News blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf neighborhood

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Cafe Piccolo closes, more mail theft reports

February 21st, 2016 by Mike

Cafe Piccolo is closing this month after a decade serving Maple Leaf dinners.

The last day for the restaurant, at 9400 Roosevelt Way N.E., is Feb. 29th.

On its Facebook page, Cafe Piccolo says, in part:

Thank you Maple Leaf and Café Piccolo fans for 10 years of devoted business! Café Piccolo will close its doors on February 29th under the Carlino ownership. This was not an easy decision to make, as we have grown fond of all of you and attached to the community that has supported us through the good times and the challenges of a not so great economy.

Our great staff that you have come to know will be staying on to help with the transition to the new owner. We are confident that we are leaving the restaurant in very good hands, someone who will be able to take this location to the next level and grow with the neighborhood.

Since the restaurant is not open Sundays or Mondays, that effectively means the last day to eat there is Saturday, Feb. 27th.

Thanks, Chris, for the heads-up on Piccolo. Thanks, also, to Terry for the news last month that Hang Fire Design gallery and True Color Hair Design, both on Roosevelt, have shut their doors.

Also, earlier this weekend Jesse wrote to say:

On Friday night, February 19th, at 10:45 p.m. I stepped outside (corner of 8th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 103rd  Street) and saw a blue truck with a covered bed, man driving and woman in the passenger seat, stop at our mailbox bank. She saw me and he sped off towards Roosevelt. I have never seen this truck in the past and it was obvious that they were there to steal mail.

Last week a similar mail theft was reported at 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 102nd Street.

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Two more things about Pronto bike rental…UPDATE

February 18th, 2016 by Mike

Weekend update: Pronto muddles on.

The Seattle Bike Blog has a long Pronto update here, including a look at its financials.

In other words, the proposed $1.4 million is a buyout, since the city is purchasing assets (and getting a good deal as you will see below). But the $305,000 is a bailout, a cash injection to keep the system afloat.

In addition, Crosscut has a piece today.

————————————————————–

On what’s already an exceedingly odd day (see police chief, also Pope, Trump), here are two new things about Seattle’s failing Pronto bike rental service:

1) In an editorial, The Seattle Times suggests we wish Pronto off on the Eastside.

It probably won’t work there, either, the Times seems to say, but maybe they’ll give us money for it.

2) Over at Publicola, Josh Feit reveals Seattle, which is considering spending $1.4 million to rescue Pronto, just (quietly) spent nearly a third of a million dollars on it.

The city has already spent $305,000 to keep Pronto afloat through February. SDOT went ahead and gave $65,000 to Pronto last December and $240,000 this year so Pronto could pay its vendor contract.

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Delayed 911 response “completely unacceptable:” police chief

February 18th, 2016 by Mike

In an odd half-day conversation with participants in the social media forum Nextdoor, Seattle’s new police chief said:

*  “It’s no surprise that your concerns again reflect what I’ve heard consistently from residents throughout the city. Property crime, 911 response, and homelessness are top of your lists.”

*  “This week we established a Property Crimes Task Force to focus exclusively on these crimes. This team will use strategies similar to those that have proven effective in addressing chronic crime and drug dealing downtown and in other neighborhoods in the city. I will share the early results soon.”
* “Our delayed 911 response times are completely unacceptable. Mayor Murray has directed me to take a hard look at our 911 response and modernize our system.”
Chief Kathleen O’Toole also addressed homeless issues in the conversation. For more, go to The C i s for Crank.
The “Nextdoor Town Hall” was announced at 10:22 a.m. Wednesday with this posting to the Nextdoor site:

Today I’d like to take this opportunity to hear directly from you. Let me know what we’re doing right, where we can improve and what questions you have. Simply reply to this post with your questions by 3:00 PM today and I’ll try to answer as many as possible with a post by 6:00 PM this evening.

She got 311 replies. Here’s her entire response:

(more…)

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Funny … we thought we were old Subaru

February 17th, 2016 by Mike

The ever-entertaining Gene Balk, in his ongoing effort to bring enlightenment to the masses, has more head-scratching news:

Much of Maple Leaf is No. 2! in owning politically correct Toyota Priuses. Or whatever the plural is of Prius. (Priusi?)
Balk, the Seattle Time’s FYI guy, has crunched numbers from the state’s Department of Licensing and the census bureau.

As the top-selling hybrid — Urban Dictionary defines it as “the most liberal car ever” — the Prius conforms nicely with Seattle’s environmentalist ethos. The distinctively styled sedan has become a kind of green status symbol, according to a recent study on Prius owners, an example of “conspicuous conservation.”

