Follow Up on Editorial: Should We Take Susan Hutchison Seriously

September 28th, 2009 Ricardo Posted in boulevard park, development, Economy, Election, Government, housing, Jail Sites, Jobs, King County, safety, sustainability, Traffic, Transportation, white center 19 Comments »

For those who missed it, KUOW today broadcast an interview with, King County Executive, Susan Hutchison.  You can find the interview at KUOW Weekday.  In a prior post I had made the following observation which sparked a fair amount of discussion:

Ms. Hutchison has never held public office.  She has never had to struggle with the political realities of governing a complex political entity whose ambits include not only roads and sewers but social services, neighborhoods and law enforcement.  It is difficult to see how her experience on the board of the Seattle Symphony prepared her, in the slightest way, for such a weighty role.

If anyone had any doubt about Ms. Hutchison’s lack of specificity on issues, policies or even advisors, it is worth a listen (available on podcast).  Pressed by the moderator to name a single advisor who she consults, or who she would bring to her administration, she flatly resisted naming anyone, except to say bus drivers.  Her conclusion was “trust me” they will be great people.  I have nothing against bus drivers, but maybe she could have named a couple of the guys that she intends to bring to the Hutchison administration that will “bring people together.”  I’m sorry but calling Hutchison a “lightweight” does not begin to describe the chasm that is her lack of qualification to hold such an important post.  Listen for yourself.

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Should We Take Susan Hutchison Seriously: Editorial by Ricardo A. Guarnero

September 23rd, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Annexation, boulevard park, Businesses, development, Economy, Election, Greenbridge, housing, Metro, North Highline UAC, Politics, white center 22 Comments »

Given that White Center, Boulevard Park and surrounding areas are governed directly by King County, the choice of King County Executive should be taken very seriously.  The two candidates are Susan Hutchison and Dow Constantine.  Constantine is a fixture of West Seattle and White Center politics, so he is a known commodity.  Not so, Susan Hutchison, who hails from the East Side of the County.  Candidate Hutchison has run a “feel good” campaign, emphasizing her position to “bring people together.”  Her website’s issues page contains four short paragraphs, with the following priorities:

Jobs & the Economy:

Susan will help give small businesses the tools they need to create jobs…

Improve Transportation:

Susan will quickly implement simple changes to encourage transit ridership…

Budget Reform:

Susan will identify waste and restructure the budget to ensure our tax dollars are being spent effectively.

Protect Our Environment.

Susan will forge partnerships between environmental, labor and business groups as we work toward our common goal…

That’s it folks, Susan Hutchison’s platform for managing one of the biggest governmental entities in the country. In her defense, it might be said that she is offering as much detail as the two lightweights who are currently vying to be Seattle’s next mayor.  But then, that’s not much of a complement.

I will forthrightly state that I do not like Ms. Hutchison’s right-wing politics and that on that basis alone, she should be disqualified for the position.  Seattle and King County residents are a tolerant, liberal community.  To have a George Bush conservative speaking for us, just does not sit well.  But what about her competence?

Ms. Hutchison has never held public office.  She has never had to struggle with the political realities of governing a complex political entity whose ambits include not only roads and sewers but social services, neighborhoods and law enforcement.  It is difficult to see how her experience on the board of the Seattle Symphony prepared her, in the slightest way, for such a weighty role.

I often disagreed with former King County Executive, Ron Sims, but I found him thoughtful, intelligent and most importantly, quite knowledgeable on any issue relating to his role as Executive of the very large and expansive King County.  On the issue of affordable housing, we know nothing as to where Hutchison stands?  Does she support the Greenbridge and High Point housing/community developments?  If so, on what basis?  If not, why not?  Where does she stand on the issue of incorporation which raises the hackles of so many of White Center’s residents?

And what of her experience dealing with communities of color or economically distressed areas?  How does her “bringing people together” chirp really address the many challenges that White Center faces?  The fact is, nothing in her background begins to give her a serious understanding of White Center or similar communities.  There is no on-the-job training for such issues.  And Ms. Hutchison has given no indication that she even remotely cares about such issues.  In the end, Hutchison is what she was in her prior role as newscaster, a pretty face with a vacuous resume.

