Price to pay

January 15, 2006 2:39 pm
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 |   Transportation

I ranted earlier this month about the folks who use the bus lane on The Bridge as their personal fast track. Learned today in this Times article that there is a heavy price to pay for it. Great; so where are the cops who should be staking it out?

Seahawks fans “check out”

January 14, 2006 7:10 pm
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 |   WS & Sports

An unlikely hotbed of Seahawks pre-game fan mania today: West Seattle Thriftway. Custom T-shirts on the workers, as far as my eye could see. I’ve seen the Thriftway go Mariners-manic before, but not Seahawks-crazy. If they’re really serious, perhaps they can program the signboard outside to flash GO SEAHAWKS inbetween wine deals!

Yeah, sure, blame it on the tree

January 14, 2006 11:32 am
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 |   West Seattle news

From the P-I’s account of the Friday power outage:

“The larger of the two outages occurred around 4:30 a.m. when a tree fell on power lines at 32nd Avenue Southwest and Southwest Brandon Street, cutting off power to about 7,500 Seattle City Light customers.

The outage stretched from Alki in the north to Southwest Findlay Street in the south and 23rd Avenue Southwest in the east to 53rd Avenue Southwest in the west, City Light spokeswoman Sharon Bennett said.”

Gotta find out exactly how our power grid works — how that outage managed to result in an unscheduled off-day for the kids at Schmitz Park Elementary, but not for, say, Lafayette, barely a mile away, and located between Schmitz Park and the outage source.

As I write this late Saturday morning (as the streets are about to be vacated so that everyone can gather ’round their teevees for the Seahawks pregame, game, and postgame), there’s a definite break to the west. Chances are good it’ll be long-overdue activity-suitable weather all afternoon … right while everyone’s in the living room.

There’s no place like home … there’s no place like home …

January 13, 2006 7:26 pm
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 |   Transportation

If only clicking my heels together like Dorothy in “Wizard of Oz” could have gotten me home faster tonight …

Traffic through downtown was so horrendous tonight (are that many people REALLY going to watch the StupidSonics?), I had to try the viaduct-free way home.

Took an hour to get from north of downtown to the 1st Avenue South onramp for the WS Bridge. One hour, five miles tops. And this is WITH bumper-to-bumper traffic filling the viaduct itself. Without that placeholder for those additional hundreds of cars — the backup will start at my workday parking place. Really.

Is anyone holding brainstorming sessions about this looming disaster? Will we wind up telecommuting, shift-staggering, unemployed, or forming new WS-based businesses to take advantage of the talents of The Peninsula-Bound? I’m going to go look.

Sinking feeling

January 12, 2006 9:14 pm
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 |   Environment

West Seattle’s first major storm damage … or at least it sounds storm-related … a sinkhole closing one of the paths down to the beach in Lincoln Park.

Good taste

January 11, 2006 9:27 pm
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 |   Environment | Seen around town

As has been noted in some accounts of this sighting outside Salty’s, at least the seal chose the least-polluting car …

Complainin’ in the rain, just complainin’ in the rain …

January 10, 2006 9:45 pm
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 |   West Seattle weather

Buried inside a National Weather Service “forecast discussion” for the next few days … a new term that hints even the NWS guys and gals are gloomed out:


Where there’s smoke …

Radio talk-show host New York Vinnie cited West Seattle tonight while talking about restaurant districts where he doubted the smoking ban was costing businesspeople customers. He talked about being at West 5 and looking across to the Matador — or perhaps it was the other way around. Sure, those joints might be buzzing, but what about the teeny ones like the Poggie Tavern or Be’s Restaurant, where it sometimes seemed you could come down with emphysema just by walking past their doors? I’d love to hear how they’re doing.

Yes, soup for you

January 8, 2006 3:42 pm
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 |   West Seattle restaurants | Westwood

Killer soup at lunch today. Actually, we squeaked in before the end of the relatively new Sunday brunch zone at eats market cafe (Westwood Village). Today’s “market soup” was curried carrot. Tangy, creamy, dreamy. Their sandwiches have a zesty personality too, mildly reminiscent of the wondrous BLT at West 5. OK, I guess this makes up for the burger whine last night …

That’s just wrong

January 8, 2006 9:59 am
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 |   Transportation

Seattle P-I editorialist Ted Van Dyk must not live on our side of the bay. Witness this quote from his guv’ment-advising rant in today’s combined paper:

Rail transit is not the only public transit. Seattle since 1970 has had one of the best bus transit systems in the United States. But bus funds are being diverted increasingly to rail. The City Council recently announced it is “looking at options” to replace the canceled monorail line between Ballard and West Seattle. The monorail needs no replacement but regular, well-scheduled bus service.

Ever try to commute from WS via bus? I have. First mega-problem: Unless you are going straight to the heart of downtown (preferably along 1st Avenue), it’s transfer city, which means potential hours of travel, even if you’re not going too much farther north than the Space Needle.

