Seattle's Broadview neighborhood offers natural beauty, close-in convenience, and a wide variety of homes for sale and apartments to rent.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/realestate/2008587017_realneighborhood04.html

By Tim Harville
Special to The Seattle Times
Originally published January 4, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Thrill-seekers shrieked on “The Dipper,” the park’s famous roller coaster, while young couples stole first kisses in the Canals of Venice. Dance marathons brought thousands to The Ballroom, and a midget auto-racing track filled the air with a steady roar for the park’s neighbors.

Broadview and Bitter Lake were annexed by the city in 1954, and Playland shut down in 1961, upstaged by the impending Seattle World’s Fair. Today’s Broadview is a much quieter place — an almost completely residential neighborhood, tucked so snugly into Seattle’s northwest corner that many locals have never heard of it.

“Nobody knows us,” says Dale Johnson, president of the Broadview Community Council. “You say Broadview and people think Broadmoor” (the gated community just west of Madison Park).

Despite its low-key demeanor, the neighborhood is by no means small. Home to more than 13,000 residents, Broadview stretches north from Carkeek Park up to the city limits at Northwest 145th Street, and east from Puget Sound to Greenwood Avenue North.

Apart from a handful of restaurants and retail spots along Greenwood, Broadview has very few commercial offerings. While construction of condominiums and apartments is increasing (and concentrated along Greenwood), most homes are single-family.

According to Joanie Brennan, a longtime Windermere Real Estate agent who specializes in North Seattle homes, many buyers are drawn to the open floor plans of Broadview’s midcentury homes.

Brennan says the market in the neighborhood is somewhat split along Third Avenue Northwest.

To the west, near Carkeek Park and along the waterfront, are the more-expensive homes, many with large lots and Puget Sound views.

To the east, between Third and Greenwood, buyers can find smaller, more affordable options. Overall, the median price of a single-family house that sold in Broadview was $422,000 during the first 10 months of 2008, according to figures compiled by Windermere Real Estate. Of the 76 houses sold in Broadview, the prices ranged from $280,000 to $1.965 million. The typical house was 1,935 square feet with three bedrooms and 2.5 baths.

Many residents say they appreciate the quiet Broadview offers while still being close to downtown.

“Broadview is in the city of Seattle, but feels a bit suburban because of the large lots,” Brennan says.

Commuters can easily get downtown along Aurora Avenue, by bus or car, without taking any freeways.

Will Murray, who has lived in the north end of Broadview for about 10 years, enjoys an easy commute without driving.

“I like being able to walk to the bus stop and be downtown in 15 minutes,” he says. “Also, I can bike downtown in 45 minutes.”

If nearby Playland’s thrills and entertainment made up Broadview’s identity in its adolescence, nature and conservation are integral themes in today’s more grown-up community.

Carkeek Park, the neighborhood’s largest park, offers more than 6 miles of trails. A pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks offers views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains before descending onto a secluded, sandy beach.

Another escape into nature, and one Broadview’s best-kept secrets, is Llandover Woods, a 9-acre “open space” at 145th and Third Northwest and acquired by the city of Seattle in 1995.

“Llandover Woods is a major success story in northwest Seattle, saved from a housing development by neighbors and being restored to native habitat,” Murray says, adding that “the woods are a great place to hike, bird watch, and forage for mushrooms.”

Another often-overlooked gem is Dunn Gardens. Commissioned by Arthur Dunn in 1915 and designed by the legendary Olmsted brothers, the original landscaping plan of the gardens has been preserved for more than 90 years.

“It’s lovely in winter, spring, summer, and fall. Any time you go, it’s beautiful,” says Gloria Butts, coordinator of the Broadview Historical Society and former president of the Broadview Community Council. “In February, cyclamens and snowdrops are in bloom, drifts upon drifts of them.”

Dunn Gardens is open to the public for guided tours only, Thursdays-Saturdays, by advance reservation.

Broadview’s “green” leanings are even reflected in the infrastructure. The neighborhood is home to Seattle’s pilot Street Edge Alternatives project, or SEA Streets. These slim, wavy streets, located just west of Greenwood between 110th and 120th, are designed to improve drainage by using natural landscaping and swales to slow and filter stormwater runoff.

Much of Broadview’s population is older, and turnover in the area is relatively low.

“I was a newcomer 10 years after I moved here, so many people had lived here so long,” says Butts, who has lived in Broadview for 45 years.

Perhaps because residents tend to stick around, a strong sense of community is another cornerstone of Broadview’s personality.

At a recent meeting of the Broadview Community Council, which convenes at the library, pedestrian safety was the topic of the evening. Members of the community were joined by representatives from Feet First and Seattle Great City Initiative to talk about the one thing Broadview seems to lack: sidewalks.

Many residents of old Broadview thought that being annexed by Seattle would bring in such perks of the “big city” label as sidewalks. But today — 55 years after becoming part of Seattle — the neighborhood has yet to see a complete, fully sidewalked street.

Attendees at the community meeting were mostly longtime residents of the neighborhood, and a few were actually around when Broadview became part of Seattle.

They’re used to working together to get City Hall’s attention, maintaining dialogue with their city and state representatives, and using civic vocabulary (for example, LID for “Local Improvement District,” a method of funding public projects) like seasoned professionals.

“In the past several years there has been a resurgence of activism, with several volunteer groups forming and doing community service projects such as Adopt-A-Street, Llandover Woods, Carkeek Park Trails, and Teen Groups at Bitter Lake” says Murray.

To Butts, it’s this community spirit that makes the neighborhood a great place to live.

“The people who live here really do care,” she says. “They take care of their space — you don’t see any litter — and there are enough people willing to work for solutions, enough volunteers in the Community Club and the Community Council doing things to make the area better.”

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

BROADVIEW

Population: About 13,000
Distance to downtown Seattle: About 10 miles
Schools: Broadview is served by Seattle Public Schools.
Recreation: The 216-acre Carkeek Park contains orchards, creeks, picnic and play areas, hiking trails along steep wooded hillsides and views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

— Seattle Times news researcher David Turim

Two potential jail sites scrapped

But four new ones appear: In Seattle, Bellevue, Shoreline and Redmond

By HECTOR CASTRO
P-I REPORTER
Last updated November 20, 2008 9:54 p.m. PT
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/388709_jail21.html

Planners have eliminated two candidates out of four in Seattle that were potential locations for a new regional jail, and now Bellevue, Shoreline and an area near Redmond are under consideration.