Grrrr.

If the outdoorsy Subaru represents Seattle’s free-spirited inner child, then the Earth-friendly Prius plays the role of responsible parent.

That’s OK. Know who owns more?

Tukwila. (Why? Uber.)

Plus, hats off to Gene:

So is the Prius the quintessential Seattle car? Popular as they are here, they still don’t threaten Subaru.

DOL records show there are about 13,000 Priuses registered as passenger vehicles in King County. Subaru’s most popular model here, the Forester, numbers nearly twice that.

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Community crime meeting, Debora Juarez walking tour

February 17th, 2016 by Mike

A community meeting on crime in north Seattle has been called by a church just off North Northgate Way.

“Averi Norgaard of Epic Life Church  is inviting the church’s neighbors to join their congregation to start the conversation on how to reclaim their sense of safety. They also want to work with the city to bring the crime rate down.”

The full story from KOMO is here.

The church is at 10510 Stone Ave. N. The meeting is Sunday, Feb. 21, from 6-8 p.m.

On Friday, new Seattle City Councilwoman Debora is planning a walking tour of part of her Fifth District.

The tour is planned for Feb. 19th from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

It begins from 10-11:30 a.m. at Northaven senior living, 11045 Eighth Avenue N.E.

From 1:30  2:30 p.m. it moves to North Helpline, 12736 33rd Ave. N.E.

Continuing from 3-4 p.m. at Mary’s Place, 1155 N. 130th St.

And ending from 4:30-6:30 p.m. with a reception at The Shanty Tavern (?), 9002 Lake City Way N.E.

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Wind’s from the east – rain coming in

February 13th, 2016 by Mike

Update 3:30 p.m. Cliff Mass has posted here: Atmospheric River Fest: A Very Wet Week.

“Now, some of you will want to know about snow. Don’t ask. The air will be relatively warm and the snow levels will be around 6000 ft. Rain will fall on the lower ski areas, like Snoqualmie and Stevens, but higher elevations should get some….”

7:26 a.m., Maple Leaf Reservoir Park.

We’ve had 1.39 inches of rain this week, all recorded over the last three mornings here at Maple Leaf Life South.

We’ll get a lot more over the weekend.

The forecast calls for perhaps over another inch before Presidents Day.

More amusingly, the forecast discussion warns:

PRECIP IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TO TAPER OFF THROUGHOUT THE MORNING BEFORE THE FIRST OF A PAIR OF WARM FRONTS STARTS TO MOVE INTO THE AREA THIS AFTERNOON. THIS AND ITS SEQUEL FRONT…WARM FRONT PART 2 THE REVENGE…WILL KICK OFF A VERY WET AND ACTIVE PATTERN FOR THIS WEEKEND.

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Loose Australian Shepherd at park – plus mail theft at NE 102nd

February 12th, 2016 by Mike

Just before 3 p.m. Brooke emails:

Just saw a loose Australian Shepherd running around at the park. When I tried to go up to him he took off running across Roosevelt and headed toward Northeast 85th Street.

A few minutes later Rick emailed to Nextdoor Northgate/Maple Leaf:

Witnessed a middle-aged Caucasian woman w/glasses and green top taking mail from multiple mailboxes along 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 102 Street around noon. SPD responded in person. Thank you. She was driving a similar Ford U haul van with Arizona plates.

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Details on close call with cops, gun at Northgate

February 11th, 2016 by Mike

More details are now available on this incident from a week ago: Armed man arrested at park outside QFC, Northgate mosque.

It could very easily have ended differently.

To recap, police arrested a man with two pistols after afternoon calls from the Idris Mosque, at Northeast Northgate Way and 15th Avenue Northeast, and Victory Creek Park, adjacent to QFC.

According to the full police report, responding officers spotted the suspect, at 15th Avenue and Northeast 113th Street.

Since it was reported that the arrestee was carrying a handgun, we pointed our handguns at him. Officer Boyland and I ordered the arrestee to stop and he did and turned around. We told him to drop the bat he was carrying and he did.

They ordered the man to get on his knees, and he did. But when he was ordered to lie on the ground:

The arrestee got back on his knees and he said he wasn’t getting all the way on the ground. We kept telling the arrestee to get face down on the ground and he refused to do so and he asked why we wanted him to get on the ground. I told him that he had a gun in his waistband and he then reached for it with his right hand.

Fortunately, the suspect put the gun on the ground, saying it was a pellet gun. It was, but in a jacket pocket he had a stolen .380-caliber loaded semi-automatic.

Four officers responded to the scene.

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Million dollar Maple Leaf home: NY Times

February 9th, 2016 by Mike

Tami emails to point out a Maple Leaf house (on Thornton Creek) is featured in The New York Times.

“I never would have thought it,” she says.

It’s part of a standing Times feature on “What you can buy…” that compares houses across the country with approximately the same price point.

Separately, the online real estate search site Estately has proclaimed Maple Leaf to be the 16th hottest neighborhood in Seattle.

(Who’s No. 1? Phinney Ridge.)

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Good morning, Maple Leaf

February 7th, 2016 by Mike

Mostly cloudy, calm. High near 51 degrees.

Rain returns … Wednesday night.

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Armed man arrested at park outside QFC, Northgate mosque

February 4th, 2016 by Mike

Seattle Police this morning released this statement about an incident at the Idris Mosque, at Northeast Northgate Way and 15th Avenue Northeast, and Victory Creek Park, adjacent to QFC:

Police arrested a man armed with a stolen gun, a pellet gun and a baseball bat after he confronted two other men outside a mosque Tuesday in the Northgate neighborhood.

The two victims were reportedly standing in the parking lot of a mosque at 15th Avenue NE and Northgate Way around 1 p.m. when they saw the suspect striking trees with a baseball bat as he walked toward them. One of the victims also noticed a silver handgun in the suspect’s waistband.

The suspect asked them “where they were from,” according to the victims, and argued with them when they said they were from the United States.

The suspect then dropped his bat to the ground, pulled the silver gun out of his waistband, and began waving it around. Both victims walked away from the suspect, who smashed a passenger-side mirror of a parked car as he fled the scene.

Officers found the suspect sitting on a park bench at nearby Victory Creek Park and took him into custody.

Police found he was carrying a baseball bat and a silver replica handgun–actually a very realistic-looking pellet gun–as well as a very real pistol, which was reported stolen in Lakewood.

Officers arrested the 28-year-old for property damage, assault, and malicious harassment–Washington’s hate crime statute–and booked him into the King County Jail.

No one was injured in the incident.

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Update: Public transportation – and a new City Council

January 30th, 2016 by Mike

Update on Mardi Gras:

The Seattle Times has an opinion piece here. It’s not supportive of Pronto.

Update Feb. 4:

The Stranger has a Pronto story here.

The Seattle Bike Blog has one here.

Update Feb. 3: Josh Feit over at PublicCola has an update on Tuesday’s hearing on Pronto rental bikes.

Bottom line: Not much happened. Any vote was postponed as apparently only two transportation committee members were present – including the chair, Councilman Mike O’Brien.

To O’Brien’s frustration, SDOT’s presentation didn’t come with a specific business plan other than the immediate pitch to stabilize the program—there are currently 50-plus stations with 500 bikes and 3,000 members—and then have the city put it out to bid again in 2017….

O’Brien’s committee didn’t take any action yesterday (Pronto will go under in March if the city doesn’t bail it out); O’Brien reasoned that his other council colleagues are likely to have questions. Indeed, letters have been coming in to city hall suggesting that the $5 million could go to homelessness programs.

Feit tweeted about the meeting here.

———————–

A month into Seattle’s new City Council – in which council members are elected neighborhood by neighborhood – we’ll get a look at what this might mean for local public transportation.

Specifically, what will the council members – representing their districts – say about:

* Rescuing Pronto bike sharing rental.

* The apparent disappearance of much of our direct bus service to downtown.

On Tuesday, the City Council will discuss whether to spend $1.4 million to bail out the failing Pronto public bike rental  system.

Fifteen months after launch, Pronto is insolvent. Also, no one is riding the bikes.

As the map shows, there are no Pronto bikes available in Maple Leaf nor, for that matter, in all of Council District 5 (north Seattle), now represented by Debora Juarez.

There was a proposal to put a Pronto station at North Seattle College, but only if the feds paid for it. The feds declined.

Our earlier post is here. The Seattle Times has an updated story here: Seattle’s Pronto bike-share nonprofit teetering, seeks $1.4M rescue by city. (Note to “terriance”, in the +300-plus comments on that story: We don’t know what an “enterprise producer” is, either.)

Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who chairs the Transportation and Sustainability Committee, said he was disappointed to see Pronto “go financially sideways so quick” and said he’ll have to carefully consider whether to fund it.

“Just barely a year into it we’re going to throw a million and half into it to keep it alive and see what the next phase is.”

He said he believed bike sharing could work in Seattle, but O’Brien said, “If we’re not going to make it work, let’s figure that out as soon as possible and not spend money on it.”

The Seattle Bike Blog has posted here: With Pronto in the red, city outlines takeover and expansion plan.

The Times’ Danny Westneat has a column here.

In its first year, people took 142,832 rides on Pronto bikes. That’s only 391 rides per day. It’s about seven rides taken at each station per day. Each station brought in only an average $30 a day in revenue.  These are terrible figures considering the bike stations are dotted around places like the Amazon jungle, which we imagine should be meccas of alternative transportation.

Also, helmets.

Also, buses.

With the coming of light rail to the University District, there are proposed changes in Metro routes – but we’ll be damned if we understand them.

We weren’t at the Community Council meeting Wednesday evening, but reports on “Metro’s” presentation were not illuminating. (more…)

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Rainy days and Wednesdays – get ready

January 27th, 2016 by Mike

Update 7 a.m. Thursday: Rain in the past 24 hours at Maple Leaf Life South- 1.33 inches. Top wind speed so far: 24 mph at 5:15 a.m.

KOMO has an update here.

We are under a special weather statement: “HEAVY RAINFALL WILL LEAD TO AN INCREASED THREAT OF LANDSLIDES IN WESTERN WASHINGTON.”

“Major Atmospheric River Period for the West Coast” begins this evening, according to Cliff Mass.

From KOMO:

“Clouds will thicken up, too, and a vigorous cold front will arrive later as well. This front is going to kick up our winds – so much so that a HIGH SURF ADVISORY will be in effect along the coast and heavy rain will fall across the interior. Rainfall amounts could easily exceed .5-1″ and some of the downpours will take place during the evening commute.”

The official forecast is here. The Seattle Times has a story here.

Also, because we know everyone who follows Maple Leaf Life cares as much about the weather as we do and would really, really like to know how much it’s rained so far this year: 6.68 inches at Maple Leaf Life South, as of this morning.

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Return of the Scarlet-fronted Parakeets

January 25th, 2016 by Mike

Maple Leaf’s Scarlet-fronted Parakeets are back.

Or at least one is – on 12th Avenue Northeast just north of Northeast 89th Street, at 8 a.m.

We last posted on the feral flock in February 2015. We first wrote about them in 2010:

The flock has been around for decades, at least since the early 1990s, and possibly got started when bird-lovers discovered their pet parakeets were too loud to keep in the house. Local lore has it that the birds winter in Maple Leaf and spend summer vacations at Seward Park.

The size of the flock varies, but there don’t seem to be as many now as eight or 10 years ago, when a dozen or more parakeets would descend on the neighborhood. Over time they have been called parrots, Crimson-fronted parakeets, Red-fronted Conures and Mitred conures.

(Aratinga wagleri photo courtesy Dennis Paulson.)

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Mail theft – and an important Community Council meeting

January 21st, 2016 by Mike

Update Jan. 23: Jim has emailed directions for group mailboxes. We’ve posted them in comments.

A neighbor emails:

I’m writing to report that mail theft continues to happen in Maple Leaf. The latest was on Northeast 96th Street, between 15th Avenue Northeast and Roosevelt Way Northeast, and it happened between Tuesday 1/19 and Wednesday 1/20.

Aside from reminding readers to make reports to the police and to the USPS, I was wondering if you could also ask readers how they’ve gone about getting those giant, multi-residence locked mailbox units installed that are seen throughout the neighborhood.

Some of that information is available in comments on previous mail theft posts. The map shows mail theft reports here for all of 2015.

(Some good news: On Wednesday another neighbor posted on Nextdoor Northgate/Maple Leaf: “I got a call from SPD today. They called to tell me that they found some credit card convenience checks that were stolen out of our mail. They found them in a backpack belonging to a gentleman that they arrested.”

Another email, from the Maple Leaf Community Council, is important. The council is having a general meeting next Wednesday, Jan. 27th.

It’s largely concerned with land use, zoning and Metro routes.

But the council is also looking for additional members for its executive board – the folks who do most of the work on our behalf.

January represents our “Call to Election” for those willing to serve on the Maple Leaf Community Council Executive Board. Elections will occur in April and anyone interested in standing for election at that time will need to attend Executive Board meetings as an observer in February or March. With long-time volunteers Donna Hartmann-Miller stepping down from the Executive Board last year and David Miller retiring in April this year, we need volunteers more than ever.

The community council has a long and honored history representing our neighborhood. We’ve written about it before:

“The Maple Leaf of today did not just happen but instead reflects hundreds of volunteer hours dedicated on behalf of the Maple Leaf neighborhood.”

For more details read this post.

Next Wednesday’s meeting is from 6-9 p.m. at Olympic View Elementary, Northeast 95th Street and Fifth Avenue Northeast.

Here’s the council’s full email: (more…)

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