Category Archives: News

College plan for PacMed in trouble; apartments instead?

Photo by Wendi Dunlap.
The Seattle Times reports tonight that the state Department of Commerce has rejected the proposed lease agreement that would have put Seattle Central Community College health-training programs and other non-profit agencies in the 1932 Art Deco landmark PacMed building, which most recently housed the Amazon corporate headquarters.

The public authority that owns the building, the Pacific Hospital Preservation and Development Authority, proposed a 30-year lease that would require the state to provide $250,000 in exchange for 60 more days to conduct due diligence evaluation of the building’s condition. The state would prefer 90 days to conduct its due diligence.

The PDA’s governing council has said that if the state did not agree to this lease by Monday evening, they would turn to “other lease alternatives.” The other lease offer on the table is from Lennar, a Miami-based homebuilder that offers a 75-year lease with $25 million in improvements to create 165 market-rate one- and two- bedroom apartments, a gym, and a dining lounge.

The Seattle Central Community College plan, funded with $20 million approved by the Legislature, would use 85,000 square feet for health-training programs, including a new Bachelor of Nursing degree. Non-profit groups focusing on community health would take up the remaining floors of the building.

Funds from renting the PacMed building are used for the PDA’s mission, which is to “champion effective health care for the vulnerable and disadvantaged in our community.” The PDA plans to meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 30, to discuss their next steps.

Added 11:21 p.m.: If you want to let the Pacific Hospital Preservation and Development Authority know your thoughts on the current situation, contact Rosemary Aragon, the Executive Director of the PDA at or by mail to 1200 12th Ave. S, Quarters 2, Seattle, WA 98144. She will forward your letters to the members of the Board.

UPTUN needs you to sign letter about needed broadband improvements

Photo by Gavin. St. Ours via Creative Commons/Flickr.
Upping Technology for Underserved Neighborhoods (UPTUN) needs your help by signing a letter requesting changes that would make it easier for new broadband investments to come to Beacon Hill (and other neighborhoods), improving the speed and reliability of broadband service available to Beacon Hill neighbors.

Here is an appeal from UPTUN’s Robert Kangas, asking neighbors to sign a letter to the Seattle Department of Transportation. To sign the letter, post here with your name (real name, please) and your affiliation — for example, “John Doe (Beacon Hill resident)” or “Jane Doe (Owner, Doe’s Beacon Hill Widgets).”

Hey all, UPTUN’s going to be sending a letter to SDOT to try to force some change to the Director’s Rule that’s effectively blocking new broadband equipment from rolling out in Beacon Hill and the other underserved areas of Seattle. Most of us are stuck with the choice of a cable provider or nothing for high-speed internet. Well, we’re all tired of it. It’s time to take action.

Here’s the letter we’re sending to SDOT / the City of Seattle:

We’re looking to get as many cosigners as possible before we stick copies of this in the mail on Saturday. Will you add your name to the list of supporters of this letter? The more supporters we get, the better the chances of a good, timely outcome. The time to act is now.

Will you put your name down? Will you get your fellow neighbors / nearby business owners to do so, as well? If you’re going to do so, please give me your name and what organization / business or part of the city you belong to. For example: Robert Kangas (UPTUN member) or Robert Kangas
(Beacon Hill resident).

Denise Louie preschool wins $126K grant

denise_louieDenise Louie Education Center at 3327 Beacon Ave. S. is one of three Seattle preschools who will share $470,000 in funding from the 2011 Families and Education Levy as part of the City of Seattle’s Step Ahead preschool program. (The school also has branches in the International District and Rainier Beach.)

The funding will increase slots at Denise Louie for 20 children to attend part-time, for a total grant of $126,240. Denise Louie was one of nine preschools applying for the funds, which were intended to serve low- and moderate-income families of three- and four-year-old children who live in the attendance areas of Seattle elementary schools that are eligible for Families and Education Levy funding.

Slots are available at Denise Louie and the other Step Ahead preschools for the coming school year. To be eligible, children must be three or four years old by August 31, 2013, must live in Seattle city limits, and their family must meet the income guidelines based on family size. See the web page for more information.

“Skateable art” inspires questions, concerns

Jefferson Park neighbors and local skaters had plenty of questions and concerns at a meeting Monday night sponsored by Seattle Parks and Recreation regarding the proposed “skateable art” installation at the Park. Discussion, after the presentation of the project, became intense and occasionally heated. The seats at the Jefferson Community Center were not packed, but most attendees to the meeting had something to say.

Pam Kliment, a planner from Parks and Recreation, opened the meeting by stating that three sites for the skate sculpture had been tentatively chosen in Jefferson Park. Red Bull energy drinks, the sponsor of the project, hope to “have the project in the ground” no
later than August. Kliment added, “Red Bull has dealt honorably with the Parks Department.”

Ryan Barth, identifying himself as a “cheerperson” for local skateboarding activities and by the Parks Department as a representative of the Seattle Sports Advisory Council, praised the city’s “great skateboarding culture.” He mentioned that Red Bull had decided on Jefferson Park after an inquiry into putting the sculpture at Myrtle Edwards Park “didn’t work out,” in large part because of the park’s neighbors.

