New zoning plan closer to reality, Crown Hill could see most change

Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess and Councilmember Rob Johnson released the city’s “preferred alternative” today for upzoning several neighborhoods as part of the proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) plan.

It’s an interactive map that you can browse right here. (To close the splash page once it launches, click the OK button in the lower right).

(From the new “preferred alternative” map.)

As you can see — and as the Seattle Times previewed a few days ago — Crown Hill would be one of the most impacted areas in the city.

“Crown Hill in Northwest Seattle is one of the leading laboratories for the grand-bargain experiment,” explain reporters Justin Mayor and Bob Young in the Times. “In one scenario proposed by the city, Crown Hill faces the greatest encroachment into single-family areas of any of the ‘urban villages’ where the city aims to steer growth.”

The mayor held a press conference today in Capitol Hill. “With this plan, we will extend our requirement that new developments contribute to Seattle’s affordable housing supply,” Burgess explained. “We’ve already implemented this requirement in the University District, downtown, and elsewhere. Now it’s time to bring this requirement to other high-opportunity neighborhoods so that we can hasten our progress in building a more inclusive and equitable city.”

In the “high-opportunity” neighborhood just to the north of Ballard, the Crown Hill Committee for Smart Growth has argued for less upzoning, more support for small businesses, better infrastructure and a neighborhood plan. As we reported last week, one of the area’s oldest businesses, Crown Hill Hardware, is closing at the end of the month.

While the plan is one step closer to reality, the full council vote isn’t scheduled until summer of next year. In the meantime, there are several community meetings scheduled to receive more community feedback. We’ll keep you updated.

After a century in business, Crown Hill Hardware is closing

One of Seattle’s oldest small businesses, Crown Hill Hardware on 15th Ave. NW is closing at the end of the month.

“I’ve been here a long time. It just has sentimental value,” says the store’s owner Dennis Palmer.

Palmer says his mom passed away a week ago, which triggered a requirement to sell the property, which is in a trust along with several other families. He said he expects there will be lots of bids, and he can’t afford to buy it himself.

Crown Hill Hardware first opened for business on 85th St. more than century ago, moving to its current location in the mid 1950s, Palmer said. His dad bought the store in 1976, and Palmer bought the business from his father in 2000.

“I’ve seen it change so much through the years. Small businesses just aren’t supported very much anymore,” he said.

Similar to central Ballard a few years ago, the 15th Ave. corridor is now peppered with brand new apartments and fenced-off lots awaiting new developments. “It’ll sell pretty quick,” Palmer said.

The store has been a Crown Hill institution for decades, but Palmer said business dropped during the last recession and never really recovered. “I’m doing more business now that I’m closing than when I’ve been open,” he joked to a regular customer.

“Sad to see you go,” the customer said.

Crown Hill Hardware will be open until the end of the month, and prices are marked down 30%.

“It was a good ride,” Palmer said.

(Thank you Amber for the tip.)

Have you seen Manny in Crown Hill?


A male Chihuahua named Manny went missing at approximately 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 28.

He was last seen in the parking lot of the Subway at Holman Rd/15th Ave NW in the Crown Hill neighborhood.

Some good Samaritans in a burgundy SUV were seen trying to catch him.

“If you have seen him or know of his whereabouts, please call (206) 605-4186 at any time day or night,” writes his owner Emily.

Surveillance camera catches burglary suspect in Crown Hill

According to a KING 5 report, a Crown Hill home owner’s surveillance camera caught a man trying to kick down her front door last Tuesday morning.

The footage was recorded minutes after Shelby Davison left her house to take her children to school at around 9:30 a.m.

“He easily could’ve been watching us for days,” Davidson told KING 5.  “It’s creepy. Very creepy.”

According to the report, Davidson and her husband installed the surveillance system after the increase of crime in the neighborhood. The video captured on the system shows Davidson’s car pull out of the driveway at 9:24 a.m. and under two minutes later shows a man walking down the driveway and trying to break into the home.

The footage shows the suspect trying to force his way inside using several different windows and doors and shows him trying to kick down the front door three times. Eventually, KING 5 reports, the man gives up and runs away.

king 5

Davidson returned to her home 15 minutes after leaving to drop her children to school to find a muddy footprint at the door and subsequently checked the security system surveillance video.

“My heart was in my throat,” Davidson told KING 5.  “It’s daylight.  It seemed like he didn’t care at all.  I just think he knew nobody was home.”

According to the report, one of Davidson’s neighbors captured footage of the same man trying to break in to their home on the very same day before he targeted her home.

Do you recognize the man in the video? Call SPD North Precinct at (206) 684-0850.

Geo’s Cuban & Creole food truck opens on Holman Rd

The folks from Geo’s Cuban & Créole (6301 Seaview Ave NW) have opened a food truck at the Crown Hill Shell Gas Station located at 9796 Holman Road NW.


