Category Archives: Politics

Crosscut on Southend Jet Noise

Crosscut’s Eric Scigliano has an interesting article on jet noise in the Southend. The bulk of the article centers around Beacon Hill’s issues with air traffic and noise, but there is a section on Columbia City’s own Ray Akers’ ongoing battle with the FAA and his efforts to keep the Rainier Valley a bit quieter:SeaTac_mitigation_contours-550x440

Twice, in the late ’90s and in 2010, Columbia City realtor Ray Akers caught the FAA extending its northbound departure corridor to the east, past Beacon Hill and MLK Way and over the Rainier Valley (and Akers’ house), with no announcement or review. The first time, he says, the agency relented and restored the original routing. The second time it stonewalled, not even acknowledging the change. Akers got Congressman Jim McDermott’s office to demand an explanation. The FAA’s acting regional director replied that this “Plan Charlie” routing was necessary whenever “localized weather or clouds” impeded the ability of Boeing Field controllers to track Sea-Tac jets visually. Akers replied that this hadn’t been necessary for years previous, and that jets were being rerouted even when no adverse weather interfered.

Eventually the jets stopped crossing into the valley. FAA spokesman Kenitzer says the agency “corrected” the routing after “discovering” it had somehow strayed off course.

“It takes a lot to get the FAA to respond,” says Magnolia’s Robert Bismuth, a longtime private pilot himself. “The FAA has two mandates, safety and commerce, and no mandate about anybody on the ground. It traditionally hasn’t responded to noise and pollution concerns. If you want it to, you have to involve the congressional delegation.”

That’s what worked for Magnolia. In 2009 the FAA proposed lowering the Class Bravo “floor,” the minimum altitude for incoming jets, from 3,000 to 2,000 feet. In familiar fashion, it convened public meetings in Tacoma, Burien and Everett, but none in Seattle where the effects would be most severe.

Bismuth got McDermott and Sen. Patty Murray, both on committees overseeing the agency, to write letters. And he played the safety card: This would drop the floor for the Lake Union seaplanes and other “uncontrolled” aircraft that fly below the jets to just 500 feet. Besides consigning Magnolia and Queen Anne to noise hell, this would come too close to hilltop water and communication towers. The FAA conceded the safety issue and dropped its plans.

Beacon Hill doesn’t hold that trump card, but it may be able to play another: the National Environmental Policy Act, which bars environmental discrimination against poor and minority communities — the sort of neighborhoods that wind up under flight paths all across the nation…

Read the whole article here.

KUOW’s Week In Review: Columbia City Theater Edition


Bill Radke, Knute Berger, Chris Vance and Sen. Pramila Jayapal on stage at the Columbia City Theater on Friday, June 5, 2015. KUOW PHOTO/KARA MCDERMOTT

Last Friday, KUOW’s local news show “Week in Review” broadcast live from The Columbia City Theater. Local politicians and commentators Knute Berger, Bill Radke, Pramila Jayapal, and Chris Vance covered a wide array of topics, often centering the conversation around the Rainier Valley.

“Is Columbia City the new Ballard?” seemed to be the most popular refrain of the hour-long show with many neighbors chiming in and reminiscing about the way things once were and weighing in on the changes that have come to the area.

To stream the show, click here.

City Council District #2 Candidates

Last week marked the official deadline to submit signatures (or $1,200) to be considered a candidate for Seattle’s switch to a new district election system for City Council. That means, all nine seats are up for grabs. The Stranger’s Heidi Groover has an overview posted about what to expect in each race. Here’s her take on District #2:

Where is it?1431629344-newsmap_500wide

Southeast, including Beacon Hill, Georgetown, Columbia City, Rainer Valley, and Rainer Beach

Who’s running?

Josh Farris
Tammy Morales
Bruce Harrell

What’s this race about?

Josh Farris, an Occupy Seattle and anti-foreclosure activist, is a long-shot contender, but he may pull the race leftward by calling for policies like rent control.

The real battle is between Morales and Harrell, and it will likely focus on public safety. Morales has slammed Harrell for being unpredictable in his positions, beholden to downtown interests, and committing to one position only to later vote another way. As Ansel recently reported, between 2010 and 2013, 99 percent of allegations that police used excessive or inappropriate force were dismissed. And of the “11 most-investigated employees—one was investigated 18 times during the three-year period—every single one of them is still on the force.” Harrell was an alternate member of the city council’s public safety committee during 2010 and 2011 and has chaired that committee since January 2012. Morales argues Harrell hasn’t done enough to hold the Seattle Police Department accountable.

