If you HAVE to drive in snowy Northeast Seattle, here’s how (UPDATE)

Whether you’re putting your trust in the National Weather Service or UW Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Cliff Mass, there’s no denyin’ that there’s gonna be more snow in the next couple days.

In case you need to travel to and/or from Northeast Seattle during the snow, you’ll want to know which roads are being kept clear by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) crews, and which are not.

NE portion of SDOT's snow route service map - click to enlarge

To the right is a portion of SDOT’s snow map, focused on Northeast Seattle (full map here; 810 KB PDF). There are three different street service levels assigned to those arterial streets which are the busiest, connect neighborhoods with downtown, are used by transit and public safety agencies (police, fire), and reach schools and hospitals.

These different levels are to let users know which routes are being serviced and what conditions to expect. They are not prioritized — road servicing is ongoing at all levels as needed.

The different levels as shown on the map are:

Level 1 (yellow) -ALL lanes bare and wet
Level 2 (blue) – ONE lane each direction bare and wet
Level 3 (green) – Curves, hills and stopping zones treated

You can find Seattle’s Winter Weather Readiness and Response Plan here, which includes road treatment descriptions, facility and fleet information, links to city communication tools, and more.

As for tips on how to drive in the snow, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has a few to read, or watch on YouTube.

Take Winter By Storm’s website has lots of checklists you can use to be fully prepared both on the road and at home.

And then there’s PEMCO Insurance’s “The right way to abandon your car in a snowstorm.” You may want to print that one out to stick in your glove compartment, just in case.


UPDATE (Wednesday, 9:43 AM): City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw just tweeted out a great link for those us us curious about road conditions in Northeast Seattle AND citywide.

SDOT's Winter Weather map page (static screengrab taken Wednesday morning) -- click to go to the site

SDOT’s Winter Weather map shows which streets have been treated and/or plowed, and how long ago they were last serviced.

Different parts of the city can be selected from a dropdown menu at the top-right of the page (“Select Neighborhood”). Different road service levels are shown in different colors, as well as the different types of service (liquid de-icer vs. plows with and without salt spreaders).

Nifty map aside, we recommend drivers check out road conditions locally for themselves before heading out.

Libraries CLOSED all next week, but still accessible (sort of)

As is becoming an annual tradition, ALL Seattle Public Library locations will be closed next week (Monday, August 29 through Sunday, September 4) due to citywide budget cuts, in addition to being closed on Monday, September 5 for Labor Day.

This time of year is historically the least busy time for our libraries, which is why it is frequently the target for furlough days.

If you have been meaning to visit our local Northeast Branch (6801 35th Avenue NE), here are the remaining open days before the furlough begins:

    Friday, August 26, 10AM-6PM
    Saturday, August 27, 10AM-6PM
    Sunday, August 28,1PM-5PM

After this weekend, the next day the Northeast Branch will be open is Tuesday, September 6, from 10AM-8PM.

The good news: During the closure, some library services will still be accessible. As is becoming a Ravenna Blog tradition, here is a list of the Seattle Public Library services that WILL work during the closure:

  • The online catalog! But you can’t place holds.
  • “My Account” information!
  • The new online system for paying your fees and fines!
  • Calendar of Events!
  • SPL Mobile! The library system’s mobile phone app.
  • Databases! Who doesn’t enjoy a romp through Consumer Reports?!
  • Downloadable media! Got an e-reader of some sort? You may not even notice there’s a furlough happening.
  • Digital collections! Photos from AYP, historical Seattle, and the like.
  • Library BLOGS! Specifically “Push to Talk” for teens and “Shelf Talk” for adults.
  • Library podcasts!

For the list of services that will be unavailable during the one-week closure, visit www.spl.org.

Ravenna Blog turns THREE — The year in review

On August 8, 2008, I published the very first Ravenna Blog post. Just a humble little “Hello, World” to get things started.

This past year, I posted a video of the President of the United States’ motorcade driving though our neighborhood that has now been viewed almost 270,000 times.

Last year for the Ravenna Blog’s birthday, I did a reflective year in review post. But in the past year, SO MUCH STUFF HAPPENED that I have decided to expand the review post into more of a review week. I hope you’ll indulge me this look back at the neighborhood news — and I hope you’ll find it interesting, too.


My aim with this site has always been to cover the big stuff that happens in the neighborhood, and to cover the small stuff, too. Because, to residents, this “small stuff” can be the biggest stuff of all.

An example of what I mean by this can be found in this post from August 10, 2008, “Ravenna Avenue Sidewalk REPAIRED.”

Broken and bumpy sidewalk made new again, in front of the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center and adjoining Ravenna Apartments (August 10, 2010)

A few dozen square feet of new cement, in front of a building used by the entire community. Parents with babies in strollers would appreciate this news. The elders in the neighborhood would appreciate this news. Kids on bikes, or even smaller tykes just leaning to walk would appreciate this news. I took some pictures, typed up a post, and put it on the site for all to read.

