’s mother Sebrena believes in the importance of early learning programs for children and in empowering parents to make good choices for their children. She is a vocal supporter of Wellspring Family Services and a tireless advocate for children and families. Her daughter is following in her footsteps, and they continue to inspire each other towards new achievements. Rena Mateja explained to her mother that she likes helping people because “those people we help, help other people and pretty soon, Mommy, Dr. King’s dream will come alive.”

At Wellspring, homeless families receive assistance with their urgent needs (eviction prevention, emergency housing, rental assistance) and help to address the root causes of homelessness. When a family is homeless they are in survival mode, only able to focus on the immediate issues at hand. Once a family is back in housing the issues that caused them to become homeless start coming to the surface. Wellspring is there to help stabilize them for the long term.

Therapists work with families to cope with and grow beyond the trauma of homelessness, developing strengths so they can face future challenges. Childcare programs provide a safe, stable place for toddlers and preschoolers to spend their days, giving parents the opportunity to take care of their responsibilities. Therapists and experienced teachers create a warm, inviting environment that encourages early learning. Classes and workshops help parents learn positive conflict resolution and develop positive relationships with each other and their children. Wellspring also operates a well-respected domestic violence counseling program.

Case managers help parents navigate services, offering referrals and coordinating the often confusing application processes for housing, health care, food, child care, and utility assistance programs. The goal is to help parents build a stable foundation for their families. On a practical level, the Baby Boutique offers new and gently-used clothing and supplies for children from birth through the teen years. Parents are referred by care providers to stock up on needed items at no charge.

How you can help: Wellspring Family Services is located at 1900 Rainier Avenue South, near the intersection of Rainier and 23rd Avenue South. Donations are always welcome—you don’t have to be a kid to help! Currently, the greatest need at the Baby Boutique is for strollers, car seats, toys and games for older children, and clothing for teenagers. To learn more about Wellspring Family Services’ programs, visit their website. You can also find Wellspring Family Services on Facebook.

El Centro de la Raza offers programs to prevent family homelessness

(This is the first of two articles today about family homelessness and two Beacon Hill-area non-profit organizations that provide services for homeless families and families in danger of losing their homes. The articles are part of a wider project in conjunction with The Seattle Times and other neighborhood news blogs to address the topic of family homelessness. See the project’s home page at the Times and the second article here at the BHB.)

by Melissa Jonas

The first five years of a child’s life are the most likely time for a family to become homeless. According to the United Way of King County, 3388 children and their family members were homeless in King County for the 2010 One Night Count. Many parents reading this will be shocked, but not completely surprised. It’s shocking to think that young children are at such great risk of becoming homeless and unsurprising because raising kids is so challenging—not to mention expensive. Single parent households, low income families, and families who have experienced homelessness in the past are especially vulnerable to losing their housing.

Invisible Families: The homeless you don’t see

Invisible Families: The homeless you don't see

They squeeze in with relatives, couch surf with friends or camp out in cars. More families are quietly becoming homeless, driven to the edge by a lack of jobs and affordable housing. The Seattle Times and its local news partners tackle the topic together. Project home

Families become homeless for many reasons, ranging from purely financial to a combination of social and economic problems. Parents miss work for medical appointments or to care for a child when school/daycare is closed. Extra expenses associated with a new addition can tip a family over the edge from “barely making it” to homeless. Sleep deprivation, clashes over parenting styles, and lack of social support can all push relationships to their breaking point. How would you handle these impossible choices: pay rent or pay for child care that allows you to work? Stay in a violent relationship, or take your kids to sleep in the car? Sleep together in a park or leave dad behind and go to a shelter?

Being homeless is traumatic for kids and parents alike. Parents question their ability to care for their families, sometimes not asking for help because they are afraid of losing their children. School-age children who are homeless struggle in class, and have difficulty making friends. Even very young children are affected by homelessness; homeless children are at greater risk of developmental delays and behavioral problems later in life. Children who experience homelessness are at greater risk of becoming homeless as adults, continuing the cycle of generational homelessness. Helping parents create and maintain a stable home for their children is the one of the best investments a community can make.

A child in Columbia City Park reads cardboard signs intended to raise awareness about family homelessness. The sign in front reads: "We live in a car. Don't just look away." Photo by Melissa Jonas.
Where can families turn when they are about to lose or have lost their housing? The King County 2-1-1 Community Resource Line provides referrals and conducts intake for rental assistance. Those in need can call 2-1-1 or visit to learn about local resources.

Two agencies in the Beacon Hill area provide emergency assistance and long-term support to prevent homelessness and to stabilize families who have lost their homes. These programs work with each other and other agencies across the city to provide the most comprehensive services possible.

