City seeks 80 Montlake homes to join “Rainwise” program: Community meeting planned for Sept 19th

Image: Seattle Rainwise

By Julee Neuhart

​On Tuesday, July 30, Susan Harper, from Seattle Public Utilities spoke to a small group of Montlake residents at the Montlake Library. Susan reported the city wants 80 neighborhood home owners become “rainwise” to cut the amount of rainwater that overflows the city’s containment system in heavy rain storms, dumping polluted water into Portage Bay and the ship canal. Properties that are eligible for the program are:

  • the Shelby-Hamlin area
  • along 25th Avenue E. and 26th Avenue E. near the Arboretum
  • homes between Boyer Avenue and Portage Bay, west of 19th Avenue E..

To encourage participation, the city is offering rebates to help cover the cost of rainwise landscaping and/or rain collector cisterns. The rebate is $3.50 per square foot of roof that will direct rainwater into these features. Home owners can find out if their property is eligible for the program and if so, what projects are possible in their yard, by clicking here. This project does not cover modifications to the parking strip areas between the street and sidewalk.

​Susan reported that many homes in the Ballard and Broadview neighborhoods have installed rain gardens and or other features. The rebates have varied from $1000 to $4000, usually covering approximately 75% of the total cost. The website also has detailed information about the program and photos of rain gardens and cisterns used in Seattle. The utility has trained about 50 landscaper from many Seattle area firms. Their names and contact information is also included.

​A Rainwise Open House is scheduled for Thursday evening, September 19, 2013, at the Montlake Community Center. This event will provide interested home owners with more information. Representatives from Seattle Public Utilities will be on hand to answer questions and landscape firms will be displaying projects they have created and can answer questions specific to residents’ property.

Montlake Bridge turns 88

Image: v8drvr

Historylink reminds us that the Montlake Bridge opened 88 years ago today — June 27, 1925. Montlake was the fourth and last local crossing of the Ship Canal and was welcomed as the “most beautiful in the city” for its unique Gothic towers. At the opening ceremonies, a streetcar carrying local politicians led the Seattle Police marching band across the span and then…

One of the highlights of the ceremony came when City Council President Bertha Landes (1868-1943), who one year later would become Seattle’s first woman mayor, took two tries to christen the bridge with what, at the height of Prohibition, was described as a bottle of “some effervescing fluid.” On her first swing, the bottle struck the steel superstructure, but did not break. On a second and mightier attempt it did, “splashing her with its contents.”

Happy birthday bridge!

Union Bay blogger Larry Hubbell featured in The Seattle Times

Image: Seattle Times / Marcus Yam

Image: Seattle Times / Marcus Yam

Local nature blog Union Bay Watch has really taken off in the past year, thanks to the passionate and patient work of Montlake resident Larry Hubbell. This morning Larry and UBW appeared in The Seattle Times, getting front page treatment.

Having hauled out his 30-or-so pounds of camera gear, which includes a massive 400-mm lens and a tripod, for Larry Hubbell it’s another afternoon of patiently looking for the Highway 520 bridge bald eagles…

“Patience, there is a lot of that,” says Hubbell, who in his other life is a system data guy for Starbucks.

On this afternoon, Hubbell has set up his gear in the Madison Park neighborhood, where East McGilvra Street dead-ends into the eastern razor-wire-topped fence of the Broadmoor Golf Club.

The article goes on to detail Larry’s coverage of “Life After Eddie,” an on-going series covering the bald eagle family of Eva and Albert, after Eva’s previous mate Eddie was killed by a bus on 520. Larry broke news last spring with photos of the pair’s two new eaglets. He did the same this year with news of a single, and fast-growing, eaglet that he expects to fledge from the nest in record time.

Albert and Eva are local celebrities because of their high visibility perches atop lamp posts on the 520 Bridge approach across Union Bay. Commuters often photograph and comment on the eagles, appreciating the brief glimpse of wildlife in an otherwise ordinary (or even frustrating) commute. The eagles seem unbothered by the traffic traffic below, favoring the lamp posts for their prime view over Union Bay’s hunting grounds.

Image: Instagram: mattlockmon

Larry’s “news” coverage of Union Bay brings awareness — and deeper appreciation — to the role wildlife plays in the urban environment of the Seattle. His posts appear on The Seattle Times’ Community News Network page and he regularly posts photos and links to his blog on Montlaker. Congrats to Larry for getting some big media press and big thanks as always for making local wildlife come alive on the web!

Follow Union Bay Watch here.