Definitely not a high pageview sort of story. But that was not the point, of course.

The President may not drive down our streets every day, but there are folks who walk that stretch of sidewalk every day. And they live here. And I write for them.

This Weekend in Garage Sales (4)

I know of two THREE FOUR Ravenna neighborhood garage sales this weekend that you may be interested in:

Saturday, August 6

    7006 23rd Ave NE, 9AM-2PM – This one is a group of families/houses in the neighborhood holding a sale. LOTS of UW athletic wear at one of the sales.
    6272 19th Ave NE, 10AM-7PM – Large multi-family garage sale. LOTS of stuff available, including trendy Boho women’s clothing, Harley Davidson Sportster, hunting and pocket knives, art, books, and a netbook. (Check out the craigslist ad for more.)

Sunday, August 7

    6557 19th Ave NE, 9AM-3PM – “Furniture including shabby chic white wood table and four matching cushioned chairs, TONS of clothes including boys and girls mixed ages. Lots of baby toys, exersaucer, playmats, and books. There will be a lemonade stand too!!”

    7047 21st Ave NE, 9AM-1PM – “We are doing some way late spring cleaning and have great stuff for you! There are a lot of nice girl clothing and accessory items (mostly size 6X-8), some boy items (size 8-10) and even some woman items (mostly 1-2X). Everything has been freshly laundered and ironed! Some educational games and instructional tools/books for teachers/homeschoolers. Infant/toddler toys, household decor, DVDs, kid and adult books. Cute Harajuku lovers purse and luggage tag. Several other cute bags. Muddler, shaker, shot measure, bar glasses, and cocktail recipe book–everything you need for entertaining! Box of free items too! My nine-year-old daughter is excited to meet and entertain your little ones (pups too) while you browse.”

View August 6-7 Ravenna Garage Sales in a larger map

Having a sale of your own sometime this summer? I’m always happy to help you get the word out. Just email the details to rebecca@ravennablog.com.

Bernu’s is kaput, German cuisine to replace?

There’s no paper on the windows yet, but Bernu’s Indian Restaurant (2122 NE 65th St) has closed. An online real estate listing shows that the restaurant was purchased back on July 14th.


So, what’s going into this space next? A slightly more occidental cuisine, it appears.


Here are a few factoids I have found out about this new place (through internet sleuthery):

  • “Heidelberg Haus” will be opening in early fall (sayeth the signage pictured above).
  • According to the Washington State Liquor Control Board temporary pre-approval permit also posted on the door, they will be serving beer and wine.
  • The corporation listed on the liquor application (an LLC) appears to be owned by a couple in or from Einhausen, Germany.

Just bits and pieces, so far. I’ll continue to keep an eye out for more info. And should you, gentle reader, learn anything in the meantime, share it with the rest of the neighborhood in the comments below, or email me (rebecca@ravennablog.com).

Danke und guts Glück!


UPDATE (August 4): No more swarms that I’ve heard of since this one (from July 5).

BUT, should you come upon one yourself, or any other stinging insect problems, there’s is a local solution for removal: Jerry the Bee Guy lives in the Ravenna/Bryant area, and can help you with your stinging critter problems. Learn more at his website, jerrythebeeguy.com.


UPDATE 2:58 PM: Susan, the beekeeper, has the following to say about swarming bees.

Please know that swarming bees are not dangerous. They are focused on one thing, which is to find a new place to live. They are quite docile and easy to capture in this state.


A neighbor of mine keeps bees. Today the hive split and ended up in another neighbor’s yard. A trap was set, but during the trip to the store for some bee attractant for said trap, the hive moved on!

If you happen to be in the vicinity of 23rd Ave NE and NE 73rd St and you come across an inordinate amount of buzzing, DO LET ME KNOW. I’ll put you in touch with the owner.

Here’s one of many bee swarm videos available on YouTube to give you an idea of what you’re looking for:


Welcome to SUMMER

It’s July 5th.

Happy summer, everyone.

Mayor meets with DPD, writes letter to Roosevelt neighborhood

Mayor Mike McGinn met with Department of Planning and Development (DPD) Director Diane Sugimura today, to talk about the Roosevelt Neighborhood Legislative Rezone.

The question hanging in the air since last week — when letters to the DPD from the Mayor, Councilmember Tim Burgess, and a petition from 25 primarily pro-density people and organizations — was “Will the Roosevelt Legislative Rezone move forward at this time?”

The answer: YES, with some potential tweaking.

