Groups push for light rail tunnel into Ballard and new Interbay route

The first wave of light rail feedback from Ballard neighbors has focused on Sound Transit’s plans to build a movable bridge over Salmon Bay.

Many residents suggested a tunnel into Ballard would be less disruptive: light rail would not be interrupted by boat traffic, and businesses and drivers would not be disrupted by the above-ground construction and inevitable lane closures along 15th Ave. W.


Sound Transit video showing a Google Map flyover of the current route

Now that idea is gaining some traction. Two neighborhood groups are formally supporting a tunnel alternative: the North Seattle Industrial Association (NSIA) and the Coalition of Magnolia, Queen Anne and Interbay Neighborhoods.

“It would destroy many of our businesses,” explains the NSIA of Sound Transit’s current plan to run an elevated track down Elliott/15th Ave. in Interbay and across a movable bridge into Ballard. The NSIA pointed to a 2016 letter (.pdf) — signed by most major neighborhood groups in Ballard, Queen Anne, Magnolia and Interbay — that urged Sound Transit to avoid the 15th Ave. route in Interbay and build a tunnel under Salmon Bay to an underground station in Ballard.

The Coalition of Magnolia, Queen Anne and Interbay Neighborhoods agrees. It has created an online petition and organized a letter-writing campaign asking Sound Transit to shift its route to the west of 15th Ave. and consider a tunnel under the bay into Ballard.

Both groups point to a map in that 2016 letter that proposes the alternate route:

The map doesn’t specify a specific route in Interbay, but the Coalition is recommending using 20th Ave. W, just to the west of the railroad tracks and a quarter mile from 15th Ave. The groups suggest running the elevated track up to Dravus, and then tunneling underground into Ballard. The Coalition argues an underground Ballard station would allow more flexibility in future expansion to the north and east of Ballard.

Of course, the tunnel option would cost more money — and potentially lengthen the time horizon on the project as well.

Have an opinion? You only have a few more days to send in your feedback. The public comment period ends March 5th.

Spectacular drone video over Ballard

Photographer and musician Rudy Willingham has been posting some amazing drone photos and videos of Ballard on his Instagram account, and we thought we’d share this one over Salmon Bay. Willingham also wrote the music that accompanies the clip:

He says he’s shooting the video on behalf of Visit Seattle. By the way, his website has one of the coolest home pages we’ve seen in a long time — shot by a drone, of course.

Tree smashes into Loyal Heights Playfield

It’s a good thing the Loyal Heights Playfield is slated to get new equipment, because a large tree landed right on top of the play structure.

The tree toppled over in the high winds last night, crushing a bench and coming to rest on top of the structure. Fortunately no kids were playing at the time, and there are no injuries. It’s unclear how much damage was sustained by the structure.

As you might imagine, the area is now taped off and closed.

As we’ve been reporting, the city is in the middle of a $600,000 project to replace the play equipment at the park. Just last week, the city held a final community meeting to review the designs before construction begins.

Construction is scheduled for fall of this year, but we wonder if this latest event will move things along a little faster. We’ll keep you updated.

(Photos by @Mary_BethG on Twitter. She has a couple more photos here.)

Dockside Cannabis coming soon to Leary Way

Conveniently located across the street from Giddy Up Burgers on NW Leary Way, Dockside Cannabis is hard at work on its third location in the Seattle area.

The building at 4601 NW Leary Way is getting an extensive makeover, but co-owner Maria Moses tells My Ballard they’re hoping to open as soon as April. Dockside Cannabis already has stores in Sodo and Shoreline (pictured below).

“Dockside started out as Dockside Co-op, a medical marijuana dispensary, in March 2011,” explains Moses. “Our first location was just down the street on 36th & Greenwood in Fremont. Also, two of the three owners (me included) have been Frelard area residents for over 18 years. So we’re really excited to be back in the neighborhood.”

On its website, Dockside says it’s active in its communities, sending out a “green team” to pick up trash and a “street team” to work to “promote health relationships between our business and neighbors.” It also offers free Cannabis 101 classes, and it hosts talks at local senior centers.

If you’re interested, Dockside has just posted job openings for the new store.

Crown Hill home burns in overnight fire

Updated: Seattle Fire estimates the damage to be $300,000 to the house, $100,000 to the contents inside. Investigators are still working on identifying what started the fire.

Earlier: Just before 3 a.m., firefighters responded to a home that was engulfed in flames across from the Crown Hill Cemetery at 9025 12th Ave. NW.

Fortunately nobody was home at the time. When firefighters arrived, they said they fought the fire “defensively,” contending with the windy weather and keeping the flames away from nearby structures.

One firefighter sustained a minor injury from a fall.

“The firefighters did an excellent job,” Seattle Fire’s Sue Stangl told KING 5. “They were able to concentrate to make sure that this did not spread to neighboring houses.”