Da-Kadu Brown stars in ‘Can’t Hold Us’ video, gives Mackelmore ‘The Heist’

Montlake resident Da-Kadu Brown celebrated the release of Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis’s ‘Can’t Hold Us’ video this week, and let go of a secret he’s been keeping since filming in February at the Big Four Ice Caves in the Cascades: It is he who is standard bearer of The Heist. Da-Kadu stars in the snowy opening scene, handing off a folded Heist flag to a be-wolfed Ben Haggerty, aka Mackelmore, who then journeys with it through fantastic scenes of Seattle and the Northwest. Like My Oh My — a beautiful ode to the city.

Congrats Da-Kadu! The video is worth the wait to stream in HD.

Pit bull owner responds to recent attack

The owner of two pit bulls that attacked another dog and its owner on March 1st at 22nd & Boyer has responded to neighborhood concerns about safety by pledging to do more to “insure the safety of others and their pets.”

We have two pit bulls – a male and a female. We have had them for about four years. One we raised from a puppy and the other was a rescue dog. We love our dogs as much as other pet owners love theirs. Both animals have been through obedience training at the Academy of Cannine Behavior and their behavior has been assessed. Both animals are extremely loving to humans which is a characteristic of their breed. At the same time, pit bulls do have certain traits that are specific to the breed which means that they do not always get along with other dogs. We are responsible dog owners. We do not let our animals run loose off of our property and the dogs are double collared when we walk them in case one collar breaks. When we see another dog in the vicinity we cross the street. The major problem we encounter is people with unleashed dogs and those runners with dogs who run up behind us un-announced.
What happend the other day… was an unforseeable accident. My wife was walking the dogs by herself while I was out of town and she encountered [the victim] and his dog at a blind corner not knowing that he was in vicinity. When his dog barked at our dogs they lunged at his dog and that unfortunatley resulted in a collision. In the past, my wife walking the dogs by herself was able to control them without incident and this unfortunalely turned out not to be the case… My wife was also injured in the incident. None of this is to suggest that [the victim] is any way at fault. We are deeply sorry for what happened… and have offered to pay his medical expenses. Meahwhile, I want to assure the neighborhood that we will do everything within our power to make sure that this incident does not reoccur. My wife will not walk the dogs by herself and we are sending both dogs back for another round of obedience training at not inconsiderable expense. In the future, we will avoid [this] neighborhood when walking our dogs to address his particular concerns. We fully understand the consequences of another incident like this – at best we would be forced to re-home the dogs and more likley we would be compelled to have them euthanized.
We recognize that we have a responsibility to insure the safety of others and their pets and are doing every thing possible to fulfill that responsiblity.
[Identifying info removed.]

Call for artists: Montlake Music & Arts Festival, Sunday May 19th

Image: Flickr: munozgallagher

Got talent in need of an audience? Here’s an event for you:

That’s Right! The All-Montlake Music & Arts Happening is coming fast. Put Sunday, May 19th (2-5) on your family calendar & join the fun.

We’ve got fine neighborhood musicians lined up, and a great bunch of our Montlake artists already committed to showing their stuff. But now, we need our Montlake neighbors to be there, and we need more artists! 

The big Montlake Community Center meeting room has plenty of space for artistic creations from artists of all ages. We welcome all kinds of visual arts. We’ve got paintings, photographs, sculpture, block prints, furniture, fiber & jewelry from professionals and hobbyists. We even have a young henna artist who will decorate your hands with lovely designs. We’d like more of all of these. But then we invite ceramics, bonsai, calligraphy, leatherwork, quilting, fly tying, cartoons and–well, you get the picture. Don’t be shy about sharing your talents with your neighbors. And neighbors, don’t be slow to get this community arts & music celebration into your smart phone and wall calendars. Be there to greet your neighbors, enjoy the art & music, have some refreshments, and visit the Montlake Board business table.

E-mail Nathalie Gehrke to get a few more details and/or put yourself on the potential participant lists. If you know any bashful artists or musicians in Montlake, please let us know and encourage them to sign on. We can only do this Happening right if our talented folks join in. 

Finally, if you’d like to be part of the planning committee or help staff the event on May 19th, contact us at the same address. Montlake’s got talent. Let’s Enjoy it!

City Council moving ahead with small lot development update

Image: Montlaker

Image: Montlaker

The Department of Planning and Development has forwarded recommendations to the City Council regarding new rules for small lot development in single-family zones following a moratorium enacted last fall. In short, the new rules would close a building code loophole allowing subdivisions of residential lots using pre-1957 tax parcels. The loophole fired up neighbors last year when Soleil Development converted a backyard on Blaine Street into a legal, buildable lot. Residents banded together with those in other neighborhoods living in the shadows of tall-and-skinny houses to lobby Council for the moratorium — and won.

