The Community Organizes

Susan Causin introduces herself at the Victory Heights Community Council meeting.

The second meeting of the revived Victory Heights Community Council was held Thursday night at the place used during its heyday 10 years ago, the Victory Heights Cooperative Preschool in the park.  Nearly two dozens residents (and a few from nearby communities) got together to begin organizing the new Community Council.  North District Council representative Susan Causin lead the meeting and began by having everyone quickly introduce themselves. Attendees included a couple who had just moved in a year ago from out of state to a woman who has been in Victory Heights since 1964 (her children–now grown–attended the preschool when it was the local elementary school).

Eileen Canola, who has been working tirelessly to get a traffic circle put in on 23rd Avenue NE and NE 105th Street, distributed a draft of proposed bylaws to govern the Council. Everyone took home a copy to peruse which will be voted on at the next meeting in January. We will need to fill the offices of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. Volunteers wanted!

Eileen also spoke about funding projects and how having an organization like the Community Council make a much more credible presence to the city and can help get money spent on our community that otherwise would go elsewhere.

Some of the issues discussed included the problem of needles being found in the park (if you see someone suspicious, call the police), and adding more traffic calming in the neighborhood to slow down cars. On a positive note, there was a desire to make meetings “fun” perhaps by involving kids, or some sort of food challenge. It was noted over Halloween a number of people gathered at the ghost ship that was constructed, and that similar neighborhood-building events (like the Easter egg hunt that used to occur in the park) be organized.

I talked a bit about the blog, as well as other local social media sites like Next Door and the Victory Lane blockwatch e-mail list administered by Susan. The sandwich board signs we put out were a mixed success, the lettering on some washed off in the rain, and a few folks complained there wasn’t enough information on them for people to know what the meeting was about. Next time we’ll deploy the signs better, including up on Northgate Way, they seem to be an effective part of our awareness strategy.

Janine Blaeloch of Lake City Greenways talked about the efforts to map routes around the city more friendly to bikes, pedestrians and kids, “A street for people,” she called it. They are hoping to crowd source from local residents the very best routes and then work with the city on making them safe and to work on “walkability and transportation issues at large.”

Finally, in negotiation with the Preschool as well as taking into account the various other organizations that meet during the month, it was decided that future Community Council meetings would be on the 3rd Tuesday of the month, the next will be January 15, 2013 at the Preschool (they rent from the city between September and May for the school, during the summer the Council will have to negotiate directly with the Parks Department.  Apparently it was a condition when the building was turned over to the city originally that it would be made available for community meetings, so this shouldn’t be a problem).

See you in January!

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Coyotes In The Neighborhood

When I first moved to Victory Heights in 2009 I was walking up NE 100th Street early one evening when I looked up the street to see a silhouette of what appeared to be a dog standing at the top of the rise. I was maybe 100 yards away from it at the time, but I noticed it had really pointed ears and I thought, “That’s a really funny looking dog.” It noticed me and then took off, which is when I realized I had seen my first coyote! I should point out it’s the ONLY one I’ve seen so far, outnumbered by many racoons over the years and of course the ubiquitous cats that live in our neighborhood.

There’s been some concern lately about coyotes getting at pets, particularly as Terri Bell (the goat lady) reported one of her ducks went missing just before Thanksgiving. A number of cats have disappeared recently as well.

Meanwhile, Google, in an attempt to aggregate all knowledge, hosts a convenient NW Coyote Tracker website if you spot one.

Aaron tracked down a coyote biologist at the USDA Wildlife Service named Matt Stevens who said our neighborhood experience with urban coyotes is rather typical (occasional sightings, missing cats, missing small animals), and doesn’t warrant intervention at this time.  But we should keep a sharp eye out for escalating behavior.

Matt’s advice for our urban setting:

  • If you witness brazen, aggressive behavior towards humans or pets, call 911.
  • If you see a coyote, get “big”, stand tall, throw rocks, make noise, scare it away.  But don’t put yourself in harm’s way.
  • If you see a coyote, report it (when, where, how many, what were they doing).  Advise you neighbors for their protection (block watch email/blog is great).
  • Prevent attracting them, keep pet food inside.  Don’t feed coyotes.  Conceal garbage.
  • Keep you animals indoors, especially at night.  Coyotes are most aggressive from fall to early spring due to mating season.
  • See attached coyote fact sheet flyer for more insight.

And if it escalates, intervention methods are available from the USDA Wildlife Service. They will come assess the situation, inform option.  There is a fee for performing intervention, roughly $400-$800 depending on the situation.

Finally, Melinda Frye recalls, “I grew up across the lake next door to St. Edwards Park, which has a high population of ‘urban’ wild life. Occasionally, you would hear a coyote or a pack howl or hear of a missing pet, but they tended to stay away from humans (assuming a human was not foolishly trying to make ‘friends’).  In my entire youth, growing up on the border of St. Ed’s, with the woods going up to our back door, (perhaps I was oblivious as a teen) I never ever saw one walk in to the neighborhood that I lived in. The raccoons were way more brazen and vicious (and I’ve seen several of those in our hood). The other thing I remember, is everyone who did actually see them (before the coyote would run off) said they were mixed with other breeds. They looked like coyote and beagle or lab, etc.  So just remember to be cautious when approaching a stray, anyways. It would make sense that we might have a coyote population with our wooded area, though I am not inclined to worry. More likely they are keeping the raccoon and rat population down in Thornton creek/the watershed area.”

Mayor On Sidewalks, Dog Parks, and Roundabouts

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn at the Town Hall on November 27th, 2012

Tuesday night, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn addressed resident’s questions at a Town Hall conducted at the Northgate Community Center. Moderated by friend-of-the-blog Philip Shack of Cedar Park (who was just elected chair of the City Neighborhood Council), McGinn took questions for 90 minutes on a series of issues. Numbers were distributed to those wanting to pose a question which were limited to one minute of speaking time (one person walked out in protest).

Regarding Northgate, he said, “Northgate has been changing and will change more,” particularly with the coming of Light Rail. The work around 5th Avenue NE and Northgate Way is nearly completed (though one person complained the new sidewalks were too steep), and a proposal to extend the hours for youth services at the community center did not pass the city council this year.

He stated the obvious about the redevelopment of the Bill Pierre Properties in Lake City saying, “It has some real opportunities,” and having met with two of the Pierres, was encouraged that a business wanted to do something positive for the neighborhood rather than just make the biggest buck by selling out.

On sidewalks (which as we all know are extremely expensive), he noted that his own neighborhood around NE 87th in Greenwood was also sidewalk-free and that, “It’s way over due” but “We need more resources to focus on it.” Noting, “I really think small projects matter,” he concluded with, “We have to find a better way to finance them than we have now.” (Philip Shack pointed out that Neighborhood Street Fund is currently accepting applications for projects in the $100,000-$750,000 range with a deadline of December 17th, 2012 if neighborhood groups wanted to organize for a desired project.)

There was a surprising constituency for roundabouts in Seattle (note, these are the large European ones beginning to be used on the Olympic Penninsula for some intersections, NOT traffic circles used on residential streets to slow traffic). He said the city had an interest in experimenting with them (“There are advocates in the Department [of Transportation],” but would need appropriate space in order to work as they are larger than the average intersection.

And more than a few people among the two dozen or so attendees wanted more off-leash areas for dogs. Apparently the 98115 zip code has more dogs in it than any other part of Seattle and no off-leash area.  Even the new giant park going in on top of the Roosevelt reservoir does not include one (resistance from the Parks Department was alleged by a member of the Maple Leaf Community Council). Giving a non-committal “I hear you,” the Mayor encouraged the community to keep telling officials that this is a priority for them if they want them.

