4 to Explore: A Northeast Neighborhoods Newsletter

2016 October

1 Fun to Enjoy

Classical Music in Laurelhurst

Classical music separates us from the beasts and elevates our soul. Enjoy LIVE CLASSICAL MUSIC right here in Northeast Seattle. The Laurelhurst neighborhood continues to host Philharmonia Northwest at St. Stephen’s Church.

What is Philharmonia, you ask? “Philharmonia Northwest was established in 1976…The Orchestra is comprised of approximately 40 musicians from the Puget Sound area, who volunteer their talents and perform music ranging from the works of the Baroque era to world premieres” (according to their website).

This Fall, two very different concerts are featured at St. Stephen’s Church, which is located at 4805 NE 45th Street, Seattle, WA — just east of Laurelhurst Park and Laurelhurst Elementary.

Fall concert #1: “Drum Roll, Please…”

  • WHEN: Sunday, October 23 at 2:30 p.m.
  • WHERE: St. Stephen’s Church in Laurelhurst:  4805 NE 45th St.
  • FEATURING: Matt Drumm (Yes, his name is Drumm.)
  • MUSIC:
  1. Rossini: La gazza ladra overture
  2. Ney Rosauro: Concerto for Timpani and String Orchestra
  3. Hayden: Symphony No. 103 (“Drumroll”)

Fall concert #2: “The Great Tradition”

  • WHEN: Sunday, November 20 at 2:30 p.m.
  • WHERE: St. Stephen’s Church in Laurelhurst:  4805 NE 45th St.
  • FEATURING: Lauren Roth (photo above)
  • MUSIC:
  1. Mozart: “Don Giovanni” Overture
  2. Brahms: Violin Concerto in D Major
  3. Tchaikovsky: Suite No. 4 in G Major

To hear how talented Lauren Roth is, enjoy the first 10 seconds of this performance on YouTube.

For Philharmonia concerts through April, CLICK HERE. To buy season tickets, CLICK HERE. Tickets can be purchased at the door, but they are less expensive when you buy online.

Learn more about Laurelhurst by subscribing to the Laurelhurst Blog and attending the Laurelhurst Community Club.


BONUSFUN TO ENJOY:

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

1 Store to Adore

Persepolis Grill

Adventurous enough to sip a yogurt drink popular in ancient Persia more than a 1,000 years ago? Hungry for hearty kabob dishes cooked to tender perfection? Eager to enjoy authentic Iranian food right here in Northeast Seattle? Travel no farther than PERSEPOLIS GRILL in the University District, just a block south of Cowen Park.

Persepolis” was a capital city of the Achaemenid Empire, also called the First Persian Empire (now Iran). Founded by “Cyrus the Great,” it thrived for 220 years — close to the age of our young United States! (Yes, of course, I had to look this up on Wikipedia; do I look like an ancient history scholar?) For captivating photos of the amazing architecture of Persepolis, CLICK HERE.

Okay — back to this Store to Adore. How yummy is it? One of our son’s best friends cajoles his family to travel all the way from Mount Baker to enjoy lunch and dinner at Persepolis, his favorite restaurant. If an 11-year old loves it, we had to try it — and we loved it, too.

But don’t take our word for it: check out their glowing reviews on YELP.

  • LOCATION: 5517 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105, just one block south of Cowen Park.
  • HOURS: Tues through Sunday 12:00 noon to 10:00 p.m. (closed Mondays)
  • RESERVATIONS? Yes, by phone.
  • MENU: Click Here.

Persepolis serves Halal meat (permissible according to Islamic law). To learn more about Halal meat, CLICK HERE. The Baklava may be too strong for some, so we’ll sample the saffron ice cream next time for dessert!

Bring the kids and combine it with a trip to nearby Cowen Park, Cowen Park Grocery, or the Saturday Farmers Market in the U District.

For more info on this Store to Adore, check out their rockin’ video by CLICKIN’ HERE.

