Bringing Ballard Up to Date: Sound Transit, BIRT, and Ballard Bridge
Join us on May 12 for a panel update and community Q&A on regional transportation topics, including Ballard Bridge, BIRT (Ballard Interbay Regional Transportation planning), Sound Transit and more. See the event listing for more details.
Catch up with Ballard’s unique and valued Maritime Industrial sector! Our April meeting featured a multi-faceted presentation and discussion, providing a chance for Ballardites (newcomers and old-timers alike) to hear directly from a range of voices tied to this key part of our local economy and community — with speakers from Pacific Fishermen Shipyard, Ballard Oil, Western Towboat, Seattle Office of Economic Development Maritime & Manufacturing Division, and Port of Seattle Maritime Division.
Full video is available on our YouTube channel. You can’t understand Ballard unless you have some familiarity with our historical and forward-looking maritime community. This is an enjoyable and informative video. Please share with other Ballardites (it’s easy to listen to like a podcast).
Join us at our April 14, 2021, meeting for a panel presentation and discussion about Ballard’s unique and valued Maritime Industrial sector. We hope to give Ballardites (newcomers and old-timers alike) a chance to hear directly from a range of voices tied to this key part of our local economy and community. We’ll be welcoming speakers from Pacific Fishermen Shipyard, Ballard Oil, Western Towboat, Seattle Office of Economic Development Maritime & Manufacturing Division, and Port of Seattle Maritime Division.
The following information was sent to our Ballard District Council community email list on 3/23/21. Please contact us if you’d like to receive our emails, and help spread the word to others. Thanks!
We are writing to highlight some civic gems we’ve discovered at recent Ballard District Council meetings. For more than 30 years, BDC has met on the 2nd Wednesday evening of each month (online during Covid) and all are invited. Last November, we heard a promising update from the long-awaited re-introduction of the Seattle Police Community Service Officer program.
Did you know that…
Seattle Police Community Service Officers (CSOs) started serving citywide in early 2020 — Sgt. Kevin Nelson and Community Service Officer (CSO) staff members have been doing great things in the community. The goal, according to the Seattle Police Department, is to have these unarmed civilians show a new kind of response to calls for service. The CSOs are a diverse, multi-lingual group with backgrounds ranging from social services to juvenile outreach to courts and security. A recent KUOW article describes a CSO who responded to a domestic violence victim and was able to share resources to get safety from her abuser, in Oromo, an Ethiopian language. CSOs also help mitigate landlord-tenant disputes and a range of other community-focused support, to augment public safety for Seattle neighborhoods. They can be reached via email at SPD_csoinfo@seattle.gov or by phone at 206-684-8403.
If you missed our November 2020 meeting, you can still view it and share with others who might benefit. (We also hosted the CSO program back in December 2019, which includes earlier insights describing why they’re inspired to do this work.)
Sgt. Nelson from the CSO program also spoke at the last North Precinct Advisory Council (NPAC) meeting on 3/3/21. NPAC meeting minutes are available online. Ballardites are encouraged to participate in opportunities to learn more about this and other programming as our city’s public safety programming evolves.
This is the inaugural missive of our planned occasional updates highlighting civic content of benefit to the greater Ballard neighborhood. Whether you live in downtown Ballard, Loyal Heights, West Woodland, Crown Hill, or other parts of the greater Ballard area, please share with others to help us grow and connect as a civic community.
We welcome feedback and ideas about what is important to you from a civic organization like BDC, as we evolve with our fast-growing neighborhood. Please be in touch!
We had a chock-full agenda at our March 2021 meeting, learning about Seattle City Light’s proposed EV charging station, SDOT’s Stay Healthy Streets program and an update from Ballard-Fremont Neighborhood Greenways. Video is fully archived on YouTube (see links to specific portions of the meeting below) and below is a selection of meeting minutes, with links to some of the presenter’s full slideshows, as well.
Jacob Orenberg from Seattle City Light gave a detailed overview of the Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station proposed for development at SCL’s former substation lot at 2826 NW Market Street (between the VFW and the Sloop Tavern).
Discussion about “best public use” and community input
Q: has Parks Dept interest in closing gap for public space been reconsidered for this property? A: clarification that property is not considered “surplus,” its status is “active,” still has use for City Light (and rate payers) so it cannot currently become a park, also houses electrical infrastructure for Metro Transit,
Q: will there be a landscape buffer from the sidewalk (toward front end of site)? will paving be permeable / any rain gardens? A: design is very early but that is definitely under consideration, on their radar, also some areas are required to remain open space around infrastructure so that will be accommodated in design.
Q: can the lot be subdivided A: no
Q: how will the bidding tgake place for the EV spots? A: RFP (request for proposal) will be issued to a select list of vendors and ones will be selected that can provide most reliable service to community
Q: what SCL infrastrucdture A: electrical transformer that powers King County Metro rectifier for trolley buses
Q: can constraints be changed around use of the property so it can be used as a tiny house village? A: nothing is impossible, but the utility sees long-term value for the property to remain in service for rate payers. Not a permissible use for SCL property (would have to be compensated).
