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Thinking Like a Lake Union Watershed

When those of us who live around Lake Union survey the waters we hold in common, it is from a diversity of neighborhoods.  The mix of apartments, houses and floating homes in Eastlake, the offices and restaurants on the south end, Westlake’s high-density apartment building “Riviera,” the traditional but rapidly changing Wallingford and Fremont.

As different as are our neighborhoods, we are united by the “Little Water,” as the original native inhabitants called the place.  (The name lives on in the “Tenas Chuck” floating homes community in Eastlake.)  We are joined together by living in a common watershed.

Aerial photo of Lake Union June 2012 by Jelson25/Wikimedia Commons

Aerial photo of Lake Union June 2012 by Jelson25/Wikimedia Commons

What is a watershed?  It is a body of water and surrounding land that sheds water into it.  A watershed is defined by the ridgelines and high points from which water flows downward.  Watersheds come in a range of sizes.  The Columbia River Watershed is the size of France and Germany put together. The Mississippi River Watershed covers everything from Montana to Pennsylvania.  It’s all about where the water flows.

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) offers this map of Lake Union and the neighboring Ship Canal watershed.  As you will see, the watershed boundaries move well past surrounding neighborhoods and reflect older streams now in pipes underground.

As you might expect for an urban water body, Lake Union faces environmental challenges.  SPU notes a number.  Saltwater intrusion from the Ballard Locks sucks oxygen from water during warm periods.  Summer heat can drive water temperatures to salmon-killing levels.  With sewers and storm drains still connected, runoff can push fecal coliform bacteria beyond safe levels, especially during winter storms.  The urban-industrial history of the lake lives on in toxic sediments, as well as development that has left only five percent of shoreline with natural vegetation.

Becoming watershed-aware means understanding the role each one of us has to play in preserving our common waters.  It can be as simple as picking up your dog poop, using a car wash rather than cleaning your car on the street, and plugging oil leaks from your vehicles.  Our individual pollutions all flows downwards to the lake.

We can also make our yards into allies for the watershed with natural yard care.  SPU has advice on how to practice this at your place.  One key action is rainwater harvesting.  To understand its importance, consider the sheets of water you see flowing down streets and sidewalks during heavy downpours.  The water goes right into the lake without the benefit of filtering by vegetation and soils.  Catching water and using it in your yard reduces polluted runoff.

Climate change will intensify challenges to the lake over coming decades.  Rising sea levels will press on the locks, while higher summer temperatures and increased winter storms will pose water quality threats.   This is where the local connects to the global.  Any action you take that reduces burning coal, oil and natural gas anywhere helps the lake, whether it’s cutting your gasoline consumption, making your home more efficient, or telling your elected representatives they must pass policies to reduce carbon emissions.  Individual actions to reduce pollution are needed.  Acting as a citizen is a force multiplier.   Both are crucial.

The famous ecologist Aldo Leopold once said we need to “Think like a mountain.” We also need to think like a watershed.  To preserve a healthy planet for ourselves and for our children, we need to start with the places we live.  And we all live in a watershed.   We who live in the Lake Union Watershed live in diverse neighborhoods, but we share our “Little Water” in common.  By thinking like a watershed we can preserve and enhance our place, contribute to making a sustainable world, and build a new and needed sense of community among us.

Welcome to the Lake Union Watershed!






Take a Walk on the Labyrinth

If you’re feeling a bit stir crazy these days and need a walk, a mission, there’s a new labyrinth at St. Patrick’s Church (2702 Broadway E.) to go check out.

The church installed the labyrinth last summer on its grounds across the street from Roanoke Park. “We wanted to do something welcoming to everyone,” said JoAn Choi who led the project. 

Originally, she said, they were thinking of some sort of outdoor prayer space and decided a labyrinth would work best. The labyrinth is small, as labyrinths go, to fit the outdoor space (about 17 feet in diameter). Tall trees stand sentry. Its entrance abuts the sidewalk encouraging passers-by to step in, and a plaque invites you to “take a walk to the center, pause for a moment, and return refreshed.”

