Ballard Natural Drainage System proposal makes significant progress

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The Ballard Natural Drainage System project made significant progress last week when Seattle Public Utilities issued of a Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) for environmental impact. SPU has determined that the project will most likely not have a significant negative impact on the environment.

The BNDS project has been in Phase Two (the design phase) since late last year and has been in the works since 2009. Over the years, there has been both support and opposition for the construction of rain gardens in our neighborhood.

In April 2013, SPU crews organized test digs to test soil in areas where the proposed rain gardens were to be constructed.

In summer 2013, SPU representatives visited Ballard residents door-to-door to gather input from locals who live in the proposed construction areas.

“We heard and recorded concerns and comments about trees and plantings, parking, and many other things important to residents and property owners,” writes the BNDS team on their website.

In late September last year, SPU representatives walked around with the residents of the blocks in question in order to gain specific information about trees, plantings, parking concerns and other important information.

Check out SPU’s description of the project below:

The Ballard NDS 2015 Project would design and construct infiltrating raingardens (bioretention cells) along up to 22 city blocks. Those raingardens would be located primarily in existing planting strip areas within City street rights-of-way. Existing planting strips would be converted from landscaped, lawn, or impervious areas to vegetated bioretention cells and upland planting areas.

The raingardens would be designed to receive stormwater that currently flows in roadway gutters to combined sewer inlets. The raingardens would include bioretention soil to provide water quality treatment. Inlet curb cuts would be installed to route stormwater flow from the roadway gutter to the raingardens. Outlet curb cuts would be installed on the downstream end of the raingardens to allow conveyance of excess flows (during high flow events) via roadway gutter to the nearest down-gradient existing combined sewer inlet.

The project would include two general types of raingarden designs: 1) Planting Strip Raingardens and 2) Curb Bulb-out Planting Strip Raingardens. The curb bulb-out design typically would be used for traffic calming and improved pedestrian and bicyclist sightlines at select locations. At the Loyal Heights Elementary school, bulb-outs also would shorten the crossing distances across Northwest 80th Street and Northwest 77th Street, a priority identified as part of SDOT’s Safe Routes to School program. Mid-block bulbouts are also planned along Northwest 75th Street to provide additional raingarden infiltration area and to provide traffic-calming benefits to the neighborhood.

All raingardens would be located to avoid existing driveways, historic/significant trees (if any), hydrants, and utilities where possible. All raingardens would have a vertical wall on the sidewalk side, a flat bottom, and a side slope (2.5 horizontal: 1 vertical) on the road side. Only the Planting Strip Raingarden would incorporate a passenger loading (parking egress) area.

Where feasible based on utilities and geotechnical analyses, “pit drains” would be installed under the raingardens to enhance vertical infiltration of stormwater runoff. Pit drains are shallow, vertical drains (between 10 to 15 feet deep) constructed by digging a hole through naturally layered or interbedded sediments and then backfilling the excavation with free-draining materials such as pea gravel.

In addition, the project would construct pedestrian and safety improvements such as curb ramps where required, at up to 15 intersections adjacent to the raingardens. Certain utilities such as side sewers and natural gas mains may need to be relocated or replaced during construction. The project would opportunistically demolish an undetermined area of impervious surfaces and replace those surfaces with pervious surfaces such as turf.

 The following blocks are included in the proposed project:

  • 17th Avenue Northwest: 7700, 7800, 7900, 8000, 8100, and 8200 blocks
  • 19th Avenue Northwest: 7500 and 7600 blocks
  • 25th Avenue Northwest: 8000, 8100, and 8200 blocks
  • 26th Avenue Northwest: 7700, 7800, 7900, 8000, 8100, and 8200 blocks
  • Northwest 75th Street: 1700, 1800, 2000, 2100, 2200, and 2300 blocks
  • Northwest 77th Street: 1700, 1800, and 2500 blocks

The project may also construct intersection improvements (such as curb ramps) at one or more of the following 15 intersections:

  • Northwest 75th Street and 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and Jones Avenue Northwest
  • Northwest 77th Street and 17th, 18th, 25th, and 26th Avenues Northwest
  • Northwest 80th Street and 17th, 25th, and 26th Avenues Northwest

The specific intersection improvements and the number, locations, and design of raingardens has not been finalized at the time the Environmental Checklist was prepared.

