Category Archives: News

SCCC plans for Pac Med still up in the air

As the Seattle Times reported on Monday, the plan for Seattle Central Community College to move programs into the Pac Med building is in no way a done deal.

For the move to take place, the state Senate and House much must reach a budget deal to fund renovations to the landmark building, now officially called Pacific Tower and mostly vacant since Amazon moved out in 2011. The House capital budget allocates money for the project, but the Senate does not have a matching measure. Time is running out — the legislative session ends on Sunday.

If the plan falls through, the Times reports that a developer has proposed converting the building to high-priced apartments. Either way, the building’s owner, the Pacific Hospital Preservation and Development Authority (PDA), needs to get a tenant in there sooner, rather than later. The PDA normally uses income from leasing the building to provide grants to nonprofit organizations providing charity health services.

If you feel strongly either way about the college leasing Pac Med, now is the time to contact your State legislators who represent Beacon Hill:

Adam Kline, Senate, 37th District; Bob Hasegawa, Senate, 11th District; Sharon Tomiko Santos, House, 37th District; Eric Pettigrew, House, 37th District; Zack Hudgins, House, 11th District; Steve Bergquist, House, 11th District.

Seattle Central exploring possibility of moving some programs into Pac Med

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.
New life may be coming to the mostly vacant PacMed building (Pacific Tower) on the northern tip of Beacon Hill. A neighbor at Seattle Central Community College forwarded us this memo from college President Paul T. Killpatrick:

As some of you may have heard, Seattle Community Colleges has been approached by area legislators and community members to consider leasing a portion of Pacific Tower on Beacon Hill. The Tower currently houses the Pacific Medical Center Beacon Hill Clinic on the first floor. The upper floors, formerly occupied by Amazon headquarters, are now empty. Initially, the District considered creating a district-wide program for the PacMed facility. When that did not look feasible, Seattle Central suggested consolidating our growing Allied Health programs in the Tower.

The College has proposed remodeling between 86,000 and 106,000 square feet of the Pacific Tower to house the College’s Allied Health programs, including Dental Hygiene, Nursing, Respiratory, Surgical Technology, and Opticianry. Renovation cost of the Pacific Tower is estimated to be approximately $27 million and the legislators have indicated they will seek funding for the lease and the renovations needed. Vacated space in our current buildings will be remodeled for much needed additional classrooms.

The Pacific Medical Center has expressed an interest in working with Seattle Central Community College to offer clinical training opportunities for Seattle Central’s Allied Health students at the Pacific Medical Beacon Hill Center and at eight other PacMed clinics in the region. Several other complimentary agencies and programs have also expressed interest in joining Seattle Central Community College to lease the remaining space in the Pacific Tower. These agencies include the Cross Cultural Health Program, NeighborCare, Neighborhood House, Philanthropy Northwest, 501 Commons, and Fare Start.

While this is an exciting opportunity for Seattle Central Community College, everything is contingent upon the Legislature approving the capital funding for this project. In addition, many details have yet to be worked out as this project involves several different agencies and partners. We will update the campus community with more information as it becomes available.

This is an interesting possibility for the much-loved landmark building, and for students at Seattle Central. The Allied Health program is a good fit with the historic and current uses of the building. Stay tuned for more information on this project.

Hit-and-run victim seeks witnesses of 3/25 accident

Abde Elshafei. Photo courtesy of Niko Kirov.
Abde Elshafei. Photo courtesy of Niko Kirov.
We recently received the following message from a neighbor:

From Abde Elshafei and Family:

Dear North Beacon Hill Neighbors,

I moved to the neighborhood last August in a house that my friend Niko purchased on 12th Ave S. I have experienced nothing but a very friendly and cool vibe from all my new neighbors.

That changed this Monday, March 25th. While riding my bicycle back from the Red Apple market I was struck by a car on the 13th Ave S and S Stevens Street intersection. The impact knocked me completely unconscious, broke my pelvis, injured my shoulder and I received a severe concussion that included bleeding internal to my brain.