The new rules up for adoption would:

  • Create a permanent provision that disallows the use of historic tax records and mortgage records to create undersized lots.
  • Set a uniform absolute minimum lot area of 2,000 square feet, to apply to lots qualifying under all lot area exceptions.
  • Limit structure height for new buildings and additions to existing houses on lots that are less than 3,200 square feet to 18 feet, plus a five-foot pitched roof.
  • Add other provisions that will limit problematic development and provide some regulatory flexibility with appropriate notice.

Councilmember Richard Conlin, chair of the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee, and DPD are seeking input on these proposed changes. Email comments to and before April 3rd. Residential density issues are hot these days, with Councilmembers also considering a moratorium on “aPodment” micro-housing. See CHS and The Stranger for more on that.

While there aren’t any (known) micro-housing projects planned for Montlake, density pressure is increasing here — and will continue to increase with light rail coming to Montlake Station in 2016. A mixed-use project with student-friendly studios is already in the works for 24th & Boston. Density is usually considered a dirty word here, but it’s also related to the small school enrollment that keeps Montlake Elementary on the budget chopping block.

Meanwhile, construction of the backyard house on Blaine is nearly complete — its permits were granted before the moratorium went into effect. After all the hubbub, does it really seem all that bad?

Image: Windermere via

Backyard before. Image: Windermere via


Backyard no more. Image: Montlaker

Pit bull attacks rattle neighbors

A recent string of pit bull attacks were reported on the Montlake wire this week. Animal control authorities were called to the 24oo block of East Roanoke on Thursday after a resident pit bull broke loose from its tether and severely injured another dog walking with its owner.

An earlier and more severe attack occurred March 1st at 22nd & Boyer. A man walking his dog was attacked by two pit bulls that broke free from their owner’s grasp. Pit bull #1 went for the man’s dog while #2 went for the man, knocking him down and biting his hands and arms.

My dog and I were walking North on 19th Avenue East from Boyer to Blaine about half way from Boyer when I noticed a Middle aged woman with little control over two pitt bulls. I immediately turned back to Boyer, shouting and pointing to the woman that I would be walking back up Boyer. A few Minutes later at the Blind NW corner of 22nd Ave E & Boyer we met. My dog was a pace ahead of me, without warning one of the pitbulls came around the corner with my dogs neck in it’s jaws. The second pitbull came charging around the corner knocking me to the ground faced to face with the jaws pittbulls. I sustained a bit to my left arm, two deep wounds into my right wrist and hands. Fortunately two wonderful neighbors came along and helped get the vicious dogs under control. I thank them for being there and helping.

According to the victim, the dogs reside on Delmar Drive East and were quarantined by control authorities for a mandatory ten days. A third sighting of a pit-bull-on-dog attack occurred in “January or February” also on Delmar.

Reactions to these attacks have ranged from fear for small children to gentle reminders against breed discrimination. Before heading out for a neighborhood stroll to ponder the societal consequences of breed discrimination, consider reading The Stranger’s How to Defeat a Pit Bull with Your Bare Hands.

Montlake Bicycle Shop: Dems’ proposed bike tax based on false premise, hurts local businesses

By Neil Wechsler, owner of Montlake Bicycle Shop

A part of a 9.8 billion dollar transportation plan put forth by Democratic Washington State legislators is to create a new $25 tax on bicycles priced $500 and over.  As the owner of the Montlake Bicycle Shop, I am very concerned.

My main points of objection are:

1.      That it is based on the false premise that the roads, highways and bridges are paid for primarily by gas and motor vehicle taxes.  My research has found that the majority of the cost is borne by the general fund that all taxpayers contribute to.  Bicyclists are already paying for the roads, even the few people that never buy a gallon of gasoline.  If we drove cars instead of riding bikes it would cost taxpayers more, not less.

2.      This sounds preposterous but I spoke to a legislative aide who confirmed that it is true: If this passes the tax would be due only on sales from local bicycle stores.  People buying bicycles from out of state who are already not paying our 9.5% sales tax would not have to pay this tax either.  On a $500 bike this would amount to a total of about 14.5% in taxes that we would have to charge.

3.      When you raise the price of a product sales are certain to go down. Some people will find an untaxed out of state source, some will buy a lower quality bicycle, and a few may not buy a bike at all.  That will end up meaning less employment in bike shops in our state.  In the last campaign it seemed like every candidate was running on a pro-jobs platform, yet some of them are now suggesting we create a new burden on local small employers is being proposed for invalid “symbolic reasons.”

4.      That the tax, which is projected to bring in only $100,000 in revenue per year may well cost the state more than that amount.  Creating, collecting, and enforcing another tax is expensive.  If you include that some sales would be driven out of state the lost sales tax revenue would pretty much assure that the fee would end up costing the state money.

Please consider resisting this proposal by writing or calling our legislators, Frank Chopp and Jamie Pedersen.

Further reading: