Archive for January, 2010

One Night Count 2010 results

January 29, 2010  |  Event, Homeless, PI  |  No Comments

Almost 1,000 volunteers showed up this year to participate in SKCHH’s One Night Count of homeless in King County.

Here are the stats from this year’s count (to see the pdf report, click here):

There was a 5% decrease from last year — from 2,827 in 2009 to 2,759 in 2010. SKCHH attributes this to an increase in awareness of homelessness, as well as an increase in available services. To celebrate, it looks like their website got an upgrade — go check it out.

The unsheltered number released this morning does not include the estimated 5,800 people staying in emergency shelter and transitional housing overnight.

Here are the results from the 2009 ONC (which showed a 2% increase from 2008):

As a reminder, don’t miss out on a follow up free event called “Beyond the One Night Count.” Details are in this post, or you can go directly to their site to register.

Viaduct South Portal Brownbag – today @ noon

January 28, 2010  |  Event, PI, Politics  |  No Comments

There’s a brown bag information session today from 12 – 1:30 regarding the Viaduct South Portal. The south entrance has different proposed locations, one of which would essentially turn 1st Ave into a freeway with major traffic.

I’ve heard that Pioneer Square has not been very well represented at these meetings by business owners and residents, so if you’re able, please try to make it there so that we can voice our concerns.

From Publicola:

“In short, the tunnel project is creating serious fears about its negative impact to Pioneer Square. The session tomorrow is a discussion on how much the project will effect the landscape of the neighborhood. It includes presentations by Bob Powers, deputy director of SDOT, and Ron Paananen, administrator for the viaduct replacement program.

There’s also a panel discussion featuring Cary Moon of the People’s Waterfront Coalition (who called the state of south-portal planning “dreadful” in an editorial last month), Bradley Khouri of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and Lisa Dixon and Adam Hasson of the Pioneer Square Neighborhood Association. The event is sponsored by Great City, the AIA, and the Pioneer Square Community Association.”

Fore more information on the presenters, see AIA’s website here.

Thursday (today) from noon to 1:30 pm, at the Klondike Gold Rush Museum, 319 2nd Ave S.

2010 Homeless One Night Count

January 28, 2010  |  Event, Homeless, PI  |  1 Comment

The annual One Night Count of people who are homeless in King County is happening tomorrow morning from 2am – 5am. This will be the 30th year that the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness (SKCCH – pronounced “skitch”) and Operation Nightwatch have organized volunteers to see how many of our neighbors are homeless and without shelter.

The One Night Count has two parts:

  1. A survey of emergency shelter and transitional housing providers. Staff provide a written summary about who is staying in their programs or facilities on that night. Staff from the King County Community Services Division, Homeless Housing Program coordinate the survey.
  2. A street count of people who are homeless and without shelter and staying outside or in vehicles or makeshift shelters. Volunteers go out with trained team leaders to pre-arranged areas in parts of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Shoreline, Kenmore, Bothell, Woodinville, Kent, Federal Way, Renton, Auburn, and White Center.

How does the count work? Teams of Count Volunteers will meet at 2:45 am at Seattle Mennonite Church (3120 NE 125th St., Seattle WA 98125) and go out with trained team leaders to pre-arranged areas.  Teams ride “Night Owl” buses, and collect information from area hospitals, the Sobering Center, and Tent Cities. (via Shoreline blog)

For more information, please see the SKCCH web site (which appears to be down right now) or call SKCCH Executive Director, Alison Eisinger, at 206-357-3148.

Beyond the ONC

What: BEYOND the ONE NIGHT COUNT: a free and fun advocacy 101 workshop and local issue briefing.

Where: St. James Cathedral in Seattle

When: February 6, 10am – 12pm

Cost: FREE. Please pre-register by calling (206) 357-3149 or sending a message to

In January 2009, there were at least 2,827 men, women, and children without overnight shelter in King County. In total, 8,961 people were homeless in King County during our 2009 One Night Count: sleeping on mats in church basements, staying in transitional housing programs, or wrapped in blankets trying to keep warm outside.

Beyond the One Night Count workshops are one way that concerned people can carry that work forward all year to make a real difference.