Worse problem: As monorail campaigners pointed out, you do have to “rise above it all” to get out of the traffic mess. Short of the Jetsons-style suitcase spaceships, their idea, flawed as the financing was, would have at least accomplished that.

Never mind the “bus lane” squeezed onto the bridge a few years back. Impatient drivers turn it into their personal fast track every morning rush hour. Just try to get across it to the viaduct-bound right lane, and you’ll see for yourself (if you live to tell the tale).

I salivate at the sight of the Sound Transit light rail columns going up along the freeway from Burien to Sea-Tac. Can we have a little taste of that? Please?

Cheeseburger in paradise (not)

There are no decent, fast burgers in West Seattle. We need Fatburger. Here on a rainy Saturday night, we are going to have to drive to Wendy’s in Burien to get a decent burger. McDonald’s and Jack in the Box don’t qualify. Yeah, some of our sit-down eateries have tasty burgers (Easy Street, Duke’s, Circa), but this isn’t that kind of a night. We’re in our scruffies, we just want to drive somewhere, get a burger, come home. And for that, we have to go to Burien. Bah.

Reminds me of a James Taylor album title

January 7, 2006 4:06 pm
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 |   Environment

… “Mudslide Slim and the Blue Horizon.” (1971) I refer to our soggier-than-usual weather, already blogged inventively today by Defective Yeti with an apropos screen grab. No new mudslides here in the west yet (a slide in Everett has been the big headline so far). But the “blue horizon” has indeed appeared — like — WAIT! RIGHT NOW! TO THE SOUTHWEST! I’m bolting for the front steps so I can get a fraction of a ray … later!

Just smile and wave, boys, smile and wave

January 6, 2006 7:22 pm
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 |   Seen around town

That’s what the penguins in “Madagascar” said, anyway. Tonight while I waited to drive up the 1st Avenue South ramp to the westbound WS Bridge, a variation, from a panhandler walking briskly down the driver’s side of the backup — “Even a nod and a smile, even a nod and a smile, even a nod and a smile,” he chanted.

I didn’t process what he was saying quickly enough to consider honoring his request. I used to be a sucker for any poverty pitch, till the day I came off the WS Bridge onto the eastbound 1st Avenue S. ramp and saw the big wad of panhandler signs stuffed into a gap between railings. Something too calculated about it, I realized, and stopped being a sucker.

Hole lotta fun

Breakfast today at Zatz, West Seattle’s only bagel shop. Its bulletin board heralds a milestone passed just last month — 10 years in business! One of the Admiral Junction’s success stories. I wonder sometimes why that part of town has been so slow to gentrify; certainly there are other bright spots such as Metropolitan Market, but otherwise, what a mixed bag. Maybe it’s on track to become our banking district, with the new Bank of America joining Wells Fargo & WaMu, but it’s also the franchisey-est Junction, with Jack in the Box, Baskin Robbins, and (West Seattle’s original!) Starbucks all elbow-to-elbow. Which reminds me, have to find out what they’re going to do with the old gas-station property on the franchise side of the street.

Starving at sea

January 5, 2006 6:32 am
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 |   Transportation

West Seattle ferry riders may not have to return to grumbling-tummyhood after all. Or so says the Vashon Beachcomber.

Glad to hear it; tried one of the Sound Food sandwiches some time back, surprisingly gourmet for cold, pre-packaged fare. (They offered some hot choices too; we just weren’t in the mood for them.) But really, the run is so short (unless you’re on one of the occasional straight-shot-to-Southworth trips), do you need food? If you’re sailing from Seattle, hit the Thriftway deli or Tully’s en route, or the Cat’s Eye Cafe once it reopens. (Speaking of which, the WS Herald just posted the cafe story.)

Don’t drink the water

January 4, 2006 7:13 pm
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 |   Environment

Half a dozen West Seattle elementary schools are on the latest list recommended for new water pipes, along with Denny Middle School & its neighbor, Chief Sealth High. The total project cost is estimated at $11 million plus. I’m wondering, how much is it costing, in the meantime, to provide alternative water sources for our kids? Do we really have to wait for another levy to fix this? Bill Gates is busy throwing money at Third-World health issues; maybe he could give a few centavos to Seattle Public Schools. Oh wait, he did, didn’t he, and regretted it, if I recall correctly …

Cafe mystery solved

January 3, 2006 8:13 pm
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 |   West Seattle news

A local TV station told the story tonight of the “TEMPORARILY CLOSED” sign on the Cat’s Eye Cafe north of Lincoln Park. Seems a car crash is to blame. Hard to tell from the outside, but pictures of the inside made it clear why they’re closed. The woman who runs the cafe told the reporter she’s hoping they’ll reopen in about three weeks. Hope so!

Linked by more than geography

January 2, 2006 6:19 pm
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 |   West Seattle news

This P-I column today tells the heartening story of two West Seattle families with more in common than where they live.

