You can’t go home again

While residents of Tent City 2 were appealing to the City Council on July 6 not to clear their homeless encampment, employees of the Seattle Parks Department were busy removing tents from the Jungle, a piece of vacant public property on Beacon Hill. A Jungle resident was arrested in the morning; six more were detained when they returned from the council meeting and attempted to set up their tents again.

The tent city residents had proposed that the city adopt an Emergency Encampment Civility Policy: basically a tolerance policy for well-managed encampments on city greenbelts. Residents of these encampments would be required to follow a civility code, including requirements of sobriety and non-violence for residents. Organizers of the encampments would provide proper sanitation, trash removal, and security. The proposal was rejected.

The mayor’s office claims it was unaware the tent city “clean-up” would take place when the residents were arguing their case before the council. A little harder to explain away is the city’s punitive attitude toward those arrested—city prosecutors argued for maximum bail because the campers were part of an organized criminal conspiracy. The judges at Seattle’s Municipal Court were unimpressed by this hard-line approach: One rejected the arguments and placed two prisoners in a pre-trial diversion program; another dropped the charges altogether for several of those arrested.

Economic unravelment

Here’s some shocking numbers from County Executive Ron Sims’ late-June speech introducing his Smartgrowth plan: In 1997, King County added 58,000 new jobs but only 12,100 housing units. In 1996, the numbers were 34,000 new jobs and 11,200 housing units. Sounds like it’s time to cut all those government economic development programs and use the money to fund housing. With such a healthy economy, big retailers can afford to build their own damned parking garages.

Corporate carfare

Speaking of which, the Bon Marché has cut weekend parking rates at its downtown garage, apparently because of competition from that luxurious-yet-cut-rate garage up the street at Pacific Place. Not terribly nice behavior toward the project that singlehandedly saved downtown retailing, is it? Let’s hope they get this competition bug out of their systems before the city of Seattle’s contract kicks in and we have to buy that (theoretical) profit center.

Transient high school?

It’s official. Wallingford’s Lincoln High School will continue to serve as a temporary home for Seattle school programs whose own buildings are being renovated or rebuilt.

The news was delivered to neighborhood residents by district officials Joseph Olchefske and John Vacchiery at a July 9 meeting. They told the 60 people in attendance that Lincoln is the only reasonable option for relocating the population of Roosevelt and Garfield high schools during their planned renovations (starting in about 2002). The Lincoln building is home for the Ballard High School program this year and next as that school is rebuilt. In the interim, classes from elementary schools slated for renovation will use the historic structure. Seattle officials say plans to move classes from nearby Hamilton Middle School into the Lincoln building will have to wait for another decade.

Not surprisingly, those in attendance weren’t thrilled with the news. Most neighbors would prefer a permanent school program in Lincoln, and there was a little apprehension over the size of the Garfield and Roosevelt programs (1,600-plus students, as compared with Ballard’s 1,100). It was also noted several times that the Hamilton-to-Lincoln switch was advertised as part of the district’s $330 million 1995 school construction levy.

Buy a luxury box, please

Concerns over slow sales of luxury suites in the new Mariners and Seahawks stadiums have galvanized the crack writing staffs of the Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer into full, suite-selling action. The Times‘ David Schaefer talked readers through a virtual tour (kinda like an infomercial) of a Mariners’ suite. Not to be outdone, the P-I‘s Angelo Bruscas responded the following Thursday with an even longer story (and a layout that looked even more like an ad). There’s no way of telling if the two big papers have some sort of commission deal, but just to be safe, when you plunk down $145,000 for a really good suite, remember to tell the salesperson that you first read about them in 4th & James.

Fishy gripers

Several members of the Waterfront Business Improvement Area demanded to know why Mayor Paul Schell isn’t aggressively pushing for a world-class aquarium renovation. Hmmm, now why would Paul be so short-sighted?

Perhaps it’s because the city has no money. Last we checked, officials were looking to sell the major city office building to raise some quick cash.

Perhaps it’s because the city has other pressing needs. The world-class symphony hall we couldn’t live without isn’t yet finished. The world-class library system required to maintain our place among world culture centers hasn’t yet been granted a penny of voter funding.

Perhaps it’s because the waterfront fish observatory is still funded out of city coffers. A major expansion of space would mean a major jump in operating costs, and that should only happen after a regional funding plan is in place.

When we think of some other reasons, you’ll be the first to know.

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