For other Northeast Seattle restaurants serving kabobs, explore:

Sadly, the “upzones” of Northeast Seattle being pushed by City Hall and for-profit developers may jeopardize many Stores to Adore as landowners increase rents or sell-out to speculators. The rallying cry should be Impact Fees before Upzones!” so that for-profit developers and investors pay their fair share of growth and help to build schools, sidewalks, and fire stations. Despite speeches from City Hall about “equity,” their pro-developer policies incentivize demolition and displacement which reduce economic and cultural diversity.  Will Stores to Adore like Persepolis survive the rent increases and leave in their wake vacant space or lifeless chain stores? In her seminal work “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” Jane Jacobs demonstrates that it is Diversity rather than mere Density that fosters community vitality.

For news about neighbors speaking out against the profit-fueled upzone, CLICK HERE (VIDEO) and HERE (article).

1 Meeting to Connect

City Budget P.R.I.D.E. (Also, “Bonus Meeting” to express Upzone concerns)

NEW BONUS MEETING: Also concerned about the proposed “Upzone on Steroids” proposed for our U District and surrounding neighborhoods? Attend public hearing Wed, Nov 16 at 5:30 p.m. at Hotel Deca, 4507 Brooklyn Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105.

————–

MEETING to CONNECT:  Remember when Northeast Seattle’s Rob Johnson and other Councilmembers were criticized for bailing out the failed Pronto bike scheme with millions of your tax dollars? Now our City Council is going to decide how to spend BILLIONS of your tax dollars. So this season’s Meeting to Connect is the CITY BUDGET CALENDAR. (see below)

All meetings are inconveniently located downtown at City Hall when most of us are busy at work. While this means mostly lobbyists and interest groups “paid to be in the room” can attend, we hope you can attend at least one meeting to have your voice heard.  For directions on schlepping yourself down to City Hall, CLICK HERE.

To have the most influence, get into your time machine back to March when the city’s executive departments were putting together their initial budgets. To have the most influence today (when earnest City Council staffers are running around like their hair is on fire only to change less than 5% of the budget), attend these meetings at City Hall:

  • Mon, Oct 17: 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
  • Tues, Oct 18 & Wed, Oct 19: 9:30 a.m.
  • Mon, Oct 24: 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
  • Mon, Oct 31: Revenue “update” (a.k.a. Mayor reveals more money from under the city couch cushions so that City Council can sprinkle it onto the squeaky wheels or additional pet projects).
  • Wed, Nov 2, Wed Nov 9, and Thurs, Nov 10: 9:30 a.m.

For the entire budget calendar, CLICK HERE. For the Seattle Time article covering the Mayor’s initial budget presentation from Sept 26, CLICK HERE.

When attending these meetings or scheduling individual meetings with Councilmembers, join the call for these 5 budget reforms:

1. Performance Measures
2. Real Equity
3. Impact Fees
4. Details
5. Expert Analysis

Let’s ask City Hall to have some P.R.I.D.E. in the democratic document that should reflect our values as a city.

1. Performance Measures: When you spend someone else’s money, you show respect and care by measuring results. But the $5 billion city budget fails. Here’s what the budget should include on each program. If not, City Council should freeze spending on the program until the city department provides it:

  • Quantify Needs: Based on reliable data, what are the specific needs to be addressed? Not a sob story or sales pitch, but actual data. (Example: # of Seattle residents who are un-sheltered and # of homeless traveling to Seattle from outside the State).
  • Quantify Goals (Outcomes):  What are the positive outcomes we seek to accomplish to meet those needs? Not inputs (# of intake forms filled out) or outputs (# of shelter beds filled), but outcomes (# of formerly un-sheltered King County residents now in permanent homes).
  • Track Progress: How will you measure progress toward those goals? By spending $50 million each year, we anticipate achieving __% of the outcome each year.
  • Use Only Evidence-Based Strategies:  What’s the plan and what’s the evidence it should succeed? Don’t talk in circles about un-tested schemes that sound sweet when you can implement what other cities have proven to be effective. (Example: “Housing First” strategy. For more, CLICK HERE.)

2. Real Equity: “Equity” is a word spouted constantly by city officials these days. “Equity” means fairness. Equity is different from “equality” because we do not all start from the same “starting line” in terms of income, education, and opportunity. Collecting, allocating, and spending our tax dollars should be done equitably. This is why it is maddening that the State government does not tax even the highest incomes while the city government fails to measure results (see above) or charge developer Impact Fees (see below). Then there is how City Hall chooses to spend our money.

