Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Holidays From The Laurelhurst Blog Staff!



The Laurelhurst Blog staff will be on vacation and will return to posting on January 5th, 2014.

In the meantime, please keep sending us your informative emails, story ideas and comments. We look forward to responding upon our return.

Happy Holidays!

Audubon Society "Christmas Bird Count" Next Week

The Seattle Audubon Society (8050 35th Avenue NE)  is having a special event on December 27th.
 
Here is information:
 
The Christmas Bird Count
CBC image










Grab your binoculars and join your friends for Seattle’s Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on Saturday, December 27. Now in its 115th year, this annual bird census draws birders of all abilities to count as many birds as possible over a 24-hour period. This Seattle tradition is a great way to see new birds and old friends — and experienced birders, neighborhood residents, and newcomers are all welcome!  
If your home is within the Seattle CBC area, you can even stay at home and report the birds that visit your feeder on count day, as long as you have made prior arrangements with the count organizer.  
After a full day of birding, warm up with an evening soup potluck and a tally of the species seen during the day.  
The event is free, but a $5 donation is recommended to help support Seattle Audubon’s Citizen Science programs. . Visit Seattle Audubon's Christmas Bird Count registration webpage or Seattle Audubon's website for more information.



Photo by Doug Schurman

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Children's Security Officers Weigh In On Type Of Rifle Used During Halloween Home Burglary and Burglar Profile As Well As Safety Tips

Picture from resident's security camera
of robber carrying alleged assault rifle
 
 
The Laurelhurst Community Club recently held a special neighborhood meeting at the Community Center regarding the escalating crimes and neighbor concerns about police response time and actions.

On Halloween evening, five homes were broken into on the 5100 block of 46th Avenue NE and nearby NE 54th Street.  One home that was broken into captured the burglar carrying some sort of an assault rifle.   

Several Seattle Police Department representatives, as well as Security officers from nearby Children's Hospital were on-hand at the neighborhood meeting to answer questions.

Neighbors brought up some issues such as police providing very general, less-detailed information about burglaries perhaps to "just to calm neighbors as they don’t want us to be afraid," one neighbor said.

Another neighbor wondered about the weapon that was used on Halloween saying "we’ve heard  that whatever the weapon was, was it capable of firing any kind of pellets or bullets?"

 
Eric Solorio, a Security Officer at Children's Hospital, said about the rifle:
In response to this camera footage, the way in determining the “assault rifle” is a fake is by examining the two tone colors. Look at the butt stock of the weapon, just below that is the hand guard or trigger mount, it also is a different color then the body of the weapon itself. Look at the magazine cartridge also a different color then the body. I want to say this is a nice air soft rifle.  
These rifles although air soft look like the real thing. The width of the barrel is not conducive to the likes of a real assault rifle as well judging on how his hand wraps around the entire rifle. It is light weight which is why it tilts forward at an angle, a loaded assault rifle would be too heavy and awkward to hold it in this position. I know this because I am a trained weapons handler and a military man as well, just offering my knowledge.
 
 
The only thing I can imagine is that the burglar would attempt a strong armed robbery with the weapon, and yes if it is in fact an air soft rifle as I believe it to be then it is capable of shooting pellets. These pellets can break the skin and should be considered dangerous. During this time of year people get more desperate I would advise an additional level of vigilance being aware of your surroundings when entering and exiting your home. I hope this little information helped if you ever need another voice of reason when it comes to these type of incidents please don’t hesitate to inquire.


And Jim Saywer, Children's Director of Security and Transportation added:
MOST burglars will hit a home during the day when the home is unoccupied. And most live within a reasonable distance to the area they hit-are comfortable with. By some statistics a large number of this unpleasant fraternity lives usually within 2 miles of an area they target.  
However that is not always the case. There is a lot people can do from a CPTED perspective to hard target their homes-posting alarm advisories-such as ADT-or just buying them-Bulger’s Safe and Locks sells these and they are a good investment. Block watch signs are also valuable. And authentic alarm systems are strong deterrents-and as important is calling 911 if you observe perimeter or chronic area loitering-listening to intuition is key-if someone makes you feel uncomfortable act on that and make a call.  
Burglars will look for opportunity-steps taken to mitigate that opportunity will normally drive them away from an area and also impact their ability to operate in a chosen locale with any success. Eric will defer to you re the type of weapon this fellow had.
 