“The labyrinth is for calming and centering,” Choi said. “You walk in slowly, focusing inward, and begin to let go of what you’re struggling with; pause in the center; and then slowly walk back out integrating and moving back into the world.”

Walking the labyrinth at St. Patrick Church

The project took a couple of years from start to finish, and it’s still not fully complete. The church’s volunteer maintenance crew, known as “St. Pat’s Posse,” who maintains the church’s three facilities, installed the labyrinth. Mike Wagner who leads the crew said they hired Casa Latina to do the prep work on the site and then the posse spread the sand and laid the pavers.

Like so many construction projects, “it was more difficult than they expected,” said Choi.

But it turned out beautifully. Still to come are curbs around the labyrinth that will form planters for a boxwood hedge that should grow to be about two feet tall.

“It’s a great way to use the church grounds for meditation,” said Choi. “And it doesn’t have a Christian history only.”

Labyrinths, ancient and mysterious, can be found across religions and cultures. They’re a symbol of life’s voyage of twists and turns, used for contemplation and healing.

“We hope the neighborhood enjoys the labyrinth,” said Wagner adding that the church would appreciate seeing it being used by everyone.

“We’re a parish that wants to be open and welcoming,” added Choi.

Pete’s comes back better than ever

Eastlake’s beloved Pete’s Supermarket and Wine Shop (58 E. Lynn Street, Seattle 98102) reopens tomorrow Friday, March 27, at 6 a.m.  Just six weeks have passed since closing for the remodel.

It’s a soft opening. 

“Not everything will be complete,” said owner, John Bennett. Still the shelves were looking well stocked. Previous staff members are returning.

“Hopefully everything people loved about Pete’s is still here,” said building owner and developer, Matt Herron. “We’re just taking it to the next level.”

The goal is to enable the average person to do regular shopping at Pete’s and go to a larger grocery on occasion rather than the other way around.

“It’s sort of a a mini-Met (Metropolitan) Market,” added Herron, noting that organic produce and specialty items make up 40 percent of the store now. Wine is still a mainstay, with 2,000 bottles in the central aisle, and featured sale wines near the front.

That center wine aisle also leads directly to the new deli at the back of the store. It’s operated by Josh Cooper of Duo Deli and will offer fresh prepared food items for meals and parties.  

Though it wasn’t up yet, the original cartoon signage will be returning.

Hours will be 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., seven days a week. Here’s a quick tour just the day before opening. Finishing touches were still taking place, so pardon the dust:

New owner, John Bennett, oversees the final hours of prep before Pete’s reopening. Cases of bottles of wine that will be discounted are ready at the front of the store.
The new check out features three self check-out registers and one staffed register.
There will be counter seating up front along with space for wine tastings. The counter is custom Douglas Fir, the new flooring, polished concrete.
More produce!
The bread aisle awaits fresh delivery from Essential Baking Company.
It’s all on either side of one aisle, but it’s an even larger selection of wine — 2,000 bottles.
The black chalkboard wall in the new deli is ready for the menu.
There’s a 40-foot selection of beer.
Along with wine and beer specials up front, model sail boats greet you. They belonged to the owner’s father, who lived across the street from Pete’s for over 25 years.

Correction 3/28/2020: The custom counter is made of Douglas Fir not Oak. The photo caption has been corrected.

What’s open food-wise in Eastlake?

Update 3/20/20: Son of a Butcher is now offering take out with a 10% discount to boot Monday – Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Pomodoro is also now offering take out with a 20% discount Wednesday – Saturday 5 to 8:30 p.m.

Most restaurants in Eastlake are now take out only (or moving in that direction). A few have closed temporarily. It’s a fluid situation, so check the website or call the restaurant to confirm. (And let us know of any updates:

Here is a quick tour starting from the south at the Hydro House:

Great Northwest Soup Company says, “Thank you for being patient as we try to move forward with a take out only system…”

Siam Thai Cuisine take out. Website does not appear to be working right now.