“Nobody would like to have a jail in their city or their community, but this is something we have to do,” said Scott MacColl, manager of intergovernmental relations for Shoreline.

At a news briefing Thursday, city leaders identified a total of six possible locations for a new jail. They are:

  • The King County jail annex property at Fifth Avenue and Jefferson Street in Seattle. 
  • 1600 W. Armory Way in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood. 
  • Land at Highland Park Way Southwest and West Marginal Way Southwest in Seattle. 
  • A vacant school at 2545 N.E. 200th St. in Shoreline. 
  • Property at 555 116th Ave. N.E. in Bellevue. 
  • Property at 13225 N.E. 126th Place near Redmond. 
  •  

    No longer on the list are properties at 9501 Myers Way S. and 11762 Aurora Ave. N., both in Seattle.

    Catherine Cornwall, a senior policy adviser for Seattle, said those sites fell out of favor as the review progressed. For example, she said, the Myers Way property turned out to have a wetlands area that was more extensive than initially believed, reducing the amount of buildable space.

    The same is likely to happen with some of the six locations now being weighed. But no location is considered better than any other at the moment, Cornwall said.

    The prospect of a new jail is not one welcomed by any city official, and at community meetings held in Seattle last summer, residents made it clear they weren’t crazy about the idea, either.

    Most cities pay the county to hold their misdemeanor offenders — those arrested for offenses such as drunken driving, theft or domestic violence.

    But county jail space is running low, and Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention officials have said they must focus on jailing felons and accused felons. By 2012, the county expects to run out of room for city inmates altogether.

    “We’re losing just about all of our jail space,” Cornwall said.

    In response, several cities in South King County began working on plans to build a new, 680- bed jail. About 20 cities in north and east King County joined with Seattle in a separate effort to build a 640-bed jail, estimated to cost $174 million.

    Two of the Seattle sites have been previously suggested. They include a triangular plot of land in Interbay and a 10-acre parcel on West Marginal Way Southwest.

    Four new sites have joined the mix.

    The location in Shoreline is the farthest north and is the site of a vacant school. The land already has been deemed surplus by the Shoreline School District, MacColl said.

    The property in Bellevue is next to Interstate 405. Most of it is property the city bought earlier for the extension of Northeast Sixth Avenue.

    One site, in unincorporated King County, is near Kirkland and Redmond and is owned by Waste Management, primarily for office space.

    The fourth new site is county-owned property on Fifth Avenue where a jail annex could one day be built. Now, it is being suggested as a possible location for a building that would give the county more room for its inmates, as well as for the cities.

    Seattle officials already have held public forums on the sites in their city, with the exception of the downtown site. A public forum to discuss that location will be held Dec. 3 at City Hall.

    Other meetings will be held in Woodinville, Shoreline and Bellevue to discuss the remaining locations in those communities.

    In January, six meetings will be held to gather public input on the environmental impacts of the sites. A draft report on those issues should be complete by next summer. A final decision on where the jail will be built should be reached by 2010.

    P-I reporter Hector Castro can be reached at 206-448-8334 or hectorcastro@seattlepi.com.

    Mayor's 'walk more' plan stumbles over sidewalks

    Meryl Schenker / P-I
    On the north side of Virginia Street, betweeen First and Second avenues in downtown Seattle, the sidewalk is severely buckled. The city of Seattle is encouraging people to get out of their cars this summer and use alternative travel methods. But some people complain that walking – a great car alternative – isn’t safe here.

    Some are lacking, some are crumbling

    By EVI SZTAJNO
    P-I REPORTER

    Watch where you’re walking if you stroll to where South Horton Street meets 27th Avenue South in southeast Seattle.

    There’s a hole — a chasm big enough to swallow a young child. The hole, where a sidewalk would be under normal circumstances, is littered with a broken wooden beam, a knocked-over barricade and a couple of orange cones just inches from plunging into the unknown.

    “It’s been there for at least three to four years,” said Don Rosabout, 25, who lives in the house next to the hole. He pointed to the broken beam. His father, an immigrant from Laos, bought the beam and put it there out of concern for children who play in the small residential neighborhood.

    Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels has asked people to “give your car the summer off” by using alternative means of travel, with walking being a top alternative. But across Seattle, many say that with current neighborhood conditions the mayor’s “walk more” plan is not a feasible — or safe — option.

    Sidewalk advocates and city officials say the problem is a backlog of work needed to be done on sidewalks and street safety and not enough money.

    Walking gets tough in a city where, according to a fact sheet put out by City Councilman Nick Licata, 40 percent of streets lack sidewalks on both sides and 30 percent of streets have no sidewalks at all.

    Licata said the city should set new priorities on public funding for capital projects so that infrastructure used daily, such as sidewalks, gets money before large capital projects that would benefit a few people.

    “Sidewalks are the threads that physically weave our neighborhoods together; without them we lose touch with the greater community around us,” Licata said.

    As for the “sandbox” on South Horton Street,a hole usually made for construction purposes, Cornell Amaya, a spokesman for Seattle Public Utilities, said he did not have a record but crews were being sent to investigate.

    Rosabout’s story is the kind of thing that Pat Murakami says makes her blood pressure rise. Although it’s not her neighborhood, the president of the Mount Baker Community Club reported the hole about a year ago.

    “I’ve almost gotten to the point where I’m ready to sacrifice myself and break my leg so that I can get money from the city and give it to people to fix these things,” she said.

    According to Licata’s fact sheet, the costs to fill in all sidewalks would range anywhere from $270 million to $4.5 billion. That figure does not account for drainage requirements.

    According to Seattle Transportation, the city has about $3.43 million set aside for this year for sidewalks in its neighborhood street and sidewalk development funds. That figure will decrease to $2.4 million next year because the sidewalk development fund will decrease, spokeswoman Megan Hoyt said.