The proposed $151 million to build a line of streetcars downtown is a glaring example of in-equity. The so-called “Center City Connector” streetcar is on track to be next “Police Bunker” budget boondoggle because it is:

  • Unfair: it benefits only downtown.
  • Costly: $150 million, including $50 million of your city tax dollars.
  • Redundant: buses, light rail, and taxis already saturate downtown.

City Council should cancel this “Streetcar Named Quagmire” and invest the funds in real priorities that advance equity, such as reducing homelessness. Why spend $150 million on a streetcar when people are sleeping in the streets?

For a recent article that interviews a national transit expert on the pitfalls of streetcars, CLICK HERE. For an article on another major way City Hall could advance real equity — by reforming its rich pension benefits —  CLICK HERE.

3. Impact Fees. Speaking of inequity…while much of our city budget is spent to make our city better, the developers and land speculators who profit from our great city do not pay their fair share as they do in cities across the state and nation.

Impact Fees are one-time fees that developers / investors of new building projects pay to a city to help offset increased infrastructure costs caused by the new developments and their new occupants. Impact fees are used to pay for public schools and fire stations (two things needed as more people move into the City). Instead, City leaders have consistently goaded current homeowners and renters to pay for larger tax levies rather than charging the developers a dime. (See Sound Transit tax vote.)

If the City had started charging Impact Fees 10 years ago, it would have generated enough money to build at least 5 new elementary schools. Having the courage and common sense to implement Impact Fees would have helped to prevent the overcrowded classrooms that kids, parents, and teachers suffer through every day in Seattle.

For a local poll showing overwhelming support for Impact Fees, CLICK HERE. For the Municipal Research Services Center website on Impact Fees in Washington State, CLICK HERE. For the website on Impact Fees throughout the U.S., CLICK HERE.

4. Details. The city budget has lots of words and lots of pages, but it is missing what matters: details.  The money is divided into huge buckets (“Budget Control Levels” or BCLs) that the Mayor and his Departments can drive a truck through. (See page 10 of budget, by CLICKING HERE).

Once each vague “BCL” is approved, the Departments can do whatever the heck they want within that huge bucket. When exercising its check-and-balance powers to review the budget, the City Council spends half of its time trying to figure out which program is in which bucket (BCL). Can you imagine your family budget having a huge, vague line item called “Stuff.” Here is just one example:

Business Services Program“: $15 million proposed for 2017-18. The budget document is obnoxiously vague: “to provide direct services to businesses and to support a healthy business environment that empowers businesses to develop, grow, and succeed.” Well, that’s just swell. (page 266 of the budget).  The efforts might be highly effective, but what are the individual programs? Where are the performance measures? What if City Council instead wants to invest these funds to prevent more small neighborhood businesses from being displaced by high-priced real estate development? The budget needs details to enable decisions.

City Council should require the executive branch to scrap the vague “BCL” method of budgeting which is unique to Seattle, and budget by individual programs and line items with performance measures.

5. Expert Analysis of Expensive Projects and Pensions.
When interest groups lobby the Mayor and City Council for large projects, there is no standard analysis of costs or benefits. There is no required verification of “Sources & Uses” to determine when (or if) city funds are needed. Remember the infamous North Precinct Police Station whose costs ballooned to the most expensive such project in the nation. The sticker shock literally had people in the streets demanding city leaders to “block the bunker” and re-focus their spending priorities on the homeless.

With so little time to review the $5 billion budget and with no financial experts on hand to help, City Council practically ignores four massive cost areas:

  1. the Capital Budget (a.k.a. Capital Improvement Program) which builds stuff like the Police Precinct;
  2. City Light (your electric bills);
  3. Seattle Public Utilities (your bills for water and trash/recycling); and
  4. Retirement Benefits for city government employees.

The City Council should expand its budget review muscle by temporariliy engaging financial experts to develop standard and detailed analyses of capital projects with a goal of finding savings rather than being at the mercy of the executive departments or interest groups that have been thinking all year about how to spend more of your tax dollars for themselves.

1 Issue to Engage

Vote, Northeast Seattle!

VOTE, NORTHEAST SEATTLE !  Your ballots are due Tues, Nov 8.  While there are many candidates and measures to sort through, here are our recommendations for two of the most important:

  • Sound Transit 3 (ST3): Vote No.