Eastlake Specialty Market is open (take out).

Grand Central Baking Company take out.

20 oz Tea take out.

POKE Square take out.

Le Messe take out.

Serafina temporarily closed

Cicchetti temporarily closed.

Armistice take out.

Eastlake Coffee Cafe take out.

Son of a Butcher No sign yet of what the plans are for Son of a Butcher.

Subway open (take out).

Eastlake Market open (take out).

The Eastlake Zoo temporarily closed.

Terry’s 14 Carrot take out.

Pazzos take out orders from 5 to 9.

Otter take out. The owner was just in the process of updating their sign for a St. Patrick’s day special, cornbeef and cabbage. Today only!

Mammoth closed indefinitely

Pecado Bueno 10% off take out.

Starbucks open (take out).

Pomodoro’s Their website says they are studying the possibility of having take out. Check back in a day or so.

Hamlin Market and Deli open (take out).

Little Water Cantina some take out.

Seattle Caviar open (take out).

Ta Nu Ra Sushi Kappo 10% off all take out.

Le Fournil open (take out).

Sebi’s take out.

Johnny Mo’s take out.

Feature photo: A-board in front of Grand Central Baking Company

The borders of Eastlake: East

Before I-5 came into existence, the eastern border of Eastlake was a bit of blur. It could have gone as far as 10th Avenue as Ma Bell extended her EA phone prefix for Eastlake about that far and sometimes farther. But once I-5 was built, the 12-lane freeway effectively cut off Eastlake from Capitol Hill.

As a project for the Eastlake News, the Eastlake Community Council newsletter, Matt Maberry is photographing the borders of Eastlake. Photos from the winter newsletter, which covers the eastern border, as well as additional photos and Matt’s essay are featured above and below: 

The eastern border of Eastlake is clearly defined by the Interstate 5 corridor, which runs the entire length of the neighborhood. Prior to the start of I-5 construction in 1962, the edge of Eastlake was less distinct, as it mingled with Capitol Hill. Installation of the highway was a controversial issue as soon as it was proposed in April of 1957, and the subject remains a sore spot with Seattleites and others alike.

Bitterness on the part of Eastlake residents may be attributed to a number of factors from increased noise and pollution, to major traffic influx. However, the principal complaint is likely the physical split of the community and the destruction of historic properties to pave the way for the interstate route.

Today the effect is clear when noting the proximity of many remaining homes to the colonnade and the severing of once-continuous roads. One such example of a property is the L’Amourita apartment building at 2915 Franklin Avenue East, whose unique Spanish-Colonial architecture has graced the hillside since 1909. Although the residents have had to tolerate the presence of the Ship Canal Bridge, a mere stone’s throw away, the building was spared destruction. Many buildings were not so fortunate.

Eastlake residents were some of the first in Seattle to feel the effect of the project when work on the Ship Canal Bridge commenced in August of 1958, which was the first portion. Plans for a highway through Seattle date back to as early as 1946 but were eventually integrated with the Washington State plans for I-5 in general. Final approval and land management began in 1958, setting off the use of $75,000,000 in bonds approved by the state legislature to be paid to homeowners in the right-of-way. Acquisition began in Eastlake and moved southward along the route ahead of construction. After appraisal, residents were given an offer by the Highway Department. Approximately 10 percent of the homeowners refused the offers outright, which required condemning the property. Once the homes were in the state’s possession they were auctioned, with most houses either being moved or stripped. Moving of homes from the area became so common that the height of the utility lines on 5th Avenue NE was increased for clearance.

Although the presence of the highway remains a nuisance to many, the community has made efforts to mitigate the burden by utilizing the structure in other ways. Plans to make the freeway a covered trench never fully materialized; however, today it acts as a roof for the I-5 Colonnade Park. This public park is roughly 7.5 acres between East Howe Street and East Garfield Street, and contains an off-leash dog area, and several mountain bike trails. Construction of the trails was performed by volunteers and the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance starting in 2005, with many of the funds originating from neighborhood donors.