For 38 years, El Centro de la Raza has been working on behalf of the “Beloved Community.” Executive Director Estela Ortega told us about some of the organization’s dreams to provide housing on their Beacon Hill property for people of all races, income levels, and ages. Ortega hopes to begin meeting with Beacon Hill neighbors soon to collect design ideas, explain how the project goals fit the North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan, and encourage support for the zoning changes needed for this project. (See previous articles about proposed zoning changes here and here.)

El Centro’s goal is to create a mixed-income building, offering rental rates affordable to very low income individuals as well as workforce housing targeted at those earning 80% of Area Median Income (approximately $60,000 for a family of four). El Centro’s location adjacent to the Beacon Hill light rail station makes it ideal for those who work or attend school anywhere in Seattle. Residents would also benefit from living near the programs already offered by El Centro.
Continue reading El Centro de la Raza offers programs to prevent family homelessness

Walking with Tica (and now Sylvia): Thanks, neighbors!

Judith Edwards welcomes Sylvia to Beacon Hill. Photo by melissajonas.
Tica’s walks are a little slower and a little shorter than they used to be. She also has to share the smiles and praise our neighbors generously dole out. On May 14, we added a third person to our family: Sylvia Grace Foster. Gifts and well wishes started arriving before we even brought her home, thanks to the “doggy grapevine.” The neighbors who walked Tica while Sylvia was being born shared the news of her birth with all our doggy friends. We arrived home to a warm welcome!

Sylvia is napping in one of the many adorable outfits Heather passed down from her kids. I’m enjoying a hot bowl of chicken vegetable soup while the baby sleeps—courtesy of our neighbor Georgia. Judith’s potato soup waits in the freezer for another cool day; I devoured the chicken rice ambrosia as soon as she left it on the porch. Other neighbors have shared gifts, food, support, and tips for raising a baby in Beacon Hill—thanks to you all!

Beacon Hill businesses have also been welcoming, generous, and patient with our new baby. Sylvia’s first outing was to the newly opened The Station, where Luis greeted her like family. We strolled to the Beacon Hill Festival and had lunch afterwards at Baja Bistro and dinner a few days later at La Cabaña (impossible to say which is more family/baby friendly).  Already, we’ve enjoyed two Beacon Rocks! events, visited the library multiple times, and been granted the royal treatment at Red Apple. Sylvia ogles other babies smaller than watermelons at McPherson’s, and enjoys attention from the big kids in strollers at Beacon Hill Office and Mail Center.  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the Piñata Party next Saturday!

Many thanks to all the wonderful, amazing, generous, thoughtful people who have welcoming Sylvia to Beacon Hill.  I hope she always appreciates how fortunate we are to live in this community.

A difficult road still ahead for Art’s on Beacon Hill

A jukebox waits for customers in the coffee shop at Art's on Beacon Hill. Photo by Wendi.
Michael Perrone sent us an email about the status of Art’s on Beacon Hill, the old grocery store site at 13th and Shelton which Michael owns (we’ve posted about it previously), and he gave us permission to post his message:

I am writing to let you know what’s up with Art’s.

The City of Seattle has re-instated my continuous use retail zoning and I will be working directly with them so that I can open my doors to the public. They have granted me the month of April to raise funds on this project and MIXED: FIRST PERSON is on display to the public Friday and Saturday nights through the month. I also received a phone call from a law student in Wisconsin, who for a class, is member of a law team representing Art’s vs. The City of Seattle. Interesting, huh? Thanks to those on your blog who forwarded my plight to the world. At least I know someone in Wisconsin gives a rat’s ass (LOL). I need to raise $25,000.00 to make this all happen. I do not have a lot of time, and if I cannot raise this money this site will be lost as a place of business. The City will not continue the use if I lose this property to foreclosure, due to the predatory loan I got into. I cannot express my Gratitude enough to Jeff Jones, my attorney and Lucas DeHererra DPD, who have both diligently found ways to work together to preserve my dream. Please post this as I need now more than ever to find a solution that will keep this community project going. This has pushed me into Chapter 13, and that light at the end of the tunnel seems far and distant… Thanks for listening, etc., and the opportunity to publicly announce this story; Art’s Gallery will be a grandfathered retail space by late summer 2010, and another neighborhood community based local business can be saved.

If you want to contact Michael, you can reach him at 206-861-6260 or

Walking with Tica: Growing community

Photo by Invisible Hour, via Creative Commons.
When I was cruising the internet 10 years ago searching for the perfect canine companion, I looked forward to having a fuzzy head keep my feet warm on the couch and planned the cool tricks I would teach my new pal. I also started jogging a few weeks in advance, so that I would be in better shape to tire out an energetic young dog (ha!).  I researched food, off-leash areas, doggy daycares and dog walkers.

What I didn’t realize was that over the years, I would get to know every tree and front flower garden in the neighborhood.  I’ve learned where the dogs live and where the cats like to hide.  While Tica sniffs, I read the “for sale” and “lost bike” signs on the telephone poles.  We’ve watched babies grow into kindergardeners. Walking with Tica has shaped the way I interact with my community.

I enjoy casual (and sometimes lengthier) conversations with neighbors—mostly those who spend a lot of time outside, like the dog owners and avid gardeners. Walking with a dog provides an opening for conversation, sort of a secret handshake.  People stop and smile and start conversations.  People reach into their pockets (or go into their houses) to share a treat with Tica.  We exchange cookies during the holidays and keep an eye on each other’s homes on vacation.

It shouldn’t have surprised me that growing a baby brings out the same responses in people.  I’m getting to know an entirely different group of neighbors—the grandmas, the moms without dogs, older kids who feel safe making eye contact with a mom-to-be.  The always friendly library staff and Red Apple cashiers are absolutely bubbly.  People who usually walk quickly from their car to the front door linger on the sidewalk to say hello, ask how I’m doing, or offer baby items.  I’m amazed by the generosity of our neighborhood.  Thank you to all the neighbors who’ve shared baby items, support, and yummy snacks!

Here are some Beacon Hill area parenting resources and places to donate or sell your baby/kid gear.  More experienced parents, please add your suggestions in the comments.

Have you ever searched “Beacon Hill” on craigslist?  I’ve gotten several baby items in perfect condition at a great price. Best of all, I got to meet new neighbors with kids, within walking distance of home!

Baby food, formula, and diapers are always welcome at both of our neighborhood food banks:

El Centro de La Raza, 2524 16th Avenue South, (206) 329-7960.

Beacon Ave Food Bank, 6230 Beacon Avenue South, (206) 722-5105.

If you’d like to donate children’s items or know a family in need, Wellspring Family Services operates the Baby Boutique.   Their “urgent needs” wishlist includes: carseats, maternity clothes, shoes, and personal care items (shampoo, lotion, etc).  The Baby Boutique serves kids of all ages, from newborn to teenager.  Baby Boutique accepts donations on the following days and times: Tuesday 10:00 am – 7:00 pm; Wednesday thru Friday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm; 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month 10:00 am – 2:00 pm; or call 206-902-4270 to set up an appointment. Due to limited space, they cannot accept items larger than cribs or toddler beds.

I’m just getting started with the North Beacon Hill Parents yahoo group.  It seems to be a good place to give away/sell kid items and post questions about everything from preschools to replacing old wood windows. I’m looking forward to interacting more with this group.

If you have pet items you’d like to donate, consider these resources:

Seattle Humane Society offers assistance to low income pet owners.

Rainier Veterinary Hospital is not a non-profit, but they do help people and pets in need. 815 Rainier Avenue South, (206) 324-4144.

The arts are active on Beacon Hill

Proposed Beacon Arts logo by Joel Lee.
It’s an interesting time for the arts on the Hill these days.

Monday night at the Beacon Hill Library, the first meeting was held to organize a Beacon Arts Council. Jessie McKenna of ROCKiT Space reports:

“A group of artists, neighbors and artist-neighbors gathered (Monday) at the Beacon Hill branch of the library and discussed organizing something of a Beacon Arts Council. A few of us volunteered to be on the steering committee for such an organization. We secured a web domain name and a Ning site (a social networking site like the one ROCKiT space uses) and began the process of building an online presence as well as a physical presence. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 5th, 6:30-9:30pm at ROCKiT space (3315 Beacon Avenue South) and is open to all interested parties.

For now, you can find us at”

Speaking of the ROCKiT website, if you go there you can find information on the Beacon Rocks! music festival currently planned for the Lander Festival Street on June 13, July 11, August 8, and August 29. Interested in volunteering? Glad you asked!

In the visual art realm, Beacon Hill may not have any traditional art galleries, but it’s home to one very cool non-traditional one, home_page.project. Artist (and neighbor) Klara Glosova occasionally turns her home into a venue for art. On Saturday she hosted a show called “Nepo” (it’s “open,” backwards), in which the whole house—one lived in by Glosova’s whole family—was filled with art, including sculpture, painting, video, and music: “a visual experience perched on the threshold of spontaneous creative experience and perfected mastery.” There’s even art in the bathroom and the bedroom closet! If you missed Saturday’s show, you can still see it today, March 6, from 4:00-6:00 pm, at 1723 South Lander Street, just a block east of Beacon Hill Station.

If you can’t make it, you can see an overview of the show on Glosova’s website, or check out the review on the Slog. (We previously wrote about the home_page.project in January.)

