Saturday, April 14, 2012

Densify Don't Destroy Capitol Hill

There is a new group on facebook that intends to serve as point of communication for people interested in the redevelopment of the Bauhaus block.

Also, Maintain Capitol Hill also has a page set up:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Back from the dead

Like everyone most folks in the neighborhood, I was horrified to hear that another gang of Eastside developers had purchased a stretch of buildings near the lot with plans to convert beloved spaces like Bauhaus, Wall of Sound, Spine and Crown Books, and Mud Bay into more overpriced housing. I'm sure plenty of emails and facebook posts are circulating between different groups of people about how to approach this problem, but I've only been privy to one discussion. I'll share everything I learn and will cross-post if other sites start up to try and organize people.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Community Over Capital

I recently received the following invitation to a meeting -- open to all -- for Community Over Capital. Their project is certainly in the spirit of this blog but with an already proven record of direct action. I'm already humbled by their willingness to put their ideas/ideals into practice. There's a lot of talk in the academic world -- where I'm spending most of my time -- about democracy and this appears to be an example of it at work:

This Sunday at 1 pm we will be meeting at Caffe Vita on 10th and Pike!

What Community Over Capital seeks to accomplish is open to change as we all meet and discuss. Its just important to start with a little structure or foundation, a place from which we can keep building.

The Community Over Capital working group continues the revolutionary spirit of the 10th and Union Warehouse Occupation wherein 16 activists, the UCC 16 [ed: see CHS story here], were arrested. In the face of the recent slew of closures and cuts to libraries, community centers, and other public spaces, we sought to restore the warehouse, formerly the site of the Union Cultural Center, to its use as a "supportive educational space for teaching, sharing and creating vibrant culture."

What does community over capital seek to accomplish?
- to turn the 10th and Union Warehouse back into a community center
- to end Seattle City Council's corrupt tax give aways to property developers (Multi-Family Tax Exemption Program)
- to demand housing for people not for profit
- to discuss "how" and "why" the existence of community spaces is vital to building solidarity
- to make decisions regarding the way we want OUR space to be developed

Upon more research we discovered that the high-end apartments replacing our beloved warehouse would be a part of the corrupt Multi-Family Tax Exemption Program. According to the Multi-Family Tax Exemption Plan, developers will be exempt from paying property taxes for 12 years if 20% of their units are set aside as “affordable” at rents between $1000-1600/month. The "affordable" units are only accessible to tenants who make 65-85% of the Seattle Median Income, for whom a surplus of housing already exists on the market. Under this program, approximately 25 developers in the past year have received 75 million dollars in tax breaks for absolutely no public benefit. Since 2004, a handful of developers have received approximately 140 million dollars in tax breaks for absolutely no public benefit. The money developers make helps put City Council Members back in office guaranteeing the vicious cycle of "building capital" and "destroying community" continues.

The extremely accelerated rates of growth occurring in Seattle, have served only to drive up the cost of housing and cause more poverty, displacement, and homelessness in our city. This can only be a case of the disease we all know as gentrification which hits working class people and people of color the hardest. Soon our city will no longer be a place where people can gather and build communities; rather, it will be a graveyard whose tombstones are empty condos and luxury apartments.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Community Benefits Agreement

Yeah, this blog is still on hiatus, but after reading Ed Soja's Seeking Spatial Justice and reading a post on CHS about a new mixed use development on Capitol Hill, I got an idea. Here's what I wrote on CHS:

i just finished reading 'seeking spatial justice' by the UCLA geographer/urban planner ed soja and then saw this thread. first, i'm with everyone that thinks this style of building which is colonizing the neighborhood is repetitive, boring, and eyesore, etc. and though i admittedly, and embarrassingly, have never taken part in any of the dpd reviews, i have been curious about ways to resist this sort redevelopment.

anyhow, soja describes a community benefits agreements as 'a legally binding document negotiated by a defined labor-community coalition and developer' and explains how they can be used to require a developer to provide such things as affordable housing, child care facilities, space for local businesses, etc. in the case of this building, the way a cba might have worked would be that the community coalition would have ultimately approved the building and allowed it pass quickly through the review process, but only in exchange for, say, 25% affordable housing and 50% of the ground level retail dedicated to small and local business (or whatever, i'm making this up).

when i started my people's parking lot blog two years back, i had a similar idea, but had no idea such organizations actually existed (in los angeles, for example). it looks like it's too late in some cases, but i can't help but think that creating such a group might be the first step to exercising some sort of influence over development in the neighborhood. considering the strong reactions to these projects, this seems like something we could get started.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

indefinite hiatus

i gotta be honest: i haven't even walked down pine past what used to be the lot in probably a month, so i'm not sure what's going on there, but i've seen the crane.

the question, then, seems to be: what should i do with this site? people still come to it (many of whom are from the midwest and are looking for info on lot lizards; i'll have you know that ppl is proudly the fifth highest hit on google for lot lizards...). i'm tired and busy like everyone else but if anyone wants to take the helm here, let me know.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Setting up for Construction at Lot

In case you missed the post I put up on the tweeter, here's a link to a quick CHS report about new developments at the lot today (fencing and a trailer). Photo below from CHS contributor rlfunkadelic.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Call For Submissions

SHIFT:infrastructure Release and New Call for Submissions!

The inaugural issue of SHIFT: infrastructure suggests that the
integration of natural systems into the built environment provides for
a more sustainable model of landscape architecture in infrastructure
design. However, the skillful employment of ecological principles does
not necessarily ensure a culturally sensitive design. In the 21st
century, Landscape Architecture faces the challenge of not only
creating ecologically regenerative designs, but doing so in a way that
engages the public through education, community mobilization, and
inspiration. This is important not only for the long-term viability of
the design, but also for its economic success.

How can we as students re-imagine the design process that engages
modern culture (such as changes in media, communication technology,
and social networking)? This new process should holistically integrate
the designer, the users, and ecology in the process of design. What
does this process look like? Where does it take place? How do these
processes improve on current techniques?

SHIFT: process calls for submissions from current students from any
discipline, or student work from graduates within the past 2 years.
We are looking for work that encourages debate and discussion of this
important topic through informed and academically rigorous creative
thinking. Each submission will be reviewed by an independent jury,
which is composed of nationally recognized leaders in Landscape

Submissions may be: academic essays (up to 3,000 words), narratives,
project graphics including mixed media, or anything one considers key
in communicating their ideas. We strongly encourage graphics,
photography, diagrams, flash animation, stop motion animation, models,
social networking tools, games, community building art forms, puzzles,
interactive media of any kind, get the idea. Each
submissions must include a concise written abstract with bibliography.

Please make your submissions by January 31st, 2011 Questions? Please
contact mnevans (at) ncsu (dot) edu