The ability of the community to adapt to the evolving face of the neighborhood is assuring in the face of contemporary zoning changes and construction projects.

 – Matt Maberry

Councilmember Pedersen draws a crowd for January 30 Eastlake Town Hall

Nearly 200 people turned out on a damp January night for a town hall meeting with District 4 Councilmember Alex Petersen. Transportation issues were the big draw at the Eastlake Community Council-sponsored meeting, but other topics ranging from homelessness to a progressive tax system also came up during the 90-minute meeting in the TOPS Seward school cafeteria.

The meeting format, set by Pedersen’s staff, had participants fill out index cards with a question. Detra Segar, ECC president, read questions and Pedersen answered.

One of the first questions was from Paul Proios, owner of the 14 Carrot Café on Eastlake Avenue East. And it perhaps set the tone for the meeting. Proios, a business owner who fears the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Rapid Ride project that eliminates parking on Eastlake Avenue East will put him out of business, asked if it was possible to find a compromise between bicycle lanes and parking.

Pedersen said the Rapid Ride Roosevelt J Line has been in the works for some time. He urged all attending the meeting to comment on the project to the Federal Transit Authority by the Feb. 14 deadline. “I am a proponent of more bus service,” Pedersen said, but added that he wanted to hear all viewpoints. He emphasized that he did not see Eastlake as a “corridor.”

There was a sizeable group from Seattle’s bicycle community also at the meeting. Several of the questions reflected their concerns about safety, connected bicycle routes and climate change. One flyer passed out said “We bike, walk, bus and wheel to Eastlake businesses.” 

Pedersen again said that whether attendees supported bike lanes or are a concerned business, comments should be sent to the FTA. In response to a later question, he said evaluation of bike lanes was crucial, adding that he would look at perhaps protected lanes in one area and “greenways” in another.

Another transportation question regarded parking on side streets, also a challenge in Eastlake because most side streets are hilly.

Pedersen said Eastlake is zoned 100 percent multifamily and, with previous new building changes that no longer required parking, parking is an issue. He said parking is heavily saturated and acknowledged that businesses also have concerns on loading zones. Segar, the ECC president, said that Restricted Parking Zone 8 in Eastlake is under review and may be expanded.

Lorelei Williams, SDOT Deputy Director Capital Project Delivery, said that the department has more to do. “We want to address the impacts,” she said. “We have heard the comments and are paying attention.”

Here is what Pedersen had to say on other issues:

Development:  Eastlake has grown rapidly in recent years but “we need to make sure we don’t knock down affordable housing.”  The city may not have been listening to Eastlake in the past but “we are listening.”  He said he was critical of the Mandatory Housing Affordability ordinance, since “it seemed to be a good deal for some developers but we are not getting the public benefit.”

Head tax:  He is “not a fan” because in part there was not a good plan for how money would be spent. The new regional authority on homelessness will have better credibility to ask for more funds.

Taxes:  Pedersen said he favored a “progressive’ tax system that was based on income. He said he would look at utility rates, which can be like regressive taxes, affecting lower income people more. He was also concerned about rising property taxes, especially their impact on older homeowners on a fixed income.

Metro Route 70:  Pedersen said “the 70 needs to be part of the conversation,” adding that “personally” he would keep both the 70 and the Rapid Ride buses. That brought a round of applause.

Crime:  Pedersen said the police force has not kept pace with the growth of the city. “There is no one solution,” he added.

RapidRide will transform Eastlake – for better or worse that is the question

Seattle’s proposed RapidRide bus line and bike lanes will transform Eastlake Ave., the main street though Eastlake, by removing all parking and reducing the flexible four lane street to two lanes only. Pushing out cars, the proposed plan creates more capacity for moving people into and out of Eastlake and connecting them to major transit routes.

About two weeks ago, we submitted a series of questions that just didn’t seem to be getting addressed in public meetings to the city’s RapidRide project manager; he in turn had them fielded by subject matter experts.

At the same time the Seattle Bike Blog has been running a series of posts shedding more light on the importance of the Eastlake bike route to bicycling throughout the region.