I was fortunate enough to survive the accident and I am very grateful for that and I just found out that a few friendly neighbors near that intersection immediately came out to help me and called emergency services.

Unfortunately, the driver that struck me fled the scene and my family and I have been unable to find out who that driver is. The knowledge that we do have is that they were going down south on 13th Ave S in a white or grey sedan and that they made a quick left on S Winthrop Street.

I ask anybody who has any knowledge of said incident to please contact my friend Niko via phone or e-mail. His information is below:

Niko Kirov
(206) 419-8964

Thank you for your help,
Abde and Family

Did you see anything on Monday, March 25 that could help identify this hit-and-run driver? Please contact Niko Kirov or the Seattle Police if you can help.

Heritage tree removal still stirring up conflict

Blue Atlas Cedar, by J and R Photography via Flickr/Creative Commons.
The February removal of the heritage Blue Atlas Cedar tree at North Beacon Hill’s Garden House continues to generate controversy. Two local arborists who examined the Blue Atlas contacted the Beacon Hill Blog to give additional testimony about the tree’s condition and the events preceding the tree’s removal. The arborists expressed concern that statements by Garden House trustee and rental agent Carolyn Nickerson in an earlier Beacon Hill Blog article (“Removal of Garden House Blue Atlas Cedar surprises community,” Andrew Hamlin, March 3) inaccurately represented the professional advice given by the arborists and the resulting decisions made to remove the tree.

In the March 3 article, Nickerson stated:

“…We hired an arborist to climb and inspect the entire tree to evaluate its health and possible remedies [for $400]. It was his opinion that the tree needed to be thinned, bolted, tied in various places to keep it from dropping other limbs. (I think that estimate was $1000, maybe less.) Before making a decision we had a second arborist inspect the tree and give his opinion and write a report [on] what he thought should be done. On a danger scale of 1-10 the tree was a 9. Part of the tree hung over the neighbors’ house, part over the sidewalk and street and part over our lawn area where children and adults gather for various occasions.”

Local arborist Oliver Bailey said in an email to the blog: “We [Bailey and Sue Nicol] are the arborists who actually evaluated the tree and recommended preservation. The most damning inaccuracy [in the original story] is the ‘9 out of 10’ scoring on the tree evaluation (false). The entire Heritage Tree Committee and others are group emailing about how we scared the Garden House into cutting the tree down and this was devastating news for us both.”

Bailey continued: “I brought [Sue Nicol] in after completing my report to objectively review my report, inspect the tree and attach a letter stating her second opinion. She is a highly decorated and respected Consulting Arborist. She’s one of Plant Amnesty’s highest referred Arborists. In a nutshell she thought I was exactly right about the tree. Because I proposed a viable preservation plan in my report she added another idea which was to fence off the area directly below the tree on Garden House grounds. However, that was not an option on the public sidewalk, street, or neighbor’s property, all of which were directly under these massive 30″ diameter limbs (yes, diameter, not circumference!)”

Bailey added: “[An inaccuracy] was that I aerial inspected the tree for $400. It was actually $160. Garden House is a non-profit with steep monetary problems. I was always particularly gentle with them.”

Sue Nicol, in her own email, said: “Oliver asked me to assess the tree to confirm/reject his aerial inspection of the Cedar in question in terms of risk. He apparently does not have the Risk Assessment Certification, which I do. I reviewed Oliver’s report and met with him on the site to look at, and discuss the tree. I then wrote my report, backing up his assessment. We both felt that the tree was actively failing, was in a location with significant targets underneath it, had a decayed leader at the top which was supporting a great deal of weight, and needed several actions taken to reduce its risk.

“I wrote in my report,” Nicol continued, “that if the client refused to take on those actions, that the tree needed to be removed. I felt, and still feel, that this tree could not be left to fend for itself. The likelihood of continuing branch failure was too great to do nothing. I did not meet with the clients, since they were Oliver’s clients. Oliver was my client and he paid my bill.”
Continue reading Heritage tree removal still stirring up conflict

Removal of Garden House Blue Atlas Cedar surprises community

"Hard to watch this beautiful old tree being cut down limb by limb," tweeted Beacon Hill neighbor @n_e_x_u_s when he posted this picture on February 16.
“Hard to watch this beautiful old tree being cut down limb by limb,” tweeted Beacon Hill neighbor @n_e_x_u_s when he posted this picture on February 16.
Beacon Hill residents were surprised, and some of them dismayed, to find late last month that the Garden House at 2336 15th Avenue South had lost one of its prominent outdoor fixtures. The Blue Atlas Cedar, designated as a Seattle Heritage Tree, had been cut down by the Garden House, headquarters for the Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs.

According to Carolyn Nickerson, trustee and rental agent for the Garden House, the Blue Atlas Cedar had presented trouble going back to 2011, when “during some windy weather a large branch on the east side of the tree broke off and fell on the lawn. We didn’t think anything of it and had it chopped up and disposed.

“Then in 2012 without windy weather a huge (maybe 30′ long) [branch] broke off, fell to the west across the iron fence, sidewalk and to almost to the center line of traffic. Luckily it missed a parked car by a couple of feet, didn’t hurt any pedestrians or passing traffic. We called the city for help and they came, stretched out some yellow tape and told us they had no funds for trimming/cutting or removing the branch. We hired someone for approximately $600.00 to remove it.

“After the second branch fell,” Nickerson continues, “we hired an arborist to climb and inspect the entire tree to evaluate its health and possible remedies [for $400]. It was his opinion that the tree needed to be thinned, bolted, tied in various places to keep it from dropping other limbs. (I think that estimate was $1000, maybe less.) Before making a decision we had a second arborist inspect the tree and give his opinion and write a report [on] what he thought should be done. On a danger scale of 1-10 the tree was a 9. Part of the tree hung over the neighbors’ house, part over the sidewalk and street and part over our lawn area where children and adults gather for various occasions.”

“Apparently when a tree is very old,” she finishes, “it starts ‘sloughing’ its branches. This is not caused from wind or rain/snow but a natural way of a tree living its latter years. Since each of these branches weigh more than 500 lbs we had to consider the liability and danger it imposed on the community. Our neighbors to the south have asked that we trim all branches from hanging over their land. All in all we decided that we needed to consider cutting the tree down because our insurance wouldn’t cover damages that would be incurred by hurting someone or something through this process.

“After discussing our options and liabilities the board voted unanimously to pursue cutting down the tree.”

Local tree and plant expert Arthur Lee Jacobson first became aware of the Blue Atlas in 1999, when it was nominated as a Heritage Tree. He wrote the description for the commemorative plaque that went with it.

“It was not sick,” according to Jacobson, who adds, “Atlas cedar limbs break, on some specimens often; but their foliage is usually dense and healthy except if the spring is sopping wet and there is too much summer irrigation. Then they can present a gaunt, unhealthy look.”

Asked whether the tree should have been cut down, Jacobson replies, “No. The decision motives were not shared with me. But I did read e-mails from experienced, careful, arborists who looked at the cedar, who judged that with careful pruning it could remain a safe and valuable asset rather than a liability. If the Federation of Garden Clubs based its removal decision on grounds of insufficient money, then that could have been addressed via fundraising. If the decision to remove was based on a report written by an inexperienced arborist, that generated fear — while cooler, wiser counsel was ignored, then that is a pity.”

Beacon Hill neighbor Robert Hinrix isn’t happy about the Garden Club’s decision. “I put quite a few hours into trying to save the tree, having written to the head of the board of the Garden House offering to put together volunteer arborists to maintain it, and to do fundraisers to help them pay for it. They did not respond positively. I spoke with other arborists who contradicted what their hired arborists had said.

“I also spoke with Arthur Lee Jacobson who wrote the book on Heritage Trees, and Cass Turnbull from Plant Amnesty. The tree was not sick at all, but Blue Atlas Cedars do lose branches when mature and need ongoing maintenance. The Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs had little interest in the maintenance of Beacon Hill’s heritage tree, and was only concerned about insurance and financial issues. The easiest, simplest thing for them was to cut it down.

“For me,” continues Hinrix, “it is an allegory for how we’ve lost all control of an important resource in our community (the Garden House itself). Don’t expect them to plant another tree to take its place. I’m glad I was out of town when it happened.”

Hinrix adds, “There are complex issues associated with insurance, the neighbors, various camps of arborists, a somewhat dysfunctional city commission that is responsible for Heritage Trees in Seattle, and the misplaced priorities of the board of the Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs. I do believe it points to the need for the community to work hard to find a way to increase our control over the Garden House, to make it a better resource for our community. If we don’t, we could find it sold (or a portion of it, one of the lots) out from under us…”

Cleveland HS girls win state 3A basketball championship

Congratulations to the Cleveland High School girls’ basketball team, who won the Washington State 3A basketball championship last night by 45-43 in a nail-biting finish after losing an 18-point lead earlier in the game. Read more in the Seattle Times.

South Seattle boys also found victory in a close game last night as Rainier Beach High School won the 3A championship over Lakeside in overtime, 62-59. It was the Vikings’ second title in a row and their fifth title since 2002. Coach Mike Bethea has now won a record six state championships, putting him ahead of Phil Lumpkin (O’Dea), Al Hairston (Garfield), and Ray Ricks (NW Christian-Colbert), each of whom guided their teams to the top spot five times. More here.

The Franklin High School boys fell to Rainier Beach 59-73 in Friday night’s 3A semi-final, and ended up in fifth place after losing to Lincoln 69-77. More here.

Beacon B.I.K.E.S. has new co-chairs

Photo by Dan Bennett in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool on Flickr.
Changes are coming to Beacon B.I.K.E.S.. They posted this notice today on their Facebook page:

Hello Friends, we have some exciting news!

Christine Cole and Ryan Harrison have accepted the passing of the torch as co-chairs of Beacon B.I.K.E.S.! from our distinguished founder, Freddie Merrell and the hardest working man in Greenways, Dylan Ahearn. We seek to not only continue the development of our planned network, but to make sure that it is enjoyed by our immediate neighbors as well as adjoining communities.

We are not however going this alone as we have a vast pool of enthusiastic, action oriented people in our community that share our goal of healthy and safe self-propelled travel to the many great destinations on Beacon Hill. So, we ask for your support going forward and want to make sure that you see us as a resource of experience as well as partners in helping connect our community to itself!

As warmer weather comes, keep and eye out for ways to be engaged in and enjoy all our Greenway has to offer!

Stay in touch…

Christine Cole
Ryan Harrison

Free tax prep help available at El Centro

Unfortunately, it is tax season once again. Fortunately, United Way of King County has opened a free tax preparation site right here on Beacon Hill, at El Centro de la Raza (2524 16th Ave. S.).

In addition to tax preparation, you can also get help with completing your FAFSA (application for student loans for college), applying for food stamps, utility assistance, free credit reports and more.

The United Way Tax Preparation program is free for anyone making under $51,000. Bring photo ID and Social Security cards or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, along with all wage and earnings statements and any other documents needed for tax filing.

The tax prep sessions are open at El Centro on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 9 p.m. (English/Spanish) and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (English/Spanish/Tagalog) until April 15.

Taxpayers may also file for free online if they make under $57,000 at

City announces ‘ultra high-speed’ broadband demonstration project to include Beacon Hill

This map shows the 12 neighborhoods in the planned Gigabit Seattle demonstration project, including part of North Beacon Hill. Click to see a larger copy of the map.
This map shows the 12 neighborhoods in the planned Gigabit Seattle demonstration project, including part of North Beacon Hill. Click to see a larger copy of the map.

The City of Seattle today announced an agreement with broadband developer Gigabit Squared that plans to use the city’s excess fiber-optic capacity to provide an “ultra high-speed” fiber-to-the-home/business broadband network starting in Fall 2013 with demonstration projects in 12 Seattle neighborhoods, including portions of North Beacon Hill and other Southeast Seattle neighborhoods. An additional part of the project is the development of dedicated broadband wireless connections to multifamily housing and offices, and “next generation” mobile wireless Internet.