    When Kate Martin, a landscape planner and designer from Greenwood and pedestrian activist, takes $2.4 million and divides it by the city’s 13 districts, she ends up with roughly $185,000 per year, per district.

    “At that rate, it’s a 400-year plan to fill in all the sidewalks in the city,” she said.

    But even when residents are willing to pull out their own checkbooks, the process of getting a sidewalk built is difficult because there are no clear guidelines or incentives, Martin said.

    That’s why, with the help of other pedestrian activists, Martin applied for a grant to write a “how-to” guide for those who have the funding.

    “It’s a sidewalk-for-dummies guide — in a good way because we’re all dummies when it comes to getting a sidewalk.”

    For those who can’t afford to dish out money, Martin said the city should consider offering zero-interest loans. She also thinks that the areas that don’t have the money should get more from programs such as the Neighborhood street fund that residents apply for.

    That’s not the case right now.

    The fund is generally distributed in equal proportions across districts, said Sandra Woods, Seattle Transportation staffer.

    Because of their later annexation into the city, however, North, West and South Seattle have the greatest sidewalk needs, said Renee Staton, who works with Safe Walks, a citywide coalition for pedestrian safety.

    The process of getting a sidewalk can be convoluted, Woods said.

    The application starts with residents and goes to the community council, which selects a limited amount of projects and passes them off to Seattle Transportation, Woods said.

    That department sets priorities for the projects according to its newly established criteria and then sends them back to the community council, which selects its top projects, she said.

    Then the project goes back to Seattle Transportation, which contacts Seattle utilities and other departments to get a cost estimate and a final feasibility check, Woods said. The cost of the project can increase in the meantime, she said.

    Murakami thinks the process is too complicated.

    “If you’re working one or two full-time jobs and trying to make ends meet, you’re not going to have time to do that,” Murakami said, adding that low-income areas end up being at a disadvantage in this equation.

    “The majority of people are not even aware that such a process exists and wouldn’t know how to go about it,” she said.

    But for Martin, the key issue is the small amount of funding.

    Staton agrees that there is not sufficient funding. But while the process of applying for money from the fund may be long, she believes that it brings out valuable conversations.

    “It’s democracy in action,” she said.

    And as with any democracy, there are those who will disagree.

    Vlad Oustimovich, an architect and planner from West Seattle, said not everybody wants sidewalks.

    When the city wanted to install sidewalks along a residential area by Alki Point a few years ago, residents protested, he said. And certain neighborhoods in Arbor Heights fear that having sidewalks would take away from their parking space, he said.

    But the benefits of sidewalks come out in the Highpoint Residential Community, which was redesigned by the Seattle Housing Authority with money from a federal program.

    “It was an area that was considered one of the worst neighborhoods in Seattle,” he said, referring to the crime statistics. Now, the newly built houses and wide walkways make it “a really good pedestrian environment.”

    Because of the limited funding, Staton thinks it’s important for all the districts to come together and look at the overall problem.

    While she thinks that South Seattle is at a greater disadvantage, Murakami agrees.

    “We can’t be selfish about this; we need to look at where the need is the greatest or pedestrian safety is at risk,” she said.

    SEATTLE SIDEWALKS

  • 650 miles of Seattle streets (40% of all city streets) lack sidewalks on both sides of the street. 
  • 30% of city streets — or 480 miles — have no sidewalks at all. 
  • — Source: City Councilman Nick Licata

    Are there problem sidewalks in your neighborhood? Let us know where they are. Send an e-mail to citydesk@seattlepi.com

    P-I reporter Evi Sztajno can be reached at evisztajno@seattlepi.com.

    A new jail in North Seattle? Residents say no

    Last updated July 12, 2008 4:46 p.m. PT

    By BRAD WONG
    P-I REPORTER

    The message from North Seattle residents Saturday about a jail on Aurora Avenue North was loud and clear: No inmates here, please.

    About 175 people gathered at North Seattle Community College to tell city leaders that a proposed 7-acre facility to hold misdemeanor inmates is better suited elsewhere.

    Among residents’ worries: Homes and schools are nearby, released inmates might stay in the area and the site is far from the city’s downtown municipal court.

    “I think an ideal spot would be an industrial area, like Sodo,” resident Will Murray, 46, said, referring to the South Seattle warehouse area.

    City leaders are under pressure to act because the King County Jail will run out of nearly all of its misdemeanor inmate space by the end of 2012, city senior policy analyst Catherine Cornwall said, though county officials have said recently that new projections suggest there is some wiggle room in that figure.

    And although the County Council recently directed County Executive Ron Sims to renegotiate the contract with Seattle and the other cities to house misdemeanor offenders in the county lockup, the current contract expires at the end of 2012.

    “We’re losing 100 percent of our jail beds. That’s what’s driving this,” Cornwall said. ” … Somebody has to build a jail.”

    Misdemeanor inmates include those arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, domestic violence, committing property crimes under $500 and criminal trespassing, she said.

    While the number of misdemeanor inmates in Seattle has dropped by 38 percent since 1996, the city still needs space. The law requires that certain people, such as domestic violence offenders and repeat drunk drivers, be locked up after arrested, Cornwall said.

    In North Seattle, the city has identified Puetz Golf, a driving range at 11762 Aurora Ave. N., as one possible site for the jail. The other locations are in Interbay and Southwest Seattle.

    None of the sites are on residential land, officials said.

    Seattle might work with Eastside cities and others in northern King County to build a jail.

    If Seattle works with other cities, the jail would have about 640 beds. Alone, the city needs a 445-bed facility to meet its needs through 2026.

    Shoreline and larger Eastside cities, such as Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland, are likely to come up with proposals about a jail site within their boundaries, Cornwall said.

    And city councils must approve plans before anything is built. Cornwall will give a briefing on the latest plans Tuesday to the council’s committee on Public Safety at City Hall.

    Other challenges include finding money to pay for the construction and making sure a jail can be ready by late 2012.

    Because it takes about two and a half years to build one, construction should ideally start in the summer of 2010, Cornwall said.

    Seattle city leaders would like to identify a jail site by the second quarter of 2009.

    “We’re just starting this process,” she said.

    Cities in southern King County are expected to come up with a plan to build their own municipal jail.