The Seattle Bike Blog posts and the city’s response to our questions, highlight the positive impact RapidRide and bike lanes could have on the Eastlake community (not to mention global warming). The city can’t promise that the changes will bring more prosperity to Eastlake businesses, but if more people filling the streets helps local businesses, then that is a likely outcome.

Before answering our questions the RRJ Team provided a summary of the project for those unfamiliar with it:

The RapidRide Roosevelt (J Line) Project will upgrade Route 70 to provide high-quality service connecting Downtown Seattle with the neighborhoods of Belltown, South Lake Union, Eastlake, University District, and Roosevelt. Proposed project improvements including transit priority lanes and signals, new RapidRide bus stations, new protected bicycle lanes, upgraded ADA curb ramps, and new pavement on Eastlake Ave E that will enhance speed, reliability, and safety for all. 

The city’s proposed plan is not a done deal by any means. It is currently in the federal Environmental Assessment process, which means the public can continue to weigh in on it pro or con. See the end of the question and answer section for more details.

And here are our questions and the city’s responses:

LUW: A lot of people think this plan—RapidRide and bike lanes that take away parking on Eastlake Ave. – will destroy Eastlake businesses. How do you respond to that? Are there other communities in Seattle or other cities with this type of infrastructure, bike lanes with RapidRide? How are their business districts faring?

RRJT: We’ve heard these questions frequently from Eastlake community members, and we certainly understand where that feeling is coming from. As the city grows, there are more demands on our transportation system, which means that moving throughout the city isn’t nearly as convenient or as easy as it was just ten years ago. While our overall priority is to ensure people have safe access to homes, goods and services, we also want to provide transportation options to the widest variety of people.

RapidRide J Line is being designed to prioritize safe, frequent and reliable transit travel. Separating bicycles from vehicle traffic addresses safety concerns and minimizes friction between modes. In addition, prioritizing transit and bicycle access over single-occupant vehicle traffic helps the city address our climate change goals.

That said, these new options may benefit Eastlake businesses. RapidRide is King County Metro’s highest level of investment in service, amenities, speed and reliability, and innovation. Like Link light rail or the Seattle Streetcar, RapidRide is planned as permanent, high-quality transit infrastructure in local communities that transit riders can rely on. And due to transit investments planned throughout the corridor, our modeling shows that transit ridership is expected to double in 2024, providing more opportunities for riders to easily and efficiently access Eastlake businesses.

We’ve reviewed studies in neighborhood commercial areas that are similar to Eastlake assessing business impacts from the removal of on-street parking and the addition of bicycle facilities. These studies have found that there can be benefits for businesses as a result of new bicycle lanes even with the removal of on-street parking, and the change may not negatively affect businesses.

One example is the Toronto Center for Active Transportation’s report Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business: A Study of Queen Street West in Toronto’s Parkdale Neighborhood that reviewed case studies across Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand and found that “those arriving by bicycle or walking visit more often and spend more money overall” than people who drive. For more information about these studies see the Environmental Assessment.

Within the past several years, protected bicycle lanes have been installed along Westlake Ave N and 2nd Ave in downtown Seattle, NE 65th St in Roosevelt, and on Roosevelt Way NE in Roosevelt and the U-District. While there are variety of changes along all those corridors that can be partially explained by the changing dynamics of a rapidly growing city, there remain a wide variety of successful businesses and restaurants along each of those corridors.

LUW:  There is huge concern that RR will make Eastlake even more of a thoroughfare to downtown – a transit corridor – rather than a neighborhood with a thriving business district?  Businesses don’t really see most of their customers coming by bus – typically they’re driving or walking. Can you comment on what the vision is for connecting neighborhoods?

RRJT: RapidRide J Line is designed to connect neighborhoods to Eastlake and counteract the “corridor effect.” In many cases, people who just want to pass through Eastlake will choose to ride Link light rail. While a primary design consideration of RapidRide J Line system is to connect to other major transit modes like Link light rail and the Seattle Streetcar, RapidRide J Line is also designed to help complete the city’s transportation network for transit, bicycle and pedestrian modes.