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El Paisano Restaurant Reopens

July 20th, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Businesses, Economy, Food, Full Tilt Ice Cream, white center 1 Comment »

El Paisano's juicy chickens

El Paisano

GOOD NEWS! El Paisano Rosticeria Restaurant has re-opened.  We, who had loved the wonderful roast chickens and other wonderful foods from El Paisano, were aghast when it suddently closed up.  Rumours abounded that the business was not doing well, that internecine family battles had led to closure, that the place was being remodelled, that the mafia was asking for it’s investment back (ok that is not true).  But my colleague, Justin of Full Tilt Ice Cream and I were heartbroken.  We love this place.  We loved it so much we offered free coffees and ice creams to encourage people to patronize El Paisano.  To say, that we are happy, thrilled and completely elated that our favorite Rosticeria is mild understatement.  Chicken tacos, barbacoa and carne asada burritos for everyone.  And yes, we’ll take the Negra Modelos as well. Herein is a part of Full Tilt’s review of El Paisano:

El Paisano at 15th Ave. SW and Roxbury SW

El Paisano at 15th Ave. SW and Roxbury SW

The area I grew up in LA was predominantly Mexican, and poor. MY parents, and I swear this is true, would open up a paper when it was time for a new apartment, and just pick the cheapest place. We lived in Compton, Silver lake, Echo Park (before it was trendy), Santa Ana, even when we moved to Huntington Beach it was in the Hispanic area that was known as Slater Slums. In all those neighborhoods I became familiar with Rosticerias, even if it was an EL Pollo Loco. See, my parents are from the midwest, and if is anything they know well, it is their way around a yard bird and pork. We ate at all of the local chicken joints. Cesars on Atlantic and 65, Pablo’s on Alameda, Pollo Macho on  Wilshire, even Rosco’s ( which is not Mexican, but makes a mean fried chicken and waffle platter). When I first moved to Seattle, one of the things I missed most was Mexican food. I craved El Pollo Loco,  the bottom of the barrel in LA. Mama’s in Belltown, and Bimbo’s on the hill is crap food. Not just not authentic, just crap food. I was amazed when I found White Center. So much good food, in one little area, and the rest of Seattle had no idea it even existed. Rosticeria y Cocina El Paisano is the best in chicken. It is owned by the butcher shop two doors down. Sure, the carnitas is better at Del Rio. I can get an equal burrito at the bus for less. As far as chicken goes, Paisano is king.

Marinated in an adobe chili mix, and then flame roasted. Crsipy skin, and a juicy bird. The sides are simple, and plentiful. Rice, beans and a simple salad. Shining right next to that crispy bird is the house made salsas. Most Mexican places in Seattle seem to have a can opener as their main tool is salsa prep. Not these guys. I have become leery of Salsa Verde since moving to Seattle, but Paisano’s have nailed it. Flamed roasted tomatillos and just the right amount of chili heat from the peppers to compliment the food. They are now serving Breakfast as well as lunch and dinner, so the next time you venture out to eat, stop by this place.

LOCATION:  El Paisano is located at 9615 -15th Ave. SW, Seattle 98106  They are just off the intersection of 15th Ave. SW and Roxbury (across the street from Bartell Drugs).

Phone:  (206) 763-0368

Don’t take our opinion for it (although we are best qualified to judge R from West Texas and J from Southern Cali)

http://www.seattleweekly.com/locations/rosticeria-y-cocina-el-paisano-358083/

http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/1/1421316/restaurant/West-Seattle/Rosticeria-y-Cocina-El-Paisano-Seattle

http://srs.mediawebconnect.com/Rosticeria%20y%20Cocina%20El%20Paisano/10453

Show them some love and you will happier for it.

El Paisano Rosticeria

El Paisano Rosticeria

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The Barber and the Hospital: Opinion piece by Ricardo A. Guarnero

July 20th, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Economy, Government, Health, Politics 2 Comments »

This story is not unique but it is entirely true.  A friend of mine recommended his barber and offered to pay for my haircut if I would get a buzzcut.  I took him up on his offer.  The barber found out that I had a legal background and started querying me about some financial difficulties he was having.

The barber had a small business that had always provided him with a decent living.  He had a large number of customers and therefore had few expenses beyond the rent, the lights and such incidentals.  He ran a lean operation. He owns a home, a  modest car and an otherwise unremarkable life.  He pays his bills on time and has excellent credit.  He appears to be in good health, not overweight, eats right and works hard.  To all appearances, he is an upstanding member of our community.

After finishing a haircut about a year ago, he felt a crushing pain in his chest.  He fell to the floor and a concerned customer immediately called 911. Mr. Barber was having an acute myocardial infarction, commonly referred to as a heart attack.  After being rushed to Harborview Medical Center, doctors performed a quadruple bypass surgery and nursed him back to health.

This episode of medical need cost the Barber over $50,000.00; money which he did not have and which his business could not generate.   Being uninsured, as are most business people in his position, the barber was liable for the full cost of this care.   Adding to his stress level, was the fact that the hospital kept calling him, demanding payment.  They implored him to put the payment on credit cards, as they well knew that he had credit.  What they failed to tell him, and of which I informed him, was that credit card debt was virtually nondischargeable in a bankruptcy filing.   The medical costs, all $50,000, however could easily be discharged in bankruptcy.  As with so many elements of our health care system this meant that the cost of his care would be socialized, that is , passed on to consumers, taxpayers and others in higher medical costs.

Now the barber could go on making incremental payments for the better part of his life.  This had the same effect as a bankruptcy filing or a mere refusal to pay, the costs of his care would be socialized.  In fact, outside of winning the lottery there is no conceivable way that a man in his position and age, given the skill-sets that he possessed, would be able to pay off the cost of his care following the heart attack.

There is absolutely nothing unique about this situation.  It is the story of millions of such small businesses.  Nearly one-third of the uninsured – 13 million people – are employees of firms with less than 100 workers.  That is to say, no health insurance of any kind.  Of those insured, the coverage is often reserved for catastrophic events with cavernous gaps in coverage.  And this is the plight of the small business person.  Never mind the unemployed, underemployed or just plain down on your luck types, such as the half-million who are being laid off every month and losing their employer-provided insurance.

The current delivery of health care in this country is nothing short of scandalous.  Take a look at some eye-popping statistics in this piece.   Health care reform is imperative.  As articulated by Dr. Howard Dean:

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said Thursday that without a public health insurance option – a federally-run program that would be offered in addition to private plans — the health care reform effort now being debated in Washington would not be worth supporting.

“There is no point in doing health care reform unless you have a public option people can choose from,” Dean said. “I think it is a waste of time and money to do it.”

The desired reduction in the cost of health care will not happen without such an option, he added.

“Cost containment is not going to be successful without a public option” he said.

Without a strong public option, all the tweaks to our health care system will be for naught.  We have operated under a system that divides health care costs between employers and those with government coverage such as Medicare.   The rest of us are screwed.  So, if you care about real health care reform contact your legislator in Congress and urge them to pass real health care reform, a bill with strong public option component.  Contact for Washington’s two Senators is as follows:

The Honorable Patty Murray
United States Senate
173 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-4701
DC Phone: 202-224-2621
DC Fax: 202-224-0238
Electronic Correspondence: http://murray.senate.gov/email/index.cfm
WWW Homepage: http://murray.senate.gov/
The Honorable Maria Cantwell
United States Senate
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-4
704
DC Phone: 202-224-3441
DC Fax: 202-228-0514
Electronic Correspondence: http://cantwell.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm
WWW Homepage: http://cantwell.senate.gov/
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Random Thoughts on Tacoma and White Center

July 19th, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Businesses, cafe rozella, Crime, development, Economy, Full Tilt Ice Cream, Greenbridge, People, white center 3 Comments »

Two elderly ladies walk into Cafe Rozella gushing about the cafe.  Unprompted, one of them says, “we love White Center.  We tell people we live in West Seattle, because of White Center, not in spite of it.”  I relate this anecdote, because despite it’s ragged edges, White Center is a place of vibrancy and life.

Years ago, I used to have an office job in downtown Tacoma.  If we wanted to get something to eat, we would troop into our cars and head to Old Town or the Tacoma waterfront.  The downtown core was desolate.  As one of my colleagues used to say, “you can’t buy an Aspirin in downtown Tacoma.”  Sadly, he was right, there was nary a Bartells, Walgreeens or even a small Asian grocery store to buy anything essential.  Coffee shops were nonexistent and the hilltop area was still a war zone.  I relate this, not to knock Tacoma, after all, it has really improved, but it has improved in ways far different than White Center.

Most of Tacoma’s improvement has been the subject of heavy top-down government investment and tax incentives.  While the Greenbridge Project on the west side of White Center might be considered similarly, “top down,” it is but a small part of what makes the area a better place.  White Center has always had a community and a functioning business core.  Many White Center businesses, (Center Tool Rental, White Center Glass), have been there for decades.  Nonetheless, there was a time, not too long ago, when the walk on 16th Avenue SW, south of Roxbury, was undertaken with trepidation and certainly never after dark.   Today, White Center is a different place.

Immigrants from all parts of the world have opened businesses throughout the White Cener business core. This is organic growth, from the roots up.  Projects such as Greenbridge seek to encourage such growth.  As well, there are businesses opening from locals who want in on a dynamic area.  Cafe Rozella is but one, there is also Full Tilt Ice Cream, Proletarian Pizza and word of a couple of other new businesses.  These are businesses operated by young people who are dynamic and future-oriented.  Tolerant and educated, they are what social scientist, Richard Florida would call the creative class.  Rather than berate the lack of a McDonalds, we celebrate the Pho shops, the Salvadorean pupusas and the Guyamas Burritos amongst many other great eating establishments.

So next time you have friends visiting from out-of-town, do the Space Needle but bring them to White Center and invite them to take in the rich melting of cultures inherent in this corner of the world.  And, if by chance, one of your guest gets a headache and, if you want to buy an Aspirin there is the Super-Walgreens and the local Bartells.  But I suspect a custom ice cream cone from Full Tilt or an Americano from Cafe Rozella would work just as well.   Cheers!

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New Pizza Place Coming to White Center

May 27th, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Businesses, development, Economy, Food, white center 10 Comments »

The heart of White Center will host a new pizza parlor. In keeping with our Commie-working class theme, the pizza place will be named Proletariat Pizza. The location is the old Elisa’s Bakery site, just across the street from Full Tilt Ice Cream. Great News for White Center!

Future Site of Proletarian Pizza

Future Site of Proletariat Pizza

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The Great Markets of White Center: Hung Long Sieu Th! (White Center Supermarket)

May 23rd, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Beverages, Businesses, Economy, Food, sustainability, white center 8 Comments »

Hung Long (White Center Supermarket)
9828 15th Avenue SW
Seattle, WA 98106
(206) 768-8087
Hung Long's Veggies - some familiar some not

Hung Long

Of all the great Asian markets in White Center, Hung Long Sieu Th! is almost certainly my favorite.  It is distinguished by being directly across from the White Center State Liquor Store.  Some would see this as a convenience and others as a liability.  That aside, this is almost certainly the most well-stocked Vietnamese market.  This is a market in the truest sense of the word: stocking within its tightly knit quarters, all manner of fish and meat as well as a very nice selection of fruits and vegetables, some familiar, some not.  The aisles are packed with sauces, spices and all the accoutrements for fine Asian (or in my case, Mexican) meal.  Indeed, many of the patrons shopping at Hung Long are Latin American, although the overwhelming majority are Asian, attesting to the market’s authenticity.  Most times, I am the only non-Asian at the check-out line, as Vietnamese is thrown around as the lingua franca.

Fresh Fish

Fresh Fish

My advice for any gringos wishing to venture to Hung Long is to explore and if confused, just ask, the staff are very friendly and more than willing to assist.  Did I mention that the prices are incredibly modest.  You could pack a bag of fruit for under $10.00.  And the fruit would certainly be much nicer than the industrial brand you find at Safeway and other corporate stores.

Fresh meats and vegggies in a typically clean aisle

Fresh meats and vegggies in a typically clean aisle

The seafood is invariably fresh.  No need to trek to Pike Place Market to pick up some fresh crab or halibut.  And you can get some nice black bean sauce to dress the dinner meal.

Fresh Crab

Fresh Crab

If you feel like noshing while shopping, Hung Long has a small Hong Kong style deli where you can pick up ribs, roast duck, hum bows or other tasty stews and barbeques.

Roast Duck

Roast Duck

Fried Fish

Fried Fish

My favorite quality of Hung Long is its authenticity.  When I step into Hung Long, I am immediately transported to the wonderful markets of Chinatown in New York City or Hong Kong.  This is the real deal, venture forth gastronomes and lovers of food.   An awesome market, Hung Long.

Asian Drinks

Asian Drinks

Hong Kong Style Deli

Hong Kong Style Deli

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Puget Sound Business Journal Takes Economic Pulse of White Center

April 6th, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Businesses, Economy, white center, White Center news Comments Off

The Puget Sound Business Journal just published a story on the economic effects of the recession on White Center.   Entitled, “White Center Shows Its Diversity,” the article quotes many business owners including this writer.

In the good days, just one year ago, lunch break at construction sites around White Center meant a flood of workers pouring into El Paisano for a taste of home.

Silva’s situation reflects a larger picture in White Center, a struggling, diverse neighborhood with many immigrants on the southwest edge of Seattle. Its downtown is an eclectic mix of Pho restaurants, taquerias, bars, pawn shops, tattoo parlors, and hair and nail salons, and many of these small businesses say they are now teetering on the brink.

At $40,480 a year, the median household income is 24 percent lower in White Center than the countywide average, according to the 2000 Census. The population is 21 percent Asian, 12 percent Hispanic, 6 percent African-American, 2 percent American Indian, and 2.6 percent Pacific Islander.

The article can be accessed online at its website.

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Microfinance as a way to develop White Center

March 30th, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Businesses, development, Economy, Jobs, white center 1 Comment »

Most people are aware that the greatest impediment to the start and development of the business is lack of capital.  Tradtionally, banks only lend money to people who already have money.  This makes it extremely difficult for would-be entrepreneurs to start a business — even one that is desperately needed.  One solution  to this quandry is the pooling of resources by a community to assist its members with the initial loan that gives them entry.  The Asian and Latino communities already have models of this practice, the latter known as Tanda.  Variants of this practice are known broadly as microfinance.

Microfinance refers to the provision of financial services to poor or low-income clients, including consumers and the self-employed.[1] The term also refers to the practice of sustainably delivering those services. Microcredit (or loans to poor microenterprises) should not be confused with microfinance, which addresses a full range of banking needs for poor people.[2]

More broadly, it refers to a movement that envisions “a world in which as many poor and near-poor households as possible have permanent access to an appropriate range of high quality financial services, including not just credit but also savings, insurance, and fund transfers.”[3] Those who promote microfinance generally believe that such access will help poor people out of poverty.

I would be curious to know if readers have any thoughts on this subject and how it might used as a tool to spur economic development and vitality in White Center and other areas.

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Homeownership for the Community – Thursday, April 9th @ 6 p.m

March 25th, 2009 Ricardo Posted in development, Economy, housing, Real estate, white center Comments Off

Homestead Community Land Trust (HCLT) will be holding a special Informational Session at the Greenbridge Library, 9720 8th Ave. S.W. on Thursday, April 9th from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for anyone interested in learning more about affordable homeownership opportunities.

Homestead is partnering with eligible homebuyers to create affordable homeownership in the White Center and Boulevard Park.  How it works is the homebuyer selects a home that is FOR SALE and fits their needs and budget.  They pay $100,000 less than the sales price, significantly reducing their monthly mortgage payment.  In exchange for receiving the $100,000 –which does not have to be paid back – the homebuyer agrees that when they decide to sell, they will sell to another income eligible buyer at an affordable price.  In this way, the community maintains a stock of affordable homes and the homebuyer passes on the affordability to the next buyer.

For example, a recent Community Land Trust homebuyer in White Center is paying $950/month as their housing payment for a 2 bedroom single family home with a large basement and detached garage.  They have a stable monthly payment, have the opportunity to build equity, can live there as long as they want, and they receive the tax benefits of homeownership!

