A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods

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Greenwood business owners, residents, ask SPD about recent surge in burglaries

February 5th, 2016 by Doree

About 40 Greenwood business owners and residents filled the back of Couth Buzzard Books Thursday night to hear Seattle Police representatives talk about the recent surge in burglaries. Couth Buzzard owner Theo Dzielak organized the meeting after his store was broken into for the second time in two months.

“Besides the expense, it’s emotional,” he said. “Some of us here tonight are business owners, some of us are residents, so we can share stories and ask questions.”

SPD Crime Prevention Coordinator Terrie Johnston listens as Greenwood residents talk about being burglarized.

SPD Crime Prevention Coordinator Terrie Johnston listens as Greenwood residents talk about being burglarized.

Seattle Police Crime Prevention Coordinator Terrie Johnston acknowledged the spike in Greenwood burglaries this year and especially in December, which had 10 of the year’s 59 non-residential burglaries. Johnston used to be the Crime Prevention Coordinator for the North Precinct, but was transferred downtown. The North Precinct finally has a new CPC, Mary Amberg, who was just hired and is still in training. (She attended the meeting but didn’t speak.)

In trying to describe the numerous burglaries and reasons for them, Johnston said there isn’t any one root cause, but many, including drugs and construction in the area. She said there’s enough variety in the modus operandi of the burglars – time of day, items taken, how brazen — that police don’t believe it’s just one or two people. And very little evidence has been left behind.

“There’s a lot of construction going on. It’s not unusual for crime to go up when there’s a lot of construction in the neighborhood,” she said, explaining that burglars may have easy access to tools left out and can use them to pry open a door, window or skylight; or ladders or scaffolding to climb onto a roof; or even chunks of concrete that can be thrown through a window, which is what happened at Couth Buzzard in November. She also said construction workers may accidentally leave a door unlocked at the end of the day, giving thieves an easy way in. And sometimes the mere presence of a lot of construction workers around a certain building means neighbors don’t pay as much attention to other people they don’t recognize at different hours.

Rachael Coyle, owner of Coyle’s Bakeshop just a few doors south of Couth Buzzard, said someone used a pickaxe to break through her back door in December. Now she’s boarded up the back door to be unusable and doesn’t anticipate ever opening it back up.

Johnston said one of the problems is that many of the mom-and-pop businesses in the neighborhood don’t have good enough locks or lighting or alarm systems. She called many businesses’ locks “vintage” and said one business that was hit even kept money in a shoe box. (Although keeping cash in a safe is not a sure deterrent, as Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe owner Chris Maykut discovered when surveillance video from a neighboring business showed thieves spending two hours struggling to get his 300-pound safe out of the business and into a car.) She also said many neighborhood businesses hit by thieves either didn’t have alarms or cameras or they weren’t working at the time of the burglaries.

Mary Harris, owner of The Fiber Gallery, talks about the recent burglary of her store.

Mary Harris, owner of The Fiber Gallery, talks about the recent burglary of her store.

Any business or resident can call SPD for a safety check of their building or home. “We’d rather work with you on the front end to prevent it than come in on the back end after,” she said.

One man said the alley behind his home near 85th and Greenwood is like an open-air drug market. “I walk in on it. There’s a line of guys selling heroin,” he said. “There’s no shame there.” Johnston said to call 911 report narcotic activity, even if it will be over by the time an officer arrives, because they could prevent future drug deals. “We need evidence and we need good witnesses and 911 calls when it’s happening,” she said. And take a hard look at the alley and see why it’s attractive to criminals – could lighting be installed or cameras or something done to open up the view to passersby.

Johnston said SPD is severely understaffed, although they are in the process of hiring 100 new officers. She said Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole was shocked when she first arrived from Boston because the cities are a similar size but Seattle had 1,000 fewer officers than Boston.

One man said his car has been prowled several times and packages stolen off his porch, but every time he calls the police “I’ve been met with apathy. It doesn’t seem like the city is doing anything, it doesn’t seem like the city is responding to this problem.”

Johnston said, “If you get bad service, there’s so many ways to follow up on a bad call taker, on officers, we have so many ways you can bring that to somebody’s attention and get that called out. We don’t want an apathetic call taker.”

Johnston said residents and businesses need to let SPD know exactly what the neighborhood needs, whether that’s increased patrols at certain hours, bike patrols, foot patrols, etc. She said Capt. Sean O’Donnell of the North Precinct is responsible for that kind of staffing. She also said she’d rather people call 911 than the non-emergency line or using online reports if there is any question that a crime is currently being committed or was recently committed.