The combination of the changes to lane configurations, addition of protected bicycle lane, and the transit system improvements of RapidRide will help calm traffic through the Eastlake community and enhance the community feel. For example, buses on Eastlake Ave E will no longer pull over to let passengers board or exit; they’ll instead remain in-lane so all vehicle traffic will be behind the bus as passengers get on and off. This creates a natural ‘platoon’ of vehicles behind the bus travelling no faster than the bus. As the bus stops at a station, a gap ahead of the bus will allow vehicles turning to clear out ahead of the bus so the bus will be less impacted by traffic at intersections ahead of it. Access improvements like all-door boarding will also help speed up the boarding process to offset delays to other drivers.

While some may use RapidRide J Line to connect to light rail at the U-District or Westlake stations, others may travel to those stations to access Eastlake itself. Providing connections to other modes allows more people to safely and easily travel to the Eastlake community than before with seamless transit connections even to the airport. The project will also bring pedestrian improvements to connect to the new bus stations which will improve the overall pedestrian environment including upgrading ramps to meet ADA requirements and providing pedestrian-level lighting at the stations.

LUW: Talk about the parking mitigation that is being considered for Eastlake – how that would work? And loading zone mitigation?

RRJT: We’re reviewing a variety of options for parking mitigation for the Eastlake community. These mitigation strategies are included in the project’s Environmental Assessment, and should the project receive a Finding of No Significant Impact from the Federal Transit Administration, they will be an official commitment made by the project and will be tracked going forward.

  • Following direct briefings with Eastlake businesses conducted in July 2019, we are currently reviewing load zone opportunities throughout the Eastlake corridor. While other neighborhoods have similar constraints to Eastlake that they can work around, we recognize no two neighborhoods are the same and want to be sensitive to and reflective of Eastlake’s individual business needs.
  • Facilitating discussions to work with private businesses that may be interested, or able to, allow parking lots to be shared parking for other uses. Apps like Spot Hero, Curb Flip, BestParking, and ParkMe are increasingly making shared parking convenient and safe.
  • Considering adjustments to the Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) 8 to better ease parking congestion in the residential area and to address the needs of all curb space users in the area. This could include updating the time limit regulations and blocks that are covered by the RPZ. SDOT’s RPZ program includes extensive data collection and community engagement when making adjustments to RPZs. 

In addition, we will continue to work with businesses and residents to communicate on-street parking regulations and available commute options. There are a wide variety of commuting programs that SDOT and other area partners have developed that we can work with Eastside businesses and residents to adapt for the Eastlake community.

LUW:  RapidRide won’t go as directly into the U. District as the 70 now does – it will be a longer walk.  Why was that decision made?

RRJT: The project is planned to serve the U District Link light rail station, which will be a regional connection to the University District and the University of Washington. The line does not deviate to the east to serve the core of the UW campus because it is designed to travel in a more linear north-south pattern to provide fast connections to the U District Link station from the north and south. The University of Washington was involved in selecting the Link light rail station locations, so SDOT and King County Metro are mirroring those priorities. In addition, our initial ridership forecasting showed transit ridership would be higher with the planned route and stop locations compared to a route that deviates to the east as Route 70 currently does today. The J Line will also serve the western portion of the UW campus that extends to the west along NE Campus Parkway and NE 41st St.

King County Metro is currently leading the North Link Connections Mobility Project, which is an effort to identify future bus route changes after North Link light rail is open. This effort includes a review of east/west transit connections from the U District Link light rail station through the University of Washington. Depending on transit riders’ destinations on the campus, they may transfer to another route, walk or bike to their destination.

Finally, the University of Washington Master Plan shows planned campus expansion, which includes significant development on the west side of campus near RapidRide stations.

LUW:  The bike lanes will take away 350 parking spaces along Eastlake Avenue. Currently about 1,700 bicyclists cross the University Bridge daily – that’s expected to increase by how much when the protected bike lane is in place? Will electric scooters also be able to use the bike lane?