Bob Snyder, Marketing Manager for Red Bull in Seattle, took the floor. He gave his word that Red Bull was “not here just to advertise our brand,” and the purpose of his company is “to give people and ideas wings.” He said Seattle has been chosen for the skate sculpture out of seven cities originally considered.

Metal artist C.J. Rench showed a short presentation of his previous projects, giving an idea of what the completed sculpture will look like. He mentioned that he’s working in collaboration with Torey Pudwill, a prominent professional street skater, to work on the artistic and skateable aspects of the sculpture at once.

After a short announcement from a man who entered the meeting to say a Pontiac in the parking lot had had its window smashed, Kliment opened the floor to questions and comments.

Frederica Merrell of the Jefferson Park Alliance spoke out against the three proposed sites, saying all three are in heavily-trafficked areas and might also interfere with irrigation. She proposed placing the skate sculpture at Lafayette Avenue South or on the west side of the reservoir at 16th Avenue South. She encouraged Red Bull and the Parks Department to “go back to the site discussion.” She also mentioned that the existing art pieces in the park are attracting graffiti and tagging, so that would be a concern for any new art piece.

Mira Latoszek, also of the Jefferson Park Alliance, wanted to make sure that the skate sculpture would not interfere with the general layout and “flow” of the park: “We worked in the spirit of the Olmsteds [when designing the Park].”

Other discussions involved the level or levels of skating ability the sculpture would require, and whether the piece would attract crime or graffiti/tagging issues. Ryan Barth spoke in favor of installing a graffiti wall that would allow graffiti artists and taggers to express themselves within the limits of the wall, although Merrell seemed skeptical of this idea.

The parties present agreed to meet later in the week to review a map of the park and discuss alternate sites to the three proposed so far.

See the 24-page presentation for the project, including information on the artist and the planned schedule, here.

This map shows the possible locations selected by Red Bull and Seattle Parks for a skateable art piece in Jefferson Park.
This map shows the possible locations selected by Red Bull and Seattle Parks for a skateable art piece in Jefferson Park.

Former 37th District Rep. Kip Tokuda dies at 66

kiptokudaFormer 37th District state legislator Kip Tokuda passed away on Saturday from a heart attack while fishing on Whidbey Island. He was 66 years old.

Tokuda, a Beacon Hill native and graduate of Cleveland High School, represented the 37th District (Central/Southeast Seattle) from 1994 to 2002, where he was Chair of the House Children and Family Services Committee. A third-generation Japanese-American, Tokuda was a founder of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington and the Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Foundation. He also served as the Director of the City of Seattle’s Family and Youth Services Division, and was a member of the board of directors of Prevent Child Abuse America. Before his legislative service, Tokuda was appointed by Governor Booth Gardner as the executive director of the Washington Council for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

In 2012, Tokuda was awarded The Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor of Japan to recognize his contribution to strengthening friendly relations between Japan and the United States, and promoting Japanese culture and the welfare of Japanese-Americans.

Recently, Tokuda was appointed to the city’s Community Police Commission by Mayor Mike McGinn. McGinn responded to Tokuda’s passing today:

“Yesterday the city of Seattle lost a true leader, Kip Tokuda. For decades in Seattle and Olympia he was steadfast in his work for racial justice, for the disadvantaged, and for our youth. He was an inspiration and mentor to many in the community, including me. With his cheerful insistence on doing what was right, he pitched in to guide my transition to Mayor, serve as interim Human Services Department director, develop new Seattle Police Department recruitment policies, and serve on our newly formed Community Police Commission. Seattle was enriched by him, and we will miss him deeply. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and the community that loved him.”

Tokuda’s family released a brief statement, thanking the mayor and adding:

“We also want to thank all the people who have called to express their sympathy. We are very saddened by Kip’s sudden passing and we are still absorbing the shock. We appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers.”

Last year, Tokuda made a video in support of R74, the same-sex marriage referendum that passed in the November election, reflecting on his family and their effect on his life:

Mysterious graffiti gives neighbors jitters

Photo by Reis O'Brien.
This odd symbol has appeared recently on 15th Ave. S. Photo by Reis O’Brien.
Neighbor Reis sent this query to the Beacon Hill Blog Facebook page:

“Hi all. I realize that this is about to sound very paranoid, but my neighbors and I have been noticing these strange symbols appearing on our houses/steps on our street (15th, between McClellan and Spokane).

“Each symbol is written in chalk and all seem to be placed in what seems to be very specific spots on each property (not like a tag, more like a sign). More appear every day.

“Yes, these could just be some very poorly done tag, but we’ve heard stories about symbols on houses used by homeless/burglars/hackers to signify information (open wi-fi, no alarm system, etc.).

“I know this sounds crazy, but I just thought people should be on the lookout for this sort of thing on their property.

“If anyone knows what this symbol may mean (if it means anything at all), please let us know.”