Recently—in a move that sure looks like a campaign tactic to respond to Morales’ criticisms—Harrell stepped up his criticism of the SPD in a briefing about its response to this year’s May Day protests, calling the way an officer leapt off his bike to arrest one protester “idiotic.” This is a departure from Harrell’s tone last spring, when he described council member Kshama Sawant’s criticisms of the police this way to KIRO’s Brandi Kruse: “I think it’s a cheap shot to suggest that the officers are out here just aggressively committing acts of violence.”

Columbia City and Rainier Valley Part of Murray’s Vision Zero Traffic Plan

This week, Seattle’s new “Vision Zero” plan to eliminate traffic deaths was announced by Mayor Ed Murray. Since this past year’s alarming spike of dangerous collisions in and close to Columbia City, there’s a been a strong push to make Rainier Ave. safer. While by no means a solution, Rainier and MLK did get specific mention in the plan

 Map TrafficMayor Murray, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and the Seattle Police Department (SPD) launched Vision Zero, Seattle’s plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 through innovative engineering, enforcement and education.

“Our Vision Zero campaign will educate people who drive, bike and walk on how we can all work together to make our streets safer,” said Murray. “We are rolling out a range of new safety improvements that will help get our kids get to school, reduce fatalities on city arterials and make our neighborhood streets safer. Our transportation system must work safely for everyone and this plan will save lives.”

While Seattle is consistently recognized as one of the safest cities in the country, more than 10,000 traffic collisions occur each year. In 2014, 3,449 injury collisions were reported to the Seattle Police Department. Fifteen people died in traffic crashes, including five who were walking or riding a bike.

At the core of Vision Zero is the belief that death and injury on city streets is preventable. The Vision Zero approach emphasizes smarter street designs – forgiving streets that account for human error. When paired with targeted education and enforcement, the effort will save lives.

“Implementing the Vision Zero initiative is vital to creating a safer transportation system,” said Tom Rasmussen, Chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee. “The way we design our streets, enforce the rules, and educate the public does make a difference. But, most importantly, each of us whether we walk, bike or drive must do our part to make our streets safer for all.”

To make Seattle streets safer all, Seattle’s Vision Zero effort will include the following actions in 2015:

  • Reduce the speed limit in the downtown core to 25 mph by the end of 2015.
  • Improve safety at 10 high-crash intersections downtown by eliminating turns on red lights, installing leading pedestrian intervals to give walkers a head start, eliminating dual turn lanes and other engineering improvements.
  • Install 20 mph zones on residential streets in up to ten areas near parks and schools with documented collision histories.
  • Enhance safety on arterials — like Rainier Avenue S, 35th Avenue SW, Fauntleroy Way SW and 5th Avenue NE where 90 percent of serious and fatal collisions occur — by installing speed reductions, radar speed signs and enhanced street designs.
  • Add twelve new school zone safety cameras in six school zones to improve safety for kids as they make their way to and from school.
  • Add seven miles of protected bike lanes, more than 40 crossing improvements and 14 blocks of new sidewalk to make travel safer across all modes.
  • Conduct targeted enforcement throughout the city for school, pedestrian and bike safety, along with enhanced DUI enforcement. SDOT and SPD will work together to educate people in advance of these patrols, so everyone will expect enforcement and better understand the rules of the road…
More specifically:
Reduce Arterial Speed Limits
Review arterial speed limits and reduce to 30 mph or lower. Pair speed limit reductions with tools like radar speed signs and street design changes. Review speed limits through our annual programs and Road Safety Corridor projects. Work with State partners to make changes to State Routes like Aurora Avenue North, Lake City Way NE and Sand Point Way NE. Lower speed limits on the following corridors in 2015:
  • Martin Luther King Jr Way S
  • Rainier Avenue S…
Urban Center Safety
Bring a higher level of safety to Seattle’s Urban Centers, where high volumes of vehicular traffic, transit, pedestrians, and bicyclists merge. Data-driven improvements may include modified signal phasing, traffic calming, protected turn phases and leading or lagging pedestrian intervals at the following locations:
  • Lake City at NE 125th Street and Lake City Way NE
  • White Center/Westwood at SW Roxbury Street and Delridge Way/16th Ave SW
  • Columbia City and Hillman City on Rainier Ave S…