RRJT: The protected bicycle lane for Eastlake Ave E is designed to improve reliability and safety for people currently accessing Eastlake Ave E whether they’re in a car, on a bike, walking, or riding the bus. We certainly expect an increase in bicyclists as the all ages and abilities network continues to expand with key projects identified in the Bicycle Master Plan being completed. However, as the purpose and need of this project do not directly include increasing bicycle ridership, we have not performed a study of anticipated ridership increase. Our focus for this project has been on addressing safety of all transportation users including bicyclists.

SDOT is separately working on a scooter share pilot. This link has information about this new effort. One question we’re still examining internally is scooter access to protected bicycle lanes.

LUW:  For anyone concerned about climate change, this project seems to be a pivotal one that will have a positive impact on the environment. Can you elaborate more on that?

RRJT: Transportation is the leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Seattle, and reducing those emissions is a key goal as we work to address global climate change. Passenger vehicles and commercial trucks account for 62% of Seattle’s emissions. Growing transit ridership and reducing driving alone are critical to meeting Seattle’s climate change goals. Implementing all ages and abilities bicycle facilities also provides an alternative to driving alone and this project will provide a key segment of the bicycle network. Between 2010 and 2018, the city’s drive-alone rate in the center city dropped from 35% to 25%, while bicycle and pedestrian volumes have grown approximately 60% during the same period.

There is no room in Seattle for new infrastructure for single occupant vehicles, so our transportation investments must provide benefit for options that move the most people with the least environmental impacts.

RapidRide J Line would improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the number of vehicle trips in the corridor compared to not building the project and using primarily electric trolley buses that do not produce tailpipe emissions.

Comment Period for the Environmental Assessment

The project is currently in a comment period for the Environmental Assessment and Section 4(f) Analysis. Comments can be left via the online comment form or mailed to Seattle Department of Transportation, 700 Fifth Ave, Suite 3800 (SMT-38-00), PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA 98124 attn: Darrell Bulmer. Comments must be postmarked or submitted by 5 PM on Friday, February 14, 2020.

Medieval France meets 21st Century Seattle

It’s not very often that a gift to the King of France turns up on the shores of Lake Union. But it has at MOHAI.

The gift, a fantastic miniature replica of the real-life Mont-Saint-Michel, a medieval cathedral, abbey and village, built on an island in France between Normandy and Brittany, was created by monks in the 17th century for King Louis the XIV.

The replica of Mont-Saint-Michel

Not just an exquisite curio for the King, the replica was part of a 3-D, high tech (at the time) map system of the region to aid in strategic warfare. It’s now considered a work of art in itself, and its exhibition at MOHAI brings you a piece of France with a Seattle overlay, a mixed reality tour (developed by Microsoft) spins you through the history of the place.

A rich history it is. Borders rise and fall like the sea around Mont-Saint-Michel. Built over time beginning in the 700s, first by the English and then by the French, Mont-Saint-Michel is one of the great cathedrals of France and was a sacred place of pilgrimage for centuries. Then that too was washed over. It became forgotten for a while, even serving as a prison during the French Revolution. Rediscovered, it’s again a religious site as well as tourist attraction, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Mont-Saint-Michel exhibit at MOHAI is open to all ages, but the mixed reality tour (included as part of the price of admission) has limited availability. There are just four slots for the 10-minute excursion that feels a bit like a high-tech amusement ride (a sample of the future of museum going?), a flight of fancy, with docents who ready you for the experience and then check you back in afterwards. (And like an amusement park ride where you have to be “this tall” to go on it, for this ride, you have to be 15 or older.)

Make a pilgrimage to MOHAI to check out the Mont-Saint-Michel replica before it retreats. You need to sign up for the mixed reality tour at the museum. On a Thursday afternoon, we had to wait an hour, but there are plenty of other things to see at MOHAI including an enlightening “Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation” exhibit. And your museum pass is good for all day; you could even go outside and check out the historic ships dock or Center for Wooden Boats while you wait.