    At Saturday’s meeting, residents sat at tables, brainstormed and presented ideas during an open discussion period.

    Some said a high-rise jail closer to downtown would be a better option than a low-rise “sprawling” one. City officials believe a high-rise facility would be more expensive.

    One man argued the jail should be built on existing city property — so money will not be spent to buy private land. The crowd applauded.

    One woman criticized King County leaders for “shirking” their responsibility, saying that expanding county jails in downtown Seattle and Kent could be a solution.

    Seattle resident Amy Hall, 35, held her 11-month-old son in her arms.

    Pinned to the back of his shirt was a sign that said: “No Jail.”

    “We’re concerned given that we’re a young family,” she said. “Our main concern is the release of inmates, that they might stay behind.”

    Murray questioned whether a new jail so far north in the city would consume the time of patrol officers, who transport those arrested.

    He also acknowledged that building a jail would involve many back-and-forth meetings, especially if suburban cities participate in the process.

    “I don’t like process,” he said. “But I want to be part of it.”

    TO LEARN MORE:

    Community meetings about a Seattle municipal jail will be held on:

  • Saturday, July 26 at 9 a.m. at the Brockey Conference Center, South Seattle Community College, 6000 16th Ave. S.W.Focus: West Marginal Way and Myers Way sites.
  • Wednesday, July 30 at 6 p.m. at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, 225 Mercer St.Focus: Interbay site.JAIL SITES UNDER CONSIDERATION:
  • 11762 Aurora Ave. N.
  • 1600 W. Armory Way.
  • Highland Park Way Southwest and West Marginal Way.
  • 9501 Myers Way S.INFORMATION ONLINE:Visit http://seattle.gov/municipaljail
  • P-I reporter Brad Wong can be reached at 206-448-8137 or bradwong@seattlepi.com.

    Haller Lake residents want to lock out jail

    Reasons given to build elsewhere: Schools, driving range, distance

    By DEBERA CARLTON HARRELL
    P-I REPORTER

    Residents of Haller Lake understand that Seattle neighborhoods aren’t exactly clamoring for a new jail.

    But out of four city-proposed sites, Haller Lake “is the worst,” residents of the North Seattle community said at a meeting Thursday night.

    Concerns go well beyond the usual NIMBY responses, said Wilson Stevenson, who is spearheading a group called CAJINS — Citizens Against the Jail in North Seattle.

    The proposed seven-acre site, he told the gathering, is too close to schools and homes. A jail, he said, could also draw the wrong crowd, boosting the local crime rate and threatening the area’s status as an urban village.

    Stevenson questioned the logic of displacing a thriving business — the Puetz Golf Driving Range on 11762 Aurora Ave. N. — particularly if the city had to resort to eminent domain proceedings.

    He also criticized the site as being the smallest and farthest from the King County Courthouse, requiring more fuel-draining trips for attorneys and police.

    “It just doesn’t make any sense to put it in Haller Lake,” Stevenson said. “I think we have some good legs to stand on.”

    Other residents agreed.

    “Even without a jail, we have enough problems with drugs and crime here; we don’t want any more,” said Riza Ryser, the mother of four kids. “There are seven schools plus child cares close by. The area is too populated with residents — I’m surprised the city would even consider it.”

    Unlike the other sites, the Haller Lake location would be a blow to the “hub urban village” envisioned in the Broadview-Bitter Lake-Haller Lake neighborhood plan, said Dale Johnson, president of the Broadview Community Council.

    “We’ve been trying to create a place like Ballard or Green Lake that accepts more density, but that is an attractive place to live, work, walk, shop and recreate,” he said. “If a jail comes here, instead of going forward, we’ll go backward.”

    The meeting, which drew about 250 people, was held at the Haller Lake Community Club, eight blocks north and a few streets east of the proposed jail site. A new 450-bed facility, mandated by the county, aims to house offenders whose crimes are misdemeanors.

    Golfers, many of whom have come to the Puetz range since they were young, weren’t supportive of the jail plan.

    “I know they have to find a jail site, but it would be a shame to see this driving range go,” said Ed Thenell, who used to golf at Puetz with his dad, and still comes year-round.

    “This place is busy all the time; they do a nice job here — it’s a nice atmosphere.”

    Nicholas Ericson and Pete Treperinas grew up playing golf at Puetz, competed in high school, and wound up working at the range’s golf shop. They said the family-owned driving range, celebrating its 63rd anniversary this year, “is like family.”

    “Why would you want to put a jail here?” Treperinas asked.

    “I like my job,” Ericson said. “I don’t want to lose it so they can put a jail here.”

    The other sites being considered are 7.7 acres at Interbay (1600 W. Armory Way), 10 acres at Highland Park Way Southwest and West Marginal Way Southwest (near the First Avenue South Bridge), and a city-owned 12-acre site at 9501 Myers Way S. adjacent to the Seattle Fire Training facility.

    Cindy Potter, of the neighborhood group GAIN (Greenwood Aurora Involved Neighbors), wrote in the recent Haller Lake Community Club newsletter that the Haller Lake site has the greatest number of public and private K-12 schools within a mile.

    She named Ingraham High School, Broadview-Thomson K-8, Northgate Elementary, Christ the King Elementary, Haller Lake Children’s Center, Living Wisdom School and Northgate Christian Academy.

    Others at the meeting added an eighth school — Lakeside — which is considered part of the Haller Lake area. Its track team, noted one resident, trains by running around Haller Lake.

    Some in the audience said the Haller Lake site would be a bad fit for the people locked up, too.

    They said the area lacked social services, yet has drugs, prostitution and other crime that could derail offenders as soon as they’re released.

    P-I reporter Debera Carlton Harrell can be reached at 206-448-8326 or deberaharrell@seattlepi.com.
     

    Change may be coming to Aurora Avenue North

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/366269_aurora09.html

    Photo Meryl Schenker / P-I
    Cindy Potter and son Elliott, 7, pass a vacant lot on Aurora Avenue North near North 89th Street, next to the Green Lake Motel, which was closed in May because of health code violations. An assault on Aurora led Potter and others living nearby to form a group that aims to clean up trouble spots on the strip.

