Councilmember O’Brien shoved out of Nordic Museum after-party

The Seattle Times is reporting that Councilmember Mike O’Brien was physically removed from an outdoor event at the Pacific Fishermen Shipyard on Friday night. The event was an official after-party of the Nordic Museum’s grand opening.

O’Brien said he was asked to leave, and as he looked for his wife, “someone from behind grabbed me by the shoulders and proceeded to shove me toward the gate and out the gate,” he said. “I was physically thrown out of this event because of the policies I advocate for.”

When Times reporter Daniel Beekman asked shipyard General Manager Doug Dixon what happened, he verified O’Brien’s account.

“We have a conflict with Mike O’Brien because of his efforts to put a bicycle path here and do some other issues that hurt the maritime-industrial area,” he said. Dixon said when O’Brien didn’t leave after he was told he was trespassing, “we had to forcibly remove him.”

Councilmember O’Brien is a polarizing figure in Ballard politics. He’s an outspoken supporter of plans to build the missing link of the Burke Gilman trail along the waterfront, which has been the subject of a long-running legal battle between Old Ballard businesses and the Seattle Department of Transportation. Earlier this year, the city hearing examiner ruled in favor of SDOT.

O’Brien took the brunt of criticism at a raucous town hall over homelessness last week, and a Change.org letter to O’Brien from neighbors frustrated with homelessness and crime has nearly 2,500 signatures. There’s a “Recall Mike O’Brien” Facebook group, which took this photo of “Visualize Recall” stickers making the rounds in Ballard.

(File photo above from the City of Seattle.)

Missing Link gets the green light in city ruling

The city hearing examiner has ruled in favor of the city, clearing the way for plans to build the 1.4-mile Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail. (Read the .pdf ruling here).

The ruling said the Seattle Department of Transportation’s analysis of the environmental impacts of the project “satisfies the rule of reason” and is affirmed.

“Today’s decision affirms decades of hard work, dedication and compromise from an incredible variety of community members. Now more than ever we have a clear path forward to realize a 50-year vision of a completed Burke-Gilman Trail,” said Richard Smith, executive director of Cascade Bicycle Club, in a statement.

The Ballard Coalition, a group of industrial businesses along the Missing Link that challenged SDOT’s environment analysis, says the battle isn’t over yet.

“In light of today’s decision, the Coalition will exercise and pursue all of its options, political and legal, including continuing to work with the new mayor and her administration to find a compromise solution that works for all of Seattle, not just a handful of cyclists,” said Josh Brower, an attorney representing the Ballard Coalition in a statement.

The Coalition has proposed another route to close the Missing Link which would steer people to Market St., away from trucking routes.

“At last! We can move forward to complete the missing link of the Burke-Gilman Trail,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien on Twitter. “I look forward to @MayorJenny and @seattledot taking quick action to complete the Burke-Gilman, providing a safer and sound alignment for pedestrians, bicyclists, cars and trucks.”

Thoughts on the ruling? We’ll keep you updated on what happens next…

With decision expected any day, Missing Link advocates plan event

Ballard’s long-running battle over the Missing Link may be nearing a conclusion.

Last month the Seattle Hearing Examiner heard another appeal from the Ballard Coalition, a collection of businesses challenging SDOT’s environmental impact statement that clears the way for the trail to run along industrial Shilshole Ave. (above).

Last week attorneys for SDOT, Cascade Bicycle Club and the Ballard Coalition filed their “response briefs”, setting the stage for the Hearing Examiner’s decision. (You can read all the filings here).

Then this Wednesday, Councilmember Mike O’Brien and representatives from Cascade Bicycle Club and other groups are holding an event “to show our new mayor, Jenny Durkan, our support and commitment to breaking ground on the Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail in 2018.”

The event at Peddler Brewing will feature “the original organizers who 50 years ago took action to build the Burke-Gilman Trail,” the invite explains. It will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

For its part, the Ballard Coalition is pushing for the trail to travel up Leary to Market St., avoiding the industrial area. During the hearing, the Coalition argued that SDOT’s final environmental impact statement (FEIS) overlooked the dangers of a path that crosses “55 industrial driveways and intersections in just 1.5 miles.” In its post-hearing brief, the Coalition claimed “SDOT repeatedly directed its consultants to downplay the environmental impacts of its proposal.”

SDOT argued it “completed a thorough and comprehensive environmental analysis”, and in a filing after the hearing, stated “the Coalition has not met its heavy burden to sustain its challenge.”

Now the decision rests with the Hearing Examiner. We’ll keep you updated…

‘Missing Link’ debate still rages, hearings underway this week


The Missing Link route as approved by the city

Since the early days of My Ballard, we’ve covered the debate around the Missing Link: a proposal to close the 1.4 mile gap in the Burke-Gilman Trail.

The core issues remain the same over the years: Many cyclists want the route along Shilshole Ave., where they’re riding anyway, navigating over perilous railroad tracks. Several businesses in the area, called the Ballard Coalition, want cyclists to take Leary and Market, a slightly longer route that avoids the many trucks that drive through the industrial area.

The Seattle Department of Transportation signed off on the Shilshole Ave. route, sparking an outcry from the Ballard Coalition and a legal appeal challenging the city’s environmental impact statement. That appeal is being heard this week before Seattle Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner.

A decision — perhaps a final decision? — is expected by the end of the year. The city hopes to begin construction early next year.

For a deeper look at the controversy, Crosscut has a great update here.

Farmers Market concerned about Ballard Ave “missing link” option

Organizers of Ballard Farmers Market have expressed concern over one of the proposed options presented in SDOT’s recently released plans to complete the Burke-Gilman Trail.

To complete the much talked about Burke Gilman trail “missing link”, SDOT has proposed four possible routes including one that runs up Ballard Ave, that, if chosen, has the potential to have a devastating effect on the Ballard Farmers Market.

“If Ballard Avenue were to become the “missing link” route, the BG Trail would run through the Ballard Avenue Landmark District. It would directly impact the small businesses along Ballard Avenue and it would threaten the future of the Ballard Farmers Market, now in its 16th year,” writes Ballard Farmers Market organizers on their blog.

On Sunday, members of the market were petitioning for locals to have their say during the public comment period that is open through August 1 and “save Ballard Farmers Market”. Members of the Cascade Bicycle Coalition were also in attendance explaining the options to people.

SMFA staff will be spreading the word again this weekend at the market from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. with pamphlets and postcards addressed to SDOT Director Scott Kubly to ensure all voices are heard.

SDOT published the SEPA Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link Project which started a 45-day comment period that ends on August 1.

The four alternatives (pictured below) are addressed in the study, in addition to some connecting segments that would make it possible to mix the alternatives.

Screen-Shot-2016-06-28-at-12_02_58-PM

SDOT is hosting two open houses on July 14, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and July 16, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Leif Erikson Hall (2245 NW 57th St) to hear public feedback about the options.

To give your feedback on the options attend one of the Open House events, email BGT_MissingLink_Info@seattle.gov or mail a letter to :

Scott Kubly, Director
Seattle Department of Transportation
c/o Mark Mazzola, Environmental Manager
P.O. Box 34996
Seattle, WA, 98124-4996

The My Ballard team has reached out to SDOT to confirm what effect the Ballard Ave missing link route would have on the future of Ballard Farmers Market and is yet to hear back.

Another speed bump for the Missing Link

The City of Seattle has to complete more work for the Missing Link of the Burke Gilman Trail to be approved.

According to the Seattle Bike Blog, the Cascade Bicycle Club states that King County Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers has ruled that the city must present further design details of the proposed trail from Fred Meyer to the Ballard Locks. The Judge agreed with 18 of the 19 conclusions of the Hearing Examiner, but ruled against the one ruling, which requires more work by the city.

Quoting the Cascade Bicycle Club, the Seattle Bike Blog writes:

The project is planned and funded but progress has been frustrated by years of legal challenges brought forth by a small group of Ballard businesses and the Ballard Chamber of Commerce. Completing the “Missing Link” section of the Burke-Gilman Trail has been planned by the City of Seattle since it agreed to acquire the abandoned rail line right of way from Burlington Northern Santa Fe in 1989. The BNSF discontinued rail service and abandoned the line in 1997, and the transfer of much of the property took place shortly thereafter. A handful of businesses opposed the safety improvements along the corridor and have appealed every decision made.

“While we’re disappointed with the result, we are confident that the City will be able to provide the necessary detail to show that the project would not pose a significant impact to the environment,” said Jeff Eustis, attorney representing Cascade. “Cascade continues to support the City as it works to supply the additional information.” (DIsclosure: MyBallard is a member of the Ballard Chamber of Commerce.)

More: Read more from the Seattle Bike Blog

Earlier: The debate surrounding the Missing Link

Hearing Examiner says ‘Missing Link’ can be built

The most recent appeal filed to stop the “missing link” of the Burke-Gilman trail has failed. According to our news partners, the Seattle Times, a hearing examiner denied the appeal, stating that the completion of the multi-use trail does not pose a significant environmental risk. This means that the city will not have to conduct a full environmental impact report, the Times is reporting.

Proposed route for the Burke Gilman “missing link” is the solid green line

The appeal was filed in March by a group that includes businesses with marine and trade interests. The Ballard Chamber of Commerce and the Cascade Bicycle Club also signed on late, Beth Williamson Miller, the executive director of the Ballard Chamber of Commerce tells us.

The attorney for the Ballard Business Appellants, Josh Brower, tells the Times, “Until the city proposes a safe facility that doesn’t threaten the maritime and industrial facilities that provide family wage jobs to middle-income people, my clients have no choice but to continue to oppose the ‘missing link’ trail.”