As far as what businesses can do to try to prevent break-ins:

  • Heavy-duty locks, preferably double cylinder deadbolts.
  • Better door hardware, especially very long screws.
  • Stronger windows.
  • Better lighting, especially in dark alleys.
  • Have your address prominently displayed on the alley side as well as the front, which makes it easier for police to get to the right building.
  • Have an audible alarm; thieves are more likely to run if a loud alarm goes off.
  • Clear out any debris in alley that could be used to break a window or door, or used as a ladder to the roof, such as pallets.
  • Re-key all doors after an employee leaves your employ, even on good terms.
  • Don’t leave any business keys out where someone can grab them easily, and don’t label them so thieves know exactly which door they go to.
  • Keep a minimum amount of cash on hand; keep the cash register open with no cash in it at night, and be sure to prominently place a sign that says limited cash kept on premises.
  • Don’t have too many signs and other clutter in your windows; keep a clean line of sight for passersby to see in and notice something amiss.
  • Install a chime or bell on your doors to alert you when someone comes in.
  • Keep the number for 911 by the phone, especially if you have to dial 9 to get an outside line. “You’d be surprised how many people forget the number for 911 when there’s an emergency,” Johnston said.
  • Get to know neighboring businesses and their hours of operation so you’ll notice someone who isn’t supposed to be there.

“We still believe in block watch. Watchful neighbors are still your best protection,” Johnston said. “I want Greenwood to be tight and educated and empowered

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First phase of Aurora Avenue road work ends more than a week early, median lanes to reopen today

February 5th, 2016 by Doree

Washington State Department of Transportation crews finished the first phase of signage work more than a week early and will reopen the median lanes in both directions by early afternoon today. The southbound bus-only lane will also reopen, except at Comstock Street.

Phase two of the work to build foundations for the signs that will direct drivers to the future SR 99 tunnel will start at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8. This second phase will require a one-block closure of the southbound right lane near Comstock Street while crews construct the final sign foundation near Comstock Street. Buses will merge into the general purpose lane at this location. This should last two to three weeks.

Since buses will merge into the general-purpose lanes for one block during the next phase of work, there may be some backups.

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Movie, concerts, elder pride workshop in Phinney-Greenwood this weekend

February 5th, 2016 by Doree

Here are a few events happening in Greenwood and Phinney Ridge this weekend. Check our Events calendar any time for more.

Elder Pride Workshop Series from 1-3 p.m. Friday at the Greenwood Senior Center, 525 N. 85th St.

First Friday Film Series, “After the Wedding,” from 1-3 p.m. Friday at the Greenwood Senior Center.

Seattle Folklore Society presents The Debutones at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Phinney Neighborhood Center, 6532 Phinney Ave. N., in the Brick Building. Tickets in advance are $16 general, $14 SFS/PNA members, seniors and students; kids half price (all are $2 more at the door).

Drawing from the traditions of folk, country, and bluegrass, The Debutones play little-known gems that tell compelling stories and weave beautiful melodies. The ‘Tones’ love and command of the music they play comes through in every song, delivered with their signature harmonies and stellar instrumentals.

Couth Buzzard Books, 8310 Greenwood Ave. N., presents Stacey Israel & Yogi McCaw Jazz Quartet at 7:30 p.m. Friday; Celtic Jam at 11 a.m. Saturday; Songwriters in Seattle Showcase at 7:30 p.m. Saturday; Choro Music Open Jam hosted by Stuart Zobel at 2 p.m. Sunday; and First Sundays Blues Open Jam Session at 7 p.m. Sunday.

(Stand-Up Style) Comedy Showcase at 7 p.m. Sunday at Naked City Brewery, 8564 Greenwood Ave. N.

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SPD: Phinney resident injures burglar by hitting him in the head with fists and garden shears

February 4th, 2016 by Doree

From the SPD Blotter:

A 30-year-old burglar was injured Sunday after a Phinney Ridge man caught him breaking into his home and proceeded to beat him about the head with his fists and a pair of garden shears.

The resident called 911 around 3:30 PM after he saw the burglar pull up on his street in the 6200 block of 4th Ave NW in a Toyota, force his way into the victim’s garage, and then make a beeline for his home.

As the victim was on the phone with 911 dispatchers he heard the suspect knocking on his front door, followed by the sound of glass breaking.

The resident stayed on the phone with dispatchers as he went to his front door and walked outside to look for the suspect. When he didn’t find him, he turned back around, walked into his home, and found the suspect in his kitchen, holding a pair of garden shears.

The victim leapt at the suspect, snatched the shears from his hands, and began beating the burglar over the head with the tool and his fists as he chased him out the back door of the home.

As the homeowner rushed after the burglar, the suspect jumped on the victim’s girlfriend’s bike, which he had removed from the garage.

The suspect ignored the victim’s orders to get off the bike, and instead rode away down the street.
Officers caught up to the suspect four blocks away and took him into custody.

