School board to discuss boundaries this evening

The school boundary task force will be discussing its two mapping options with the school board in a working session this evening (Wednesday).

As we’ve reported before, both options are similar for Ballard, drawing the line for Ballard High School at 85th St. to the north and 48th St. to the south.

“Staff will use the feedback from the board to create a boundary change proposal that will be included in the Board Action Report for introduction on January 17,” the agenda explains.
In advance of the meeting, the district released this packet of materials (big .PDF file) with the two proposed maps and supporting data.

No final decisions will be made at the meeting — the final vote is scheduled for January 31st — although changes to the existing options could be made. The agenda does not show any time for feedback from the public. The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. in the board auditorium of the John Stanford Center, 2445 3rd. Ave. S.

Fire attack survivor making steady progress in recovery, suspect still sought

The man who barely survived a vicious attack last November is enduring a difficult recovery, and doctors told him he’s fortunate to have lived through it.

Kasey Busch was doused with gasoline and lit on fire at 4500 Leary Way on the night of November 7th. He talked to KOMO TV last night, his first interview since the attack.

“He said, ‘what’s up,’ threw a Big Gulp cup of gasoline on me and, I’m like standing there thinking, ‘what the (*expletive*) is going on?” said Busch.

Seattle Police have identified the suspect as 31-year-old Christopher Burrus (pictured), a man who is known to frequent the Ballard area. Busch told KOMO TV he had a heated argument over stolen tools with Burrus’ ex-girlfriend.

Doctors told Busch that he flat-lined in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, and his burns were so severe, only 5% of patients typically survive them.

Burrus is still at large. If you happen to see him in the neighborhood, call 911. If you have information about the case, contact the Seattle Police Homicide Hotline at 206-233-5000.

One year after surviving a shooting, Le Merde owner re-opening in Ballard

If you’ve seen that pink photo of the white cat in the window at 2607 NW Market St. — next to the new Nordic Museum — that marks the spot of Le Merde, a Phinney Ridge shop that’s moving to Ballard and will re-open this weekend.

Owner Debi Boyette describes the shop as a “curated concept store” with vintage collections and works from indie designers and local artists.

“It’s pretty perfect because I live a few blocks away, so I will be closer to my friends and family,” she told My Ballard. “I’m feeling hopeful about 2018.”

That’s because 2017 was a tough year. Boyette was attending a concert at Crocodile Cafe in Belltown with her son last January when she was wounded in a drive-by shooting. Two others were shot, but fortunately her son escaped unharmed. She spent two weeks in the hospital.

“My recovery was hard,” she said. “I really couldn’t walk much, but I moved around in a wheelchair or a walker.” To complicate things further, she said she clashed with her landlords after an adjacent shop closed, leaving her bills to pay for both spaces.

“I don’t want to be fearful of getting back into life,” she told Vanguard Seattle two months after the shooting. “Life is so short, and there are so many things I want to do.”

Ballard is Boyette’s fresh start. She’s opening Le Merde this Saturday, and she’ll celebrate the grand re-opening on the 18th on Art Walk — one day before the first anniversary of the shooting.

Vacant house demolished on 17th Ave. to make room for apartment building

Demolition crews tore down the large brown house at the corner of 56th St. and 17th Ave. today to make room for a new 7-story apartment complex.

The new apartments will feature 85 small efficiency dwelling units (called SEDUs), ground level retail and bike parking. No car parking is proposed (see our earlier story on the proposed “parking flexibility areas” in Ballard and Crown Hill.)

It’s right across the street from the new Valdok development and next door to the Keelson.

“The project aims to create a strong urban edge and a marker at the corner for people traveling in Ballard,” explains Greenbuild Development.

(Thank you Silver for the photo!)

Equal Exchange Coffee is coming back

Thanks to a tip in the My Ballard Facebook Group, we reached out to Equal Exchange Coffee to see if they have any plans of reopening after closing their Ballard Market location last year.

And the answer is… yes. They’re planning to open a new cafe next year in the new office building under construction at 15th and Market, just a stone’s throw from Ballard Market.

After 10 years, Equal Exchange closed in January of last year to give Ballard Market room for “more prepared foods and in-market seating.”

Equal Exchange is a co-op that supports small farmers, and it operates other cafes in Boston, Cleveland and Bannockburn, IL. (Thanks, Silver for the tip!)

Lots of dumpsters still in dangerous spots around Ballard area

Update Tuesday AM: No new fires overnight.

Earlier: The dumpster arsonist(s) may be taking the day off after a string of 21 fires — no new fires so far since last night — but the danger is still very real for Ballard and surrounding neighborhoods.

This photo above of Sunday night’s fire behind the Hi Life in Ballard illustrates how big these fires can get (photo shared by @curtisdickie), putting nearby buildings at risk of catching fire. Saturday night’s blaze on 85th ignited the side of the building shared by Stacia’s Pizza and Taqueria Tequila, and a few other buildings have been scorched by the fires.

But even with the risk, it doesn’t take long driving around the neighborhood to see lots of dumpsters still pushed up against buildings and under overhangs and even apartment decks. Here are a couple examples from Ballard and Fremont:

Seattle Fire is urging neighbors to pull dumpsters at least 5 feet away from buildings and overhangs and lock them up. If your apartment manager hasn’t done it, then contact them. If that doesn’t work, you may want to consider re-positioning the dumpster yourself.

Because it’s only a matter of time before one of these small fires turns into a big fire, endangering the lives of those inside.

We’re continuing to monitor Seattle Fire dispatch for new fires, and we’re posting more frequent updates on Twitter. If you see a fire — or hear lots of sirens — please send us a tip at or ping @myballard on Twitter.

Here’s Seattle Fire’s full list of precautions:

  • Locate dumpsters and containers at least five feet away from walls and roof eave lines. Use only metal or metal-lined receptacles.
  • Place locks on commercial dumpsters or keep in secured area. Locks may be available through your contracted service provider.
  • Secure business and garage areas by locking doors and windows.
  • Clean up wastepaper, grasses, weeds, litter, or anything that can burn from around buildings. Clear carport areas of all combustibles.
  • Trim shrubbery from doors and windows to improve visibility.
  • Install motion-sensor exterior lights.
  • Test fire and life safety systems, including fire extinguishers, to ensure they are working and in compliance with codes.
  • Develop and practice a fire response plan.
  • Keep exit ways clear of items which could slow evacuation efforts.

If you see a fire or even suspicious circumstances, call 911. If you have any information related to one of the previous fires, call SPD investigators at 206-684-8980. You can also contact the Arson Alarm Foundation Hotline at 1-800-55-ARSON or An award may be provided, and you can remain anonymous.

If he can get the permits, here’s Diagon Alley creator’s next project

With the Diagon Alley Project shutting down on January 20th, creator Jon Chambers needed some peace and quiet at home — and a new challenge.

For those Harry Potter fans out there, you’ll recognize the Burrow, the magical family home of the Weasley family (above). Along with the Edith Macefield-inspired “Up” house, the Burrow is one of the most iconic movie homes of all time.

“I can’t share a whole lot just yet,” Chambers told My Ballard. “I can say we are in the early planning phase for building a life-size replica of the Burrow in the Snoqualmie Valley on a non-profit farm that centers around agricultural conservation and education.”

And here’s the sketch he shared on Instagram over the weekend:

Whoa, that does look like a challenge.

You see, the Weasley home is held up by magic, but to build a real home, you’ll need… permits.

“That’s going to be a major hurdle,” he admits. “With all the planning and approvals we have to go through, construction won’t start until 2019, if approved.”

The Burrow Project, if it becomes a reality, would dwarf Chambers’ driveway-sized Diagon Alley Project. As he told us, “Stay tuned.”

Passionate about Ballard light rail? Sound Transit needs volunteers

There’s no better way to get involved in the huge Ballard light rail project than apply to join Sound Transit’s advisory group.

Sound Transit needs five volunteers to serve as community members of the Ballard and West Seattle Link Extensions Stakeholder Advisory Group. Their specific focus will be “to help refine project alternatives for further study in the environmental review phase of the project.”

That’s a big job, and Sound Transit has a selection process. Candidates need to be knowledgeable about public transit, reflect the diversity of the corridor and “be able to provide a balance of neighborhood and community interests.”

Oh, and applicants “must be able to work collaboratively with other group members who hold diverse opinions and perspectives.” Yes, this is going to be a complicated, controversial undertaking — the plan is to build a new movable bridge across Salmon Bay and drill new tunnels in South Lake and downtown — so Sound Transit wants to avoid people who like to pick fights with each other.

Interested? Go represent Ballard and apply right here.

Briefs: Market St. assault, Bitter Lake real estate, KBFG, Ballard Locks and more

A few quick stories and links from around the neighborhood…

STABBING ON MARKET: Police and medics rushed to 2220 Market St. just after 3 p.m. Sunday for an assault with weapon call. “Two men had a skirmish, and one stabbed the other. The injured man was treated and the stabber was arrested,” explains My Ballard reader Andrea who was there.

BITTER LAKE HOMES: Redfin compiled a list of the top 25 most competitive real estate neighborhoods in the US, and while Ballard wasn’t on the list, Lower Queen Anne was #13, Wallingford was #22 and Bitter Lake was listed at #18. Bitter Lake homes are selling for an average of 105% of list in 7 days time.

KBFG IN THE NYT: Did you see community radio station KBFG and Ballard High School in the New York Times over the weekend?!

BALLARD LOCKS: Tomorrow (Tuesday) a city council committee will hear a presentation on the “Economic Impact of the Ballard Locks.” As we’ve reported, the Locks are in need of federal funds. The presentation is scheduled for 10:25-55 a.m. in the Council Chambers City Hall, 600 4th Avenue. (Thanks West Seattle Blog for the tip!)

VETERANS SERVICES: The Ballard Library helped 70 veterans who needed housing and other resources last year, and its next drop-in event for veterans in need is this Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon. Another drop-in is scheduled for the same time on Jan. 23rd.

36TH DISTRICT: We did not attend Saturday’s 36th District town hall on Queen Anne, but the Queen Anne News was there and posted this report.

New dumpster fires this weekend are related, says Seattle Fire

Update Monday morning: Looks like there were no new fires overnight. Seattle Fire has updated the map. There are 21 dumpster fires in total so far:

Update Sunday night: Big response to 1537 NW 56th St. for a report of a fire in a 7-story apartment building. A few minutes later, all units but engine 18 were cleared, which means this was a small fire. Since no investigator was dispatched, it’s not related to the arson cases. But it’s a good reminder that those dumpster fires have the potential to spark big fires.

Update Sunday evening: Firefighters were just called out to 5425 Russell AV NW near the old Ballard firehouse (the Hi Life) for yet another dumpster fire with no exposure. My Ballard’s Silver was there to take photos:

There are so many of these, the fire investigator called for this fire said he was running behind.

About a half hour earlier, there was another dumpster fire in Magnolia — the second in that neighborhood. It was a block away from the Starbucks at 2425 33rd Av W. Smoke poured into the parking garage, tripping alarms.

These make fires #20 and #21.

Update Sunday afternoon: Yet another fire, this time up on Phinney Ridge at Red Mill Burgers.

Firefighters had just extinguished the fire at when we arrived at 67th and Phinney. The dumpster is in the busy Red Mill parking lot up against a fence. Police were questioning possible witnesses.

This is a very visible spot, so it’s odd this would happen in broad daylight.

This is fire #19 — the sixth fire this weekend alone.

In looking around the Ballard area, we’re seeing lots of dumpster still pushed up against buildings — and some under decks at apartment complexes. These need to be moved, folks.

Update Sunday noon: Firefighters responded just before noon to a dumpster fire at 4704 17th Ave. NW. It was up against a building — appears to be an industrial area — and was quickly extinguished. This is fire #18.

Updated Sunday AM: In just a 12-hour span on Saturday, 4 new dumpster fires were set in the Ballard area, bringing the total to 17. One of those fires ignited the side of a restaurant on 8th Ave., but fortunately firefighters were able to extinguish it before there was any significant damage.

Seattle Fire spokeswoman Kristin Tinsley tells My Ballard that the new fires “match the pattern” of previous fires, including being intentionally set. But it’s unclear if the new fires are the product of the same arsonist — the criminal investigation is the domain of Seattle Police’s Arson and Bomb Squad.

Two of the new fires were dispatched just 7 minutes apart from each other. The first was called out at 11:18 p.m. on Saturday to the Magnolia side at 4441 26th Ave. W, a couple blocks from Salmon Bay. Then just a few minutes later — at 11:25 p.m. — firefighters were dispatched for a dumpster fire at 5802 24th Ave. NW, near the QFC. An investigator was dispatched for both.

Those two locations are 2.7 miles apart by car. Here’s the 24th Ave. scene:

Earlier on Saturday evening, firefighters raced to 301 85th St. NW in Greenwood for a dumpster fire behind the building shared by Taqueria Tequila and Stacia’s Gourmet Pizza & Pasta. Tinsley said the fire extended up the exterior wall and onto an overhanging awning, but fortunately firefighters were able to knock it down before it did any real damage.

And just before noon on Saturday, fire crews responded to 22nd and Market St for a dumpster fire. A TV crew was shooting some video when Michael (@mgrass) shot this photo (above).

That brings the tally to 17 across a growing area that now includes Greenwood and Magnolia. Seattle Fire has a list of preventative measures that all businesses (and homes) should be following, especially ensuring your dumpsters are pulled away from nearby buildings.

Earlier: Seattle Fire warns Ballard about an outbreak of dumpster fires