This appeal came on the heals of the completion of an environmental review ordered by King County Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers. That report (.pdf) concluded that the “missing link” will “not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment.”

The group has 21 days to appeal the hearing examiner’s decision. “We do fully expect that this will once again be appealed to the King County Superior Court, however the city is eager to begin construction on a fully funded and fully designed ‘missing link’ segment,” Rick Sheridan with the Seattle Department of Transportation tells the Times.

“I think we’re disappointed and continue to be concerned about the parking situation in particular,” Williamson Miller says. The Chamber of Commerce originally joined the legal battle because the current design for the “missing link” will take parking away from Shilshole Ave.

“I don’t know where things will go,” Williamson Miller tells us. “It is kind of frustrating at a certain point. I certainly understand we need alternative transportation, but does it have to be everywhere? There should be a transportation plan for it.” Williamson Miller says that they are working on a “cycle track” solution for the Burke Gilman Trail – one that will take bicyclists through the business district and not affect the maritime industry.

You can read more from the Seattle Times here.

Earlier: Background on the debate surrounding the missing link

Another appeal filed over the ‘Missing Link’

Updated:Another appeal has been filed over the “missing link” of the Burke-Gilman trail. Last month the Seattle Department of Transportation released the environmental review, which was ordered last year by King County Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers. SDOT concluded that the “missing link” will “not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment.”

Our news partner, The Seattle Times, is reporting that marine and trade interests have joined to form Ballard Business Appellants to appeal the decision. The Ballard Chamber of Commerce is not part of the latest appeal.


Proposed route for the Burke Gilman “missing link” is the solid green line

“This is about safety,” Josh Brower, an attorney representing the trade group told the Times. “My clients … are asking the city to study this issue and prove this trail design and location are safe, not just continue saying the trail is safe.”

The appeal isn’t a surprise to SDOT. When the Revised SEPA Determination of Non-Significance (.pdf) was released in February, Rick Sheridan told us they expected an appeal. He told us then that any appeal would delay the call out for bids and construction.

In July 2009, a coalition of Ballard industrial businesses, associations and the Ballard Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit with the Superior Court challenging the city’s plans to complete the Burke Gilman trail. Specifically, the lawsuit questions the city’s environmental review of the project. Among the concerns were safety and parking. (Disclosure: MyBallard is a member of the Ballard Chamber of Commerce.)

Earlier: Background on the debate surrounding the missing link

City clears hurdle to move ahead with ‘Missing Link’

The Seattle Department of Transportation has determined that the completion of the “missing link” of the Burke Gilman Trail will “not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment.” The city released today its State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Determination of Non-Significance for the “missing link” as required by a judge last April.

Ten months ago, King County Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers ruled that SDOT must do an environmental review on a 5-block section between 17th Ave NW and NW Vernon Pl, which was not originally studied under SEPA.

From the Revised SEPA Determination of Non-Significance (.pdf):

SDOT has determined that this proposal will not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment. An environmental impact statement (EIS) is not required under RCW 43.21C.030(2)(c). This decision was made after review of a completed environmental checklist and other information on file with the lead agency.

Any interested person may appeal this DNS by submitting a Notice of Appeal and a $50.00 filing fee to the Office of the Hearing Examiner.

The appeal must be filed no later than 5:00 p.m. March 3, 2011.

The entire SEPA Checklist can be found here (.pdf.) Comments on the DNS and checklist may be submitted until 5:00 pm Thursday, February 24. According to the documents, construction on the project could begin as early as this fall.

“SDOT does expect that this DNS will be appealed,” Rick Sheridan with SDOT tells us. In the case of an appeal, it would delay the call out for bids and construction.

In July 2009, a coalition of Ballard industrial businesses, associations and the Ballard Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit with the Superior Court challenging the city’s plans to complete the Burke Gilman trail. Specifically, the lawsuit questions the city’s environmental review of the project. Among the concerns were safety and parking. (Disclosure: MyBallard is a member of the Ballard Chamber of Commerce.)

Earlier: Background on the debate surrounding the missing link

Judge rules in ‘Missing Link’ appeal

A new ruling is out in the continuing legal battle over the “Missing Link” of the Burke Gilman Trail.  According to SDOT, a state appeals court has denied a motion for review filed by a group of businesses fighting the trail.  Back in April, a King County Superior Court judge ruled against those businesses on 8 of 9 complaints.  The only complaint they won involved an environmental review on a small section of the missing link which the city is now close to finishing.

Despite the new ruling, SDOT tells us the legal issues are far from over.  Once the environmental review is wrapped up, SDOT says the project will probably have to go back to the hearing examiner and could end up before the same King County Superior Court judge who issued the original ruling in April.  An attorney for the businesses who filed the lawsuit has not returned our calls for comment.

Disclosure: MyBallard is a non-voting member of the Ballard Chamber of Commerce.