Comments about the DNS must be submitted by December 4, 2014, to Betty Meyer, SEPA Responsible Official, at betty.meyer@seattle.gov.

Appeals of the DNS must be submitted by Dec 11 online or to the address below along with an $85 filing fee:

City of Seattle Hearing Examiner
700 5th Ave, Suite 4000
PO BOX 94729
Seattle, WA, 98124

Image courtesy of SPU.

CenturyLink and Cupcake Royale team up to give away free cupcakes

Next Friday, December 5, 2014, from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. CenturyLink will be teaming up with Cupcake Royale to celebrate Ballard becoming the first CenturyLink Fiber Lit Community.

To celebrate the special occasion Cupcake Royal will be giving away 1,000 cupcakes at their Ballard store (2052 NW Market St).

According to CenturyLink, their 1 Gig service is one of the most advanced Internet technologies today. The addition of this service to the neighborhood will allow Ballard residents to have access to a service 100-times faster than most broadband currently available.

Head down to Ballard Cupcake Royale next Friday between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to grab your free cupcake and talk to a CenturyLink representative.

For updates about the event, follow @CenturyLinkSea or use the hashtag #1GigSeattle.

Metro to operate with reduced service over Thansgiving holiday period

King County Metro Transit is reminding riders that buses will operate on Sunday and reduced weekday schedules over the Thanksgiving holiday and during several holiday periods through January – including a full week of reduced service at the end of December.

On Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27, Metro will operate a Sunday schedule. On Friday, November 28, Metro will operate reduced weekday service, which offers more service than on weekends, but somewhat less service than on normal weekdays.

According to Metro, using a limited schedule over holiday periods from November through January will save an estimated $1 million each year. The holiday reductions are planned for times during which Metro historically sees a reduction in the number of weekday riders.

Metro offices, including the Customer Information phone line, and Lost and Found and Pass Sales counters, will be closed on both Thursday and Friday. The Customer Information Office at (206) 553-3000 will reopen on Saturday morning.

Information about Metro holiday services can be viewed online.

Mayor Murray releases draft medical marijuana ordinance

On Monday, Mayor Ed Murray released a draft of the proposed ordinance that would govern the production and sale of medical marijuana products in the City of Seattle.

The draft came about as the final product of extensive conversations with medical marijuana dispensaries, patient advocates, health care providers and member of the community.

“We want to strike the balance of protecting patients, ensuring access to medical marijuana and responding to concerns about the location and density of dispensaries,” said Murray.

Currently the state Liquor Control Board (LCB) regulates the production and sale of recreational marijuana, however, there are not similar regulations for medical marijuana.

The state legislature are planning to address this disparity in the 2015 session, however, a new system which would regulate the sale of medical marijuana would possibly not be in place until 2016.

“We know the state legislature will be considering bills this session, but in the absence of a state framework, Seattle must act,” says Mayor Murray.

Seattle dispensaries and patients are continuing to express concern that, without a more solid regulatory framework, that many remain at risk of being charged by federal law enforcement.

As part of the draft ordinance, Mayor Murray is proposing a regulatory license for medical marijuana collective gardens and processors. In order to qualify for the license operators would be required to have a criminal background check. Collective gardens would also be required to validate authorizations for medical marijuana with the issuing health care provider.

The license would also requires testing of marijuana for THC levels, molds, pesticides and other harmful substances.

The draft ordinance would require that dispensaries be 500 feet from child care centers, schools, parks and similar facilities. Collective gardens with storefronts must also be 1000 feet from another storefront collective gardens to prevent a large concentration of dispensaries in the one area.

In terms of delivery services, only collective gardens with storefront locations would be allowed to offer delivery to qualifying patients.

Marijuana edibles would also face packaging restrictions that would prevent the use of cartoon characters or mimic well-known brands in order to protect unintended use by juveniles.

Mayor Murray also proposed that collective gardens with a limited membership and no storefront would also be subject to the regulatory license. These operations, however, would not be subject to the same zoning or testing requirements as collective gardens with storefronts.

