Update on possible cuts to Queen Anne bus service

More information has been uncovered on the Metro service hour reduction scenario reported on two weeks ago. Under the scenario (.pdf), Route 2N would be eliminated, while the 2 Express would be kept and extended down to Seattle Pacific University and then Nickerson Street. Some of the hours cut from Route 2N would be put on Route 13. In addition, Route 4N would be eliminated, and those hours would be put on Route 3N, which would also extend down to Nickerson. Route 45, which connects Seattle Center with the University District through Queen Anne, would also be eliminated.

The “600,000 Service Hour Reduction Scenario,” as reported two weeks ago, is Metro’s initial look at what a reduction in service hours would look like if cuts had to be made.

“The whole idea of restructure is in this case to reduce the size of the system, be more efficient and not spend as many hours, but still try to provide service that meets the needs of the community,” said King County Metro’s Service Planning Supervisor David Hull. “This is not something that I as a transit planner am looking forward to. We like to see the system grow; we look to put more service on the street to provide quality service to more people … This is a process that is being forced because of our financial situation.”

If the King County Council decides that cuts should be made, there will be a process allowing the public to give feedback on actual service hour reduction proposals, said Hull.

The part of the scenario regarding Queen Anne routes, excluding the change to Route 45, is called “Priority 2,” which is aimed at restructuring service to improve efficiency. This is opposed to the first priority of reducing low productivity services (Route 45), and the lesser priorities of reducing higher‐productivity services and reducing low‐productivity services in all areas identified as underserved. The total cuts from Priority 2 amounts to a 255,000 reduction in hours, of which approximately 6,000 hours will be cut from routes particular to Queen Anne.

“We’re not trying to eliminate access to service [in the Priority 2 cuts], but perhaps requiring folks to change how they use the system… people might need to transfer or might need to walk a bit farther,” said Hull. “The concept is fewer routes going downtown, but they’re at a higher service level, and one thing the national studies show is that people are willing to walk farther to have more frequent service.”

Some Metro riders welcome these changes, like Bruce Nourish, a software engineer who lives downtown and works in Queen Anne.

“This proposal provides much better mobility from Lower Queen Anne, Taylor St, and Downtown to SPU and the north side of Queen Anne,” said Nourish in a comment to the previous story, adding, “Such systems, in general, provide similar mobility at far less cost, or much greater mobility at the same cost. I personally think this change is long overdue.”

Others, like Queen Anne resident and Metro rider Nell Beedle, believe some could have serious trouble with these changes.

“There are, in fact, very steep slopes and in some cases stairways that create physical barriers to access for less able-bodied riders,” said Beedle. “It’s not just about trip times for some folks; it’s also about physically being able to access the route.”

This is something Metro planners and administrators take into consideration, said Hull.

“We’re trying to limit the impacts, but we surely understand that we can’t cut 600,000 hours, almost 20 percent of our system, and not have impacts to current riders,” said Hull. “We understand that not everyone is capable of making a farther walk, that there may be individuals because of a disability or age that can’t make that walk.”

Federal laws require the King County Department of Transportation to factor in disadvantaged populations in their planning, and in the event that a disabled person is unable access public transportation, Metro provides assistance through their MetroAccess Paratransit program, said Hull.

One major factor that can keep these changes from becoming a reality is Senate Bill 5457, or the temporary $20 congestion reduction charge to help fund public transit. The bill was signed by Governor Gregoire on May 16, but it still needs to be passed by the King County Council, who will decide the matter later this summer. According to Queen Anne Community Council member Kirk Robbins at last Wednesday’s transportation committee meeting, two King County Council members have said it’s going to be a unanimous vote to put the $20 dollar charge for bus operations on the ballot in November, passing the matter to King County voters.

“[The bill] is a stopgap measure that would allow King County Metro to avoid reducing 17.5 percent of the system,” said Hull. “Even after taking numerous actions to reduce cost… we’re kind of at a point now that without additional revenue to sustain the system we got to make cuts.”

The measure would collect for about two years before expiring, during which time the state legislature would look for a bigger, more permanent fix to the transit funding problem.

“Without the fee, then these cuts need to happen sooner than later,” said Hull.

National Doughnut Day food drive at Top Pot Friday

This Friday, June 3 is National Doughnut Day (yes, it’s a real thing), started by the Salvation Army back in 1938 to honor women who served doughnuts to World War I soldiers. This year Queen Anne’s own Top Pot Doughnuts has decided to get back to the roots of National Doughnut Day and find a way to use it to give back to those in need in the community.

Top Pot has decided to spread the days’ “doughnut-y cheer” by partnering with Northwest Harvest to run a NDD food drive at all of its locations.