MOHAI recently extended its evening hours for the holiday, Sunday, Jan 19, and Monday, Jan 20, to 8 p.m., so you have a little more time to book your carbon-free voyage to France and to the past and the future.

Update: MOHAI encourages people to call the museum to ensure space on the mixed reality tour: 206-324-1126.

New Large Development at 3101 Eastlake Ave. E.

Did the psychic reader see this coming?  Her house, the place next to her, and places south and in back (basically all small structures on the block south of Lake Union Café) will be demolished to make way for a seven story building with over 120 units (98 efficiency units and 28 small apartments, mostly studios, including two one-bedrooms). The preliminary design includes a retail street-level front of black glass along Eastlake Avenue.

The complex will have 21 underground parking spaces including some resident bike parking.

Deadline for public comment is January 2, 2019.

Project number is 3034445-LU  

The developer’s plan for the site is in this link under Attachments. It takes a moment for the attachments to load when you click on them. Then look for “Plan Set – Land Use.pdf.” (The pdf is 51 MB and too large to post here.)

These are the buildings along Eastlake Ave. E. that will be demolished along with a few houses behind them:

The Lake Union Cafe is not part of the project:

Lake Union Cafe stays.

There is a comment form for this project under Notice of Application.pdf.

Applicant contact: Lauren Garkel    206-782-8208

SDCI Planner  Wayne Farrens   206-727-8602

Written comments are encouraged and should be submitted to

Department of Construction & Inspections

ATTN Public Resource Center

P.O. Box 34019

Seattle WA 98124-4019

People who comment and provide an email address or return US mail address will be sent notice of any public meetings or hearings and notice of the SDCI decision with information on the right to appeal. All correspondence will be posted to the city’s electronic library.

Ride the Ducks are out – an expanded park is in

It happened ever so quietly after years of acrimonious debate and neighborhood lawsuits. Rather than build a private boat ramp next to Terry Pettus street-end park in Eastlake, Ride the Ducks sold its property to neighboring U.S. Seafood this year, who in turn is selling a portion, as planned, to the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department. The sale to the city will nearly double the Terry Pettus street-end park’s size and will double the shoreline access. Expanding the park has been a neighborhood and Parks Department goal for over a decade.

According to Chip Nevins of the Department of Parks and Recreation, who presented the acquisition legislation to the Civic Development, Public Assets, Native Communities Committee meeting Wednesday, Dec. 4, the Parks Department tried to buy the adjacent property in 2006 and 2008. NOAH, a tenant, vacated the space in 2010, and Ride the Ducks bought the property in 2012. But there was little support for a Ride the Ducks operation in Eastlake.

The neighboring Floating Homes Association, Eastlake Community Council and the Log Foundation took Ride the Ducks to court in 2015, gaining only minor concessions on reduced noise through the area.

But other forces were also at work, as the legislative action noted, “Due to recent liabilities related to the crash on the Aurora Bridge, Ride the Ducks decided to sell the property.”

U.S. Seafood and the city worked together to acquire the property.

“It’s really a great win-win for both the business community and the neighborhood,” said Nevins, who has also been working on preliminary design concepts with neighborhood groups for redeveloping the current park and now adding to it.  With more public meetings to come, the design will be finalized so that cost estimates can be included in the city’s next six-year budget cycle.  Construction of the park is expected to begin in 2021.

“Increased park space in urban village areas and public access to bodies of water are a priority in our public space acquisition strategy,” said Christopher William, Deputy Superintendent.  Alex Pedersen, District 4, City Council Representative joined the committee for this action and noted, “The unity around this project is amazing. I heard a lot about it over the last year or two. People are very excited.”

The Civic Development, Public Assets, Native Communities Committee will be recommending approval of this acquisition legislation to the full City Council on Monday; it’s expected to sail through.

The Committee meeting can be viewed on the Seattle Channel with the Terry Pettus action at about the 50-minute mark.

Featured sketch of Terry Pettus street-end park by Karen Berry.