Here’s Mayor McGinn’s letter to the Roosevelt neighborhood, sent out this afternoon via email (emphasis mine):

Dear Roosevelt Neighbors and Friends,

Thank you for sharing with me your high hopes for your neighborhood, your interest in and support for light rail, and your insights into the rezoning effort that is currently underway for the station area. I appreciate the effort you put into developing a thoughtful proposal and the excitement so many of you expressed about light rail coming to Roosevelt. You are to be commended for the good work.

I agree that we should not slow down the process. I have, however, asked the Department of Planning and Development to take a closer look at some of the heights proposed for this station area. With the significant investment in light rail, long-vacant properties ripe for reuse, and the potential for good neighborhood-scale development, I believe it is appropriate to look at heights of up to 65 or 85 feet for some areas. These modest changes are consistent with the spirit of the original proposal and will help ensure we make the most of the new light rail and create new housing and jobs that support the area. I have asked that towers – buildings above 85 feet – be taken off the table entirely. I do not believe they are consistent with good planning for this neighborhood. In addition, I have asked that this analysis be done quickly so this legislation can move to Council for their consideration within the coming month.

Thank you again for writing. I look forward to working with you as we finalize my recommendations to Council.


Mike McGinn
Mayor of Seattle

This may be a good time to mention that the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association‘s next Land Use Committee meeting is next Tuesday, June 21, from 7-9 PM, at Calvary Christian Assembly (6801 Roosevelt Way NE).

You can bet that committee chair, Jim O’Halloran, will give an update about the Roosevelt Rezone at this meeting. Also, Sound Transit’s North Link Light Rail Program Manager, Ron Endlich, will be there to answer questions.

Seattle Community Center operations WILL change, but by how much?

Last night at the Bitter Lake Community Center, around 65 people gathered to hear about the potential fate of the city’s 25 community centers. One more of these meetings will be held tonight, from 7-8:30 PM, at the Jefferson Community Center (3801 Beacon Ave S).

Seattle Parks and Recreation has been asked by the City Council to trim $1.5-2.5 million from its community center budget for 2012. In January of this year a series of meetings began — with Parks’ staff, the public, and an advisory committee made up of both — to come up with ideas for both cuts and increased usage.

From those meetings, nine options for changing community center operations have emerged. Now Parks is seeking pubic comment on these options before final recommendations are brought to the City Council and the Mayor’s office in September. Final decisions will be made the week of Thanksgiving.

These nine options were outlined and discussed last night in a presentation by Parks staff, with a question and answer session following.

Of the nine options, three categories emerge: Options 1-3 make system-wide changes to community center operations, 5-6 deal with raising fees, and 7-9 explore partnerships with an eye towards individual centers’ needs and resources.

Option 4, however, is not really an option: Closing community centers. More on this below.

Carol Everson, of the Parks and Recreation Finance and Administrative Services Division, presented the nine options to those attending. Before she started, Everson urged us to think of the options as a “range of possibilities” available to make up the Parks’ budget gap, or even a “menu” from which multiple options could be chosen.

The survey about all nine options (and a space for comments) can be found online here, and is also available on paper at the community centers themselves. The deadline for the survey is July 1.

Carol Everson (standing) and Charlie Zaragoza (seated; Chair of the Associated Recreation Council Board) during the presentation of the Community Center Operations Options

The full descriptions (and cost savings) for all nine options can be found online here. Last night, they were outlined by Everson. What follows is a summary of the nine options, grouped by type, and including some additional information from last night’s presentation.

Reducing General Fund Usage

Options 1-3: Changing the way community centers are managed

Community Center Operating Options 1-3 are a progressive series of options all based on Option 1 (Geographic Management of Community Centers).

Option 1 “[O]rganizes community centers into seven geographic groups of three or four centers that are manage and programmed in a coordinated fashion.”

Option 2 adds on to Option 1 by classifying community centers within these groups into three tiers “based on criteria including physical facilities, current use, and demographics.” Tier 1 centers would average 50 hours of operating time a week, Tier 2a centers 30-45 hours, and Tier 2b centers 12-25 hours.

Tier 1, 2a or 2b: That is the question.

And Option 3 puts 2-3 of the Tier 2b centers on the chopping block. These sites might be run by other partnering organizations, or kept closed.

Option 4: Changing nothing

Called the “nuclear option” by Parks staff themselves, Option 4 would keep all operations at community centers exactly the same as they are today…with the exception of the 7-10 centers that would be closed outright.

With 25 community centers in the Parks system each costing approximately $400,000 a year to run, shutting down a bunch of them would instantly save the city millions of dollars. Closed centers would still be available for rentals or partnerships with outside groups. But the cost to local neighborhoods (and possibly to the Parks Department, the City Council, and the Mayor’s office) would be tremendous.

Both Parks staff at the meeting (and our own local community center coordinators at Ravenna-Eckstein CC and Meadowbrook CC; both present at last night’s meeting and with whom I spoke) agreed that either Option 1, 2 or 3 will be chosen: Community Centers in the future will be managed by geographic areas, not on a site-by-site basis. (How this will affect individual centers’ Advisory Councils will remain to be seen.)