Turns out I know a little something about both families. Anyone who’s been in West Seattle more than a few years will of course recognize the name of Mike Heavey, who had a boffo sign team back in his campaigning days. But it took me a few minutes and a bit of Googling to remember why I recognized the name of John Moe — I’d followed a link once to his blog.

Though she may not have a West Seattle link, the third player in the P-I column is noteworthy too. As we learned back in our early-parenthood days, maternity nurses rock.

Making a difference in the New Year

January 2, 2006 6:47 am
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 |   Seen around town

I’ve walked by these people’s office dozens of times. Didn’t take time to fish online to see what they’re about, till now. I think this is the coolest page on their site. Note how the dropdown breaks it all down by neighborhood. (We won’t hold the Genesee typo against them.)

West Seattle year in review

January 1, 2006 1:02 am
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 |   Seen around town

Happy 2006! Here are some completely random highlights of 2005 on the west side:

*Continuing mallization of Westwood Village: The new wings with Barnes & Noble and Pier 1 opened. The real highlight of B & N: the desserts in its cafe — from Cheesecake Factory. (Get the cheesecake, without the big meal tab! Yee-ha!)

*Death of the monorail: I’m personally puzzled as to why even West Seattle turned against it in the end. Yeah, the folks running it made some mistakes. Ultimately, though, they would have worked it out, and we would have had true mass transit. Take a look at the old trolley photos outside the train store in the Junction; sigh and know we won’t see anything like that again in our lifetimes.

*Monorail property moves: West Seattle Herald takes up a much more visible spot, in the Admiral Junction. I gather they’re bitter about being forced from their old headquarters, but honestly, this is a better place, and might help more locals wake up to the fact that we actually have something resembling a community paper.

*Mondo condos: Wherever zoning permitted, single-family homes came down, and condo/townhouse buildings went up. Most notably, ex-monorail board member Cindi Laws’ old garden house site in Alki. I do miss the morning glories. Runner-up for most notable site, the condo building that’s almost done, just south of Caffe Ladro. I didn’t really believe all that bluster a couple years ago about Trader Joe’s, but nonetheless, this is a bit of a relief.

*SW Community Center improvements: The basketball court is nice, but why couldn’t they have allocated a few bucks to expand the changing facilities for the pool? Check out other city pools and you’ll realize just how pathetically cramped this site is. Well, at least we still have a pool. Two, in fact, when summer arrives and Lowman Pool opens for its mini-season. (Is it May yet? Hurrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeee ….)

*Greg Nickels re-inaugurated: We’re not likely to have such power concentrated here in WS, once he’s gone, unless Dow Constantine decides to go for it (go, Dow, go!). Although I wish he would just make peace with his plus-size body — watched him a few minutes ago on the “New Year’s at the Needle” broadcast telling the anchor-clones he’s hoping to lose weight in ’06. Look, Greggie, we love you just the way you are. Really.

*Speaking of food: My New Year’s resolution is to find out what all the pho fuss is about, now that the Than Brothers have arrived in our part of town.

A neighborhood by any other name

December 31, 2005 5:57 pm
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 |   Seen around town

Did a double-take today, driving south on Fauntleroy just past Fairmount Park, in what we have always known as the Fairmount Park neighborhood. A green and white sign is up on the west side of the street, just past the stoplight south of the school, saying “Welcome to Fairmount Springs … our neighborhood.” Springs? As in, Palm Springs? (with which even Alki Beach would never be confused, and as a desert-hater, we say, damn good thing) Is this some subversive new neighborhood-naming campaign, like whatever in the world gave rise to “West Edge” in the downtown spot by the viaduct’s Seneca offramp?

Pothole Alley, perhaps. But not Fairmount Springs. “Park” sounds classier, in fact.

Coming up later … our West Seattle Year-in-Review. Highly subjective, of course. But bound to be fun!

Remodelers’ row

December 30, 2005 1:36 am
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 |   Development

All along the west side of California Avenue SW as it climbs the shoulder of Gatewood Hill, south of the Morgan Junction urban village, er, business/residential district, the old warbox houses are making way for three-(or so)story reworks. None, though, is quite as mystifying as this one. Price tag: almost a million bucks. OK, we get that, for a view house, but this one is in a spot where sightproofing seems as necessary as soundproofing. It’s a corner lot directly across one street from a busy church and school, and across California from the church annex, including more play space for the kids. To boot, the lot is right at the start of the California climb, right about where buses (and many other vehicles) start to gun their engines to make it up the incline.

We repeat — a million bucks?

Closed eye?

December 29, 2005 1:47 pm
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 |   Seen around town | West Seattle businesses

Passed the Cat’s Eye Cafe north of Lincoln Park this morning — big hurricane-zone-style piece of wood over the door, spray-painted in orange, TEMPORARILY CLOSED. Looked like something more serious than the holiday closures local restaurants engage in. Hope it’s not the same kind of “temporary closure” that bit Chez Million on Alki (formerly The Lighthouse Grill and The Point) before the unmarked butcher paper went up over all the windows …