They're usually small, sometimes scenic, the city has 149 of 'em, and they're going to be more expensive to lease in the future. The items in question—shoreline street ends—are formed when a street right of way runs smack into a body of water. Under city policy, these mini-plots of public land shouldn't be sold and should be restored to public use, as residents did years ago in creating the pocket parks along Fairview Avenue in the Eastlake neighborhood.
Although the fate of the city's street ends received official notice during the 1991 Shoreline Parks Improvement Fund grant process (and media attention when a few Leschi homeowners objected to pocket park proposals in their neighborhood), the city's official policy on the matter was approved by the Seattle City Council last week. Of course, as the major issue covered was raising the permit fees for neighboring property owners with encroachments on street ends, some folks were not especially happy about paying for the perks of their forebears.
Take the Lake Washington Boulevard resident whose boathouse extends partially onto the adjacent street end. The boathouse was constructed in 1944, back when the city used to wink at such encroachments. Now the owner faces a lease raise from the current $2,350 a year to $33,000. Perhaps that boathouse would be put to better use as firewood.
Of course, the city admits that's one aim of the legislation—to get private encroachments cleared. In the short term, these fee increases will also raise a few bucks (from the current $297,000 in annual lease fees to $481,000). In the long term, the city's success in chasing away encroachments will shrink the funds available to monitor the street ends.
And it's important that the city show a little flexibility. Magnolia residents Alice and Harold Ness went to the trouble of getting a permit several years back to landscape the overgrown street end next to their home. With a proposed annual charge of $6,191 for their extended garden, don't be surprised if the Ness family lets the blackberries take over the site once again.
All monorail, all the time
How does a Seattle City Council candidate get his name in the paper after picking just 23 percent of the primary vote against a popular incumbent? Try riding the monorail.
That's what Curt Firestone is doing. Facing Margaret "58 Percent" Pageler in the final, Firestone is now calling for Sound Transit to drop its light rail plan and embrace a citywide monorail system, which he claims would be cheaper, serve more residents, and actually decrease traffic congestion. Those in the know say the candidate is lowballing the probable costs of a constructing a monorail system (he claims $1 billion; the city's own monorail commission says the number is more like $1.8 billion), but as 52.6 percent of the city's voters supported the sky trains in a 1997 vote, maybe a few will switch to the monorail guy.
Hold it till next summer
The hopes of city officials to get five public restrooms installed and flushing in time for the upcoming World Trade Organization meeting appear to have been dashed by bureaucratic delays.
Keith Orton of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations delivered the sad toilet update to council members at a recent briefings meeting. "But we hope to have everything in place by the following summer," he added brightly. For now, all those finance ministers will just have to get used to porta-potties.
Oops and double oops
Last week's item in this column concerning the Washington Conservation Voters board member Maryanne Tagney Jones was dead wrong. It claimed that Tagney Jones had admitted to a Seattle Weekly writer that she was the WCV member who refused to wave a sign for Brian Derdowski because of a vote he took shortly before the primary election. On rechecking his notes, that colleague discovered the WCV representative who made that admission was not named "Jones," but "Jaynes," as in executive director Sarah Jaynes—who, when last we checked, is a completely different person from Maryanne Tagney Jones. We apologize for the blunder.
Those battling Republicans
Leave it to the Republican Party to come up with this election season's nastiest hit piece. Would-be county assessor Dave Callon whacked his primary opponent Chic Hendricks with an 11th-hour mailer outlining Hendricks' three trips to US bankruptcy court since 1983. Mean stuff, but still only good enough to earn Callon a narrow victory with 21.7 percent of the primary vote to Hendricks' 19.1 percent. For the record, when the suave Hendricks and the surly Callon appeared before the Seattle Weekly editorial board, the topic of bankruptcy was never broached. Let's hope Callon's research staff is working overtime, as Democratic incumbent Scott Noble got the other 59 percent of the primary vote and is expected to squash him come November.