 
 

The Laurelhurst Blog Staff is waiting for a summary of the meeting from the Laurelhurst Community Club to share with readers.

Craft And Fly Your Own Paper Airplane At NE Library Event Tuesday

Drop-in Paper Airplanes

The NE Library Branch (6801 35th Avenue NE) of the Seattle Public Library is having a special event called "Drop-in Paper Airplanes" on Tuesday, December 23rd from 10:30-12:30pm.

The information says:
Explore the basic designs of paper airplanes and why they work, then craft and test out a plane on the flying course.  
Craft your own airplanes and watch them soar! We’ll explore the basic designs of paper airplanes and why they work, then make our own creations.   
We’ll even have a flying course so you can see how your flyers measure up!There will be simple designs for younger kids and more complex designs for tweens and teens. 
For ages 3 - 18.
 

For more information go here.
 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Large Boulder Still Blocking Sidewalk ON 55th Avenue NE While Owner Submits Reports And Permits

 


In July, the Laurelhurst Blog posted about a large rock blocking the sidewalk, posing a safety hazard, on the 4200 block of 55th Avenue NE. 

Neighbors are curious why the rock has still not been moved for over 6 months and for how long the sidewalk will be blocked and pedestrians will need to continue to walk out into the street to go around the rock and back up onto the sidewalk.

The City's Department of Planning and Development (DPD) Case # 1031930  and Project No. 6426332, shows that the first complaint was made on May 8, 2014.

Here are the enforcement actions since that date:
Action CodeStatus DateCase Action Type Description
CMMay 09, 2014Complaint Made
VIOLMay 12, 2014VIOLATION
InspectionMay 12, 2014Inspection:1 Failed
HCOMay 14, 2014HAZARD CORRECTION ORDER: SENT Compliance due:13-JUN-14
HCOMay 14, 2014HAZARD CORRECTION ORDER: ISSUED Compliance due:13-JUN-14
InspectionMay 14, 2014Inspection:2 Failed
EXTENSIONJun 19, 2014EXTENSION: ISSUED Compliance due:18-JUL-14
InspectionOct 03, 2014Inspection:3 Failed
Legal ActionOct 17, 2014SENT TO LAW DEPARTMENT

The Blog Staff contacted DPD and SDOT who explained that it is a complex and lengthy process as the entire retaining wall needs to be repaired along with the rock being removed and potentially put back into place. The owner must obtain various reports and then apply for a permit.

However if all reports are turned in, DPD told the Laurelhurst Blog Staff that the rock would not be removed until April, due to weather conditions, along with the construction and securement of the retaining rock wall from where it rolled down.

SDOT told the Blog Staff that they finally secured the location in October after nearly eight months. 

In July, the owner submitted a retaining wall design plan along with calculations prepared by an engineer, seeking approval to construct a replacement retaining wall within the right of way in order to replace a sixty year-old failing rock wall. The owner told DPD that he had specific construction company in mind, that specializes in retaining wall construction ready to begin the project once he has permit approval from SDOT and DPD.

The City has also asked that the owner apply for a Street Use Permit for the wall, including a geotechnical report supporting this wall design and associated plans for the wall construction.

In August, the owner said he had instructed his geotechnical engineer to provide a geotechnical report supporting the wall design and associated plans for the wall construction and would turn it in once he had the report. He added that, at that time he hoped to have construction completed by the end of September with an estimated construction time of three weeks. 

DPD told the Blog Staff:
The owner of the property is responsible for correcting the violation, since the rockery was not installed by the City, the City doesn't maintain the rockery walls..  Two agencies, DPD and SDOT, are involved in enforcement in this matter.  DPD’s issues are limited to the retaining wall itself on private property.  SDOT has authority to deal with right-of-way issues including the blocked sidewalk.
DPD has been in contact with the owner to rectify the outstanding safety hazard, letting him know in October that they had prepared his violation for the Law Department and urged him to continue to obtain all required permits.  The owner has been turning in some of the required documents, including the geotech report requested by SDOT for initial approval to construct a replacement retaining wall in the right of way, which would then allow the DPD permitting process to start.  



The owner wrote in a report to DPD:
A concrete brick retaining wall (Project No. 777-134) was constructed in 1970 by the City of Seattle that borders the failing rock wall to the north (see attached images).  This retaining wall was constructed to toe the sidewalk (see images – separate email “Part II”).  The sidewalk on 55th AVE NE is 1.5’ wider than the standard sidewalk, so 75% of the 2’ sidewaIk clearance already exists. As we discussed in person, I’m seeking SDOT approval to construct a new retaining wall linear to the existing concrete retain wall constructed by the City of Seattle in 1970. 
 