Finally, on the topic of drones being deployed, McGinn described them merely like “a radio-controlled helicopter that will fly for 10-15 minutes” and would only be used when emergency responders needed an eye in the sky, for example during a siege situation. But he affirmed, “We will not use them until a proposal has passed the city council” to regulate their use.


Proposed By-Laws For Victory Heights Community Council

As part of Thursday’s meeting of the Victory Heights Community Council (7 PM at the day care building at Victory Heights Park), attendees will be voting on a new set of By-Laws for the organization.

Eileen Canola has put together a proposed draft of by-laws, based on the past Victory Heights Bylaws (the previous organization that was active 10 years ago) and a template of the North District Council with the intent for the community to review, discuss, edit per consensus and adopt.

You can read the draft here in this five-page pdf document.

See you there on Thursday night!

What To Expect At Thursday’s Community Meeting

On Thursday, November 29th at 7 PM at the community center/day care at Victory Heights Park, residents can attend the next meeting of the Victory Heights Community Council. “Community” is the watchword here, the council is YOU. Folks like Susan Causin, our representative to the North District Council, are merely organizing this, but it’s really about neighbors getting together and working to put forward ideas and concerns to the community.

The purpose of the Community Council is to empower the people in this community to identify problems and seek equitable solutions, based on a sense of community trust, for the betterment of life, both in our community and city wide. Issues of concern can be reported to the District Council and in turn to the Department of Neighborhoods.

The preliminary agenda for the meeting is as follows:
7:00-7:05   Welcome and recap (Susan Causin)
7:05-7:15   Victory Heights Community Council By-Laws (Eileen Canola)
7:15-7:25   Fill Council officer positions (Susan Causin)
                     Vice President
7:25-7:30   Communication methods (Ryan K. Johnson)
7:30-7:40   Greenways (Janine Blaeloch)
7:40-7:50   Neighborhood police (Officer Kip Strong)
7:50-8:00   Next steps (Susan Causin)
We hope you will all attend. See you on Thursday!

Trash Pickup In Victory Heights On Friday This Week

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) reminds residents who usually have their trash picked up on Thursday (like most of Victory Heights) that due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday, the pickup will be on Friday this week. Recycling and disposal stations will also be closed on Thanksgiving.

Here are some fun facts:

What’s Seattle’s least liked Thanksgiving dish? Last year, giblets edged out green bean casserole and aspic as the dish Seattle residents would most likely put in their food and yard waste cart after the holidays.

Seattle residents can place all of their unwanted Thanksgiving leftovers, such as turkey bones, celery, yams, potatoes, fruitcake and paper napkins in their food and yard waste carts. The food scraps will be made into compost for local gardens and parks.

Don’t be a turkey- keep sewers fat-free! Property owners are responsible for their side sewer connections to the city’s sewer system. Sewer clogs often happen during the holiday season when disposing of leftovers.  You can prevent this by pouring used dairy products, fats, oil, grease or greasy foods into a lidded container and placing it in the trash – NOT down the sink drain.

Keep storm drains clear: To help prevent street flooding, the city is asking Seattle residents to remove leaves from storm drains in their neighborhoods with a rake or broom (if it can be done safely), collect fallen leaves in their yards, and compost or properly dispose of them in yard waste containers.

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Bob’s Liquor & Wine Opens on Lake City Way

After months of remodeling, but with more cladding still to be put on the outside, Bob’s Liquor & Wine opened for business today on Lake City Way.  The building, which formerly housed the defunct Italian Spaghetti House, had a new addition put on the north side, along with stairs and a wheelchair ramp.

If someone who knows about liquor goes shopping there, feel free to write a review of the place here.

The River Wild

After a weekend of solid rain, Thornton Creek swelled to nearly overflow its banks at the Knickerbocker site (20th Avenue NE) as seen here at 9 AM on Monday, November 19th. The Floodplain project (see previous article here) to be done next summer will lessen the effects of torrential rain by storing the water and slowing the creek.




Watch a YouTube video: