News for Seattle's Ballard neighborhood and beyond

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Three-legged cat ‘Shmu’ is missing in Ballard

May 14th, 2015 by Meghan Walker

Shmu to use PosterShmu, a three-legged Ballard cat, is missing. Her owner, Sarah, tells us she’s been missing from her home at 73rd and Earl Ave NW since May 10.

“My cat always stayed close to home and the fact that she has three legs means she needs help,” Sarah tells us. Shmu usually hangs out between Earl Ave NW and 28th or between 73rd and 75th, but Sarah said she could be hiding or trapped in a nearby garage or shed. ”

“She is old and has never been gone this long. Please contact if you have seen her, even before the missing date. I know she needs help!”

If you see Shmu, contact us at and we will put you in touch with Sarah.


Throwback Thursday: a look at Ballard’s Norwegian roots

May 14th, 2015 by Meghan Walker

Ballard will be painted all things Norwegian this weekend with the Syttende Mai parade on Sunday, and it’s only appropriate that we look back and remember our neighborhood’s fierce Norwegian pride through the years.


The above photo isn’t from the Syttende Mai parade; it’s actually from the Ballard Scandinavian Christmas Festival parade on December 4, 1948. Riding the Viking boat is Asa Gudjohnsen, Seattle’s Lucia Bride. The float won first prize in the parade, entered by the Norwegian Commercial Club and Ray’s Boat House. The photographer was Clarence J Rote from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. (Photo courtesy MOHAI)

norway costumes

A group of young Norwegians in costume, posing on the steps of Meany Hall at the Univesrity of Washington campus for the Norway Day Parade of the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition in 1909. (Photo courtesy the Ballard Historical Society)


Syttende Mai parade, 1905, with the columns of the Ballard City Hall and Sunset Building in the background. The former trolley tracks can be seen underfoot. (Photo courtesy Ballard Historical Society)

norway hall

Norway Hall, photographed in 1944. The Norway Hall was built for Norwegian immigrant groups in Seattle, and the design incorporated traditional Norwegian architectural elements such as the elaborately carved dragon heads on the gable ends, according to MOHAI. The Norway Hall at 2015 Boren Avenue was designed by Engelhart Sonnichsen and constructed in 1915. It later became a dance hall, and the Sons of Norway moved to a new headquarters in Ballard. (Photo courtesy MOHAI)


Syttende Mai parade passing by the old Norway Center at 3rd and Thomas in Lower Queen Anne in 1970. Photographer was Bob Miller from the Seattle P-I. (Photo courtesy MOHAI)

Do you have photos from Syttende Mai celebrations back in the day? Email them to and we will post them!


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Monthly CBRA meeting tonight at Ballard Swedish

May 14th, 2015 by Meghan Walker

Tonight (Thursday, May 14) is the monthly membership meeting of the Central Ballard Residents Association (CBRA). The meeting will be held at Ballard Swedish Hospital at 7 p.m. in Conference Room A on the first floor.

On the agenda tonight: meet the new Food Bank Director, Jen Muzia, to learn more about the organization. All are welcome at tonight’s meeting.

The CBRA was formed in 2012 to provide a public forum for discussion of community issues and to serve as a voice of Central Ballard with the community, government and other organizations. CBRA advocates on behalf of its members to promote a healthy, livable, walkable, and safe community in the neighborhood’s historic core.


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Ballard Locks launches fundraiser for visitors center and fish ladder updates

May 13th, 2015 by Meghan Walker

The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks is asking for the community’s help with some much-needed renovations. The Corps of Engineers Foundation is launching a fundraiser to update the fish ladder, visitors center and gardens at the Locks.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 10.26.44 AMThe updates to the Locks are part of the Locks Master Plan, a joint project between the Corps Foundation, a national nonprofit, and Discover Your Northwest, a regional environmental nonprofit. Rich Deline, Corps Foundation founder and director, says the fish ladder is in dire need of repairs, adding that they’ll be improving the viewing area in order to make it a more educational experience for visitors. “The fish ladder is an abysmal dungeon,” Deline said. “If fish are running, people are happy. But that place is dingy – people don’t notice how bad it is.”

Ballard Locks Fish Ladder Concept-2Deline says the Locks have over one million visitors each year, and people come a long way to see the salmon. He says the funds will help to install video screens above the windows that will explain information about the ladder and the species of fish running at that given time. The videos will explain the overall fish migration, and will be controlled by the rangers who host the tours through the Locks. They will also make the windows larger and cleaner, and rip out the concrete to create an amphitheatre arrangement with more comfortable seating. The lighting will be improved, and the video displays will keep visitors engaged even when the salmon aren’t visible.

Ballard Locks Visitor Center Concept-1Another area of the Locks in need of an update is the visitors center and gift shop, according to Deline. “It’s a good environment for people to sit down and be educated about the history and ecosystem even if there are no fish,” Deline says. The gift shop improvements will help to raise future funds for the Locks, because all money earned from store purchases will go into educational programs. Of the million visitors each year, Deline says just 10 percent visit the visitors center and gift shop, and half of those are just there to use the bathroom. “It’s a missed opportunity to support the Locks program,” he says. “With a decent center and gift shop, there will be some cash flow to help support the program, which will ultimately make it self-supporting.” Deline added that the visitors center used to be an old blacksmith shop, and that they want to restore features of the shop and have blacksmith items for sale for visitors.

Because of the funding structure and budget constraints of the Army Corps of Engineers, Deline says these improvements can’t be made without community support. The Corps’ funding only covers operational updates and renovations, such as fixing the dam walls and Locks themselves. The operational funds are based on the commercial tonnage of ship cargo, not the actual boat traffic that goes through the Locks on a daily basis. According to a press release from the Corps Foundation, commercial cargo has declined significantly and is now a small fraction of the annual 50,000 or more boats that use the Locks each year. That means budgets are squeezed even further, resulting in less than 60 cents per visitor for updates to the recreational and educational improvements to the Locks.

The foundation hopes to raise between $2-5 million for the updates and improvements. Donors will be memorialized on bricks which will be visible in the new fish ladder viewing area. Deline says they are setting up an online fundraiser which will be found on the new Locks website, and for now, donors can give to the Corps Foundation on their donation page, earmarking all funds to the Locks. The gift shop at the Locks is also accepting donations.

Deline says the public’s support is crucial to completing the Locks’ updates, which will greatly improve one of Seattle’s most historic landmarks. He hopes many of the updates will be completed by the centennial in 2017.



Volunteer to be a seal sitter this summer

May 13th, 2015 by Meghan Walker

It’s nearly seal season in the Puget Sound, and Sno King Marine Mammal Response (SKMMR) is looking for volunteers. They’re hosting a volunteer training day on Sunday, May 17 for interested residents.


Photo by Molly Duff

Volunteers are needed for educating the public, collecting data, monitoring, and responding to marine mammals on local beaches. Ballard beaches are often areas where seals emerge from the water to sun themselves, and SKMMR volunteers help to protect and monitor the seals until professionals can take over and decide the course of action.

SKMMR tells us they’ll be hosting a training session at Discovery Park Visitor Center on Sunday, May 17 for interested residents. The training will be from 10 am to 12:30 p.m. RSVP to

SKMMR is a volunteer organization that responds to marine mammal sightings in King and Snohomish counties of Washington state. Learn more at



BHS to host annual plant sale from Thursday to Saturday

May 13th, 2015 by Meghan Walker

This week, Ballard High School will be hosting their annual plant sale at their greenhouse. The sale will be Thursday May 14 and Friday May 15 from 2:30 to 5 p.m., and on Saturday May 16 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Greenhouse manager India Carlson tells us they’ll be selling sustainably grown vegetable starts and annual flowers, with all proceeds benefitting the greenhouse program at BHS.

The greenhouse is located on 15th Ave NW, just next to the high school.


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Neighbors protest controversial development at 819 NW 70th St

May 12th, 2015 by Meghan Walker

819nw70th_kingcountyA group of Ballard neighbors have come together to oppose a controversial development that has been approved by the Department of Planning and Development at 819 NW 70th St. The site once housed a single family home that developers recently knocked down to turn it into two land parcels with three live/work units on each.


Photo from Division Ave Blog

This development story sounds like something all too common in our neighborhood these days. However, what makes this case particularly interesting and controversial has to do with parcel boundaries on this particular piece of land that were made before the 1950s.

In order to go ahead with the project, a boundary line adjustment is required for the developer, who has funding provided by Seattle residential construction lender Blueprint, to build the six live/work units on the two different land parcels.

A live/work unit is, as defined by the DPD in the 2012 Seattle Building Code, “a dwelling unit or sleeping unit in which a significant portion of the space includes a nonresidential use that is operated by the tenant.”

Although the units will exist on two separate land parcels, requiring the developer to file two separate proposals with the DPD, the building structure will span across the two and the units will share electricity, sewerage systems and have common walls.


Previous house. Photo from Division Ave Blog


Rendering of the new building

Rendering of the new building. Photo from Division Ave Blog

According to the applications filed with the DPD, the building is “divided” in half at the wall that falls on the property line. Although the entirety of the structure measures to 7,777 square feet (which normally requires the DPD to notify the neighborhood for comment, a design review meeting and a SEPA evaluation) because it is considered two separate buildings the normal public comment requirements were waived by the DPD.

The property at 819 NW 70th St is currently designated zoning wise as Neighborhood Commercial 1 (NC1/30) which limits the height of buildings to 30 feet. In that particular zone designation the DPD is required to notify the neighborhood, host a design review meeting and require a SEPA evaluation for all projects that are over 4,000 square feet.

According to the DPD, live-work units fall under a type of “non-residential use” under the Land Use Code. Apart from a small portion of the intersection at NW 70th St and Division Ave NW, which is designated as NC1, the surrounding area is a single-family residential zone.

The zoning designation of the property is NC1/30: Neighborhood Commercial 1, with a height limit of 30 feet. In that zone neighborhood notification, design review and SEPA are required when projects exceed 4,000 square feet. Live-work units are analyzed as a type of non-residential use under the Land Use Code. A small portion of the NC1 zone falls at the intersection of Northwest 70th Street and Division Avenue Northwest, and is surrounded by a single-family residential zone.


Residents have issued letters to Seattle City Councilmembers to voice their disappointment with the DPD’s decision. To learn more about the residents’ efforts, visit their website, Division Ave Blog.

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28th Ave NW shoreline restoration project gets finishing touches

May 12th, 2015 by Meghan Walker

The restoration project where 28th Ave NW meets Salmon Bay was completed last weekend, turning the area into a public access point with a focus on local ecology preservation. The area was transformed from a dead end into a community park providing access to the water with seating and a kayak or paddleboard launching area.


Photo courtesy Groundswell NW


The four-month project was part of the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Shoreline Street Ends Program, and included boulder, log, lumber and gravel donations from Sea & Shore Construction, who also helped provide labor for moving everything into place. Mark Garff and Marina French from The Watershed Company provided design expertise.


Before and after photos courtesy of SDOT and Groundswell NW

The finishing touches were applied by Groundswell NW, who gathered with community members to mulch and put in native plants last weekend. The trees, shrubs and layers of mulch will help to filter the runoff from the street above the park, and beyond the planting beds, a layer of gravel in the water will help salmon spawn in the area. “Together these elements not only create vital new habitat for fish and other sea life, but they also help to keep the water clean for human swimmers too!,” writes SDOT on their website.