Another neighbor, Stephanie, says “My neighbor keeps getting these on his steps and has been broken into twice. And they seem to be on a few different houses along 15th but only on the east side of the street, between Spokane and McClellan.”

We checked it out and, yes, there are symbols chalked along 15th in front of the houses. However, the symbol is also chalked on a random sale sign tacked to a post south of Spokane Street, next to Jefferson Park and not near any homes at all. Most likely it is just a tag, somewhat reminiscent of the old Dead Kennedys logo (which, according to Jello Biafra, was intended to be “something simple and easy to spray-paint so people would graffiti it all over the place”). If anyone knows otherwise, let us know.

Butane explosion starts $300K fire in North Beacon apartment

A leaking canister of butane gas led to a two-alarm fire in a North Beacon Hill apartment building early Wednesday morning that did an estimated $300,000 damage to the structure. The canister was stored in a refrigerator, and ignited when the fridge cycled on, according to the Seattle Fire Department.

All 32 residents of the building at 1100 S. Massachusetts St. escaped safely, and the Red Cross is assisting those who need shelter.

Local tv stations have photos and video here: KING, KOMO, and KIRO.

Status update: PacMed building plans

Seattle Central Community College is proposing locating its Allied Health programs in Pacific Tower, the former hospital and Amazon headquarters building more commonly known as PacMed. Photo by Wendi Dunlap.
Tom Byers of the Cedar River Group sent a notice this week about the current status of the proposed Pacific Tower/PacMed Building project in which Seattle Central Community College would lease part of the former headquarters of to host Seattle Central’s Allied Health programs including Dental Hygiene, Nursing, Respiratory, Surgical Technology, and Opticianry. Remaining space would be leased to local nonprofits such as Neighborhood House and Fare Start. For the project to move forward, the Legislature needed to include funding in the State budget.

Byers’ message reads:

Dear friends—Here are the most recent developments in the effort to establish the community health college and innovation center at Pacific Tower:

  • Amazingly, supporters of the Pacific Tower project in the legislature were successful on all fronts!
  • The State operating budget includes funding for the lease of the tower as well as provisions enabling the State to enter into a long-term lease for the building.
  • The capital budget included $20 million in funding for the tenant improvements for the community health college and other improvements at the tower.
  • State officials led by Rep. Jamie Peterson have been working with the PDA and its lawyers to agree on the terms of a draft lease.
  • Although all parties agree that a great deal of progress has been made in the last 10 days, the executive director of the PDA has indicated more time is needed to negotiate several points before the Governing Council can make a decision between our proposal and the other option they have in hand.
  • Therefore the hearing and Council vote scheduled for July 9th has been postponed. The new date is 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 25th at Pacific Medical Center’s Beacon Hill Clinic. Please mark your calendars and plan to be there!
  • In spite of all this positive news, the success of our proposal will ultimately be determined by a vote of the PDA governing Council. Your letters of support are making a big difference, but we can’t stop now! We need to continue the out-pouring of community support.
  • Those of you who have not yet have written to the Public Development Authority in support of the proposal are urged to do so now! You can address your letters to Rosemary Aragon, Executive Director, Pacific Hospital Preservation and Development Authority, 1200 12th Ave. S, Quarters 2, Seattle, WA 98144; or by email at She will forward your letters to the members of the Board.

Thank you for all of the support you have given this effort. We will look forward to seeing you at the hearing, and will keep you up to date on any significant developments that occur during the next three weeks.

Tom Byers
Cedar River Group

Lights on to prevent fireworks at Jefferson Park

Fireworks debris at Jefferson Park on July 5, 2009. Photo by Joel Lee.
Lights will stay on well into the night at Jefferson Playfield (4165 16th Ave. S.) on Thursday evening, July 4. Seattle Parks and Recreation plans to activate the field lighting on the artificial turf ballfields throughout the city at 8:45 p.m. to discourage the use of fireworks, which can damage or destroy turf. The destruction of park turf is no small matter; it costs approximately $1.2 million to replace the average full-size artificial turf field.

The lights at Jefferson will be turned off at 11 p.m.

Nominations sought for Maestas Legacy Award

El Centro de la Raza sends this announcement:

Third Annual Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Award

Roberto’s life was dedicated to building the “Beloved Community” through multi-racial unity and he deeply believed that poverty, racism and social inequity could only be eradicated if people of all races came together to do so.

In honor of Roberto and his legacy, the Third Annual Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Award will recognize two individuals, a woman and a man, who have exemplified Building the Beloved Community through multi-racial unity and working to eliminate poverty, racism and social inequity.

El Centro de la Raza will celebrate them and their contributions by making a $1,500 gift in their name to an organization of their choice. Award recipients will be recognized at El Centro de la Raza’s Building the Beloved Community Gala on Saturday, October 5 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

Legacy award applicants can self-nominate or be nominated by someone else. Recipients are asked to participate in a video interview and attend El Centro de la Raza’s Building the Beloved Community Gala.

Deadline for application submission is Tuesday, July 9 (Roberto’s Birthday) 2013 at 5 p.m. Pacific Time. Click here to access the application.