 

If you are still deciding how to vote, here is our thinking:

No on Sound Transit 3 (ST3):
We want more extensive mass transit, but Big Business should not get a free ride while the poor pay more.  Shockingly, that’s exactly what the $54 billion Sound Transit 3 (ST3) ballot measure would do. ST3 would shovel unfair, regressive taxes onto the people while several large corporations reap the benefits. And that’s why the corporations are funding the campaign — it’s cheaper to make campaign contributions than to fund the light rail itself. For a list of corporate campaign contributors, CLICK HERE.

The politicians deciding who pays — including Northeast Seattle’s Councilmember Rob Johnson (who sits on the Sound Transit board) — let us down. While they call themselves “progressives,” their proposal for more Sales Tax is regressive. Their proposal for more Property Tax means renters and homeowners will struggle to pay several other local levies, including the nearly $1 billion “transportation” levy enacted just months ago (109,000 votes in favor; 77,000 votes against).

The only way to make the politicians listen is to put our foot down.  REJECT AND RE-DO SOUND TRANSIT 3: MAKE CORPORATIONS PAY FAIR SHARE.

Reckless funding proposals like ST3 jeopardize sensible and fair levies like those for education and affordable housing.  Therefore, we should demand that elected officials fix ST3 and put a better version on the ballot in early 2017. The Seattle Times agrees; for their June editorial, CLICK HERE.

Here are some ideas to make it better:

  • Make Biggest Businesses Pay Biggest Share (Portland, OR and New York City are just two examples where Employers help to fund transit.) The State’s authorizing legislation SB 5987 (see Section 318) encourages other sources of “funds, including federal, state, local, and private sector assistance.” An “Employer Tax” is the first one suggested.
  • Require Microsoft to pay for light rail to Redmond.
  • Eliminate regressive tax increases so the poor do not pay more.
  • Divide Sound Transit 3 into TWO Pieces to provide time to enact a State Income Tax (e.g. on non-retirement investment income).
  • Provide More Regional Buses (faster than waiting for light rail construction).
  • Increase fares for well-to-do transit riders so that they pay more of the actual cost (lower-income riders would continue to get Orca Lift discount cards.)
  • Investigate Sound Transit’s questionable use of online surveys and slick campaign-like mailers.

For two sides of the debate from the Seattle Times, CLICK HERE. They both make compelling arguments and they both exaggerate. They also both miss the point: we need to expand transit, but the way it is funded needs to be re-tooled.

For more reasons to vote NO, see last season’s article “Reject and Revise ST3: Make Corporations Pay Fair Share” by CLICKING HERE.

Just as for-profit developers should pay Impact Fees to pay their fair share of growth, corporations benefiting from new infrastructure should pay their fair share so that we do not burden lower income families with more regressive taxes. Vote NO on ST3 and demand immediate revisions to the funding sources so that we have transit that is truly fair and progressive.

Yes for Nicole Macri (43rd Legislative District):

Our state government reps have a lot of work to do — from funding our public schools to reforming our tax system to providing more for affordable housing. We have endorsed Nicole Macri for our 43rd Legislative District, because Nicole has real experience creating affordable housing (results rather than rhetoric). Nicole also knows how to empower the homeless into homes (using proven best practices, rather than making up stuff).

There is another attribute that sets Nicole apart: She “speaks Truth to Power” — a refreshing and meaningful approach because “Seattle nice” and conflict-averse incumbents often let problems linger. To get a sense of Nicole, imagine Bernie Sanders’ passion for justice seasoned by Hillary Clinton’s experience fueled by the tenacity of the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch.That’s what our state government in Olympia needs!

Northeast Seattle is represented by two State legislative districts: 43rd and 46th.

The 43rd includes Eastlake, Wallingford, U District, and Ravenna. The 43rd is currently represented by Rep Frank Chopp as well as State Senator Jamie Pedersen.

The 46th includes Bryant, Hawthorne Hills, Laurelhurst, and Wedgwood. The 46th is currently represented by State Reps Farrell and Pollet as well as Senator Frockt.

To confirm your State legislative district AND U.S. Congressional district, CLICK HERE.

For an official list of all of the candidates and ballot measures, CLICK HERE.

Whatever you do this Fall, VOTE. Let the halls of power hear the voice of Northeast Seattle.

Get our free "4 to Explore" newsletter delivered to your inbox every month. Click Here to Subscribe