Road Safety Corridors

Reduce collisions through low cost engineering, enforcement and education efforts on targeted corridors including:

  • Rainier Ave S


Latest Cheasty Bike Park Update

Yesterday, Publicola reported the following:

The council also put off (for one week) legislation that would allo8475634_origcate $100,000 in city money (out of an estimated cost of $750,000) to a new mountain bike park in Southeast Seattle’s Cheasty Greenspace, a long, narrow greenbelt that runs between Columbia City and Beacon Hill. Some neighborhood residents have argued that the greenbelt should be preserved as natural space and wildlife habitat. Proponents say it would provide recreation and education to residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, and provide a new connection between Columbia City and Beacon Hill.

Council member Sally Bagshaw said that even if the council does approve the legislation, “that isn’t a guarantee that it’s going in” to the city budget.

4th “Find It, Fix It” Walk with the Mayor Tomorrow (7/29): Rainier and Genesee

As many know, the mayor and the SPD have been hosting neighborhood “Find It, Fix It” walks over the past month. Tomorrow’s (Tuesday, 7/29) is the closest to Columbia City, starting in the Jumbo lot at Rainier and Genesee. Here’s the official release:

Mayor Murray’s ‘Find it, Fix it’ Community Walks, focused on several crime hotspots, makes its way to a fourth neighborhood in Seattle next Tuesday, July 29.14727078612_c38c962b53_b

At the walks, community residents, police, and city officials have been walking together to identify physical disorder and solve it. The three walks already conducted have seen great success with a 40 percent rise in use of the Find It, Fix It application and identification, notification and action taken on graffiti removal, street lighting, litter and garbage clean-up, and trimming overgrown bushes and trees.

The next Find It, Fix It Community Walk
Tuesday, July 29, 7 – 9 p.m., Rainier Ave. and Genesee
Meet in the Jumbo’s parking lot (Map)

7 – 7:15 p.m.

  • Short program featuring Mayor Ed Murray, City Councilmembers Sally J. Clark and Bruce Harrell, City Attorney Pete Holmes, Seattle Police Department officials and department representatives.

7:15 – 9 p.m.

Walk commences along the following route:

  • East S. Genesee
  • South on 37th Ave S.
  • West on S. Oregon St.
  • North on Rainier Ave. S.
  • East on S. Andover St.
  • North on Courtland Pl.
  • East on the Charlestown St. Hillclimb
  • South on 37th Ave S.
  • West on S. Adams St.
  • Walk ends at Jumbo’s parking lot

9 p.m.

  • Walk concludes and department representatives are available for follow-up questions.

We’re scheduling additional ‘Find it, Fix it’ Community Walks that we will announce in the coming weeks. The next scheduled walk will take place on August 12, from 7 – 9 p.m. in the Rainier Beach neighborhood, at the intersection of Rainier and Henderson.

Residents are also encouraged to participate in the August 5 Night Out for Crime in their own neighborhoods. For more information and to register your event, visit the Mayor’s web site.

For more information on Murray’s public safety strategy for Seattle, visit

– See more at:

More on the Cheasty Bike Park

The debate over the Cheasty Bike Park has been dominating the Southend news coverage as of late. The Seattle Times‘ Lynn Thompson has the latest:

Joel DeJong is an enthusiastic advocate for mountain biking. He runs a commuter bike-building company in Fremont, takes his kids out on wooded trails outside of the city on2024180091 weekends and for the past seven years has marshaled hundreds of volunteers to help clean up and restore the overgrown woods near his home.

But his vision for a mountain-bike trail around the 27-acre Cheasty Greenspace on the east slope of Seattle’s Beacon Hill is dividing residents and drawing protests from nature lovers who don’t want one of the city’s few undeveloped parks turned over to active recreation.

The controversy is reminiscent of the fight two years ago when the Seattle Parks Department proposed allowing a private company to operate a zip line in West Seattle’s Lincoln Park, a plan that was shelved after a public outcry.

“Our concern is this will set a precedent, that Parks will take away a natural area of which there are very few left,” said Mark Ahlness, a retired teacher who led the fight against the zip line and is now one of the directors of the Seattle Nature Alliance, which advocates for preserving and protecting the city’s natural areas.