    Future looks brighter for downtrodden strip

    By LEVI PULKKINEN
    P-I REPORTER
    Monday, June 9, 2008

    Change comes slowly to Aurora Avenue North.

    As the surrounding area turned rich, clean and a little bland over the past 20 years, the 70-block-long stretch of highway between Green Lake and Shoreline has remained more or less the same.

    The used-car lots and building material supply stores still line the city’s old main drag. Seattle’s dead find their last rest at Evergreen-Washelli Funeral Home and Cemetery; the city’s down and out land at low-rent motels lining the strip.

    The prostitutes, the pushers — they remain. But change, wanted or not, is coming to Aurora.

    Earlier this year, a citizens group organized by the city drafted a 40-point improvement plan. City engineers have inked a proposal for a dramatic revamp of the highway’s northern end. Express buses are on their way, as are the condos-over-retail-space buildings ubiquitous in Seattle’s remade neighborhoods.

    Crime rates in the once-dicey neighborhood are down, thanks in part to the initiative of residents. A recent spate of motel closures by the state Health Department has some wondering if city officials are quietly trying to push out the poorest.

    “It’s almost like there was a kind of campaign against them. And it’s too bad, because now we’ve got a bunch of people out on the street,” said Faye Garneau, director of the Aurora Avenue Merchants Association. “The city has no places for these people to go.”

    Garneau and her husband have owned property along Aurora Avenue for more than 30 years. She said she’s seen the corridor better and worse in that time and acknowledged that prostitution and drug dealing remain problematic on the street.

    It’s also home to more than 500 businesses, including a smattering of Seattle institutions such as Puetz Golf, Garneau said. Most draw customers from the 40,000 or so drivers who use the street daily.

    Some members of Garneau’s organization saw their livelihoods threatened by a city plan to remake Aurora. The merchants association successfully fought the city when it moved to put the proposals on track for expedited review.

    If adopted, the proposals would bring wider sidewalks and an end to the center turn lane to a 35-block-long stretch of Aurora Avenue from North 110th Street to the Shoreline border, said Rick Sheridan, a spokesman for the Seattle Department of Transportation. Three lanes would carry traffic in each direction, including one lane reserved for bus and business traffic.

    The aim, Sheridan said, is to make the road safer for drivers as well as pedestrians, who are forced to walk in traffic at several spots lacking sidewalks along the road. A planted center median would also moderate the area’s industrial feel.

    “It’s really not meeting the needs of anyone in that community,” Sheridan said, referring to Aurora. “We can really create a more vibrant neighborhood.”

    A bus rapid transit line would be included in the redesign. The proposed line would shuttle people into the city’s core with minimal stops and buses coming at 10-minute intervals.

    Sheridan said the designs are preliminary and that construction wouldn’t start until 2011 at the earliest.

    Garneau believes the plan as proposed would cut off access to several businesses and push more traffic onto surrounding streets. Business owners are also concerned about a loss of parking.

    Community activist Cindy Potter’s organization, Greenwood Aurora Involved Neighbors, didn’t weigh in on the city proposal because it stopped just short of GAIN’s membership area. But she said some of the improvements suggested would be a welcome change anywhere on Aurora.

    Having lived a half-block away from Aurora for nine years, Potter said she believes the neighborhood’s good qualities are often overlooked.

    “Having grown up in Seattle, I never would have even thought to look at a house a half-block from Aurora,” Potter said. “People think of Aurora as such a trashy place, but you just step a few feet away and it’s a nice residential area.”

    Potter isn’t a Pollyanna. She knows her neighborhood can be a violent place.

    An act of violence actually prompted Potter and 11 others to start GAIN three years ago. A block watch captain attempting to shoo away three teenage drug dealers was beaten into unconsciousness. He lay on the street for hours before anyone came to his aid.

    Since then GAIN members have been walking the streets around Aurora and cleaning up trouble spots.

    Potter subscribes to the “broken window theory” of crime prevention, essentially that badly maintained areas tend to invite trouble. One broken window invites another, one streetwalker or drug dealer shows others they’re welcome to join in.

    Potter said they’ve had an impact; police are getting fewer calls, and dump sites usually stay clean after the litter removal crew’s work is done.

    Developers also have arrived. Rows of townhouses line the blocks tucked off Aurora. Now two mixed-use buildings — the kind with condos over retail space — are being planned on Aurora itself.

    The city Planning and Development Department plans to launch a study of area, Deputy Director Alan Justad said. Planners will try to determine how much room for growth is there.

    Justad said some planners have been interviewing property owners. But he said the effort won’t begin in earnest until late this year at the earliest.

    “The value of land is going to continue to go up there,” Justad said. “So there’s going to be growth there whether we prepare for it or not.”

    The Aurora motels, nearly all of which cater to the city’s poorest residents, remain a sticking point in that revitalization effort.

    For some, the low-rent motels lining Aurora Avenue remain a refuge of last resort. They also have tended to attract drug dealers and prostitutes, and some have fallen into disrepair.

    Since March, state health officials have closed four Aurora Avenue motels. Two have reopened.

    Last week, authorities closed down the Seals Motel after receiving two complaints from Seattle police and another complaint from a customer. The emergency closure followed a similar action in mid-May against the Green Lake Motel.

    Shannon Walker, director of the Health Department’s Facilities Licensing Division, said it’s unusual for her office to receive complaints from police departments. But she dismissed the assertion that her inspectors were assisting the city in an attempt to push out the hotels.

    “Right now, we have two surveyors in Washington state,” Walker said. “We only have the resources to look at complaints that come in.”

    Garneau, whose organization includes several motel owners, remains unconvinced.

    “This year, it just seems to me that there’s a little overzealousness on the part of the inspectors,” Garneau said. “It’s a conception that a lot of people have, that these motels cause the drugs and prostitution. They don’t.”

    Motel owners have an interest in keeping their places in compliance, and most won’t rent to clients they believe will destroy their rooms, Garneau said. But she said many renters aren’t able to care for themselves and can create a filthy environment almost immediately.

    Since moving to the area in 1999, Potter said she’s seen motels on Aurora languish in disrepair. She supports the enforcement action and believes some motel owners are essentially profiting from the misfortune of their clients.