The City, the University of Washington, and Gigabit Squared have signed a memorandum of understanding and a letter of intent that allows Gigabit Squared to begin raising the capital needed for the first phase of the project.

That’s the good news. The bad news is: only a small part of Beacon Hill is included in the demonstration project (see this map or this map), so this will only improve things for a limited number of residents. However, Gigabit Seattle asks that you sign up on their website to show your interest in having the service so they can determine where to expand next.

Here’s how the city described the plan today in a press release:

1. Fiber to the home and business: Gigabit Seattle plans to build out a fiber-to-the-home/fiber-to-the-business (FTTH/FTTB) network to more than 50,000 households and businesses in 12 demonstration neighborhoods, connected together with the excess capacity that Gigabit Seattle will lease from the City’s own fiber network. Gigabit Seattle’s technology intends to offer gigabit speeds that are up to 1,000 times faster than the typical high-speed connection.

The initial 12 neighborhoods include: Area 1: the University of Washington’s West Campus District, Area 2: South Lake Union, Area 3: First Hill/Capitol Hill/Central Area, Area 4: the University of Washington’s Metropolitan Tract in downtown Seattle, Area 5: the University of Washington’s Family Housing at Sand Point, Area 6: Northgate, Area 7: Volunteer Park Area, Area 8: Beacon Hill and SODO Light Rail Station and Areas 9-12: Mount Baker, Columbia City, Othello, and Rainier Beach.

2. Dedicated gigabit to multifamily housing and offices: To provide initial coverage beyond the 12 demonstration neighborhoods, Gigabit Seattle intends to build a dedicated gigabit broadband wireless umbrella to cover Seattle providing point-to-point radio access up to one gigabit per second. This will be achieved by placing fiber transmitters on top of 38 buildings across Seattle. These transmitters can beam fiber internet to multifamily housing and offices across Seattle, even those outside the twelve demonstration neighborhoods, as long as they are in a line of sight. Internet service would be delivered to individual units within a building through existing wiring. This wireless coverage can provide network and Internet services to customers that do not have immediate access to fiber in the city.

3. Next generation mobile wireless internet: Gigabit Seattle will provide next generation wireless cloud services in its 12 neighborhoods to provide customers with mobile access.

See more about today’s announcement at the Seattle Times, which points out that parts of the East Side already have fiber broadband, and residents of Ephrata in Grant County have “one of the world’s fastest broadband services” — for $45 per month. Some parts of Seattle already have access to this speed as well, including the South Lake Union neighborhood through CondoInternet, which charges $200 per month for their “up-to-gigabit-speed” service. Gigabit Seattle has yet to finalize the rates for their service.

According to the Gigabit Seattle website, “the more interest we have in your area, the higher priority your neighborhood will become.” They ask that all interested people sign up at their website to show interest in receiving this service to their neighborhoods.

Zipcar car sharing service returns to Beacon Hill

Zipcar sign in Washington DC. Photo by NCinDC via Creative Commons/Flickr.
In December 2008 carless Beaconians received an unwelcome Christmas gift when Zipcar announced they were pulling out of Southeast Seattle. The car sharing service had kept a car in a spot at Red Apple for some months. The closing announcement they emailed to customers suggested unhelpfully that the Zipcar location at South Charles Street/Hiawatha Place (on the other side of I-90, near Dearborn, and about 1.4 miles away from the Red Apple site) would be a good alternative. (That location is no longer in service.)

This December, Zipcar is bringing a much more welcome gift: the return of a Zipcar location on Beacon Hill. Two vehicles will be located at the El Centro de la Raza parking lot at 16th Avenue South and Roberto Maestas Festival Street. The cars, a Nissan Sentra nicknamed “Seahawk” and a Kia Soul named “Shapeshifter,” will be available to Zipcar users for $8-10.25 per hour (depending on vehicle) or, in the case of the Sentra, $72 per day.

Along with the Beacon Hill location, there are two other Southeast Seattle Zipcar sites: Rainier Avenue South/South Angeline, and South Othello Street/MLK Jr Way South.