Urban Rest Stop comes under fire

The people behind a proposed low income housing development in Ballard quickly lost control of a community meeting Wednesday night as residents demanded answers about plans to bring an Urban Rest Stop to the neighborhood. Instead of starting with a formal presentation on the design of the building, organizers were forced to scrap their agenda to answer a barrage of questions from about three dozen concerned neighbors.

“Is this a done deal or can we fight it,” said one resident.

Urban Rest Stop program manager Ronni Gilboa speaks to the crowd

The Urban Rest Stop, which would be on street level of the building at 2014 NW 57th Street, is part of the project proposed by the Low Income Housing Institute. The building’s upper floors would be home to up to 60 units of low income housing, with 20 percent set aside for the homeless.  Wednesday night, we learned the specifics of what the Urban Rest Stop portion of the facility would include:

  • Operating hours of 6am to 2pm (Mon-Fri only)
  • 75 to 100 people expected each day
  • 5 shower rooms
  • Laundry area
  • Health room

Ronni Gilboa, the program manager for the downtown Urban Rest Stop, explained that the proposed facility in Ballard would basically be a place for people to come in and clean up to start the day with showers and laundry.  Gilboa said 60 percent of people who use the downtown facility are employed, but only at minimum wage.

“It’s really boring.  People come in to take care of themselves,” Gilboa told the crowd.  The organizers also said that Ballard was currently underserved by low income housing with many people being pushed out of the neighborhood by skyrocketing home prices and rent.

But many in the audience, including a group of people who live in the area near the proposed building, say they have concerns about what happens when the rest stop isn’t open.  They worry about lines forming outside the building in the overnight hours as the homeless wait for the rest stop to open. 

“You have no way to protect us when you’re not open,” said one member of the audience.

Others questioned if Ballard really needed a facility like this, especially in a residential area.

“It seems like you’re bombarding Ballard,” one man told the crowd.

“There are about five cars of people that camp on that street.  I would like to know how having an urban rest stop on a residential block, not Market, helps rather than exacerbates homeless camping on this residential block,” said one neighbor.

Proposed site at 2014 NW 57th St.

But some did speak in favor of the development, including a former employee of the Ballard library and a downtown resident who says she’s invested in some Ballard condos.

“I’d say Ballard has the most pervasive homeless population of any community in Seattle except for the central library.  I know people are concerned. I’m not a resident of Ballard, but in terms of a need it’s pretty apparent to people who work in the library that there are homeless people here all the time and there’s definitely a need for a rest stop,” said the library employee.

“I had more problems with the party people,” said the downtown resident who used to live in Belltown.  “Over where I’m at right now with Urban Rest Stop right next door, there’s an orderliness,” the downtown resident said.

Sharon Lee, executive director of the Low Income Housing Institute, said the property has not been purchased yet.  LIHI will be depending on a mix of private funding and government programs.  She says they currently have no plans to proceed with the development unless the Urban Rest Stop is included.  Lee told the audience that more community meetings will be planned as the project moves forward.

Two suspects captured in police search

10:50 p.m. Two suspects fled a reported stolen vehicle in the vicinity of 65th St. and 14th Ave., triggering a widespread search to find them. Police brought in the Guardian One helicopter and a K9 unit, and a few minutes later, both suspects are in custody — one captured on 11th Ave. near 64th St.

“Had to go inside my house because the cops started flashing lights at me, as if i was a suspect!” writes CaliBallard84 in comments.

The helicopter could be heard across Ballard, as well as the large number of police units responding from around North Seattle. (Thanks Silver for the tip!)

Also: As an interesting aside, Guardian One was also flying over the U District tonight after boaters bumped into a “unknown object” under the Montlake Bridge that they believe may have been a body.

West Woodland’s new playground, rain garden dedicated

West Woodland Elementary at 5601 4th Ave. NW dedicated its improved playground and new rain garden this morning. Here’s the student choir singing.

And here’s Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith shaking hands with West Woodland Principal Marilyn Loveness.

The refurbished playground includes play equipment and a running track made of porous asphalt. The students helped plant a rain garden of native shrubs and plants to divert runoff from the city sewer system. The rain garden will be incorporated in the fourth- and fifth-grade curriculums.

Thanks to Sheila for the photos!

A look at LIHI’s original Urban Rest Stop

The Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) is planning an Urban Rest Stop at their proposed low-income housing facility at 2014 NW 57th St. Urban Rest Stops are restrooms with shower and laundry facilities.

For more details about the rest stops, here’s a piece by the Seattle Channel on the recent 10-year-anniversary of the original location at 1924 9th Ave.

LIHI is hosting a meeting this evening at 6:30 p.m. to discuss their proposed facility. The meeting will be held in Conference room A at Swedish Ballard.

Small oil spill at Fishermen’s Terminal

The Department of Ecology is responding to a report of a small oil spill originating from Fishermen’s Terminal and extending into Salmon Bay. The department told KIRO 7 that it looks to be “tens of gallons,” and investigators have yet to determine where it’s coming from.

An aerial view from KIRO’s helicopter (above) shows a sheen on the water at the Terminal. We’ll update as we learn more.

Update: Department of Ecology spokesman Larry Altose says the spill is diesel fuel and hydraulic oil that likely originated from one or more commercial vessels, but investigators have yet to pinpoint the source. The spill is very small, but workers in the marina are attempting to clean up whatever they can.

Fund set up for car crash victim’s family, memorial scheduled

Although many people in Ballard didn’t know Andy Kotowicz, many are asking how they can help his daughter and wife after the tragic crash that took his life last Thursday night.

Kotowicz was an executive at Sub Pop Records. He had just picked his daughter up from daycare and was headed home when a car smashed into his Subaru at the intersection of 15th Ave NW and NW 75th St, pushing it underneath a truck. Kotowicz was in a coma until he was taken off life support on Saturday night, surrounded by his immediate family.

The memorial service for Kotowicz will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 1 at Town Hall (1119 Eighth Avenue. Directions and parking info here.)

A fund has been set up to help the Kotowicz family. Please make checks payable to the Andy Kotowicz Family Foundation.

They can be mailed to:
Andy Kotowicz Family Foundation
c/o Sub Pop Records
2013 Fourth Ave., 3rd Floor
Seattle, WA 98121

Or checks can be delivered to Sound Community Bank at one of the locations listed here.

The folks at Sub Pop have written about their friend. You can read about Kotowicz here.