Image Credits: Header, Image 1, Image 2

Revitalization Committee, Part 4: Physical

January 27, 2010  |  News, PI  |  No Comments

Link to Part 1, Social
Link to Part 2, Economic
Link to Part 3, Political

This is the final part of the Revitalization Committee videos, which discusses the Physical aspects of Pioneer Square. Here’s the clip from Donovan Rypkema:


The main take-aways from this value:

  • Pioneer Square is an amazing historic neighborhood and it needs to be recognized as such
  • Density should be increased — but it needs to be a better mix of housing (i.e. not more affordable housing in Pioneer Square)
  • The “North Lot” project needs to be built soon — it will bring a lot of residents and development to the neighborhood that we won’t see otherwise
  • Buildings like the one on 2nd and Yesler need to be fixed up — they should not be allowed to stay boarded up (see the volunteer page for more info)
  • Maintaining public space can’t always be someone else’s responsibility — all of the groups (city, building owner, tenants, etc.) need to work together to get it done

I have one more post coming regarding the presentation by Donovan Rypkema to the Pioneer Square Revitalization Committee. It will include his final recommendations to the committee and how to move forward. The committee will be meeting again next week (open to the public) to discuss next steps.

As a side note (but related), if you look at the Events Calendar, you will see the Trail to Treasure Design Workshop public meeting coming up this Saturday at 6:30pm. This public meeting will provide an opportunity to learn about this effort to create an interpretive trail that will explore the historic and cultural aspects of the square.

So for all of you who have no date on Saturday evening, the group will just be finishing an all day workshop and will present the initial design ideas for the Pioneer Square Trail to Treasure.

A new solution to P2‘s drug problems

January 26, 2010  |  Drugs, Fun, PI  |  No Comments

Dog  For Sale
Free to good home. Excellent guard dog.
Owner cannot afford to feed him anymore, as there are no more drug pushers, thieves, murderers, or molesters left in the neighborhood for him to eat.  Most of them knew Jethro only by his street name, Holy  Shi*

(sigh) If only. Such a nice, easy solution to our problems at Fortson Square.

If you live in P2, check out the following polls:

[polldaddy poll=2599089]
[polldaddy poll=2599099]

Revitalization Comittee, Part 3: Political

January 26, 2010  |  Business, PI, Politics  |  No Comments

Link to Part 1, Social
Link to Part 2, Economic

Part three of the Revitalization Committee discusses the Political aspects of Pioneer Square. And who doesn’t like a nice political commentary?

Here’s the clip from Donovan Rypkema:


Rypkema said that “if you’re serious about having a real, lasting, sustainable change in Pioneer Square, you’ve got to go beyond the neighborhood association version to be an economic development business (or you will have this meeting every 8 years).”

Can you talk more about the political piece and capacity?
Rypkema: I’m a strong believer in the voice of residents and neighbors, but this should not be a homeowners association type of situation. It is a commercial district. What has been done organizationally in Pioneer Square is inadequate –the focus is too narrow and the resources have not been there. In order to get support, the organization (in whatever form it takes) need to be more businesslike.

How should we convey this to new City Council Members?
Rypkema: It will be best to engage people with the assessment and be able to say “here’s what you need to do.” You need a specific, actionable plan.  The timing of this is fortunate because the Livable South Downtown plan will be coming to the City Council in March. Historic Preservation is also a priority this year for the Land Use Commission.  The Council will appreciate a summary of potential programs, incentives and tools that can be used to improve the Square.

The “big guys and institutions” you mentioned as being interested in participating in improving Pioneer Square – who are they?
The City of Seattle, sports teams, some of the big developers in town, the Downtown Seattle Association – they would provide resources if they felt something positive was going to happen.  On Capitol Hill, the Chamber of Commerce had previously collapsed, and the City stepped in and helped facilitate a way to reconstitute it. In Pioneer Square I don’t think we will have finalized the organization and its elements – but we can identify the steps. Form follows function. Just as a point of reference, the Plan for Capitol Hill led to what is now a 200-member Chamber and $500,000 in City investments.

It will take more than just fingers crossed to make sure that an organization will be given the tools they need to implement the changes that our neighborhood needs to start improving.

Rypkema was very upfront when he brought up the issue of organizational credibility in Pioneer Square. The Pioneer Square Community Association (PSCA) has been through many ups and downs in its role in the neighborhood. In 2001, the Community Council, the Development Organization, and the Business Improvement Area were all combined to create the PSCA. But even since then, they have gone through restructuring, lots of leadership turnover, staffing turnover, etc. Although there are some terrific people working at PSCA right now, it is just not in a situation where it can take on the large-scale development goals set up by the Revitalization Committee.

The reality is that Rypkema is suggesting a very large scope of work in a very complex neighborhood with a very small budget.