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Tumble Swede Nordic restaurant to ‘pop up’ for Syttende Mai

May 12th, 2015 by Meghan Walker

In honor of Syttende Mai, the Tumble Swede Nordic pop-up restaurant will be happening this weekend in Ballard. The restaurant will feature a Norwegian-inspired menu that will serve as “a tribute to the late spring flavors of forest and field in the Pacific Northwest and will feature reimagined Scandinavian classics for lunch with more modern fare for dinner.” They tell us they’ll also have a “super fun and totally traditional” kids’ meal.


Wild herring (Photo from Tumble Swede’s Facebook page)


“This isn’t your grandmother’s cliché 1950’s food, and we don’t serve meatballs. It’s fresh, vibrant, modern, uniquely American, clearly Scandinavian and unmistakably Northwest,” Tumble Swede writes.

Tumble Swede is a creation from Scandinavian Distillery owner Lexi (Old Ballard Liquor Co.), and is, “a celebration of the Scandinavian culinary heritage of the Pacific Northwest.”  The restaurant will be found on Saturday and Sunday (May 16-17) at Demo Restaurant (5410 14th Ave NW). Learn more about their menu and whereabouts on their Facebook page or website.


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Ballard Development Update May 11: Several subdivision approvals underway

May 11th, 2015 by Meghan Walker

One subdivision application and three subdivision approvals make up today’s development update from the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) as posted in the Land Use Information Bulletin.


1707 NW 63RD ST

Land Use Application to subdivide one parcel into two parcels of land. Proposed parcel sizes are: A) 2,550 sq. ft. and B) 2,499 sq. ft. Existing structures to be removed.


2012 NW 59TH ST

A Land Use Application has been approved to subdivide one parcel into two parcels of land. The zoning allows for two lowrise multi-family homes for each lot.

6312 17TH AVE NW

A Land Use Application has been approved to subdivide one parcel into two parcels of land.

1525 NW 90TH ST

A Land Use Application has been approved to turn one development site into five unit lots. The lot is directly across from Soundview Playfield, and one block south of Whitman Middle School.

Comments about the above applications should be submitted to or mailed to the address below:

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

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Get ready for Syttende Mai with Norwegian heritage classes at the library

May 11th, 2015 by Meghan Walker

This weekend will be a celebration of all things Scandinavian, with the Syttende Mai parade taking over Ballard on Sunday, May 17. In honor of the holiday, the Ballard Public Library is offering classes tomorrow called Finding Your Roots to help local Norwegian residents learn tips and tricks on family history research and a workshop about Norwegian heritage.

John LaMont, genealogy librarian, will be leading the class on family history research, and lefse, a Norwegian flatbread, will be provided by Scandinavian Specialties

Finding Your Roots will be on Tuesday, May 12 from 2 to 5 p.m. The classes are free and no registration is required. For more information, click here.



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Learn about solar energy on Wednesday

May 11th, 2015 by Meghan Walker

On Wednesday, May 13 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Sunergy Systems (4546 Leary Way NW) in Ballard will be hosting a free workshop on solar energy. At the Solar U 101 seminar, participants will learn the ins and outs of renewable energy.

Solar U will be presented by the founder of one of Washington’s leaders in solar energy, Howard Lamb, and will teach about the following particulars of solar energy:

  • Energy issues facing the US and how Solar Power plays a role in the solution
  • How Solar Panels actually convert abundant light from the sun into usable electric power
  • Solar Power and How It Works in the Pacific Northwest
  • Nation’s Best State Incentive Program including the 30% Federal Tax Credit
  • Protection Against Rising Energy Rates and Net Metering
  • Reducing Your Environmental Impact while Increasing Your Home’s Resale Value
  • How To Get A Free Site Assessment With A Local, Experienced Solar Installer 

Sunergy will also offer a $500 coupon towards the purchase of one of their solar electric systems for all attendees. To learn more and sign up, click here.


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