    While cheaper than other options, the motels are hardly a bargain, Potter said. Most residents pay upward of $1,100 a month in rent.

    Some motel dwellers just can’t get a deposit together for an apartment, others have problems with their credit or criminal history. Potter said some just don’t realize there are better options out there for them.

    “Nobody needs a strip like this in their city,” she said. “And there’s no reason why it has festered for so long.”

    P-I reporter Levi Pulkkinen can be reached at 206-448-8348 or levipulkkinen@seattlepi.com.

    Seattle names 4 sites that could house jail

    Seattle officials Tuesday announced four possible sites for a new jail that would hold misdemeanor offenders when the King County Jail runs out of space.

    The potential locations are all on industrial or commercial land outside of downtown:

    • 11762 Aurora Ave. N. — currently a golf driving range and pro shop.

    • 1600 W. Armory Way — a group of small warehouses south of Seattle’s Interbay Golf Course.

    • 7200 West Marginal Way S.W. — a patch of mostly vacant land near the First Avenue South Bridge.

    • 9501 Myers Way S. — part of a former gravel pit adjacent to the city’s new firefighter-training facility.

    City officials recognize that putting a new jail in any neighborhood is likely to be controversial.

    “I’m already starting to hear from some of my neighbors,” said City Councilmember Tim Burgess, who lives in Queen Anne, which is close to the Interbay site.

    “There are going to be a lot of complaints, and many of them will be fear-driven,” said Burgess, who chairs the council’s Public Safety Committee. “But when we look at the facts, I think we can all understand the need for a jail, and we can understand that they can be safely run in our communities.”

    City officials said they intend to seek plenty of public input before making a final decision. Burgess expects the process to take about nine months.

    “We’re really committed to being a good neighbor on this,” said Catherine Cornwall, a senior policy adviser in the city’s Office of Policy and Management, who is leading the jail project for the city.

    Seattle estimates it will need 445 beds in the new jail. A consultant two years ago estimated the cost at $110 million.

    At least seven acres are needed to build the preferred low-rise complex. The city reviewed 35 sites and narrowed those down to 11 before settling on the four properties announced Tuesday.

    But Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis stressed that the city isn’t locked into those four sites and will listen to suggestions about other possibilities.

    “We’re still open to additional sites,” he said.

    Seattle needs new jail space because the King County Jail won’t accept any more misdemeanor prisoners — people serving sentences of less than a year for crimes such as drunken driving or petty theft — after the city’s current contract with the jail ends Dec. 31, 2012.

    Cornwall said Seattle already has done a lot of work finding alternatives to jail by diverting offenders into treatment programs and using electronic home monitoring. The number of people in jail on Seattle misdemeanor charges has dropped by 38 percent over the past 10 years, according to the city.

    But beds still are required for crimes, such as repeated drunken driving, that carry mandatory sentences.

    Other nearby cities face the same problem and are weighing whether to build additional municipal jails in the coming years.

    Seattle ultimately could combine its new jail effort with Eastside and North King County cities — which need about 200 jail beds.

    Ceis said if Seattle merges its efforts with those cities, the suburbs also would have to put some potential jail sites up for consideration.

    South King County cities, meanwhile, are looking at building their own separate jail. They have hired a real-estate broker and are looking for possible properties for a new 800-bed jail, said Renton Police Chief Kevin Milosevich.

    Those cities include Renton, Auburn, Tukwila, Kent, Des Moines and Federal Way.

    Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or jbrunner@seattletimes.com

    Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

    Sewage overflow angers Broadview residents

    Broadview homeowners are angry about the raw sewage that overflowed into their basements in December and vented their frustrations to a city official last week.

    During a heavy rainstorm on Dec. 3, the area’s sewage system backed up, causing extensive damage to homes.

    Martha Burke, planning manager for Seattle Public Utilities said the neighborhood had been flooded twice in the past, in 1985 and 1997.

    Burke said most of the sewer lines, installed in the late 1940s and early 1950s in Broadview are for sanitation only with separate storm lines.

    “There should not be a lot of storm water going into the (sanitation) system,” said Burke.

    The city provided a map with Carkeek Park Road to the west, Northwest 103rd Street to the south, Fremont to the east and 130th Avenue North as the borders of the problem area.

    Some people at the meeting had flooding problems and lived outside these boundaries.

    Resident Sid Andrews said sewage came into his home through the floor drain, shower and toilet causing $30,000 worth of damage.

    Andrews runs the Fallen Brothers charity out of his home and collects food donations for the homeless and local food banks. Three refrigerators full of meat were damaged beyond repair and he threw out over $600 worth of meat and other food supplies.

    Andrews pumped as much of the sewage out as possible that night. He went out to look in the manhole and found sewage rising eight inches from the top.

    “One woman had four feet of raw sewage in her basement,” said Andrews.

    A city crew sent to investigate told Andrews there were five breaks in the sewer line in his area.

    Ted Lockhart and his wife used a pump to deal with the situation and then went out to buy another pump. He said he bought the last pump available in the whole city that evening.

    Even with two pumps, the Lockhart’s resorted to bailing sewage with buckets.

    “I kept it at hand to three inches. What saved us was when it stopped raining. We pumped all Sunday night and got no sleep,” said Lockhart.

    “We are making a promise to look at it,” said Burke. “This is a community problem. We will do things to reduce the flow of sewage and water. This is a complex study, this is not going to be a simple fix.”

    The city has a number of options and the solution may involve a combination of all these fixes.

    On site solutions include homeowners disconnecting down spouts which drain into the ground and using natural systems like rain gardens.

    Off site, the city can look into swales, natural drainage and improvements like adding ditches.

    Reducing infiltration is another strategy on the table with repair of side sewers and replacing main lines from five inches up to eight or even 16 inches.

    “I’m going to be getting to know your sewage system and get a better grasp of it and get a better feel for the pipe network,” said Andrew Behnke, a senior engineer for Herrera Environmental Consultants.

    The engineering firm will gather data and build a model to see how storm water seeps into the ground.

    Engineers will start conducting smoke tests on May 12. Liquid smoke will be pumped 600 to 800 feet at a time into the sewer system. The smoke will rise out of the ground or manhole covers if there is leaking, which can cause overflow.