Where do we go from here?
Will the city set up a brand new organization that can take on these recommendations? Rypkema acknowledged that whatever is set up, they’re going to have a hard time building credibility in and outside of Pioneer Square “when the existing organization has lost significant credibility.”

So the jury is still out on what happens next — and it looks like we may not have any answers until mid-2010. In the meantime, PSCA is working long hours to make sure that residents and businesses needs are met and that activities meant to revitalize the neighborhood are on track. And although the Revitalization Committee was set up under Mayor Nickels, Mayor McGinn is continuing the efforts in the neighborhood and OED has stated that this time, it will be different.

In the words of Rypkema, “Pioneer Square deserves to be a political priority of the City of Seattle.”

Pioneer Square in the News

January 25, 2010  |  News, PI  |  No Comments

Police Investigating Gang Connection In Pioneer Square Shooting (
SPD’s gang unit has taken over the investigation of a Monday morning shooting in Pioneer Square.

Downtown Seattle office market slumping: Reports (Puget Sound Business Journal)
The combined vacancy rate for the Pioneer Square, Financial District, Denny Regrade, Lake Union and Queen Anne office submarkets soared to 18.9 percent, marking seven straight quarters of increasing vacancy since early 2008.

Volunteers brighten lives with paint at Union Hotel (Seattle Times)
The Union Hotel is only one part of a project called “Live in Colors,” where volunteers plan to paint all eight DESC supportive housing sites this year. If you’re interested in getting involved, call Isa D’Arleans at 206-297-7164 or e-mail

Seattle’s Pike/Pine corridor does density right (Seattle Times)
An article praising Capitol Hill as a “case study in how to bring the urban village concept to life.” It references the loss of EBBC from our neighborhood to theirs, and how there are residents, business owners and developers working behind the scenes to keep the neighborhood vital. Not really about P2, but as mentioned, a good case study for how a neighborhood can work together to revitalize a neighborhood (hint, hint, Revitalization Committee).

Crimson C closes, but J&M opens (The Stranger)

Artist cooperatives easier to start than live/work spaces (The News Tribune)
The difference between an “artist cooperative” and an “artist live/work space.” Tashiro Kaplan Lofts highlighted as a great live/work space that offers “cheap rent, on-site studios and a communal environment for artists to live.”


United Way King County Hunger Challenge (MetBlog)
“Can you feed yourself for only $7 a day for five days? This is the maximum food stamp benefit for an individual.” This week is “Hunger Action Week,” which means various public officials, local media personalities and bloggers will “try to live on the value of food stamps given to either an individual or family in the state of Washington.” This is a really worthwhile cause to bring awareness to this problem. To see the list of bloggers and other notable participants, click here.

Seattle Native to start “First Thursdays” in Auckland, New Zealand (Thread)


Check out the Events Calendar for upcoming events, including a brown bag lunch presentation and panel discussion on the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement’s south portal project and its potential impacts on Pioneer Square.

There is a new Volunteer page on the blog to list upcoming volunteer opportunities in the neighborhood. If you’re interested in getting more involved, check it out and send in an email with how you’d like to help. When we first moved to P2, we wanted to help in some way, but didn’t know how (and now look where we are). To avoid a similar fate, just donate a small amount of time to a good cause. (And if you have any volunteer opportunities, send those my way as well and I’ll post them)

Delicatus – A Seattle Delicatessen set to open in Pioneer Square January 2010. It describes itself as “an authentic, cross-cultural delicatessen built on the traditional principles of European immigrants while incorporating the vast diversity of resources unique to the Pacific Northwest.” Whew, that was a mouthful. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Revitalization Committee, Part 2: Economic

January 22, 2010  |  Business, PI  |  No Comments

Sorry for the lack of posts, I was in Vancouver, BC on business — and surprisingly enough, they have a lot of the same problems we do: drugs, homelessness, and people who wear kilts. (c’mon Utilikilts… don’t get mad. I haven’t made fun of you in a while).

But I digress — this is a loaded post with lots of information.

Part two of the Revitalization Committee discusses the Economic side of Pioneer Square. Here’s the clip from Donovan Rypkema:


The following is from the Executive Summary from the Revitalization Committee:

The Sky is Falling: Anecdote vs. what the data says
There is a widely held perception that Pioneer Square is experiencing a major economic downturn and that the factors leading to that downturn are variables within Pioneer Square itself. The “proof by anecdote” is exacerbated by the very unfortunate departure of long time neighborhood anchor, Eliott Bay Books and by a series of press articles where quotations rather than data were presented as “facts.”

In fact, the evidentiary story is significantly different.

As part of this assignment, the consultant reviewed and analyzed the Gross Receipts data for Pioneer Square for the six year period, 2003 through 2008. To be clear, the data covered the “Urban Village” of Pioneer Square, which is somewhat larger than the Business Improvement Area for which the PSCA draws much of its funding. Nevertheless, examining this data provided some noteworthy information.

From 2003 through 2008, the US national economy (represented by the GDP) grew 30.1%
From 2003 through 2008, the Gross State Product of Washington grew 34.0%
From 2003 through 2008, the Gross Receipts of Pioneer Square grew 125.9%

Retailing is seen as both a major economic mainstay of the Pioneer Square business mix and as a segment that has been unusually adversely affected in recent years. Retailers, particularly independently owned businesses, are certainly among the hardest hit in this recession. But on a composite level over six years, Pioneer Square retailing fared better than did retailing nationwide.

From 2003 through 2008, retail sales in the United States grew 21.3%
From 2003 through 2008, retail sales in Pioneer Square grew 124.8%

There was a perception among some stakeholders that other Seattle commercial districts were significantly outperforming Pioneer Square. Again the data tells a different story.

From 2003 through 2008, the Gross Receipts of Chinatown/International District grew 35.1%
From 2003 through 2008, the Gross Receipts of 12th Avenue in the Capitol Hill neighborhood grew 57.2%
From 2003 through 2008, the Gross Receipts of Pioneer Square grew 125.9%

Perhaps most revealing from a future planning perspective is the nature of the businesses that are in Pioneer Square. The Gross Receipts data is organized through the use of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Within Pioneer Square, there are in excess of 150 different business categories. As part of the analysis of the data, the consultant combined these classifications into 18 consolidated categories listed below.

The Gross Receipts from each of those consolidated categories was then compared for the years 2003 and 2008. For each category was calculated the percentage of contribution of that consolidated category to the entire Gross Receipts of Pioneer Square. The results are represented in the table below.

[table id=9 /]

There are a number of very interesting patterns that emerge from this data:
While Retailing and Food & Beverage are most often viewed as the core economic activity in Pioneer Square, the two together only constitute around 12% of the gross receipts, a share largely unchanged from 2003. This means that 88% of the gross receipts in Pioneer Square were neither retailing or food and beverage.

There has been a huge growth in the category of Personal Services. This includes such things as beauty salons and barbershops, but also tattoo parlors and health clubs. Not only did the gross receipts in that category grow significantly in the six years but also did the number of businesses which increased from 67 in 2003 to 113 in 2008.

The largest share of gross receipts comes from the business, professional and technical services category. This included such activities as attorneys’ offices, architects, accountants, and consultants.

This is exceedingly good news for the long term economic development in Pioneer Square. First, these are areas of economic activity that are growing nationally (as opposed, for example, manufacturing which is shrinking). Second, when combined with other categories represented (Medical, Computers, Publishing, Cultural, Medical et al) nearly half of the gross receipts in Pioneer Square are from “Knowledge Worker” or “Creative Class” activities.  While definitions in the field vary, these are the types of activities that are on the top of the priority list for most economic development recruiters.

There is a downside, however. Many of the workers in these industries are largely “locationally indifferent” – that is they can do their work from virtually anywhere. They choose to live and work based not on where the port or mine or factory is, but based on the qualitative factors of their urban environment. The fact they currently choose to be in Pioneer Square is certainly a positive factor. But they are also able to move when a commercial district no longer fits their quality of life criteria. It is paramount, then, that the needs, interests and inputs of these groups be incorporated into the overall Pioneer Square strategies as soon as possible.

Revitalization Committee, Part 1: Social

January 19, 2010  |  Drugs, Homeless, PI  |  No Comments

Back in December, I wrote a post to “kick off” discussions about Donovan Rykpema’s presentation to the Mayor’s Pioneer Square Revitalization Committee. It took a little while to break up the clip and transcribe it, but I’m finally ready to go. For those who can’t stream the video on YouTube, here is the link, and if you still can’t watch it, send me a note, and I’ll email you the transcript.

Rypkema talked about four “Forces of Value” – things that push the value of a given commodity. For Pioneer Square, he defined these as Social, Economic, Political, and Physical. He said that “if the purpose of Pioneer Square revitalization is to increase the value, and if the forces of value increase it, or change value, then it makes sense to look at the challenges and priorities in those four forces.”

So let’s get it started with what seems to be the hottest topic for Pioneer Square: Social. This includes social service providers, homeless, drug dealers, and people’s perception of our neighborhood.

Take a look at what Rypkema has to say:


One of the statements he made that originally upset me was that “social service providers were here in Pioneer Square long before any other business in Pioneer Square, and they’re not going anywhere.” I used to disagree with that statement, but after my conversation with Bill Hobson, Executive Director of DESC — he agreed that there is a slim to none chance that any will actually leave the neighborhood. So what next?

Here is one of the questions from the Q&A:

“Pioneer Square appears to be unusual in that we have a really high concentration of low income and homeless people in a progressive city, with a complicated history with law enforcement. There is a push/pull.”

  • My evaluation is that it’s always in flux – crack down/ease up/tolerate/less tolerance. To try to put the issue resolution or mitigation solely in the hands of the police is the wrong approach – they need to be PART of the solution. Perception and reality are also an issue. Perception magnifies the issues.

Here’s where Rypkema suggests we start:

Rypkema said that “the issue isn’t crime, but a bunch of people hanging around scaring people.” I know that the issue also comes up for how safe women are in our neighborhood — when I’m walking down the street in the evening and there’s a group of people just standing on a corner, that’s when I start to feel a little nervous.

The real difference between this and a neighborhood like Queen Anne is that there are lots of other residents out on the streets that will make you feel more comfortable, even if the group is standing there. What does it take to get more residents to move down here and balance out the social problems? Will Rypkema’s solutions to the “social” problems help?

Pioneer Square in the News

January 18, 2010  |  News, PI  |  3 comments

Shooting Assault Downtown, suspect(s) at large (SPD Police Blotter)
Officers were “monitoring a crowd near 2nd and James” this morning (2am) when they heard gunshots at 150 Yesler. A male sustained a gunshot to his shoulder, but apparently he and his friends have been “uncooperative” with police. Usually this means drugs or gangs, but watch for any updates.

Elliott Bay Books to retain old charm in new location (Seattle University Spectator)
Peter Aaron discusses the upcoming move to Capitol Hill and the interior plans to make it look like the Pioneer Square building. Although, let’s be honest – no matter how hard you try – you can’t duplicate Pioneer Square’s atmosphere in Capitol Hill. They are two very different neighborhoods – part of the reason Aaron is excited to move there. I find it interesting, too, that people feel that this has doomed our little neighborhood; the reality is that retail sales are only a tiny percentage (12%) of the revenue generated in our ‘hood. Go techie/gamer start up companies!

Blogging about your bungled bungalow (Crosscut)
Knute Berger points out a fantastic new blog called MAin2 – a name derived form the old MAIN telephone exchange prefix for downtown Seattle. One of their first posts is about the restoration of the Furuya Building.

Vintage dishes, tins and more make attractive corrals for clutter (NW Source)
Points out antique malls throughout Seattle, including the Pioneer Square Antique Mall, which is closing at the end of this month.

Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle (Tacoma Weekly)
A review of an exhibition at WA State History Museum about the roots of Jazz in Seattle. The article talks about Pioneer Square’s role as a former hub for jazz musicians.

Mike McGinn Moving Forward With Seattle’s Part of the Tunnel Deal (Seattle Weekly)
A discussion of McGinn’s announcement to replace the seawall, which was “completed in 1936 and runs along the downtown waterfront, keeping Pioneer Square night clubs from flooding and the soil beneath the viaduct stable.”


Evolution of a building in Pioneer Square: The Furuya Building (MAin2)
A great look (with pictures) at the Furuya Building, located on the northeast corner of Second Avenue South and South Main Street in Pioneer Square.

Pioneer Square Mural (Flickr)

Wedding shoot in P2 (Photographer’s Blog)
A few wedding shots from a session in Pioneer Square – the great brick buildings and historic feel of the neighborhood bring photographers down here all the time for engagement and wedding shoots.

Seattle’s Link Light Rail with Kids (Delicious Baby Blog)
If you’re going on an outing with your family, this blog gives you great ideas for every downtown stop of the light rail. Pioneer Square ideas include Magic Mouse Toys, the underground tour, and the firefighters’ memorial.

City proposes street cart reform (Capitol Hill Blog)
Post goes in detail about reforms being proposed by Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development regarding the use of street carts/vendors throughout our downtown neighborhoods. “While it won’t make the streets a free-for-all to any entrepreneur with ambitions, it will be a huge step forward in bringing us more in line with our annoyingly cool sister to the South.”