Geo’s specializes in authentic Cuban sandwiches and entrees, spicy Louisiana style Gumbo, and a fusion of Southern Creole cooking.

“Everything is made from scratch, in-house, right down to the soup stocks, roux for the gumbo, marinades and sauces,” says co-owner Geo Rodríguez.

The food truck is now open from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. every day except Tuesday.

Photo courtesy of Geo’s Cuban & Creole.

Robbery and sexual assault suspect arrested in Crown Hill

On Sunday SPD officers arrested a 19-year-old male sexual assault and robbery suspect in Crown Hill. Read more details from the North Precinct Blotter post below:

Police arrested a 19-year-old man Sunday in Crown Hill after a concerned officer contacted a woman, who he’d seen walking Aurora Avenue without a coat on chilly night, and learned she had been attacked.

The officer was driving in the 11500 block of Aurora Ave. at 12:20 AM when he passed a 41-year-old woman he recognized from an earlier conversation that evening. After noticing she was no longer wearing the coat he’d seen her in previously, and was now dressed in tights and a sleeveless t-shirt, the officer pulled up near the woman and stepped out of his car to talk to her.

The woman immediately said she had just been raped, and described how a man had picked her, driven her behind a business and sexually assaulted her. The woman told the officer the suspect had pushed her out of his car and drove away with her clothes.

The victim was able to describe the suspect’s car to officers, and police were able to track it to a home near NW 85th St and 17th Ave NW.

Police knocked on door of the home, contacted a 19-year-old man inside, and were able to confirm he had attacked the woman on Aurora.

Officers booked the man into the King County Jail for investigation of rape, robbery, assault and a $50,000 felony warrant, and are working with prosecutors to bring charges against the man.

Mayor responds after Crown Hill walking tour

Last fall Mayor Mike McGinn took a walking tour of Crown Hill. Along the way, residents brought up concerns and today the mayor responded to those concerns. “I appreciated the opportunity to listen and to have shared conversations on ways we can make improvements to Crown Hill ranging from pedestrian access and public safety,” the mayor writes in an email. “You also raised good questions and concerns. I promised to get back with you and I am sorry that this response is late.”

Mayor McGinn walks with Crown Hill leaders at the old Crown Hill Elementary School

These are the issues that the mayor has addressed:

* Signage for parking on NW 90th (off of 15th Ave NW) needs to be addressed
* What is the paving schedule for Crown Hill roads?
* Holman Road median is a highly dangerous crossing for cars, pedestrians and bikes.
* A gate on 17th Ave N abutting the North end of Whitman Middle School is closed off.
* Sidewalks are in poor condition and there is an overall lack of sidewalks in the Crown Hill neighborhood.
* Trees and ivy should be pruned along Holman St. because it is obstructing the view to street signs.
* The alley on 17th and 90th Ave NW across the street from Whitman Middle School has two parallel U shape posts that is an impediment for strollers and bikes.
* Suggestion that the City disconnect all the downspouts post going out to the streets and find a way to put them on private property.
* Placement of speed bumps to slow traffic down on 13th Ave NW.

You can read the mayor’s response to these issues here.

Mayor hosts walking tour of Crown Hill

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn rode up on his bicycle to join a small group of community leaders in a walking tour of Crown Hill on Saturday afternoon. The mayor takes several walking tours of Seattle neighborhoods each year, but this one was a short commute — McGinn lives nearby in Greenwood.

During the walking tour, the mayor heard concerns about a lack of sidewalks, traffic on Holman Road and drug dealing at Baker Park, among other things.

The first stop was the playground at the old Crown Hill Elementary School at 13th Ave. and Holman Road, which will soon become Crown Hill Park. Community leaders from Crown Hill Neighborhood Association and Crown Hill Business Association expressed concerns about safe access to the park. Construction is slated to begin next year.

The group paused along the pedestrian overpass over Holman Road. “Although it’s a very important transportation asset, it’s dangerous to drive on and dangerous to cross,” said Ryan McFarland, the president of the CHNA. As if on cue, the mayor watched as a bicyclist perilously weaved through traffic (above). McFarland suggested that adding a planted median along the street “could make the turn lanes more clear, provide islands for pedestrians and dramatically improve the aesthetics of the neighborhood.”

Since Holman road isn’t due for repaving anytime soon, the mayor said it boils down to funding in a difficult economic time. He said he plans to propose a “significant increase” in the commercial parking tax — above and beyond the city council’s proposed increase — to pay for transportation projects like these. “Help me out here guys, when we go in front of council,” he said, adding that he’s asked SDOT to look at different solutions for different neighborhoods.

The mayor also heard about the lack of sidewalks on many Crown Hill streets. Earlier this year, community members applied for a Bridging the Gap grant for sidewalks in the area that spans NW 85th to NW 90th between 15th Ave NW and 20th Ave NW. But due to a lack of funding, the proposed project was slimmed down considerably. “Tell the council to approve my proposed tax increases for pedestrian improvements,” the mayor said.

The next stop was Baker Park along 14th Ave. between 85th and 83rd Streets. Catherine Weatbrook, with the Crown Hill Business Association, told the mayor that neighbors often complain about drinking and vagrancy. “You’re very lucky you’re here after all the rain in September because the smell has substantially decreased, because there are no bathrooms,” she said. “There are fairly active drug deals that happen along that street (pointing to Mary Ave.)”

“It’s just the activation and usage,” the mayor said after hearing the park is not popular. “Have you looked at — I’m just going to toss out an idea — a pea patch? It would get people here every day.” He said pea patches have worked elsewhere, even if they’re just a secondary component of the park. With Crown Hill Park opening soon nearby, “maybe that’s a viable thing,” Weatbrook said.

A neighbor raised concerns about drug deals a couple blocks away, at 15th Ave. and 87th St., often behind the Radio Shack building. “I see it happen all the time,” Jon said, adding that police don’t always respond. “We’ve got a lot of people calling about it.”

On 87th and 17th, the mayor was given this photo of flooding in a low area there — a frequent problem. The mayor promised to pass it along to Seattle Public Utilities to find out what’s going on. “We’ll get you a response,” he said. “At least we’ll let you know where we stand.” A staff member accompanying the mayor wrote down questions and complaints raised along the walk.

After the walk, Weatbrook said she felt it went well. “I think we have a lot of commonality in things we’re trying to do,” she said. “We have the hard realities of the budget, the economic situation, so we’ll have to work through it.”

Help make Ballard beautiful this weekend

There are three events this weekend to help make the Ballard area beautiful:

Volunteers spreading gravel in the median of 14th Ave NW where new planters have been placed. Photo courtesy Dawn Hemminger.

  • On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the East Ballard Community Association is hosting its April Day Out. Participants can choose between cleaning up 14th Ave, plant plants in the new planters or help get the rest of the medians ready for gravel delivery. “Tools for breaking dirt, like a pick mattock, would be helpful,” coordinator Dawn Hemminger writes, “Ballard Market will be providing lots of great food and drink in appreciation for doing such a great job at making our neighborhood look so beautiful!”
  • Crown Hill celebrates Earth Day at the Carkeek Park Environmental Center from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. Teams will fan out on our streets surrounding the park and do three things: (1) stencil “Dump No Waste, Drains to Stream” on storm drains, (2) distribute flyers to homes regarding pet waste, and (3) pick up trash along roadways and in public spaces. Pizza will be served at noon. So the Parks Department staff has appropriate numbers, please register at 206-386-9154.
  • Better your beach at Golden Gardens! There will be an Earth Day event on Saturday from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Golden Gardens Bathhouse. Help pick up the trash on the beach then join in a discussion “Green Seas Dialogue: Oceans and the New Climate.” Seattle Aquarium docents and student monitors at Golden Gardens beach will be on hand. Refreshments will be served.
  • Largest Value Village in Seattle opens on Crown Hill

    The largest Value Village in Seattle opened this morning with a crowd of more than 100 people in line and cars circling the full parking lot. Value Village first opened on Crown Hill 17 years ago, but outgrew their previous location just a block away. “The reason why we’re opening this store is because of you,” the President and CEO of Value Village Ken Alterman told the crowd, “We just couldn’t fit all of you in that store anymore. And we needed more parking, we needed more merchandise, we needed more selection, more value.”

    The first in line at the new Crown Hill location at 8532 15th Ave NW arrived at 6 a.m. and was shocked when no one was ahead of him. “I really thought we’d be down there somewhere,” he told us, pointing toward the end of the line. As a shopper at the old Crown Hill Value Village, he was excited for the bigger space.

    Once inside he made a beeline for the book section, filling his cart with books. He isn’t the only one interested in this department. “This was always actually one of the most popular departments in our old store, consistently. We were able to actually double the size of our book department,” store manager Jeremy Lamb tells us, “This is going to be a huge one for us.” Lamb tells us that they are moving so many books a day that they’ll restock the shelves with 1,000 to 1,500 new books a day.

    Another expanded section is women’s shoes. The new store offers three times the space over the old store.

    Before heading inside to sign posters for the first 500 customers, Ryan “Henry” Ward addressed the clapping crowd. He was recognized this morning for painting the 3,000 square foot mural that stretches the length of the west wall. “Thanks a lot everybody. I really enjoyed doing this. I really hope the Crown Hill/Ballard community enjoys it. I’m gonna keep doing what I’m doing if people keep giving me the thumbs up.”

    As part of the grand opening, Value Village is bringing in local designer Malia Peoples to help shoppers find looks that work for them with merchandise in the store. You can take advantage of Peoples’ fashion sense by donating four grocery bags of items to Community Services for the Blind and Partially Sighted. Peoples will be at the new Crown Hill Value Village today (Thursday) from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and again on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m.