To qualify, you must  a) be a first-time homebuyer   b) earn less than 80% area median income for King County**   c) have the ability to be approved for a home loan   d) have a desire to live and own a home in the White Center/Boulevard Park community   e) have 1% or $2500 to put towards the down payment.

Please help get the word out by encouraging eligible future homebuyers to attend the session.   At the session we’ll provide:

  • An overview of Community Land Trusts and our approach to homeownership
  • A detailed view of Homestead’s Purchase Program for White Center/Boulevard Park
  • Steps to getting started on the path to Homeownership

You can contact Laura Evans with any questions or to RSVP for the session.

Laura Evans

Homeownership Program Manager

Homestead Community Land Trust

2524 16th Ave. S. Suite 300

Seattle WA 98144

ph: 206 323 1227 ext. 111

fax: 206 588 0253

www.homesteadclt.or

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Interesting Article on Kindred Cafe in NYC

March 16th, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Businesses, cafe rozella, development, Economy, white center Comments Off

From the New York Times, a story of a cafe, not unlike Cafe Rozella:

Vox Pop was “kind of placing a bet on an emerging neighborhood” when it opened, said Sander Hicks, an author and political activist who started Vox Pop with Holley Anderson, his girlfriend at the time. He also published a free newspaper, The New York Megaphone, and was elected president of the merchants’ association. “We always used to say, it’s about smart growth, not gentrification,” Mr. Hicks said.

How different it was just four and a half years ago, when Vox Pop opened. “This was all 99-cent stores and video stores, socioeconomically challenged, surrounded by lovely Victorian houses that people have lived in forever,” Ms. Ryan said.

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Microsoft Plans Layoff of 5,000 employees – impact on White Center uncertain

January 22nd, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Economy, Jobs, white center 1 Comment »

No doubt you could have gotten this piece of news from the front cover of the New York Times or the Seattle Times.   Apparently 1,400 of the initial cuts will come from the Seattle area.  Here at Cafe Rozella we have quite a number of MS employees who use the cafe as their third office.   The layoffs will significantly impact White Center and West Seattle.  I have some calls out to some economists to give us a gauge of just how hard this will impact us.  But make no mistake about it, this will have an adverse impact on Puget Sound are and White Center.

Make no mistake about it, this is bad news for Microsoft and the Seattle area.  Since Microsoft got a license to print money in the mid-80s, it has never contracted.   As if you needed another indication that this is not going down well, MS stock went down after the announcement.  The money people view this as a portent of further ills to come.  And even Ballmer, who never fails to spin a positive tale out of anything, was pretty circumspect in his outlook.  Bottom line is that we are seeing a period of negative growth for Microsoft.

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Greenbridge and its Critics

November 23rd, 2008 Ricardo Posted in development, Economy, Government, Neighborhoods, safety, white center, White Center Early Learning Initiative 9 Comments »

You have to hand it to Bush & Company, they were spot on when they proclaimed that the free market would most assuredly take care of such problems as affordable housing.  Who could have known, a mere three years ago, with housing prices skyrocketing and rents pricing out most renters, that a social revolution was brewing.  Social reformers and liberals cried out for government aid to build low income housing.  Who knew that the mind behind Bush had a smashing plan for bringing down the cost of housing across the board and across the nation?  Genius, pure genius!   Drive the economy into the ditch and pretty soon you are picking up quarter-million dollar homes for $100K in Florida and California.  Here in Seattle, rents have dropped dramatically and landlords are offering incentives to get their units occupied.  Problem is no one has the money to snatch the cheap real estate.  Ah, the magic of the free market at work.

What, you may well ask, does this have to do with the Greenbridge development?   Greenbridge is more than a housing project, it is a master plan for the community.  Greenbridge, and High Point, were developed with certain assumptions in mind.

The project, launched in 2001 with a grant from the federal Hope VI program — the same program that has contributed to the redevelopment of High Point and Holly Park — is supposed to include 1,025 living units. That’s a lot more housing than Park Lake held, but a lot less of it will be subsidized for the poor. The mix is supposed to include 300 rent-subsidized units, 353 workforce rental units, and 372 homes for sale at market rates. This represents a net loss of 269 rent-subsidized units. Instead of maintaining a large pocket of low-income housing in White Center, the county decided to disperse.