 
Without SDOT approval for construction within the right of way, the entire ECA hillside will need to be removed along with my brick patio, glass railing fence, the deck attached to my house, and the house suspended in order to construct a new retaining wall.  The possibility exists such construction could undermine and destabilize the foundation of our home.  Therefore, your help,  assistance, and ultimate approval by SDOT to construct in the right of way is being asked in order to bring quick resolution to this current public safety hazard.

 
SDOT and the reports say:
SDOT understands that the restoration of this slope and remediation is a high priority.  However, SDOT is also concern that the proposed repair and permanent mitigation measures meet standard of practice in the industry and ensure public safety in the long run.
 
At this time, SDOT is also anxiously waiting on the private owner to act on the restoration of this area.  SDOT will continue to monitor this hazard area periodically to ensure that sidewalk is closed until the restoration have been completed by the private owner.  
The closed off area is considered to be a potential hazard and thus SDOT Street Use had restricted public access in this area until this rockery failure had been restored.  As noted previously, SDOT considered this rockery failure to had originated from the private property and was waiting for the owner of the private property to provide a restoration plan.  The owner had submitted a plan previously, however, that submittal did not meet SDOT standards and requirements for this type of project.  SDOT wanted to ensure that proper design and engineering will go into this restoration.

At that time, SDOT had requested a geotechnical engineering report to ensure adequate design for this mitigation as well as minimize future wall failures.  Please see the attached.  The owner had coordinated and funded this geotechnical study and had just submitted this report to DPD and SDOT on Oct. 6, 2014.  SDOT had just reviewed this geotechnical study and concurred with the recommendations by the geotechnical engineer.  Both SDOT and DPD had contacted the owner to submit appropriate plans for review by both departments.  Once the plans have been reviewed and approved by DPD and SDOT, the owner will then be able to proceed with construction and restoration of this wall.  
As 55th Ave NE is a residential street the general traffic volume is inferred to be relatively light, it was SDOT Street Use’s opinion that pedestrian are able to traverse safely around this closure. Street Use empathizes with the frustration of the neighborhood on this sidewalk closure.  SDOT’s priority is consistently and foremost about public safety which is the reason for this sidewalk closure. 
Initial investigation earlier this year by SDOT Street Use determined that this rockery failure originated on the private property located in the 5300 block of NE 42nd Street.  The potential hazard zone was evaluated and appeared to be limited to the adjacent sidewalk area.  Thus, SDOT decided to close this section of the sidewalk due to public safety concerns.   This decision was carried out  in consideration that this is a residential street, and that in SDOT Street Use’s opinion, pedestrian does have a relatively safe alternative accesses around the closed off sidewalk.   This closure is consistent with other similar slides and/or wall failures that SDOT responded in other parts of the City.      
Further, SDOT Street Use was aware that DPD was working with the owner of the property to provide a permanent mitigate measure and restore this area.  As responsible steward of taxpayer funds, SDOT would expect the owner of this property to pay for the restoration of this section of the ROW and, thus, have not taken action to remove the current debris.  Unless the potential hazard is considered to be imminent, SDOT generally would only delineate and restrict entrance to the hazard area.  This policy or response, again, is consistent with other similar events that SDOT had encountered.  
As this failure had originated from the private property, SDOT would expect the private property owner to restore this failed slope.   SDOT understands that proper engineering needs to be used here to ensure long term stability of this wall and thus had waited for the owner of the property to paid for the required engineering.  The owner had shown that he/she is proceeding with a proper fix.
 
 
DPD gave the Blog Staff this latest update in October:
A DPD Hazard Correction Order was issued in this case in May.  The owner was required to obtain a geotechnical report as part of the resolution of that order.  Stability issues were identified by a geotechnical engineer and DPD instructed the owner to start the permitting process to rectify the problems.   
When he began to address the issues, an extension was granted to 7/18/14.  (DPD works with people, which might include granting additional time, when they are in violation but are making good faith efforts to resolve the violation—which seemed to be the situation here.) There have been several communications with the owner since July but at this point he has not made sufficient progress in the permit process and the case is being prepared for a referral to the Law Department for further enforcement action.  A lawsuit will be filed against the owner and he will be subject to civil penalties.
  

 
 
 
 

Seattle City Light Warning Of Scammers Fraudulent Activities

 
 
 
Seattle City Light recently sent out this information:

Seattle City Light wants to empower its customers to “Spot it, Report it, Stop it”



As temperatures continue to drop and the importance of keeping your home warm rises, scammers are taking full advantage of the situation by targeting utility customers; threatening to shutoff power unless payment is made to a fraudulent bill collector.
 
Seattle City Light is receiving 25 to 30 reports per week from customers targeted by such scams, often some of Seattle’s most vulnerable residents. Scammers commonly target non-English speaking individuals, elderly and small business owners. They use phone calls, email, even home visits, posing as Seattle City Light employees. In the scam, they demanding the customer’s financial and personal information in addition to payment with a pre-paid credit card (MoneyPak/GreenDot) or else the customer will face an immediate shutoff of service.
 
Seattle City Light does not call, email or visit customers demanding immediate payment to avoid shutoffs. Anyone who falls behind on payments will receive at least two written notifications before the shutoff process starts.
 
Additionally, City Light employees will never need to enter your home to conduct any kind of test. If someone claiming to be from City Light approaches you at home and asks for personal or financial information, requests to enter your home, or cannot provide you with employee identification, immediately shut your door, secure your home and call 911.
 
If a customer suspects a scam attempt or has any questions regarding their bill, City Light urges them to call a customer service representative at (206) 684-3000.
 
City Light is taking a proactive approach toward stopping scams through its “Spot It, Report it, Stop it,” scam prevention campaign. To learn more about how you can end scams, please visit:  www.seattle.gov/light/EndScams. The website offers various resources for customers to protect themselves and their family and friends from scams.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

November Laurelhurst Real Estate Report

Thanks to Kim Dales for providing us with this neighborhood real estate activity monthly report.  Kim can be reached at 206.235.777 or kodales@Windermere.com.

 


A Tale of Two Novembers

November 2014 was a powerhouse in every sector of our market. The only problem, which
has been inherent in every month, is lack of inventory, only one new listing in November and it went pending in 3 days with multiple offers.

This November 6 homes closed versus only 1 in November 2013 and the average price increase was a whopping 70% from $574,500 in 2013 to an average of $978,000.

As the end of the year approaches it is time to think about some annual maintenance for your home. Here is a short check list:
• Annual furnace service. Make sure your furnace company puts a sticker on your furnace
• Earthquake strap your water heater. 2 straps: this is something a home inspector will
call out during an inspection
• Do a visual inspection of your attic for rodent activity. Eliminate if necessary. *
Remember if you don't find it an inspector will.
• Place Carbon Monoxide monitors on each floor. This is now code in the City of Seattle
effective April 2012
• If you heat your home with oil please make sure you have it insured with the State and
registered through PLIA Pollution Liability Insurance Agency. http://www.plia.wa.gov

Happy Holidays! Kim


NEW LISTINGS
Price                                   Quantity                   DOM 

$600,000 thru $649,999       1                               4

Total = 1
Average price = $619,000



PENDING
Price                                   Quantity                   DOM 

$600,000 - $649,999             1                              3
$1,250,000 - $1,499,999       1                             52
$1,500,000 thru $1,749,999  1                              72
Total                                      3                              42

Average price $1,169,667
Average DOM = 42



SOLD
Price                                   Quantity                   DOM 

$950,000 - $999,999            1                                57
$1,250,000 - $1,499,999      3                                41
$1,750,000 - $1,999,999     1                                  8
$2,000,000+                         1                               10
Total                                    6                                33

Average sales price = $978,000
Average DOM = 33

Local Birder, Connie Sidles, Celebrating New Book Thursday Evening At Center For Urban Horticulture




Connie Sidles, a local birding expert who maintains a blog documenting the many types of birds, including beautiful pictures, at the nearby Union Bay Natural Area, also known as the Montlake Fill, is having a special event on Thursday evening to celebrate the publication of her newest book, "Forty-Six Views of Montlake Fill."
 
The book is filled with poems, written by Connie, and illustrated by one of North America's best sumi artists, Hiroko Seki.

To see a preview of the book, go here and click on "read more."

Connie told us about the event which goes from 6:30pm-8:30pm at the Center for Urban Horticulture:
There will be poetry reading, free food and wine, and Hiroko is going to give a sumi demonstration. What we have in mind to do is, as I read a poem, she will paint a sumi illustration, and we'll both finish together. It should be a lot of fun.
 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Children's Hospital Apologizes For Early Morning Non-Permitted Delivery

A few weeks ago, a large truck made a delivery at the Children's Hospital fire lane on NE 45th Street, across from 42nd Avenue NE around 6am.

Children's posted about this on their Construction Blog, but only a few minutes before the delivery was to arrive on the same morning. 

Their Blog post says at 5:50am:
Today, November  21, we will be bringing in a crane and large steel beams as part of our continuing construction. A large semi-truck will arrive with the crane around 6:00 a.m. and from that time until 8:00 a.m. the crane will be unloaded.
 
The Laurelhurst Blog Staff checked with the City of Seattle and found no permit on file for this delivery. The City of Seattle has a noise ordinance policy that states that no commercial trucks are allowed in a zoned residential area before 7am.

One nearby resident wrote:
The delivery was startling and loud to hear so early in the morning, as Children's is always so good about not making any deliveries or loud noises in our neighborhood before 7am, So we were quite surprised to hear the loud beeping for quite a long time and well as loud noises.
In addition the delivery was made to a small opening on NE 45th Street across from 42nd and 43rd Avenues NE. I don't believe that that area even has a driveway for deliveries so it doesn't seem to be a designated delivery area. Plus, it is in the middle of a zoned residential area. The delivery was not made to the loading dock, which is it in an zoned residential area, as it in a commercial area on Sand Point Way that allows deliveries before 7am. 
The Hospital's Blog post says the delivery would be at 6am, which it was. The post said the delivery was that early so as not to disturb traffic at NE 45th Street. Shouldn't there also have been flaggers since it sounded like it was quite a large truck.

Todd M. Johnson, Vice President | Facilities & Supply Chain, at Children's sent the Blog Staff this email:


Dear Laurelhurst Blogger,
Please accept my sincere apologies for the early morning beeping noise that came from the Children’s campus on November 21.  My team did not communicate to our neighbors in a timely and effective way.  We also failed to approach the City of Seattle to seek any needed permits for early morning delivery noise.  This was an oversight, due mainly to the fact that the team has not had to deal with these issues in quite a long time.  Those responsible for dropping the ball are aware of the errors, understand the impact on the community and offer their apologies as well.

The beeping that neighbors heard was coming from a  truck delivering two very large “I” beams to be used in our Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit. The beams will provide structural support for a new connecting stairway between the fourth and fifth floors of the River building.  We are changing the unit to better meet the community’s need for inpatient psychiatric services. 

Maneuvering the truck blocked all of 45th Street for a period of time, so we chose to have this delivery early in the morning to lessen the impact on traffic along 45th Street.  As you know, 45th is a busy arterial at commute times, supporting trips to and from Laurelhurst Elementary, shopping destinations,  the University District, and downtown Seattle. 

The access drive (sometimes referred to as “the fire lane” ) is just west of 42nd Avenue NE.  It is a seldom-used but important service access point to the middle of our campus.  It offers the only route in for our gardener’s vehicles, fire trucks, and delivery of very large building items. The back up beeping is a safety feature that many companies will not disable, even when flaggers are present.  We did not begin construction work until after the agreed-upon time of 7:00, but we realize that the beeping sound can be extremely annoying.
 
We at Children’s want to be good neighbors.  We regret this  error. and will not allow it to occur again.  Occasionally we must deliver items early  (for example, when the City insists that a delivery occur in off-hours due to traffic implications).  We will work with our contractors to minimize the number of these occurrences – we have no more currently planned
 
Thank you, and happy holidays.

 

NEST Holding iPhone Workshop Thursday

NEST (Northeast Seattle Together)  which supports Northeast Seattle elder neighbors through a network of volunteers and vendors, is having ta free public lectures on how to use an iPhone.


The information says:
Did you know that there are three ways to silence your ringing iPhone? Did you know that you can turn on your iPhone's flashlight in three taps, even when the phone is locked? If you lose your phone, do you know how to find it or render it unusable if stolen? And did you know that your iPhone can remind you stop stop at the bank when you go to the nearby grocery store?
Join NEST and trusted vendor Chris Altwegg in which you will learn to do all this and more with your iPhone or iPad.  
The class will be held on Thursday, from 1:00 to 2:30, at the NEST office, 5751 33rd Avenue NE. 
Space is limited to 10 people, so call or email the NEST office to sign up today, (206) 525-6378 or info@nestseattle.org.