Perhaps you prefer to get your hands dirty. On Sunday, you can do that at one of two community work parties. The Lewis Park work party is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lewis Park, 12th Avenue South and Golf Drive South. Help plant native plants or do other things the park needs. Tools, gloves, water, and refreshments are provided. This is a weekly event.
I am completely sympathetic to El Centro’s need to produce income for their programs while we wait out the zoning process, and I’m excited to see what the long term development will bring to the community. However, I don’t think that a parking lot will add much of anything other than traffic, and it seems like El Centro could develop something, even temporarily, that would coincide better with their values of building the community and serving low income families. Here are just a few ideas to get the ball rolling, with hopes that we can think of more.
A mercado or traditional Mexican market. Stalls are rented for low prices and merchants offer a variety of goods. Mercados in Mexico are crowded, noisy, and kind of amazing. They are full of people shopping and offer choices for low income merchants and buyers to get their foot in the door.
A community garden. Although it wouldn’t be a big money maker, it could directly produce food for low-income people. There are plenty of crops that can be grown year round here with a little help, and classes could be offered. Plots could be given to low-income people and rented to others.
Food carts. How much fun would it be to have a choice between a variety of food carts for any given meal? Food carts can be very minimal, sometimes just a cooler strapped to a bicycle or a lemonade stand. Again, giving low-income people a chance to get their foot in the door of our economy.
Farmers’ markets tend to be seasonal, but I still love them. Even if it were only one day a week, it would leave the space open for other activities the rest of the week while bringing locally grown produce to the community and generating income.
I know that we are already getting a skate park, but I would love to offer up a place for young people in the community to gather. Probably not a big money maker, but still a good idea. Bring back the basketball court?
I know that mini-golf sounds like a weird idea. But think about it. A great family activity, and with a little shelter, it could be a year-round destination. Build some kind of giant Godzilla statue eating the Eiffel Tower and this could put Beacon Hill on the map and employ a lot of people.
We don’t really need a bookmobile since the library is so close, but as a kid this was a highlight of my youth. What other social services or small companies could be brought to the community by truck? Flower shop? Kite shop? Toy store?
Everyone loves a flea market, right? A slightly less-permanent version of the market, it offers a chance to socialize and meet neighbors while you sell your old junk and obtain new junk. Another good foot in the door of the economy.
There has been a lot of talk about creating an outdoor cinema, but it’s hard to imagine a better area than next to the light rail station. It could become a destination for people all along the light rail line and could be in conjunction with many other uses.
What about a mini amusement park? Many rides are designed to be portable and could be cleared out when the time comes to build more permanent structures. Lets be honest, if we had a giant Ferris wheel I would ride it every day. Wouldn’t you?
Beacon Hill is (and historically always has been) aÂ community of mixed incomes, cultures, ages and lifestyles. I am sometimes teased by friends from other ’hoods for what seems like excessive neighborhood pride, but there’s a lot to be proud of! Our Neighborhood Council is an active and effective voice for the community, and meetings are almost always respectful and productive. Even comments on our neighborhood blog manage to stay civil most of the time.
I hope we can maintain the positive and productive tone as the process moves forward to plan the next stages of development activity at El Centro de la Raza. El Centro staff, volunteers, patrons and tenants are part of our Beacon Hill community. I don’t understand the “us versus them” tone that creeps into conversations and comment threads about El Centro—especially when we’re all in the same room. We share the same goals and priorities: making Beacon Hill safe, vibrant and successful for everyone who lives, works, plays, studies and shops here.
El Centro de la Raza is working towards a goal to develop affordable housing, commercial space, and a public plaza. They are trying to build the “beloved community.” The need is real and the goals are attainable. While the process of changing zoning around the light rail station moves forward, El Centro is trying to activate their now-vacant south lot. They want to encourage vendors and food trucks, and to improve security and pedestrian access. Â They also need revenue and are proposing a gravel parking lot with 80 spaces for commuters and sports fans.
In 1972, the “Four Amigos” inspired countless volunteers to pressure elected officials for access to a space that would become a community meeting place. The original Beacon Hill Elementary building was vacant and seemed an ideal location. Their passion and dedication still inspire 38 years later.
El Centro de la Raza is the Center for all Peoples. The name is Spanish; the roots and mission multicultural. Roberto Maestas is the man best known for the occupation that led to El Centro’s foundation, but a photo of those involved in the occupation would make a classic Benetton t-shirt.
Today, the people who seek services (and those who provide them) are astonishingly diverse. Blonde acupuncture clients share the halls with East African mothers picking up children who learned Spanish with their Filipino classmates. Ukrainian seniors wait in line at the food bank staffed by Latino volunteers coordinated by an Asian AmeriCorps leader.