Q: What are the long-term plans for the EV charging station? A: initial lease of 5 years, with extensions possible of 5 years. Probably a 20-25 year life span for this use, unless SCL determines there’s a better, higher use at lease renewal point.
Q: Any public art budget or for improving the pedestrian experience in nearby area (art wraps on poles, wayfinding or improvements to new sidewalk/media areas)? – haven’t looked into that yet but can talk with partner agencies and community and look further into that.
Summer Jawson from Seattle Department of Transportation gave an update on the City’s Stay Healthy Streets program, including feedback from last summer’s public survey (9,000 people responded). In 2020, over 20 miles of Neighborhood Greenways were upgraded to Stay Healthy Streets — opened to people walking, rolling, and biking. The City is now considering making many of these permanent changes.
Golden Gardens Drive pros/cons/impacts during summer/fall temporary “Keep Moving Street” vehicle closure – not currently under consideration for permanent closure because it’s an arterial. Happened in collaboration with Parks Department to help reduce crowding during that time of pandemic.
Clarifying distinction between Greenways (the name of a type of street and the name of a community organization) and Stay Healthy Streets
Is 17th Ave NW in Ballard almost a shoo-in as a permanent Greenway because of how well it did in survey? A: there is mixed feedback despite immense popularity so they are continuing conversations
Q: reported racism on 17th? A: no specific reports of issues on 17th, but in other parts of city there have been incidents of people of color who are legally driving on a Greenway being yelled at by pedestrians/cyclists. It’s something they are carefully monitoring, whether people of color feel like kids can play in street and “be loud” without being unnecessarily reported.
Bryant Mason, co-chair of Ballard-Fremont Neighborhood Greenways (@BFGreenways), provided background on the history of their community group with a focus on recent successes and future plans for improving safety and access in the Ballard area for pedestrians and cyclists. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has an extensive coalition of neighborhood-based, volunteer-led chapters throughout the city, empowering communities to reclaim Seattle’s streets so that they are more welcoming for people of all kinds to walk, bike and safely get around town. Their next meeting is March 24 and they welcome Ballardites to join in.
Q: what is the best way to give input on Greenways routes? Can the 17th Ave NW Greenway extend south to Shilshole and the 20th Ave NW street end? A: Let SDOT know and add your voice to the Greenways group. It all started with a few neighbors talking. Join in with your ideas. It starts small and grows as more people get involved.
Q: There is a map showing some new street changes around Sunset Hill Park that might make 34th Ave NW local access only. Wondering about possible plans. A: Not currently a Greenway project. May have been part of brainstorming about Stay Healthy Streets and Keep Moving Streets early in pandemic. Or, people might be looking at a map that notes “safe neighborhood rides” that the Greenways group encourages people to use as quiet streets but they are not officially proposed as upcoming Greenways routes.
Q: Are Stay Healthy Streets a Greenway on steroids and taking away from expanding the Greenways network? Why is “street closed” posted for Stay Healthy Streets but not Greenways? A: State law requires “street closed” designation for pedestrians to have right of way in street. These efforts are happening nationally but our local regulations are different than places that are able to just post “local access only.” State legislative agenda may address this at some point, so that civil/traffic engineers aren’t by default prioritizing cars over people walking and biking.
Q: Will Stay Healthy Streets program reduce outreach and development for Neighborhood Greenways? A: SDOT is not planning to. They are still trying to figure out source of funding for Stay Healthy Streets becoming permanent. Funded via Move Seattle Levy, ending in 2024. Up until now, SHS funded via federal coronavirus funding.
Q: Is there overlap with Safe Routes to School? A: Yes. New sidewalks and crossing improvements often partnered between efforts. Community collaboration. Ballard 17th Greenway connects up to Whitman Middle School, for example. Another example: new traffic signal crossing on Holman Road to Dick’s (many students like to cross here).
Our February 10, 2021, meeting featured updates from and a panel discussion with four local legislators: State Senator Reuven Carlyle, King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, and Seattle City Councilmembers Andrew Lewis and Dan Strauss.
Many thanks to our panelists and community members who participated in Q&A or otherwise engaged.
Following are shortcut links to specific portions of the meeting video:
BDC Panel Discussion — Question 1
How can we reconnect with unhoused people who are lost in plain sight? Other than 911, how can we communicate back and forth between people in the neighborhood and the social service network and criminal justice diversion?
BDC Panel Discussion — Question 2
How can community feedback and lessons learned in Ballard contribute to improved “evidence-based” strategies? How can Ballard cultivate measurable evidence of successes that are readily felt and seen by our entire local community?
Jean Darsie, Ballard Community Taskforce on Homelessness & Hunger — Amount of funding required to meet housing needs must and should come from federal government. Amount coming is good but not enough. State and local taxes can’t possibly handle all emergencies and essentials for these times. How can we help you get the money needed from federal government? What is your plan and how can we be involved?
Rudy Pantoja, Ballard community volunteer/advocate,
How do you define stability or when people are “ready” for services, whether you’re in a tent or a home. Many services are open even though people are saying there’s no in person during the pandemic (e.g., mental health, addiction and medical issues). So many women walking the streets on Aurora without outreach. Why don’t we see the social workers?