Under the proposed ordinance, all recreational marijuana businesses licensed by the Washington State Liquor Control Board would be required to obtain a regulatory license. However, no new regulations will pertain to these operations as they are already highly regulated.

If the ordiance is put in place, establishments that violate the ordinance could face license suspensions or revocations, and fines from $500 to $2000.

Distributing marijuana to minors and adults without valid authorization would also incur heavy civil penalties. In addition, there will be penalties for operating as a collective garden or processor without a regulatory license.

“The City of Seattle has always been forward-looking on this issue. I applaud the city on its efforts and this proposed ordinance is definitely step in the right direction — a step towards regulation,” said John Davis of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics.

Mayor Ed Murray has directed his staff to continue to reach out to community interests to refine this draft in the coming days. Murray intends to send a proposed ordinance to the City Council by the end of the year.

If you have a comment about Mayor Murray’s proposed ordinance submit it online at www.seattle.gov/mayor.

Development Update November 25: Subdivisions and streamlined design reviews

One subdivision application, two subdivision approvals and two notices for streamlined design review meetings make up this week’s development update from the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) as posted in the Land Use Information Bulletin.

No other applications, appeals, decisions, or notifications in Ballard were made this week

Applications:

6717 Alonzo Ave NW

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A Land Use Application has been submitted to subdivide one development site into three unit lots. The construction of residential units are under Project #6412217. This subdivision of property is only for the purpose of allowing sale or lease of the unit lots. Development standards will be applied to the original parcel and not to each of the new unit lots.

Decisions:

2236 NW 64th St

A Land Use Application has been approved to subdivide one parcel into two parcels of land. Proposed parcel sizes are: A) 2,400.8 sq. ft. and B) 2,600.9 sq. ft. Existing structures to be removed.

1137 NW 56th St

A Land Use Application has been approved to subdivide one development site into four unit lots. The construction of residential units is under Project #6369298. This subdivision of property is only for the purpose of allowing sale or lease of the unit lots. Development standards will be applied to the original parcel and not to each of the new unit lots.

Notice of Streamlined Design Reviews:

6312 32nd Ave NW

A Streamlined Design Review is taking place for a proposed three-story building containing two live/work units and three townhouse units. Parking for five vehicles to be provided.

The Director will accept written comments to assist in the preparation of the early design guidance through December 7, 2014. You are invited to offer comments regarding important site planning and design issues, which you believe, should be addressed in the design for this project. Please note that this is the only opportunity to comment on this proposal.

5806 14th Ave NW

A Streamlined Design Review is taking place for two proposed 2-unit townhouses (4 units total) with surface parking for 4 vehicles located on the site. Existing structures to be demolished.

The Director will accept written comments to assist in the preparation of the early design guidance through December 7, 2014. You are invited to offer comments regarding important site planning and design issues, which you believe, should be addressed in the design for this project. Please note that this is the only opportunity to comment on this proposal.

Comments should be submitted to PRC@seattle.gov or mailed to the address below:

City of Seattle DPD PRC
700 5th Avenue Suite 2000
PO Box 34019
Seattle, WA  98124-4019

Following the public comment period for the above Streamlined Design Review applications, the Department of Planning and Development will issue a written design guidance report. This report will consider public comment and the applicable city-wide and neighborhood specific Design Guidelines and will serve as the basis for further review of the building permit.

Once the applicant has incorporated the design guidance into the proposal they may apply for a building permit. No public notice of the building permit application will be provided.

Locals launch community-based tourism office in Ballard

BTOflyer Members from the local culinary and retail communities have worked together to launch Ballard’ s very own community-based tourism office.

The new venture is designed to offer visitors in Ballard an authentic, local welcome differently to that provided by traditional tourism offices.

The creation of the Ballard Tourism Office (BTO) has been a collaboration between local organization EAT BALLARD and Leslie Mehren, owner and head designer of Ballard store Anima Mundi (5410 NW 22nd St).

The BTO is run by local community volunteers and provides both visitors and locals with a unique and personal free tourism service. The volunteers at the BTO share their expertise and deep personal knowledge of Ballard that in turn provides guests with an intimate knowledge of our neighborhood.

“With over 200 independent, locally owned restaurants, shops, cafes, boutiques, bars and breweries, Ballard has much to offer visitors. Newcomers and long-time residents are equally welcome to make use of the free service,” says founder of EAT BALLARD Gerard Wirz.