As well, the project was developed before the economy hit the squids and before the current real estate meltdown.  Hence, the criticism that some of the economic assumptions underlying the project were wrong.

The King County Housing Authority built the first part of Greenbridge at the height of the real estate boom, when prices for everything were sky-high. The sale of lots for market-rate housing was supposed to reimburse the county some of the cost. By the time the housing authority offered its first relatively small group of market-rate lots for sale, the market had plunged. Only one developer bid on the land, at a price way lower than expected. Having bought high, the county felt it couldn’t afford to sell low. It retracted its request for proposals. For now, the single-family portion of Greenbridge is on hold until the market picks up.

As well, some readers of this blog have expressed concern that the early learning center is a lot of wasted money, destined more for monuments than for education.   Needless to say, Greenbridge and its constituent parts have no shortage of critics.  This is so, despite the very involved political process used to  formulate its goals.  Unlike private developments, the development Greenbridge required input from a great many constituent groups.  As well, the philosophy behind Greenbridge incorporates the revolution in urban planning that did away with such government-manufactured ghettos such as Chicago’s infamous Cabrini Green towers.  When all is said and done, Greenbridge is supposed to be a place that is safe, pleasant and attractive.  And it will be organically connected to the larger White Center Community.

More to come, but feel free to jump in with your observations and comments.    (As always, be civil, or your comment will be deleted.)  In the interim, here are some pictures taken on November 23rd, showing the current progress.

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Free Pastry with a donation to WC Food Bank at Cafe Rozella

November 19th, 2008 Ricardo Posted in Economy, How to Help, white center, White Center Food Bank Comments Off

Cafe Rozella is participating in the food drive for the White Center Food Bank.  Given current economic conditions, the food bank is experiencing a great demand for its services.  So next time you come by Cafe Rozella, pack some cans of food and drop them in the donation barrel at the cafe.  For your kind donation the cafe will give you a free pastry with your coffee order.  So do the right thing and get a nice reward.  Cafe Rozella is located at 9434 Delridge Way SW (phone 206.763.5805 – web:  www.caferozella.com).

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White Center Community Summit – Saturday, November 8th at Mount View Elementary School

November 7th, 2008 Ricardo Posted in Businesses, development, Economy, Education, Environment, Families, Neighborhoods, Politics, Schools, Transportation, white center, White Center Community Development Association Comments Off

The White Center Community Development Association and Trusted Advocates will host the 2008 Community Summit this Saturday, November 8th at Mount View Elementary School.  The event starts at 8:00 am and ends at 3:00 p.m.  Please come and offer your input on the future of your community.   Mount View is located at 10811 12th Avenue SW.

This year’s community summit will gather families, government agencies and local community-based/non-profit organizations in a fun family-friendly environment.  Live cultural performances, ethnic foods, door prizes and children’s activities are just a taste of what the summit has to offer!

Come learn about the issues affecting your community and how you can be involved in a positive way.  There will be info booths and workshops on health, education, jobs, housing, annexation, immigration and more.  Translation services will be provided in Cambodian, Vietnamese, Spanish, Tigrinya, Somali, Amharic, Samoan, Arabic and English (other languages upon request).  Childcare will be provided.

For more info:  Ebony Davis: (206) 694-1082 ext.  168 – ebony@wccda.org or Ian Dapiaoen:  (206) 694-1082 ext. 175 or ian@wccda.org.

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White Center Dodged a Bullet When Starbucks took a pass on the Neighborhood

November 2nd, 2008 Ricardo Posted in Businesses, development, Economy, Fun, white center 5 Comments »

There is an interesting theory making the rounds in financial circles.  The thinking is that the more Starbucks locations a place has is correlated to the degree of financial distress.  The correlation is not with coffee, as countries with venerable coffee house traditions, Italy and Brazil, have not been hit as hard by the financial meltdown.  According to Daniel Gross, the author of the Starbucks theory:

My tentative theory: having a significant Starbucks’ presence is a pretty significant indicator of the degree of connectedness to the form of highly caffeinated, free-spending capitalism that got us into this mess. It’s also a sign of a culture’s willingness to abandon traditional norms and ways of doing business (virtually all the countries in which Starbucks has established beachheads have their own venerable coffeehouse traditions) in favor of fast-moving American ones. The fact that the company or its local licensee felt there was room for dozens of outlets where consumers would pony up lots of euros, liras and rials for expensive drinks, is also a pretty good indicator that excessive financial optimism had entered the bloodstream.

The theory has some appeal for independent coffee houses, such as Cafe Rozella.   Unlike Starbucks, you will find few independent coffee houses in the lobbies of financial skyscrapers.   But, there is an interesting backdrop to this theory and White Center.

Sometime back, while White Center struggled to right itself financially, a play was made to get Starbucks to open up a location in the heart of White Center.  In fact, the Walgreens Superstore at 16th and Roxbury contains the appended building designed to lure Starbucks to the neighborhood.   Starbucks corporate staff studied the area and decided that there simply weren’t enough greenbacks floating around to justify a store in the area.  We, at Cafe Rozella, only became aware of the Starbucks machinations after launching our coffee house.  Had Starbucks opened a corporate coffee house in the middle of White Center would it had speeded up gentrification?  Would it have driven up home values to unrealistic heights only to see them crash with the real estate bubble?  Certainly, it appears that White Center and its surrounding environs have mostly been spared the overvalued real estate crisis overtaking the rest of Seattle.  Perhaps we should be thankful that Starbucks took a pass on WC and drink a toast to Cafe Rozella.

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White Center Community Development Association benefit dinner pictures

October 26th, 2008 Ricardo Posted in development, Economy, sustainability, white center, White Center Community Development Association Comments Off

The White Center Community Development Association held its Fifth Annual Banquet Fundraiser at South Seattle Community College’s Brockey Center on Saturday, October 25th. Jammed full of people, everyone had a great time. Herein some pictures from the event.

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Rossi vs. Gregoire: Who is Better for White Center?

October 14th, 2008 Ricardo Posted in Annexation, development, Economy, Election, Environment, Families, Jobs, Politics, sustainability, white center 5 Comments »

Ok, this is a heavily Democratic neighborhood but there seem to be some Rossi supporters in White Center land?  I am inviting comments on who would be better for White Center, Dino Rossi or Christine Gregoire?  Obviously, we have issues of housing, jobs, health care, affordability, crime, education, sustainability, greenspace etc… And I will gladly share my views.  Forum’s open.  Speak your mind.

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Speak up for Affordable Housing at Seattle City Council

October 6th, 2008 Ricardo Posted in Economy, Neighborhoods, white center Comments Off

Reminder!  Please join us to speak up for affordable housing at City Hall tomorrow evening!

Homestead has been working in partnership with the Housing Development Consortium & the City of Seattle on Incentive Zoning legislation. A program is currently under consideration by Seattle City Councilmembers that would provide an incentive to developers who agree to build affordable homes within their developments, or near by. According to this new program, when the City of Seattle allows property owners to build taller buildings and earn more profit, in exchange, they would make a portion of the apartments or condos priced so that people making less than average can afford them.

Homestead would like to steward the ongoing affordability of ownership units produced through this program. Over time, this program could generate hundreds of affordable homes that stay affordable through the land trust.
The City Council needs to hear from you about the importance of this program and why they should vote for it. Please join us at this Public Hearing:

Seattle City Hall
Fifth Avenue between James and Cherry, Seattle, WA 98104

Tuesday, October 7, 4:30PM

If you have never attended a city council hearing, don’t worry, we’ll be there to help navigate! Meet at 4:30 in City Hall’s main lobby near the canoe sculpture to the right of the entrance. I’ll be there to answer any questions you have.

Feel free to pass this on to your friends and neighbors! It would be great to see you there.

Thanks,

Kristin

Homestead Phone: 206.323.1227

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Zapotec Weavings – Pictures from Event taking place today

September 30th, 2008 Ricardo Posted in Arts, Businesses, development, Economy, sustainability, white center Comments Off

Here are some pics from the Zapotec Weaving exhibit and sale at Cafe Rozella going on today.   Drop by – great rugs.  Wonderful cause:  direct to producer sale!

Looking at Oaxacan rugs

Looking at Oaxacan rugs

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