Adjusting Fees

Option 5: Increase PAR Fee

Participation Fees (PAR fees) are monies that are retained from Associated Recreation Council (ARC) classes, sports fees, and childcare services by the City. Under Option 5, these fees would increase to 4% or 5% from their current level of 3.25%. Unfortunately, this would only bring in another $47,000-$126,000 a year.

Option 6: Resident Discount

With Option 6, Seattle residents would be offered about a 10% discount on community center programs and services, while fees would be raised for other users. This option would be piloted at the Amy Yee Tennis Center or at all swimming pools first, before extending into remaining facilities. Similarly to Option 5, Option 6 would bring in only an extra $126,000 per year.

Partnership Options

Option 7: Volunteers

Seattle Parks and Recreation already makes use of a good number of volunteers in its community centers, but Option 7 would have the amount increase. These volunteers would augment current staffing, freeing “professional staff for duties requiring their expertise.” But training new volunteers takes time, and the option is considered “[u]nlikely to be [a] major source of budget savings.”

Option 8: Reprogramming of Underused Spaces

Option 8 would take community center “dark hours” (when the center is not open or is underused) and “recruit outside organizations (partners) to provide programs or services” at those times. Utilization of centers would be increased through Joint Use Agreements with these outside organizations, but, yet again, Parks believes that this option is “[u]nlikely to be a major source of additional revenue.”

Option 9: Long-Term Lease of Entire Community Center

Another option that would close the budget gap quickly but has the potential to create public ill-will is Option 9: Allowing an outside organization to assume total responsibility for operating a community center that would otherwise be closed.

Current examples of long-term partnerships of this type include Green Lake’s Bathhouse Theater, the Pratt Fine Arts Center, the Mountaineers Club, the Seattle Aquarium and Arena Sports (Building 27 in Magnuson Park).

Each community center that is closed automatically saves $400,000, and rent payments by lessees would added to that savings as well. But there would be lag time between center closures and reopenings by lessees. Maintenance costs of these facilities would still fall to Parks, and reopening as a community center in the future would be difficult.

Looks like perfect weather on Friday for Bike to Work Day

Ridden your bicycle for a ride to work yet this year? With a weather forecast of 73°F for tomorrow, how could you NOT?

Besides which, tomorrow is Bike to Work Day, hosted by the Cascade Bicycle Club and title sponsored by F5 Networks.

Details about the event:

More than 20,000 people are predicted to bike to work on Friday. From 6 to 9 a.m., bicycle commuters can stop at one of 41 official commute stations and a dozen DIY stations located throughout King, Snohomish and Kitsap counties to receive free water bottles, maps, snacks, commuting information, and have bikes checked by bike shop sponsors.  From 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. the F5 Bike to Work Day Rally will be held outside Seattle City Hall where there will be music, speakers, and give-aways. In the afternoon, the after-work party will be hopping in Ballard at Bergen Place Park from 4 to 7 p.m.

Which of those 41 official commute stations are closest to Ravenna? Looks like you’ve got a few options:

View Bike Month Activities & Bike to Work Day Stations in a larger map

From left to right, these stations are:

Ravenna (Ravenna Blvd between Roosevelt and 11th Ave NE)
Sponsor: Ride Bicycles

DIY University Christian Church (4731 15th Avenue Northeast)
Edibles: snack bars, cookies, and fresh muffins; juice and water, perhaps also coffee to go. Also bike decals from Bikeable Planet to give away to spread the cause of biking

Burke-Gilman Trail at Blakeley (30th Ave NE & NE Blakeley St)
Sponsor: UW Community, Environment, and Planning Program, Bike Assistance by Counterbalance Cycles

Seattle Children’s Hospital (40th Ave NE and Burke-Gilman Trail)
Sponsors: Seattle Children’s Hospital and Metropolitan Market; Join Cascade Bicycle Club here and get a free gift!

In years past, my pedestrially commuting husband has noticed a station at the north end of the pedestrian footbridge over the ravine (at 20th Ave NE and NE 61st St) on Bike to Work Day; however, this station is not represented on the map. I asked the Cascade Bicycle Club’s Director of Communications and Marketing, M.J. Kelly, if  this station would return again this year. She said, “[S]ome stations come and go, and I’m not sure what happened with this particular station.”

I’ll be heading down to the 20th Avenue NE footbridge myself tomorrow morning, to check out the commute. Sadly, my 1969 Sturmey-Archer will not be coming with me, as I have yet to rebuild it. But ain’t she purty:


BICYCLER BONUS: Ravenna Third Place Books is holding a special promotion tomorrow, for Bike to Work Day. Walk in with your helmet, and receive a 15% discount.