El Centro’s clients and staff are more than culturally diverse. They also represent the economic diversity of Beacon Hill. The food bank and meal programs help our hungry neighbors. Â All services are supported by donors and volunteers who have extra time, money, or other resources to share. Several small businesses and independent nonprofit organizations thrive as tenants in the building.. Public art and cultural events are offered throughout the year.Â El Centro is also the new home for Tots Jam, the toddler music class that started at ROCKiT space.
In addition to the work that goes on inside the building, El Centro advocates for and represents those in our community who might not otherwise participate in the political process. Through translation services, advocacy training, public meetings hosted at accessible times, and other means, El Centro staff and volunteers engage and inspire the community.
I’m not thrilled about parking lots on Beacon Hill. I don’t like any part of the idea. However, I’m willing to support El Centro’s efforts to build a temporary lot while the slow zoning process moves forward. A safe, accessible area with vibrant small businesses is a better short term use of this area than an empty lot. Some small income to help support programs is better than nothing.
El Centro is a vital part of the incredible community I’m proud to call home. They need our help so they can help us.
Oh, by the way…Â a group of diverse community activists are working to secure public meeting space on Beacon Hill. The North Beacon Hill Council is working with the Beacon Hill Merchants’ Association and other groups to request free access to office space in the library. We need a place to share community information and provide storage and meeting space. Please contact the Mayor’s Office and City Council members to support our efforts. We’re not asking people to occupy the space—an email or tweet should suffice.
The North Beacon Hill Council Board is submitting a letter of support for eight groups submitting applications to build new parks or improve existing parks in Beacon Hill. The 40+ people attending last night’s NBHC meeting unanimously supported this motion. Presenters were succinct and provided an impressive amount of information about their respective projects.
The Opportunity Fund is community-driven. A key aspect of the application is how much community support a project has. Â If you would like to share comments, concerns, or enthusiastic support about a proposal, contact Seattle Parks and let them know what you think. Use theÂ comments page or contact Kellee Jones at 206-684-7052 Â or firstname.lastname@example.org, orÂ Susanne Friedman at 206-684-0902 or email@example.com.
Briefly, the eight proposals are:
Volunteers and community members seeking funding to continue efforts to improve Lewis Park, such as clearing invasive species, planting natives, and restoring the natural areas in the park’s ravines
Beacon Hill Youth Soccer Association efforts to improve the youth soccer field adjacent to Beacon International School so that it can be used year-round, by replacing grass with artificial turf
El Centro de La Raza seeking to improve their playground and increase access to the public by upgrading play structure; adding landscaping, outdoor meeting space, green features, and cultural aspects; adding ADA accessibility; and improving the basketball court
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!). Â 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. Â I’ve learned where the dogs live and where the cats like to hide. Â While Tica sniffs, I read the “for sale” and “lost bike” signs on the telephone poles. Â 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. Â People stop and smile and start conversations. Â People reach into their pockets (or go into their houses) to share a treat with Tica. Â 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. Â 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. Â The always friendly library staff and Red Apple cashiers are absolutely bubbly. Â 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. Â I’m amazed by the generosity of our neighborhood. Â 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. Â More experienced parents, please add your suggestions in the comments.
Have you ever searched “Beacon Hill” on craigslist? Â 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:
If you’d like to donate children’s items or know a family in need, Wellspring Family Services operates the Baby Boutique. Â Their “urgent needs” wishlist includes: carseats, maternity clothes, shoes, and personal care items (shampoo, lotion, etc). Â The Baby Boutique serves kids of all ages, from newborn to teenager. Â 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. Â 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:
On Tuesday, February 10, the Hearing Examiner’s Office conducted a prehearing conference regarding the appeal filed by Frederica Merrell to vacate the Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) for the North Beacon Hill Neighborhood Plan update. There was also a prehearing conference for the appeal against the Othello update. The North Rainier (a.k.a. Mount Baker) appeal will be heard by the Hearing Examiner on February 16.
These meetings are the first of many steps to examine the merits of the identical appeals filed by separate individuals against the Neighborhood Plan updates. These meetings are costing City of Seattle taxpayers money and taking staff time away from other DPD business. They are also delaying any progress on the work plans associated with the Neighborhood Plan Updates and halting any development and/or design plans for the sites involved.
El Centro de La Raza has lost $75,000 in funds offered to help them begin preliminary community outreach to discuss design and development ideas for their property. They cannot begin to move forward on developing their site until there is some indication that zoning issues will be resolved. El Centro is a valuable community partner. They would like to develop their property in the best interests of the neighborhood. They cannot begin the conversation about how to do that until the zoning issues are resolved.
Let’s be very clear: the Neighborhood Plan Updates are totally, completely about zoning. The entire point of the Neighborhood Plan Updates—the only reason they were ever developed—was to discuss zoning in the specific areas around the light rail stations. They were not intended to be and will never be replacements for the extensive Neighborhood Plans our communities have in place.
All other issues are red herrings. Concurrency is a completely unrelated issue to the upzone conversation—apples and oranges. The Neighborhood Plan validation process is also completely unrelated—a completely separate process.
This is the core of El Centro’s counter-appeal. DPD can clearly demonstrate that these appeals are too general and many of the complaints are outside the jurisdiction of the Hearing Examiner’s office and outside the scope of the update.
From El Centro’s Motion to Dismiss:
“El Centro de la Raza makes a motion to dismiss this appeal because Ms. Merrell appears to be raising issues related to the passage of the North Beacon Hill Plan, rather than the adequacy of the City’s environmental review. The North Beacon Hill Plan has not been adopted by the City Council yet. No changes to the Comprehensive Plan, nor to the zoning code, have yetÂ occurred. Therefore, any issues related to the North Beacon Hill Plan itself, or related to any potential future zoning change, are not ripe for the Hearing Examiner’s review. In addition, any issues related to the Growth Management Act are not properly before the Hearing Examiner and must be dismissed.
In the alternative, El Centro suggests to the Hearing Examiner that the appeal is essentially limited to a single legal issue: whether the City properly exercised its discretion under WAC 197-11-055, 197-11-060, and 197-11-228 to complete proper environmental review of comprehensive planning documents. We ask that the Hearing Examiner dismiss all other issues raised by Ms. Merrell, as such claims are related to the unadopted plan or possible future zone changes. ”
Unfortunately, it’s going to take weeks (if not months) of public employee time away from actual projects to address these appeals. These appeals are an expensive time-wasting strategy with an end goal of keeping things in limbo.
Development will happen, but it’s going to take years and millions of dollars longer because a very simple zoning question—one that has received a significant amount of community feedback—is not being answered. That’s a shame.
(Melissa is a columnist for the Beacon Hill Blog and recently wrote about speeding drivers on the Hill in her column â€œWalking with Tica.â€)
Like most of you, I’ve been following the posts and news stories about break-ins, robberies, car prowls, and other crimes in and around our neighborhood.Â One of our close neighbors had their car window smashed in a few weeks ago—and none of us heard a thing.Â I try to balance between wariness and paranoia, common sense and complacency.Â Mostly, I try to focus on what I can do to keep our community as safe as possible.
Many people travel during December, leaving their homes for a few days or weeks.Â I encourage you to consider a safety plan for your home while making your travel plans.Â Â Here are a couple of sites with basic safety/crime prevention tips, and here’s my list:
Inform your immediate neighbors that you’re going to be gone and ask them to keep an eye on your car and the exterior of your house.
Leave keys (house and car) with at least one trusted neighbor, along with local emergency contacts and a way to reach you while you’re gone.
For short trips, ask someone to check your mail—just so that there’s foot traffic up and down your porch and to prevent possible mail/identity theft.
Ask someone to brush leaves/snow off your car or to keep an eye on your garage.
For longer trips, either put a hold on mail and paper delivery or ask someone to pick up daily (same with the promotional materials people leave on doorknobs, yellow page books, and other deliveries).
Keep things normal: consider putting a couple of lamps on a timer; if you have holiday lights or use exterior lights, put them on a timer, too; ask someone to bring trash/recycle/yard waste cans to the curb and back.
If you’re planning to be away for more than a few days, consider asking someone to come in and check on your house. There are some very responsible teenagers in our neighborhood.
Find someone you trust to stay in your house.Â Check references and have your neighbors check in on this person.
If you have pets, you’ll need to take them into consideration as well; these tips are for property safety only.Â Special considerations for pets: let your vet know you’re traveling and leave a check or credit card number with them in case of emergency; make sure your pet-sitter has access to travel carriers and driving directions to the emergency clinic; keep copies of pet license numbers and/or microchip numbers current.
Our entire community is safer when we get to know each other.Â Offer to help your neighbors, and ask for help.Â Bring in the trash cans for an elderly neighbor, deliver cookies to a newcomer, and talk to people when you see them outside.Â Â If you see something suspicious or have concerns, share them—not just with the neighborhood mailing list or the blog, but with the household involved.
Those of us with dogs spend a lot more time on the sidewalk than most people—especially now that it’s dark earlier and the weather isn’t welcoming for an after-dinner stroll.Â Tica and I are both very aware of the patterns of our neighborhood: what kind of cars people drive, when folks are home, new neighbors… and of course, who has dogs and what time they’re out.Â We know most of the regulars out walking at various times. I feel like I could reliably identify someone who was out of place, and I’m confident I would notice someone suspicious loading your TV into a van.
Tica and I are a great team to enlist for help watching your house.Â Your block probably has a few dogs out every night for a constitutional—do you know them?Â They’re potential allies.Â The missing piece is knowing how to reach you if there is a problem. Does your next door neighbor have a cell number for you while you’re on vacation?
Wishing everyone a safe, warm winter—at home or away!