As of first light, firefighters and an investigator are still on scene. No word on the cause.

A little snow and wind on a Sunday

5:30 p.m. After a light dusting of snow early this afternoon, the wind has moved into the area. Other than 251 customers who lost power north of Carkeek Park, the Ballard area has been in the clear so far. Here’s the outage map.

12:45 p.m. It’s snowing in Ballard, and forecasters are calling for “trace to two inches” in the Seattle area before it’s all over. You can keep an eye on conditions with our Ballard-area traffic cameras.

Here’s the scene from the Ballard Farmer’s Market from @LeeStoll:

Keep warm everyone!

Fremont resident creates SniffSpot to help dog owners find off-leash areas

David Adams wanted to find more off-leash places in Fremont and Ballard for his pup to play, and that got him thinking. What if there was an app for dog parks? And what if people could offer their own backyards for a few hours and make a few bucks — sort of like an Airbnb for dogs?

That’s how SniffSpot was born, a new website that lets you find and offer up off-leash play areas.

“People in Ballard and Fremont are crazy about their dogs, even more so than other places in Seattle,” Adams told My Ballard, explaining that our area is attracting the most SniffSpot users so far. “Ballard has a unique combination of a lot of pet owners living in apartments and a lot of homeowners with yards nearby.”

Adams working on SniffSpot product updates

But as more dog owners visit SniffSpot looking to find off-leash areas — in part fueled by a recent story on Q13 — Adams says he needs more neighbors to offer up their backyards for a few hours.

“We are blowing up with demand and don’t have enough listings!” Adams told the My Ballard Facebook group. “I am looking for more hosts to join in the Ballard area.”

Hosts can set their own rates, hours of availability and other ground rules. SniffSpot requires proof of vaccination for visiting dogs, and it offers damage protection for host properties, too.

A former Microsoft employee, Adams is now full-time on SniffSpot, funding it all himself.

“It’s my full time gig,” he told us. “Maybe not a smart career move, but it’s what I’m passionate about and a lot of other people are finding it useful.”

(Photos from @SniffSpots on Instagram)

It looks like Crooked Nail has closed

The neighborhood bar Crooked Nail, which is a bit off the beaten path at the corner of NW 56th St. and 17th Ave. NW, has apparently closed its doors for good.

The news first appeared in the My Ballard Facebook Group, and the business is not answering its phone or email. Its Facebook page has been removed.

We discovered a liquor license application for the same address for a new establishment called “Corner Shot” under the name of Kacy Fitch, co-owner of the Zig Zag Cafe in Pioneer Square. So there’s a good chance Crooked Nail will become Corner Shot, just in time for the big Valdok development to open across the street.

Neighbors in the My Ballard Group had only good things to say about the Crooked Nail, which had been developing a steady clientele since it opened last year. However the location has been challenging for former tenants over the years.

New Nickelsville camp coming together quickly

After a slow start, the future home of the Ballard Nickelsville camp in the Northlake neighborhood is taking shape.

A few dozen volunteers organized by the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) pitched in today, helping put the first tiny houses into position and providing finishing work. The houses are assembled off-site — in volunteers’ driveways, churches and a college campus — and shipped to the site at 3814 4th Ave. NE.

Brad Gerber from LIHI told My Ballard that the site should be ready by mid-March for the Ballard Nicklesville camp to move. The camp was planning to move in November, but the land — which is owned by the city — was not ready. Since then a house was demolished, and workers filled and leveled the site with rock and gravel.

Organizers expect to have 20 tiny houses on the site along with electricity and running water (which the Ballard location does not offer), including toilets and showers. The homes will be decorated with welcome signs inside.

About 25 people will move over from Ballard, and another 5 will join them for a total of 30 residents, Gerber said.

LIHI is holding another work party at the Northlake site next Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you’re interested in helping, please RSVP first on the LIHI website.

Chef Eric Rivera opening Ballard pop-up space

Chef and entrepreneur Eric Rivera loves to experiment with food, often in the form of pop-up events. His Addo project is already holding events on Capitol Hill, and now Rivera has secured a Ballard location: the Royal Drummer Cafe on 24th Ave NW near 65th St.

While the cafe operates during the day, Addo will take over on selected nights beginning next month, which you can schedule in advance along with his Capitol Hill location right here.

“A whole new set of experiences [are] on the way like movie nights, beer tastings, cooking classes, wine tastings, Richard’s aplenty, new chefs in residence, Leconchito nights with delivery and pick up options, and so much more!!!” he wrote on Instagram.

He told Eater that Addo is more like an “incubator” than a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

“Our dinners range in style from fast food style burger pop-ups to 15 course tasting menus,” explains Rivera on his website. “Our goal is to be accessible at most price points and give our guests unique and fun ways to dine.”