The victim told police he believed he had injured his hand during the incident–presumably from striking the suspect in the head–but did not require treatment at the scene.

The suspect complained of head injuries and was treated at the scene by medics before officers booked him into the King County Jail for investigation of burglary.

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Women’s Self Defense Seminar at Emerald City Karate on Feb. 20

February 4th, 2016 by Doree

Emerald City Karate is putting on a Women’s Self-Defense Seminar from 2-3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 8314 Greenwood Ave. N. Cost is $10 or free with three cans of food to donate to the needy. Registration is limited to 20 people. Call 206-437-3932.

Feel the power of having the confidence to protect yourself in real life self-defense situations through this practical hands on seminar in a safe and supportive environment. We’ll go beyond just education and teach ‘Down to Earth’ techniques to keep you and your family safe.

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Hazel Salon collecting supplies for Hammond House women’s shelter in Greenwood

February 4th, 2016 by Doree

Hazel Salon and Organics, 5817 Phinney Ave. N., is collecting supplies this month for the new Hammond House Homeless Shelter at Woodland Park United Methodist Church at Greenwood Avenue and North 78th Street.

Bring in towels, socks, shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc., and Hazel Salon will give you 10 percent off any salon products.

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News roundup: PNA job, Neighbor Appreciation Day, volunteer drivers needed, Planning Commission needs new members, Shakespeare’s First Folio at Central Library

February 4th, 2016 by Doree

A roundup of various neighborhood and city news:

The Phinney Neighborhood Association is looking for an Office Manager, who reports to the Deputy Director and supervises a team of four part-time reception staff and a handful of substitutes. Click here for a PDF of the full job posting.

Neighbor Appreciation Day is Saturday, Feb. 13. Residents, community groups and businesses across the city are encouraged to celebrate good neighbors and everyone who makes our neighborhood a good place to live. Neighbors are encouraged to plan a block party, work party or potluck or other kind of neighborly event. There are many community activities at fire stations, community centers and pools. Check the website for more info on activities throughout the city.

Sound Generations (formerly Senior Services) needs volunteer drivers to take senior citizens to medical appointments. Volunteers use their own car and choose the days, times and areas in which they wish to drive. Call 206-748-7588 or email hilaryc@soundgenerations.org for more information.

The Central Library is hosting an exhibit of Shakespeare’s First Folio, from March 21-April 17. Considered one of the world’s most treasured books, the 1623 folio contains the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, published seven years after his death. The First Folio contains 36 plays, 18 of which would otherwise have been lost, including “Macbeth,” “Julius Caesar,” “Twelfth Night,” “The Tempest,” “Antony and Cleopatra,” “The Comedy of Errors” and “As You Like It.” The First Folio will be on display during regular library hours in the Level 8 Gallery. Visitors are encouraged to reserve a free ticket in advance; timed admission runs every 30 minutes. A limited number of drop-in tickets will be available at the library each day.

The City of Seattle is looking for candidates to serve on the Seattle Planning Commission beginning in April. The 16-member commission advises the Mayor, City Council, and City departments on citywide planning goals, policies and plans, and provides them with independent and objective advice on land-use and zoning, transportation and housing issues. Three three-year positions are currently open. Members are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council. To apply, send a letter of interest and resume to: Vanessa Murdock, Executive Director, Seattle Planning Commission, City of Seattle, Office of Planning and Community Development, PO Box 34019, Seattle WA 98124-4019; or email to Vanessa.Murdock@Seattle.gov.

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4 Greenwood-Phinney breweries participating in Washington Beer Commission’s Brewery Open House Day on Feb. 20

February 4th, 2016 by Doree

Stop by neighborhood breweries on Saturday, Feb. 20, as part of Washington Beer Commission’s statewide Brewery Open House Day. You can get a tour, meet the brewmasters and sample the beers.

Participating breweries in our neighborhood include Bluebird Brewing (the nano brewery inside Bluebird Microcreamery; you’ll also see how they make their sodas) at 7400 Greenwood Ave. N.; Lantern Brewing at 938 N. 95th St.; Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery at 8570 Greenwood Ave. N.; and Naked City Brewery and Taproom at 8564 Greenwood Ave. N.

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Reminder: Community meeting on burglaries with SPD Crime Prevention Team at Couth Buzzard Thursday night

February 3rd, 2016 by Doree

This is a reminder that Couth Buzzard Books, which has been burglarized twice in the last two months, has organized a community meeting with Seattle Police Department representatives at 7 p.m. Thursday at the bookstore at 8310 Greenwood Ave. N.

SPD’s Crime Prevention Team will talk about a recent surge of burglaries of both homes and businesses and how everyone can try to reduce crime.

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