DeJong and other supporters say the mountain-bike trail, which would be the first in a Seattle park, would give youths who aren’t able to get out of the city an opportunity to experience the joy of riding their bikes in the woods. And in the process, they argue, the kids would gain an appreciation of nature and a sense of ownership for the green space.

Read the whole piece here.

Seattle Times on the six 37th District State Senate Candidates

The Seattle Times‘ Joseph O’Sullivan has a piece spotlighting each of the six candidates running for the state senate seat for the 37th district (South Seattle down to Renton). All primary ballots must be postmarked by the 5th…the top two go on to the final election in November. Be sure to read the whole piece here:

Pramila Jayapal has been a community organizer, a book author and an advocate for immigrants, but never an elected politician.page1-463px-LD_37.pdf

“I’ve never really been drawn to politics,” said Jayapal, 49. “I’ve been drawn to working from the outside.”

But now Jayapal and five others are vying to become the two candidates chosen in next month’s primary for the 37th District Senate seat. The top two will move on to the November general election to replace Sen. Adam Kline, a liberal heavyweight who has held the seat for more than 15 years.

The primary field includes Jayapal; attorney and civil-rights activist Sheley Secrest; analyst and teacher John Stafford; entrepreneur and teacher Louis Watanabe; union and civil-rights activist Claude Burfect; and the lone Republican in the race, IT professional Rowland Martin.

Ballots for the by-mail primary must be postmarked by Aug. 5.

Once the election-night Champagne has been drunk, the winner will head south to Olympia to grapple with big-ticket issues such as court-mandated education funding and what to do about an aging transportation network.

A sliver of east Seattle that runs south to include Renton and parts of King County, District 37 includes Seattle neighborhoods, such as part of Beacon Hill, Columbia City, Leschi, Mount Baker, North Beacon Hill, Rainier Beach, Rainier Valley, Bryn-Mawr and Skyway.

Even More Changes to South Seattle Police Leadership

Remember the recent changes to the SPD South Precinct that so many neighbors have been (rightly) concerned about? The Rainier Valley Post broke the news that a permanent (let’s hope) South Precinct leader has been put in place by SPD’s new Chief, Kathleen O’Toole. As the RVP reports, 25-year veteran, Captain David Proudfoot is the new South Precinct commander:

Seattle Police Department’s South Precinct has its eighth new leader in five years.SeattlePoliceDepartment-281x300

On Thursday, Captain David Proudfoot, a 25-year SPD veteran, was appointed the new South Precinct commander by the city’s new Chief of Police Kathleen O’Toole. O’Toole said it was pressure from the community that caused her to act so fast.

“After hearing repeatedly from community members during the selection process of the need for consistent leadership at the South Precinct, I have asked Captain David Proudfoot to lead the precinct,” she said in a written statement. “Captain Proudfoot has served at every rank within the South Precinct, and I have every confidence he will provide the leadership and direction necessary to show the residents of the South Precinct I am listening to their concerns.”

The move comes one month after the Rainier Valley Post broke the news that Captain John Hayes had left abruptly after just six months, and just two weeks after we announced a staggering 150% increase in gun crime in the community. In the meantime, the Seattle City Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee held a south-end public hearing on O’Toole’s nomination for Chief of Police, where residents expressed frustration with the increase in violent crime in the south-end and emphasized a need for stability in leadership at the South Precinct.

Click here for the RVP‘s full post.

Budget Cuts for Public Health Will Impact Columbia City

The Seattle Times is reporting on major possible budget cuts within Public Health. The layoffs and cuts have the potential to greatly impact Columbia City’s Public Health office (at Genessee):

Budget cuts are nothing new to local public health departments, but this time it’s different, Dr. David Fleming told his staff at Public Health — columbiaSeattle & King County on Thursday.

Facing a shortfall of $15 million per year for the next two years, Public Health is proposing to close up to four of its 10 public health clinics, said Fleming, director and public health officer. The clinics provide family planning, and maternity and infant support services for patients with income, language, social or mental difficulties who have trouble getting help elsewhere.

For 200 to 300 workers, layoffs loom, as do cuts to key efforts to prevent communicable diseases and chronic conditions, Fleming said in interviews this week.

For now, change is most likely to occur for patients at clinics in Seattle’s Northgate and Columbia City neighborhoods. There, primary care and some other services may shift to a private provider. In addition, four other clinics may close.

Click here for the whole story.