“Having a BTO at Anima Mundi is like hanging up a Welcome sign to visitors and newcomers. I love helping people discover what our neighborhood has to offer them,” says Mehren.

The BTO at Amnima Mundi is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. and is open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sundays. (The office is closed each Tuesday in Winter.)

Wirz confirms that at least three other local businesses have expressed interest in hosting a BTO on their premises.

Click here to learn more about the BTO.

Salish Sea Trading Co-op partners with Skydottir Epic Cookies

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The folks at Salish Sea Trading Cooperative have partnered with Skydottir Epic Cookies in a new venture which will see the popular cookies transported beyond Seattle City Limits via sailboat.

Salish Sea Trading Co-op will be sailing the cookies from Ballard to the peninsula for locals at the  Port Townsend Food Co-op to enjoy.

Skydottir Epic Cookies has been fortunate enough to share cookies outside Seattle City Limits for several years but this partnership with Salish Sea Cooperative is the first-ever sailing opportunity! Currently cookies get to their new homes via USPS or cookie-carpooling to areas outside of Seattle including Burien, White Center, Everett, Federal Way, Vashon Island, Redmond, Tacoma, and Renton.

Ballard native and Skydottir owner, Alison Dahmen, is looking forward to the new venture. “Customers are excited about environmentally friendly ways to move our carefully packed cookies, and low-carbon sail transport is a neat new option. I also like the fact that both Skydottir and Salish Sea Trading Cooperative have roots in Ballard,” says Dahmen.

Similarly, Salish Sea Trading Co-op is delighted to add Skydottir to their partner list in rebuilding maritime Puget Sound trade routes.

“Making local trade connections is a natural fit alongside the revitalization of sail transport—our small boats can go just about anywhere—and the quality of Alison’s product made good business sense for an introduction to the Food Co-op,” says General Manager Kathy Pelish.

Ballard Holiday Festival set to kick off festive season this weekend

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The Ballard business community is coming together to give back this holiday season with some extra special events for both locals and visitors to enjoy.

The events are coined “Ballard Gives Black Friday“, that will of course take place this Friday, November 28, and “Ballard Gives Holiday Light Celebration“, set for this Saturday, November 29.

Ballard Gives Black Friday puts a community twist on the traditional day-after Thanksgiving Day shopping event. Rather than offering early morning discount sales, many stores in Ballard will be donating a portion of their Black Friday sales to local non-profits.

The non-profits include the Ballard Boys and Girls Club, the Ballard Food Bank, Heroes for the Homeless and many more. The local stores participating include Ballard Beer Company, Horseshoe Boutique, Romanza, Sip and Ship and many more. For a full list of participating stores and the non-profits that they have chosen click here.

Shoppers who want to give back this Black Friday should look for the “Ballard Gives Black” logo (pictured) in store front windows.

After recovering from the shopping sprees in Ballard on Friday, all are invited to Marvin’s Garden Park (Ballard Ave NW and 22nd Ave NW) from noon on Saturday, November 29,  for the “Ballard Holiday Festival.” This is the second year of the event that will feature live music, free goodies and beverages, and a chance for the little ones to have a free photo taken with Santa. Check out the events list below:

  • Live Entertainment from noon – 4 p.m. at the Bell Tower at Marvin’s Garden Park
  • Cookie decorating and ornament making from noon – 4 p.m. in Marvin’s Garden Park
  • Photos with Santa from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. in Marvin’s Garden Park
  • Holiday Jazz Trio at 3 p.m. at Marvin’s Garden Park Stage
  • Tree Lighting Ceremony at 5 p.m. at Marvin’s Garden Park Stage
  • Christmas Rock Youth Band from 5:15 p.m.

A number of local businesses are also participating in a fun treat giveaway called the Tomte Trail. Businesses displaying a Tomte Trail poster will be distributing special treats from 2 to 6 pm.

“The lights are up,” says Mike Stewart, executive director of the Ballard Chamber of Commerce, “and Ballard is ready to celebrate! From the philanthropy happening on Friday, to the free entertainment planned on Saturday, this is a great weekend to enjoy all that Ballard has to offer.”