4 to Explore: A Northeast Neighborhoods Newsletter

2014 March

1 Store to Adore

Top Pot Doughnuts

If your mouth starts to water when a neighbor says “Doughnuts”, then you must be near TOP POT DOUGHNUTS in our Wedgwood neighborhood. Sure, there are 6 other Top Pot Doughnut locations in Seattle, but the Wedgwood Top Pot has what the others don’t: palm trees.  When I asked my son whether Top Pot is a “Store to Adore,” he said, “Yeah, duh, they sell doughnuts!”  Good point. Founded by creative brothers and current owners Mark and Michael Klebeck in 2002, their selection of doughnuts is rich. They even have the courage to provide a Nutritional Fact Sheet — not as bad as you might assume. Yes, the Pink Feather Boa and Chocolate Bar are devilishly decadent doughnuts, but just jog down to the Northeast branch library and back to Top Pot to make yourself feel healthier. To enrich the flavor of your doughnut, enjoy a hot cup of their coffee and relax among the store’s tall book shelves. Savor each bite; they literally hand-crafted your doughnut, so don’t inhale it! If you’re feeling like a renegade, order scoops of their ice cream instead. Our neighborhood Top Pot is located across the street from Grateful Bread on 35th Avenue NE at NE 70th Street, Top Pot Wedgwood is open 7 days a week (from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday thru Friday and from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday). Watch this Travel Channel video or this CNBC video and learn how the name “Top Pot” fell into place.

Get Results

Fixing Street Signs

sign leaning croppedstreet sign fixed again

Whether or not you believe in the “broken windows theory” of criminology, you probably do not enjoy seeing graffiti, trash, or damaged signage in your neighborhood. Take action to fix things on your block by calling the city government’s Customer Service Bureau at 206-684-2489. Check out these Before and After photos: a vehicle smacked into this street sign and we got it fixed in a week. When calling the Customer Service Bureau or when they transfer you to another department, ask for a tracking number and follow-up. You can also try the city’s new mobile phone app “Find It, Fix It” which enables you to pinpoint the location of the problem and upload photos — but calling gets results much quicker!

Due, in part, to the frustration of not having a point person to solve basic city problems, voters recently approved a new neighborhood-based method for electing 7 of our 9 City Councilmembers.  Northeast Seattle includes districts #4 and parts of #5. We will select these neighborhood Councilmembers in 2015.

For creative ideas on how to engage citizens to reinvent government, check out the 2013 book Citizenville or explore our new website: www.4toExplore.org.

1 Meeting to Connect

Parks and Recreation Taxes

If you are concerned about property tax levies being “renewed” with much higher price tags that can drain your family budget OR if you want parks and recreation programs to be refurbished and expanded, then you will want to attend these March Meetings to Connect on PARKS AND RECREATION TAXES: Thursday, March 6, 2014 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Miller Community Center on Capitol Hill (330 19th Avenue East) to learn about the latest proposal and then to voice your views on March 17 and 31 at 2:30 p.m. in City Hall.  According to their website, the Parks Legacy Citizens’ Advisory Committee (PLCAC) was established, in part, to “incorporate your public comments into its recommendations to the Mayor and to City Council.”  That pro-parks citizens committee originally proposed a range between $26 million (essentially renewing the current $24 million tax to address a backlog in maintenance) to a high of $53 million (to expand and add a long list of programs). Complicating this taxing landscape are concerns about a proposed “Metropolitan Parks District” (MPD). Neighborhood skeptics of an MPD are concerned not only about the much higher taxing authority of an MPD but also the additional government powers the new creation would wield.  Interestingly, on Feb 27, the citizens committee recommended not only the MPD taxing authority, but also a tax of $57 million — which is above their original range. But as city revenues rise with the recovering economy, some may ask whether it is necessary to renew or raise property taxes to maintain existing services like parks and rec.  Connect with neighbors and share your views.

1 Fun to Enjoy

Community Centers

Coming down with a case of cabin fever this winter? It’s raining, it’s pouring, your weekend is boring? Already browsed books at your neighborhood library or tried indoor tennis at Magnuson Park? Then head for the nearest COMMUNITY CENTER operated by our city’s Parks and Recreation Department.  Both of our kids were literally having a ball after we visited Ravenna-Eckstein Rec Center on a Saturday afternoon. After asking for a basketball at the front counter, my son and I practiced layups (he was surprised I could do one). Then our kindergarten-bound daughter had fun playing Foosball and air hockey for the first time. In addition to Ravenna-Eckstein (has basketball court), our Parks Dept operates the following Community Centers in Northeast Seattle: Greenlake (has a pool), Laurelhurst, Magnuson (has basketball court), and Meadowbrook (has a pool). In addition to a place to go during the rainy season, there is also a dizzying array of programs, some for a fee.  At Ravenna-Eckstein, for example, kids can learn ballet, tennis, and karate. Adults can take yoga and parenting classes. Seniors can exercise with line dancing. Registration for summer camps has already started. Of course, “there’s no free lunch” as the saying goes, so check out the “1 Meeting to Connect” section of this “4 to Explore” newsletter for what many view as a controversial and/or expensive proposal to “renew” and increase the taxes we pay for Parks and Rec.

1 Issue to Engage

Workforce Housing

For too many of our neighbors, Seattle is becoming too expensive. Although most news outlets focus on minimum wages, our city’s affordability challenges are caused by rising housing costs. High-tech and other companies that recruit from other States bring in new employees able to pay more for housing – which can drive up rents. Even our nurses, construction workers, and other middle-wage workers who support Seattle’s economic prosperity and diversity have difficulty living in the city where they work. A public school teacher’s starting salary of $42,000 suggests that he or she should not pay more than $1,050 per month (30%) for housing. Yet the average rent for a 2 bedroom / 1 bath is $1,466. What’s a solution? Create more WORKFORCE HOUSING, affordable to families earning between 60% and 100% of the area median income (AMI) — because government already heavily subsidizes under 60% AMI and those earning above 100% can typically afford housing. City Council adopted Resolution 31444, sponsored by Tim Burgess, launching “a thorough review and update of Seattle’s incentive zoning and other affordable housing programs and policies focused on creating affordable Workforce Housing…” On Feb 13, national experts hired by the Council led their first dynamic discussions. Lessons learned can be applied to the U-District, Roosevelt, Northgate and other areas of our city. The Council should take action starting in the summer. Engage.

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