Pier 57 is gettin’ a ferris wheel!

I heard about this at the Ventures For Good grand opening in Pike Market tonight (a non-profit retail shop run by a Seattle microlender- Washington CASH).   Seattle has just approved a permit for a london-eye-esque ferris wheel to be on pier 57.  Earlier stories suggested it would only be for a year or so, but they’re hoping it will attract tourists during the viaduct construction.

Getting the hang of community living

Posted on April 19, 2011

Ah, condo living… walking distance to everything, great places to go day and night, yeah there’s club noise, but water damage, reserve funding and board meetings – oh my!   Who knew that dutifully doing your part meant becoming an officer of a potentially million-dollar nonprofit corporation benignly called the “homeowners association”? How is one supposed to navigate that?    It might be helpful to have access to publications like “Choosing a Management Company” or “Insurance: How Community Associations Protect Themselves”.  How ’bout a couple manuals for the various positions of Treasurer, Secretary or President?  If you want to tackle this challenge head on, you can find those publications along with seminars and more are available through the Community Association Institute.

If you’re a larger building you might have a property manager who is a member, but you can join the Washington State chapter as an individual or as an association. Dues are reasonable and they seem to have a large number of local events, which are also networking opportunities to develop that file full of contacts of lawyers, mold & water damage specialists, reserve study specialists and everything else that can leave a condo association scratching their collective heads.  I attended the “Law Day” last weekend and an assortment of helpful sessions for the new board member: “Legal Issues Boot Camp”, “Money, Meetings, Minutes and Minutia”, “Me, My Insurance-Appointed Defense Attorney and… Who?”. It was mostly interesting to be with 250 people and realize how the challenges that seem bewildering and intimidating to a new board member are totally common. 

I picked up some good tips for a well-run board meeting:  try a timed agenda to keep things moving. It works best if board members come prepared and can have short discussion and make decisions.  It’s not legal to make formal decisions by email, so have a standing agenda item to review all the decisions you probably did make by email and officially ratify them.  Board meetings are required by law to be open, but that’s for observation- not comment.  So run the meetings w/o homeowner participation and have a homeowners forum at the end where homeowners can ask questions or make comments. Make sure you’re giving proper notice for all your meetings, make sure you’re documenting quorum, and when you make decisions as a board use resolutions, vote and note the results in the minutes.  You can delegate things to committee, just do it with a resolution.

Some more experienced friends attended a session on “Strategies for Managing Change and Guiding your Association Through the Storm” that talked about how we’re in a period where lots of change is happening in property ownership and management: energy efficiency, green materials, urban food production.  As a board of volunteers it’s easiest to just say “no”; how can you instead to allow motivated neighbors to do research and take the lead for the benefit of the community?  It sounded like a good session, the suggestions my friends passed on include: try allowing limited experiments, or get fellow homeowners to show some amount of interest or support by getting 10 or so neighbors to sign a petition for a project.

The Washington State CAI serves both condominiums and non-condo homeowners associations.  Their next big event is Community Association Day on September 24th, I encourage folks to check it out. You can expect sessions appropriate for everyone from new board members to professional property managers.  You can learn more on their website at

On a less formal scale, downtown condominium presidents (or their designates) can participate in casual tip trading the first Saturday of the month as part of the Downtown Condo Presidents group run by Watermark president, Linda Mitchell.  You can email her as linda on for more info.   Here’s to community living!


Neighbor Notes

Posted on April 2, 2011

Items of conversation while walking & meeting with neighbors this morning:

 Deconstruction of the McGuire is slated to start this Monday (April 3) according to someone from Belltown Court.

 There’s an Argosy Cruise you can take that leaves pier 56 on the waterfront, goes through the locks and deposits at South Lake Union and then they’ll bus you back – or as Belltown residents we can easily walk to both ends.  Perhaps the BBA could get together and design a walk from one end to the other through Belltown and advertise it.

 This weekend there’s the Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival going on at the Seattle Center, and the Downtown Volunteer Fair at the Josephinum (2

nd & Stewart) on Sunday. 

 We talked about how to know about pending traffic impacts and road closures – like when there’s a running race that closes 2

nd or 5th ave on a Sunday morning, or  when they close streets around the Seattle Center as part of Broad was closed today (so we walked down it. fun!)  For construction, SDOT allows you to subscribe to an email alert list here: , you can specifically subscribe to “Greater Downtown”.  However that seems like it’s just construction.   There is also a blog of “advisories from the Seattle Department of Transportation” called “On The Move”.  It covers all of Seattle but there is a subsection for “Greater Downtown” that has its own RSS feed. It does include non-construction notices: on Tuesday March 8th 2500 students [were] attending an event at Beneroya Hall and so 40 school busses [were] loading/unloading between 10:15 and 12:15; that the weekend of March 11-13th [were] a series of St Patricks Day events that close roads.  This seems like the news I’m looking for so I’ll give this one a try.

While poking around the City of Seattle website ( I found a large number of things one can subscribe to for regular information.  Of particular interest to Belltowners I see: The Department of Neighborhoods has a neighborhood newsletter that goes out monthly

In the Winter 2011 edition, the Josephinum is highlighted as a beautiful historical landmark in Belltown:    Also in that newsletter edition is an article noting that the Department of Neighborhoods has dealt with budget cuts by shifting to having a group of coordinators serve a group of neighborhoods rather than 1:1 as has been in the past.   “The Central Area consists of 5 districts (Central, East, Downtown, Lake Union, and Magnolia/Queen Anne).  They will be served by the Central Team (Christa Dumpys, Tim Durkan, and Stan Lock).”  A former neighborhood District Coordinator for Belltown, Kerry Wade, recently won an award: “Congratulations to our Neighborhood Planning Outreach and Engagement Team members – Kerry Wade, Thomas Whittemore, and Sebhat Tenna – who were awarded the Seattle Management Association’s Innovation and Change Management Award.  The award recognized their leadership in civic outreach and engagement. “ Congratulations Kerry!

 your neighbor,


Neighbor Notes

Posted on March 17, 2011

I’ve been getting together with a few neighbors on Saturday mornings, 8:15 am outside Street Bean (3rd & Cedar) to go for a walk and a chat and come back for coffee after they open at 9. Anyone is welcome to join – especially dog owners- Street Bean is a dog-friendly coffee shop.  I’ve been sending the group roundups of the topics that come up for discussion, here’s what came up last Saturday:

Judy from Bellora joined us this week and we did a stroll through the Pea Patch where she has a plot. The pea patch has a resident bee population and a bee keeper, though there were not clearly bees in the hives at the moment. Judy thought they might have suffered a bee blight and be getting replaced this year. The Pea Patch has a website here:

We talked about the upcoming Belltown Community Council meeting which was last night, sounds like it was a good one!

Judy is also a fan of the ACT Theatre and encouraged us to check out their intriguing new business model – the ACT Pass.  As far as I know it’s the first program of its kind in the nation.  It’s an all-you-can-see monthly membership model instead of a traditional ticket subscription.

The Belltown Business Association has put together a directory with a map of Belltown.    I printed it on regular paper and the print comes out fairly tiny but legible if I squint.

If you’re game for a weekday walk, Deborah endorses the BCOP community walks, on Thursdays this month leaving Seattle Heights at 7.  Someone from the police department or city also joins and they talk about how to be a good watchful neighbor, as well as meeting neighbors and business owners too.

Belltown Citizens on Patrol

  • Thursday, March 3rd  7pm
  • Thursday, March 10th  7pm
  • Thursday, March 17th  7pm
  • Sunday, March 20th  3pm  (Litter Pick-Up)
  • Thursday, March 24th  7pm
  • Thursday, March 31st  7pm

You can connect via their facebook page:

Churches are making their impression on Belltown – The Methodist First Church that’s right across Denny in the Seattle Center does a community breakfast every second and fourth Sunday

Mars Hill Church does a service & community outreach every Saturday night.  Go Mars Hill!  I imagine having the bar scene regularly seeded with evangelical missionaries will contribute to a calm down

your neighbor,


March 25 & 26 – two days of focus on Great Local Citizenship at the Seattle Center

Posted on March 13, 2011

I recently attended a meeting that emphasized what a progressive, generous and socially minded city Seattle is. It seems our biggest problem is that we’re somewhat silo’d and aren’t well connected across all the amazing things going on.  As a city we’re also very anti-elitist, so we don’t respond well to people celebrating themselves.  We’ll just have to learn to celebrate each other!

The Guiding Lights Network is a locally created network organized to support civic leadership. This two day conference is an opportunity to learn better engagement skills and techniques.

from their website

Get Your Citizenship On! If you want to get better at making things better—you are not alone. The 2011 Guiding Lights Weekend conference on Great Citizenship is about making things better together. Train to be a 21st century citizen-leader—not in Powerpoint presentations but through powerful hands-on workshops: How to speak about race. How to lobby for the little guy. How to create a mass civic event. How to make a decision in public. How to use art to mobilize a community. Be a part of this one-of-a-kind gathering.

My connection to this conference?  I’ve heard about it and I wish I could go but I’ll be out of town visiting my niece in Pullman before she graduates this year.  So instead I’m sharing it with my fellow Belltowners as yet another cool thing that happens right on our doorsteps. 

NOTE: Registration closes March 14th!