Thursday, May 26, 2016

Graffiti Covering Vacant Bike Shop And City Monitoring Site With Possible Upcoming Public Hearing

 Certified letter from City dated May 2

Ever since the Bicycle Center (4529 Sand Point Way NE) closed in September, the building has become more and more covered with graffiti.

The City has recently deemed it a "Graffiti nuisance property"  according to their letter taped to the door (above) and in accordance with Seattle Municipal Code 10.07.030 B. E. as the owner has not removed the graffiti within 10 days of receiving a certified letter from the City. Fines of up to $100 per day and a maximum of $5,000 could be imposed. The next step is a Hearing Examiner court date. 

Before the building housed the Bicycle Center almost 30 years ago, it was a pharmacy and soda fountain, popular with young children to stop by after school for a treat, as a long-time Laurelhurst neighbor told the Blog Staff saying:
Really old Laurelhurstians remember that place as Zopf's pharmacy, in the mid-60's complete with great soda fountain! Green River Sodas. Below is a picture I found on Ebay.
The dilapidated building, once involved in an arson fire in October 2005,  has always had some sort of graffiti on it and has always taken quite a long time to be removed. 

Following the fire supposedly started by an employee who wasn't paid, in which two cats perished, no repairs were ever done to the siding or the vacant upstairs deck and two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, leaving it completely fire damaged.   The Laurelhurst Blog Staff also was told there is no running water or heat in the still fire damaged building.

The Laurelhurst Blog reported in February 2015 that the owner took several months to remove graffiti even after the Blog Staff reported the issue to the City.  Seattle Public Utilities sent a letter to the property owner and it was finally removed. 

Last month, the Blog Staff again submitted a complaint via the City website and followed up with email to the Graffiti Department who said:
A letter to the property owner at 4529 Sand Point Way NE was sent on April 14.  The property was inspected that week to see if the graffiti had been abated.  
Since the graffiti was still not removed,  on May 2, a certified letter to the owner was sent, which is the next step in the process. 
If the graffiti is still not removed following that letter, the City then sends the property owner a notice of hearing to their address listed on King County tax records. A notice of hearing is also posted on the property in violation.  

The posting on the property is the City’s way of notifying the public who can attend the public hearing and comment.  Typically the posting is done 1-2 weeks in advance of the public hearing.  And on average a case is scheduled 60-90 days following the certified letter.
 The Laurelhurst Blog received these comments from residents regarding the graffiti:
I’m sure I’m not the only one who would appreciate an update on the graffiti-covered bike shop at 4529 NE 45th.  When you wrote about it last August it appeared that it was going to be demolished soon.  If not, maybe neighbors can register complaints about the condition of the building.
I filed a complaint with the city at the beginning of April about the graffiti on the "Bicycle Center" building located at 4529 Sandpoint Way NE.  The graffiti on the building has been increasing each week.  This building is a disgrace to the entrance of our neighborhood.  Unfortunately, since the building is no longer occupied the graffiti has been going unchecked.  The city of Seattle graffiti website reports that it can be a several month process for the owner of the building to cover the graffiti.  This is completely unacceptable in my opinion.  The bicycle shop has always been rundown and an eyesore for our neighborhood.  The graffiti is only making the matter worse.  If there is any further information that you can provide about this horrible building or know of anyone else to contact about having the graffiti covered it would be much appreciated.  Thank you for your consideration. 
I am a 20 year Laurelhurst resident and the only time the building has been graffiti free, and that was only for a few days, was when volunteers from a Church re-painted the building (bright green) in June 2013.  Other than that, it is an eye-sore - always unkempt, windows always broken upstairs and dilapidated.

John Marxer, the owner of the bike shop, started the business in 1969 and had been in that location for more than thirty five years. 

He told one of his customers before his business closed that he was going to take a break and open somewhere else in a few months. He also said that the building was going to be demolished.
The Laurelhurst Blog staff contacted the owner of the building in August asking if indeed the building was going to be torn down and an owner responded saying "We do plan to demolish the building as soon as it is vacant.  The design and use of the new building for the property is not determined at this point."

A Blog reader said following that information "We look forward to a brand new building that will not attract vandalism."  

However, nothing has happened at the building 9 months.
The Laurelhurst Blog Staff asked the City if they have any information about the building being torn down as it is very much in disrepair.

The City responded "No, there appears to be no information regarding a permit for demolition. SPU is in the process of identifying ownership and if the location is in foreclosure. "

In August 2007 plans were submitted to  "demolish the existing commercial building and construct a 4 story mixed use building with 37 residential units and below grade parking for 49 vehicles" as laid out in City permit #6136600.  

Another permit was submitted in April 2013 #3007871 to "construct a 4 story mixed use building with 24 units" was submitted.  
Here is the City's timeline for graffiti removal:

A letter to the property owner is  generated and sent from the City  office.  Since the graffiti is on private property, notification and follow-up with the property owner can take between 20-45 days, according to the Private Property Enforcement Process Timeline, before the graffiti is removed.   
The timeline reflects the average time it takes to manage private property complaints in which SPU is able to locate the property owner and send a letter.
SPU allows 10 calendar days for the property owner to remove the graffiti.  Failure to remove the graffiti is a violation of the Graffiti Nuisance Code and can result in monetary penalties.   
A site inspection of the property is made 14 days after the mailing of the initial letter to determine if the graffiti has been removed.  If the graffiti is still present, a second letter is sent to the property owner via certified mail notifying them that their property is a graffiti nuisance and in violation of the Seattle Municipal Code.   
The letter is also posted at the site of the property.  Once a property has been determined to be in violation of the Seattle Municipal Code, the property is re-inspected 10 days following the posting of the 2nd letter.   
Property owners who fail to remove the graffiti within this timeframe are referred to the Seattle Law Department who schedules a hearing before the Seattle Hearing Examiner.  Fines up to $100 per day and a maximum of $5,000 are imposed if the Hearing Examiner finds the property owner has failed to respond to the notifications.  
More than 80% of private property owners remove the graffiti within receipt of the first letter.  The remaining 20% receive a 2nd letter and only 3% of private properties are scheduled for a hearing.     
The timeline is not applicable to those properties in which SPU is unable to locate the property owner which incidences whereby the letters are returned by the U.S. Postal Service.  The weather also impacts the timeline in that property owners are unable to paint in temperatures below 40 degrees or on wet surfaces.  Extensions are granted under these circumstances. 
 For more information about graffiti prevention and reporting go here

Pill box listed on Ebay
for Zopf's pharmacy

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Was curious what was going on with this building?