Zoning may keep 13th Ave coffeehouse closed

Art's on Beacon Hill in the old DeVos Grocery building at 13th and Shelton. All photos in this post by Wendi.
Michael Perrone has a dream for an old grocery store near Maple Elementary School. In his dream, the old DeVos grocery store at 13th and Shelton, closed since 2005, would be a neighborhood gathering place, called Art’s on Beacon Hill. It would contain a coffeehouse with art on the walls, a jukebox, a player piano, and a performance studio. The building would be a resource and asset to neighbors in this mid-Beacon Hill neighborhood.

It hasn’t quite worked out as planned. Perrone painted, cleaned and decorated the old building, using vintage parts salvaged from the old grocery store in many places, and it looks just about ready to open. (In fact, an “Open” sign usually sits in the doorway.) But it remains officially closed, as it has since 2008 when the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) notified Perrone that he could not operate a “community theater” in part of the building.

Old objects found when renovating the DeVos building decorate a vintage display unit in the coffee shop. Owner Michael Perrone's reflection appears in the middle.

The building’s history goes back a long way on Beacon Hill. Louis DeVos brought his family to the Hill in 1908, and in 1909, they moved into a house on South Shelton Street. A few years later, Louis bought the plot of land at 13th and Shelton and built a retail building there, first renting it to an Italian grocer, then establishing his own grocery business. The family business was successful, and eventually grew to include three stores including one at 2718 Beacon Avenue South (currently the location known as the empty “South China Restaurant” lot just south of Beacon Hill Station). Though two of the DeVos stores were closed during the Depression, the store at 13th and Shelton remained open into the 21st century, finally closing for good in August 2005. It was sold to Perrone as a “tear-down” in 2006.

Though the building had operated continuously as a commercial building since it was built in 1915, later in the 20th century the site was rezoned to SF5000 — single-family housing. Existing businesses such as the DeVos Grocery are allowed to continue in operation when their zoning changes, as a “non-conforming use.”

A jukebox and Perrone's dog Sebastian in the area of the building that was intended to be a coffee shop.

If the non-conforming use lapses for a certain amount of time, however, the building reverts to single-family, and a new business can’t go back to the non-conforming use. Seattle Municipal Code 23.42.104 B says: “A nonconforming use that has been discontinued for more than 12 consecutive months shall not be reestablished or recommenced.” There are certain exceptions, but it is unclear whether Perrone’s use of the DeVos building was what DPD required to maintain commercial status as required in the code. Perrone believes so; he did acquire a permit to install commercial-grade electrical service in the building, and he states that he also sold salvage from the building’s old contents to maintain commercial status until the coffeehouse could open.

In 2008, Perrone began using the building’s performance studio. In March of that year, the Beacon Hill Times/South District Journal (now South Seattle Beacon) ran an article about the plans for the former grocery, stating that it would be “a coffee shop, repertory theater and eventually an education center” and home to the Seattle Novyi Theatre repertory group.

In April of that year, a complaint was filed with DPD about his use of the building for theater rehearsals and performances. Perrone says that DPD declared the site in violation, and also told him that he could not legally live in the caretaker’s apartment and would be fined $1500/day for illegally residing there, retroactive to when he bought the building in 2006. “I owe the city a million and a half,” he says.

The performance space at Art's.

Later in 2008, says Perrone, he gave up, feeling pushed into a corner. In frustration, he told DPD “fine, turn it into a single-family residence.” Currently, an open application is on file with DPD to do so.

In the meantime, Perrone still fights to save the building for his original intended use, with pro bono help from a lawyer who grew up in the neighborhood. He has a petition signed by over 150 neighbors who support his plans for the DeVos building. “Only one neighbor said ‘no,'” he points out.

Neighbor Dayna Provitt sent a message to the Beacon Hill Mailing List recently, appealing for help for Perrone:

“My husband and I were so glad to see the building purchased, and Mike’s attempts to put something into this part of Beacon Hill that might help bring a ‘neighborhoody’ feel to the street. … Here’s a guy who’s trying to bring some energy and community building to our neighborhood… and getting stuck in red tape. We’d hate to see this building go back to being an empty space again. … Maybe someone in the neighborhood can help him cut through the red tape and get his project going! Something useful in this space would be so great for our street.”

With no way to legally open the coffeehouse, Perrone has been unable to pay the building’s mortgage since August. It is currently scheduled to be sold at a foreclosure sale on April 2, unless fate intervenes and Art’s on Beacon Hill can open.

The player piano, mostly in tune, awaits coffeeshop customers and performers.

(More photos of the building after the jump.) Continue reading Zoning may keep 13th Ave coffeehouse closed