Lara Zahaba, co-owner Stoup Brewing,
Please clarify the types of organizations that REACH vs. Just CARE vs. the HOPE team are and the kinds of work that they do out in the community.
Pam McCarthy, community member,
She has a financial audit background and is distressed because she doesn’t see data surrounding the programs. HMIS system is very high level, disappointing. City auditor’s report on Human Services contracts was very instructive.
Mike Stewart, Ballard Alliance,
We have cases in Ballard of people who suffer from chronic mental health and addiction issues who have had housing/support and it hasn’t worked out. What do we do for these people?
Small business owners are being very impacted by break-ins, damage, and theft, as well as violent crimes (punched in face, knocked down in street, etc). 17% of businesses in Ballard recently surveyed reported employees are leaving jobs because they don’t feel safe. Whta level of attention and resources is being focused on victims?
Local small businesses often feel that when they are expressing frustrations with these kinds of situations they face every day, assumptions are made lumping them in with big businesses or that they’re not compassionate toward unhoused. Reality is they are very community oriented, very focused on employees and community. Interested in being an active part of compassionate services and programs, so things work better for all people in the neighborhood.
We received many additional questions from community and appreciate everyone who reached out via email, Facebook, or Chat/Q&A on Zoom. Following are some of the additional questions we received:
There’s been more turnover on the REACH worker in Ballard. Who is the current person and are they connecting with other service providers in the neighborhood?
Is Seattle considering a NYC method of providing a second citizen phone number for non emergency calls: is it 411 atop of 911?
CM Lewis, has it been decided which Seattle City homelessness programs will be retained by Seattle, and which will be transferred to the Regional Authority?
Will there be any severe weather shelters opening up closer to the Ballard area this week?
What happens if someone doesn’t want help? What are involuntary commitment standards? Theres a man who sleeps on the NW corner of [redacted] who wakes up screaming for about 30 mins every day. He’s lived there for about 5 months now. He doesn’t want help. What’s the plan?
Why not deploy National Guard to build new motel and authorized encampments where all outreach resources are brought to bear, halting criminals destroying other lives pushing crack/meth/ heroin and exploitation of addicts presently exempted from JAIL by council and prosecutors office? We need more than tiny houses built with volunteer labor.
If the city/county isn’t participating in the annual single-night count of people experiencing homelessness this year, how will that effect budgeting/services?
CM Lewis, as a former member of the City Attorney staff, and given Pete Holmes has announced his intention to run again — is there anything about the way Mr. Homes runs his office that gives you pause? Is he an effective City Attorney?
What do each of you panel members do to understand the needs of our homeless community?
I keep hearing the reasons why the panelists are limited in their actions, so is it really on me – a frustrated community member- to actually make a difference?
On the It Take a Village web site, a high-scale city map indicates specific sites earmarked for tiny house villages. Why doesn’t it provide addresses or allow for a zoomed in view to indicate the locations? Why are there no sites in all of NE Seattle? (Why are there so few encampments, period, in NE Seattle?)
We’re in a decent RV. Need running water. Electricity, place to park, shower. Thank you.
Are local politics between service providers, advocacy groups and elected leaders what have been limiting our potential to react quickly and to scale? How has LIHI become such a central power broker and who provides oversight or watchdogging?
I would really like to see some DATA. I don’t want another recap of the issues, problems, and excuses. I would like to see the following:
How much was spent by King County and Seattle in 2020 to address homelessness? By category.
How was that money spent? (Where can the public find detail list of vendors and $$)
What are demographics? I’m particularly interested in numbers of homeless not from KC and/or Seattle. How many homeless have been helped? How do we measure value for money?
Who is in charge of accountability for the money, and internal controls (at department level, not just auditors). What reporting is there? Has Councilmember Lewis read the City of Seattle audit report “Homeless Contracts Management Audit”? If so, what was his reaction?
What audit or financial reports are there for accountability of the hundreds of millions of dollars for these programs? What is the plan going forward?
How can the public access HMIS (Homeless Management Information Systems) data?
Why is Washington State the only state to require clients to “opt in” to being identifiable in the HUD-required HMIS? Note: 30% declined, thus our data is not very useful.
Homelessness in Ballard – as well as most of Seattle – – is at a crisis level beyond imagination! we must have leaders who will summon the political will to invest in shelters, transitional housing and permanent housing options so that staying on the street is not an option. Let’s build lots of Tiny Houses, get lots of motel rooms, let’s get serious about how we can support folks in need of mental health care, addiction treatment, etc etc. The people of Seattle really would invest in this, as long as we get some regional help too!
Things are the pits here. The homeless population is large and will probably grow. How can we work together so that our efforts are most effective and helpful both to the unhoused and to the city departments that are dealing with the situation?
Our January 13 meeting focused on two major new building developments slated for different portions of Market Street in Ballard: 1145 NW Market Street and 2501 NW Market Street. We were joined by Jorden Selig of JSRA real estate development company, and Bill LaPatra and Martha Cox from Mithun architecture company.
The meeting included questions from Ballard community members who tuned in via YouTube. Thank you to all who participated.