    Behnke stressed that an optimum solution will not be determined by the end of the year.

    Numerous people at the meeting kept interrupting Burke’s presentation with horror stories of their sewage nightmares.

    Others expressed concern about going through another winter storm season without any improvements to their sewer systems.

    A few people said they called the city and were told it was not the city’s problem.

    Claim forms were available at the meeting for residents to file for damages.

    Dale Johnson, a member of the Broadview Community Council who did not suffer from a sewage backup, tried to keep the meeting moving in a positive direction.

    “We are talking about the future and how to prevent the problem. We’re trying to get beyond the individual pain and how to solve the problem an move forward,” said Johnson.

    Burke said another public meeting would be held later this year to report back to the community. That meeting would likely be in October.

    Dean Wong may be reached at deanw@robinsonnews.com

    Seattle police working to a new set of beats

    Boundaries designed to reflect changing neighborhoods

    Last updated January 13, 2008 9:27 p.m. PT
    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/347249_police14.html

    By SCOTT GUTIERREZ
    P-I REPORTER

    For the first time in a few years, Seattle Police Officer Debra Pelich had to adjust to a new beat.On Friday, she drove around First Hill and lower Capitol Hill in the newly formed “David 3″ sector, taking note of parks, side streets, the hot spots, and the usual transients. She planned to visit businesses and even stopped to watch a parking attendant collect money from deposit boxes.”We have these pay-box looters, so I want to know if he really works there. Those are the things you get to know, like who are my regular guys who collect the money?” said Pelich, a 13-year veteran assigned to the West Precinct.

    Pelich was one of many officers across the city last week readjusting after the first restructuring of patrol beats in more than 30 years. Precinct boundaries were redrawn and new sectors and beats were formed as part of the Neighborhood Policing Plan, a major initiative to improve 911 service and enable officers to do more “proactive” police work.

    As part of the initiative, the city plans to hire 105 more police officers in the next four years. The plan aims to give officers more time to know their neighborhoods and better ability to back one another up.

      Debra Pelich
      Zoom Grant M. Haller / P-I
      Debra Pelich, a 13-year police veteran, is one of many officers adjusting to new precinct boundaries designed to give them more time to know their neighborhoods.

    The Seattle Police Department hadn’t changed its patrol districts since the 1970s. Boundaries weren’t geared to keep pace with the condominium boom downtown, the expanding South Lake Union neighborhood, or changes expected with light rail in Rainier Valley.

    Pelich’s last assignment was in South Lake Union, where she watched condos and new buildings sprout seemingly on every other block, bringing more residents downtown to call 911 for domestic violence or auto break-ins.

    Her new beat used to be covered by the East Precinct. As she hit the streets around noon, she had new patterns to familiarize with, but so far it was going smoothly, she said.

    “It’s not that we’re doing anything drastically different. We’re just being more effective and more efficient,” she said. “No matter where you are, no matter what district you’re in, and no matter what time of day, police work is police work.”

    But stagnant police beats in an ever-changing city created an imbalance in workload for officers in some districts and longer waits in some neighborhoods for police service, Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer said.

    The average response time for high-priority calls was seven minutes, the accepted standard for larger cities, according to the Neighborhood Policing Plan report. But some responses took nine minutes or were as quick as five minutes, depending on what day and time and what neighborhood.

    The goal now is to guarantee no one waits longer than seven minutes in a high-priority call.

    “Geographically, the new map is constructed on the theory that no matter where you live, you’re entitled to the same level of police coverage as anybody else. We’ve attempted to be as fair as humanly possible to bring equity into our relationships between the Police Department and neighborhoods,” Kimerer said.

    More substantial changes are ahead. The plan calls for officers’ shifts to be rearranged, which will require negotiating with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild.

    The guild already has questioned the wisdom of implementing the ambitious policing plan without first having a sufficient number of new officers to meet its objectives. Recruiting has barely kept pace with officers retiring or transferring in the last year, and guild leaders say the city hasn’t offered a labor contract with favorable terms, which they say would help retain and recruit officers.

    More proactive work won’t be possible without more officers on the streets, said Sgt. Rich O’Neill, guild president.

    “Our biggest concern is the way it’s being hyped,” O’Neill said. “I don’t want to see citizens duped into believing that redrawing boundaries around neighborhoods is going to somehow make more officers show up on their doorstep for a 911 call.”

    The changes were based on an analysis of four years’ worth of 911 and staffing data.

    One beat in the South End handled four times as many calls as neighboring beats, Kimerer said.

    Some beats, such as the University District, which has a high volume of drug and alcohol violations, were pared down so officers have less ground to cover and more time to respond to problems.

    The department also plans to switch to a new records management system this year and a new computer-aided dispatch system after that, enabling the department to better monitor data.

    As Pelich, the West Precinct officer, cruised down East Howell Street, she spotted a scofflaw from her former territory. She rolled down her window and greeted him.

    “OK, there is somebody from my old district who is up here,” she said.

    Officers were trained on the new boundaries and had reference maps on hand for the first week. Officers have a good general sense of their neighboring beats, but it takes time on a new assignment to learn side streets, back alleys and the quickest routes if they need to back each other up.

    About 3:30 p.m., Pelich stopped a driver pulling away from a curb outside an apartment building on Capitol Hill. He’d been fiddling with the ignition, his head bowed down. The license plate wasn’t registered to him.

    He explained he’d just purchased the beat-up Dodge Neon and his record turned up clear.

    Just before Pelich set him free, her mobile dispatch terminal beeped with a message from an officer, also on a new beat, checking on her.

    “Where the hell is E. Thomas/Belmont Ave?” the message asked, referring to her location.

    Pelich smiled.

    “This is what’s probably going to happen for the next couple of days here,” she said.

    NEIGHBORHOOD POLICING PLAN

      Map of new police beats

    The restructuring of police precincts and sectors is part of a major initiative to improve 911 service and enable officers to do more “proactive” problem solving on their beats. The department plans to hire 105 more officers in four years and will target high-priority crime areas.

