4 to Explore: A Northeast Neighborhoods Newsletter

2015 September

1 Issue to Engage

Gun Safety Initiative

Drive by that “Discount Gun” Store on Lake City Way? See the news on another Seattle shooting today?

The number of shootings has increased in Seattle. After leading the way on successful early interventions like Nurse Family Partnership for low-income moms and high-qualitypreschool, City Council President Tim Burgess recently unveiled a well-crafted “GUN SAFETY INITIATIVE“. It received national attention by CNN — and immediate opposition, of course, from the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.).  The program has its roots in 2013, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooing tragedy, when Tim Burgess enabled Seattle to become the first city in the U.S. to fund basic research on gun safety. Seattle’s leadership was imperative because the N.R.A. lobbyists blocked research at the federal level.

Seattle’s pioneering research, led by UW doctors at Harborview Medical Center, showed that individuals hospitalized from gun injuries were 30 times more likely to be re-hospitalized for another gun injury and 11 times more likely to die from guns within 5 years. In addition to the tragic life outcomes for the people involved, everyone pays for it. More than $17 million was spent in 2014 on the medical costs for 250 victims of gun violence at Harborview…with taxpayers picking up the bill for 70%. The Public Health division of Seattle & King County estimates the total direct and indirect cost of firearm deaths and injuries was $900 million (2009 through 2013).

When Tim Burgess announced his gun safety initiative recently, the media focused on the conflict with gun rights advocates and dealers. But the most interesting angles are the sources of funding and how the city will invest it.

Source of Funds:  Tired of property tax levies? With the impending Nov vote on City Hall’s most expensive transportation levy shortly after doubling the Parks Levy, many in Seattle want to see more discipline, creativity, and results from their city leaders. The good news is that the gun safety initiative is funded by taxing each gun sold in the city by $25 and each bullet by 2 cents to 5 cents. As Dr. Fred Rivara of Harborview said, “A tax on guns and ammunition makes sense, since the public pays the majority of the costs for gun violence in the form of medical costs for gunshot victims and, of course the police and criminal justice costs of protecting citizens from gun violence.”

Use of Funds: As a result of the city-funded research, Harborview developed an evidence-based bedside intervention for gun violence victims to reduce future trauma and hospitalizations. This was based on successful program where public health professionals turned around the lives of those hospitalized due to alcohol-related injuries. Evidence-based initiatives like that will be funded with the revenues from the new tax on guns and ammunition.

It’s easy for policymakers to propose new ways to spend your money. But if we really care about helping people and improving our city, we must hold them to high standards:
  • Is there statistical data that demonstrates how big the problem really is? (“needs assessment”)
  • How does the program propose to make things better? (what is the “theory of change“?)
  • Will it work? (is it a “best practice” or “evidence-based“)
  • Is it targeted to those who need it?
  • Does the source of revenue make sense? (i.e. it’s not another lazy levy)
  • Are there process evaluations and outcome evaluations set up at the beginning to track and report results and provide feedback?

When he chaired the Budget Committee, Tim Burgess set up similar performance standards for two city budgets, but policymakers cynically side-stepped them by claiming programs were not “new” or that it was “too hard” to measure the results.

Because the new Gun Safety Initiative met those high standards, even naysayers (some operating as tools for other political candidates) struggled to critique it and were reduced to re-tweeting negativity.

  • Complaint: “It’s too late once the bullets fly.” Response: (1) That’s why Tim Burgess first started by expanding early intervention solutions proven to reduce inequities such as  Nurse Family Partnership in 2011 and high-quality preschool in 2013. (2) The gun safety funds will be used to PREVENT a more tragic return to the hospital.
  • Complaint: “Expand other programs.” But do those programs actually work? When you really care about outcomes, it usually does not help to throw scarce dollars at unproven programs. For example, an independent report commissioned by City Auditor’s Office found that, after 5 years and over $20 million, the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (SYVPI) was so poorly designed, it is nearly impossible to determine results/outcomes.

But let us light a candle rather than curse the darkness. Bravo for a sensible program from City Hall. City Council approved Tim Burgess’s gun safety initiative August 11, 2015 and the Mayor signed the ordinance. Now onto implementation and actually helping people.

PREVIOUS MONTH’S ISSUE: Mayor’s Affordable Housing Plan / HALA.

1 Meeting to Connect

City / University Community Advisory Committee (CUCAC)

Do you feel like changes to the U District in the heart of Northeast Seattle are coming fast and furious with no time to voice your views? Concerned that the funky U District will become the next South Lake Union? There’s a dramatic proposal from your city government to increase building heights (the “up-zone”) in the U District, which some believe could increase rents for tenants and small businesses. The City Council redrew boundaries for a business tax and improvement area (BIA). The UW is considering an office tower on top of a new light rail station — which would trump the hopes of many neighbors for a public plaza. SDOT is removing parking spaces along Roosevelt Way to make way for additional bike lanes. SDOT and King County Metro are cutting some commuter bus lines or re-routing them through the U District to feed the light rail stations, even after Seattle voters approved more $ for buses. At the same time, long-standing problems persist. Burglaries. Graffiti. Pot holes. Drug dealing on the Ave continues, despite promises from the City Attorney to enforce laws once the State government licensed legitimate stores for the regulated sale and taxation of all marijuana.

With embarrassingly low voter turnout in August and City Council candidate Tony Provine NOT advancing to the general election for District 4 (much to the cynical relief of big business), no candidate is raising these issues. So it’s back to the long-term slog of attending meetings and organizing neighbors to voice their views on their own.

Some are concerned that government employees, technical advisers, lobbyists, and others paid to be in the room could simply wait-out the exhausted and demoralized residents and mom & pop businesses and do what the moneyed interests want anyway: Build, Baby, Build!

The good news is that there is already an organization where you can voice your views during this month’s “Meeting to Connect“:  the CITY / UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE (CUCAC).

  • WHAT: City / University Community Advisory Committee (CUCAC)
  • WHO: The 16 voting members of CUCAC as well as staff from City Dept of Neighborhoods staff and UW.  (See CUCAC by-laws.)
  • WHEN: Tuesday, Sept 8, 2015 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
  • WHERE: UW Tower at 4333 Brooklyn Ave, 22nd Floor, Seattle, WA 98105.

If you want to connect on issues other than the U District, here are links to some of our community councils:  Ravenna/BryantHawthorne HillsLaurelhurstRooseveltU-DistrictView RidgeWallingfordWedgwood, and others. They are among the many community councils that connect to our Northeast District Council (NEDC).

BONUS MEETING: The Northeast District Council (NEDC) meets on the 1st Thursday of every month, including Sept 3 at 7 p.m. at Wedgwood Presbyterian Church at NE 80th St. and 35th Ave NE.

NEXT MONTH (October): Check out our website www.4toExplore.org, our Facebook, or our Twitter for candidate debates among those competing for the City Council positions that will impact our neighborhoods in Northeast Seattle:

1 Fun to Enjoy

Great Wallingford Wurst Festival

Every September, the best in Wallingford is actually the Wurst. That’s right:  Our “Fun to Enjoy” this month in Northeast Seattle is THE GREAT WALLINGFORD WURST FESTIVAL

We have found that kids are more likely to jump up and down with anticipation of this festival when you mention “fancy hot dogs” or “super sausages” rather than explaining the Germanic origin and pronunciation of “wurst”. Of course, there is more to this Wallingford festival at St. Benedict than the scrumptious sausage: games, rides, bouncy-bounce houses, live music, muffins and biergarten — and biergarten. Did we mention the biergarten? Here’s a link to Uber and Orange Cab. Prost!

Started as a fledgling fundraiser for the St. Benedict school over 30 years ago, it has grown into a neighborhood phenomenon. Here’s a video.

According to the event’s official website, “Come celebrate community in a family-friendly neighborhood environment, and meet your neighbors, alumni, and friends you may not have seen in a while.”

MORE: In previous issues of “4 to Explore,” we highlighted other gems of Wallingford including Wide World Travel StoreChutney’s Bistro (Indian cuisine) and Molly Moon’s Ice Cream. Park near Dick’s Burgers for lunch, walk to a film at the Guild 45th Theater, enjoy gelato at Fainting Goat, browse the books at the Wallingford library, and get lost in the zany toys of Archie McPhee. Strolling down Stone Way toward Lake Union and stop by Ro Ro’s for barbecue and Fremont Brewing for a beer. Also, be sure to visit the Wallingford Farmer’s Market whose last day in 2015 is Sunday, Sept 30.

NEIGHBORHOOD:  To explore more of Wallingford, subscribe to their blog Wallyhood and attend meetings of the Wallingford Community Council and Wallingford Chamber of Commerce.

BONUS FUN: View Ridge Party in the Park Sun, Sept 13 from 1-4 p.m. which we featured in last year’s “4 to Explore.”

Families can find other fun events this month on the calendar websites of Parent MapRed Tricycle, and Seattle’s Child.

1 Store to Adore

Bryant Corner Café & Bakery

The statement “Breakfast Is Served All Day” is probably sufficient to convey how much we adore this store:  THE BRYANT CORNER CAFE & BAKERY.

Formerly known as the Sunflour Cafe, the Bryant Corner Cafe & Bakery is well-known for its hearty traditional breakfasts. They serve HUGE portions — the “half order” of French Toast nearly gobbled up my 10-year old.

In researching this neighborhood eatery, we found treats beyond breakfast. For example, they offer an amazing assortment of wines by the glass and unique cocktails, including the “Bryant Greyhound,” “the Ravenna Margarita,” and the “Wedgwood Mai Tai.”

In their own words, “the cafe is equally enjoyed by families-on-the-go as well as the lone coffee-guzzler, camped out with a laptop (free WiFi!)”

But don’t take our word for it; check out the glowing reviews on YELP!

Councilmember Jean Godden chose Byrant Corner Cafe & Bakery for one of her final election campaign interviews.  She also featured the cafe for her “Women in the Workplace” series.

A trip to Bryant Corner Cafe & Bakery is easily combined with a trip to the Northeast branch of our public library located at 6801 35th Ave NE which is open 7 days a week.

Other breakfast places adored by “4 to Explore” include Vios (at Third Place Books in Ravenna), Portage Bay Cafe in the U District, and Burgermaster near U Village.

NEIGHBORHOOD:  To explore more of Bryant, subscribe to us on Facebook or Twitter, subscribe to the Ravenna Blog, or attend the Ravenna Bryant Community Association (current President Inga Manskopf. Former Presidents include Tony Provine and Sarah Swanberg).

The Bryant neighborhood is located in the newly created City Council District 4 of Northeast Seattle, which also includes neighborhoods from Eastlake to Wedgwood.

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