    1. Concentrated around University Way Northeast with a greater emphasis on foot, bicycle and police car patrols. More North Precinct officers will have an extended focus on Greek Row on weekend nights, the Aurora corridor and the business districts in Ballard, Fremont, Lake City and Northgate.

    2. In the East Precinct, a new beat extends along the Broadway corridor where officers will patrol the nightclub area along Broadway, Pike and Pine. More patrols throughout the precinct will combat public drunkenness and drug activity in parks, while officers will work undercover to reduce drive-by shootings.

    3. The new beats will focus on the central business district, Belltown and Pioneer Square, with officers proactively dealing with safety around the nightclubs.

    4. This sector in the South Precinct consolidates beats once handled by officers who crossed bridges to and from West Seattle. Patrol officers in Georgetown will increase weekend patrols to address early morning property crimes. There will also be special patrols along Rainier Avenue to focus on gang and youth crimes.

    P-I reporter Scott Gutierrez can be reached at 206-903-5396 or scottgutierrez@seattlepi.com

    Is sidewalk's end the place to spend?

    By Sanjay Bhatt
    Seattle Times staff reporter

    John and Sarah Price walk along Alki Avenue Southwest, where a citywide review team has proposed spending $600,000 to extend the sidewalk on the water side of the street to Beach Drive Southwest, creating a safer pedestrian route around Alki Point.

    Bill Russell, a condo resident on Alki Avenue Southwest, said a plan to extend a sidewalk there will take away parking and make the narrow roadway more difficult for motorists to navigate. He said parking is already such a problem in the neighborhood that he sometimes can’t find a spot within three blocks of his home.

    Image

    About half of the new sidewalks will be built throughout northern neighborhoods of Seattle. Until the 1950s, most neighborhoods north of North 85th Street were part of King County, which unlike Seattle, didn’t require housing developers to build sidewalks.

    After a decades-long push by some Seattle neighborhoods to get sidewalks, the city plans to install them in 11 tiny pockets — including Alki Point, where not everyone is convinced it’s the best idea.

    The Alki Avenue Southwest project, which received the city’s second-largest grant among the 11, would connect a quarter-mile gap in the sidewalk between Alki Beach Park and Beach Drive Southwest, enabling in-line skaters, joggers and pedestrians to travel around the point.

    Where the sidewalk disappears and a row of waterside homes begins, residents have long used part of the public right of way for parking, landscaping — even patios. And some are not keen on a sidewalk.

    “It wouldn’t be a scenic sidewalk,” says Randy Myer, 50, whose rockery would be torn up by the project. “Can’t we find a better use for that money?”

    But others argue that filling in the gap would provide a much safer connection to Alki Beach Park.

    “The west side of the street is not too conducive to the operation of wheelchairs,” says Don Greengo, 79, who likes to take his quadriplegic daughter to the park. They have to cross the street twice to get there.

    Terry Williams, a West Seattle resident and member of the review team that picked the sidewalk projects, said the Alki Avenue Southwest proposal addresses a huge safety problem for those who walk, jog and bike in the neighborhood. Many people avoid the sidewalk on the other side of the street, he said, and walk around cars in the street.

    “I wanted to get as much bang for the buck as we could possibly get,” he said.

    Across town in the Greenwood neighborhood, residents are so determined to get walkways they’ve formed an activist group that envisions turning the neighborhood into a test site for sidewalks varying in design, cost and attractiveness. Their project received $610,000, the city’s biggest grant, which will provide a sidewalk between the local Boys & Girls Club and Greenwood Park.

    This month’s announcement of $6 million in spending for large street-fund projects allots a record amount for sidewalks — but falls far short of the $250 million to $300 million worth of projects submitted by neighborhoods.

    “There’s just a phenomenal need for sidewalks and walkways out there,” said Catherine Weatbrook, one of the 15-member team that recommended the final list. “We had to say no to a lot of really, really good projects.”

    Won’t be fixed soon

    A recent city study found that more than one-quarter of Seattle streets lack paved walkways of any kind, and city officials acknowledge it would take decades to fix the problem at the current rate.

    North Seattle accounts for the bulk of the streets without sidewalks, largely due to a historical quirk: Until the 1950s, most neighborhoods north of North 85th Street were part of King County, which unlike Seattle, didn’t require housing developers to build sidewalks.

    Some North Seattle residents voted to be annexed by Seattle with the expectation the city would install sidewalks. Over the years, efforts to organize local-improvement districts have faltered, and neighborhood leaders say the high cost of installing concrete sidewalks has been the biggest obstacle.

    Kate Martin, a leading member of Greenwood Sidewalks, says the group will develop a guide that empowers homeowners to build sidewalks on their own instead of waiting on the city Department of Transportation.

    “A 100-year plan for implementing sidewalks is not acceptable,” said Martin, who calls the amount of money allocated for sidewalks “a joke.”

    Persistent efforts

    People credit the Alki Point proposal to Gary Ogden, a board member of the Alki Community Council, which has repeatedly sought funding to extend the sidewalk. Ogden says he played a leading role in developing the Alki Trail, which follows the shoreline, and now sees the sidewalk extension as a way to complete the urban trail.

    Ogden says the local community council unanimously voted earlier this year for the extension, but he acknowledges that the council didn’t reach out to affected property owners.

    The construction of a 6-foot-wide concrete sidewalk and a 5-foot-wide planting strip would mean some losses — changing 90-degree parking to parallel parking in some spots and the possible removal of parking, landscaping, fences, walls and patios in rights of way, according to the proposal.

    “We’re trying to create a safe environment, not just for the locals but also those who visit the park,” said Ogden, 60, who dismisses homeowner concerns about the disruption to their parking and other uses as “self-serving.”

    Several regular walkers on the east sidewalk of Alki Avenue Southwest said they didn’t see the need to spend $600,000 on a second sidewalk across the street. Barb Vadakin, 58, called the idea “a waste of taxpayer money” and would prefer to redirect the spending to drain-clearing and crosswalks.

    After hearing of the controversy, Casey Hanewall, a Transportation Department spokesman, said the agency would reach out to residents but also needs to honor the result of a months-long public process.

    “It’d be a little unique for us to put on a [sidewalk] project that was at odds with the individuals on the street,” he said.

    Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or sbhatt@seattletimes.com

    Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company