From 6 a.m. to noon on Friday Top Pot will be collecting non-perishable food donations for Northwest Harvest. There will also be a number of fun giveaways at the cafe throughout the day as part of the NDD celebrations.

So get ready to enjoy a good doughnut or two for National Doughnut Day, and don’t forget to bring a donation with you.

John Hay raises $2,900 for disaster relief in Japan

The weekend before last, on Saturday, May 21, John Hay students and parent volunteers put on a rummage sale and bake sale to raise money for disaster relief for victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. That rummage sale turned out to be a huge success, raising a total of $400 from the bake sale portion and $2,500 from the rummage sale.

The school says all proceeds from the rummage/bake sale will go directly to people in need in Japan, while any left-over items not sold at the event will go toward helping needy families here in the Seattle area.

Stolen car involved in hit & run with 9-year-old girl

Two suspects driving a stolen vehicle hit a 9-year-old girl on Dexter Avenue and Denny Way in a hit and run collision yesterday, Monday, May 30.

At approximately 5:08 p.m. Monday a Seattle Police Department officer on patrol near 5th Avenue and Broad Street observed a green 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser speeding through the area, according to the SPD Blotter report.

The officer began following the suspect while running the vehicle’s license plate, verifying that the suspect vehicle had in fact been stolen. The officer then called in for additional backup to help him conduct a high-risk traffic stop. The officer attempted to pull over the suspect in the 200 block of Blanchard Street, at which point the suspect failed to yield and began disregarding traffic control signals. At this point a SPD supervisor ordered the pursuit to be terminated. From the SPD Blotter:

Some time later the officer called out over his police radio that the suspect had run over a child near the intersection of Dexter Avenue and Denny Way.

The officer stopped to render assistance to the nine-year-old girl and called for medics. SFD medics responded to the scene and subsequently transported the victim to Harborview Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

Preliminary investigation indicates that the suspect entered the intersection of Dexter Avenue and Denny Way at speed from the south. The suspect attempted to turn east onto Denny Way however, he drove across the double-yellow centerline and both westbound traffic lanes of Denny Way and onto the north side sidewalk of Denny Way. The suspect struck a tree and then struck a nine-year-old girl who was walking down the sidewalk with her mother.

The suspect failed to stop and render aid and continued driving into Denny Park. The suspect drove through a grassy area of the park and back out onto the street at the east end of the park, continuing in an unknown direction.

SPD officers conducted an area search, locating the suspect vehicle, which was unoccupied at the time, near Mercer Street and Yale Avenue. The vehicle was impounded and taken in for examination by SPD Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) detectives. Neither the suspect nor front-seat passenger, both believed to be males, were found. No other people or vehicles were involved in the collision.

SPD’s Traffic Collision Investigation Squad detectives are continuing an active investigation and are asking anyone with information about this incident, or knowledge of the identity or whereabouts of the suspect and/or passenger, to call into SPD and refer to this incident. SPD says anonymous tips are welcome.

Queen Anne clinic donates 600 lbs of food

The local Queen Anne Medical Weight Loss donated 600 pounds of food to the Ballard Food Bank on Thursday, May 26, in honor of the first 600 pounds lost by clinic clients. And according to the Ballard Food Bank executive director Nancy McKinney, the bulk donation came a time when it was very much needed – donations typically come in during the holiday season and taper off after, “But food is always needed by people in our neighborhood. And it’s been a particularly difficult year,” Nancy says.

“The food drive was a win-win project,” QAMQL program director Brian Grev said in a press release. “We got the idea from one of our patients who collected 100 pounds of food from friends and neighbors to celebrate her considerable success – now over 100 pounds lost.”

Learn more about Queen Anne Medical Weight Loss, a division of Queen Anne Medical Associates, PLLC., at its website.

Wink bought out by PinkaBella Cupcakes

Things are going to be changing at Queen Anne’s Wink Cupcakes over the next few weeks. The cupcake shop, which opened up on the hill last year in January 2010, has been bought by another local cupcake chain–PinkaBella Cupcakes.

Last week PinkaBella posted the following notice about the cupcake merger on its Facebook page:

Wink Cupcakes and Pinkabella sitting in a tree.. YEP were married… Wink in Seattle is now Pinkabella cupcakes, A great Queen Anne location to serve you on the Seattle side… We will be transitioning over the next few weeks! Come see us and stay tuned for a Grand Re-open… until then Business as usual!

Wink officially transitioned over to serving PinkaBella cupcakes on Thursday. Wink became PinkaBella’s fourth location in the area. The other locations are in Redmond Town Center, Bellevue Square and the Alderwood Mall. PinkaBella posted the following note to Wink customers on its website:

If you were a Wink Cupcakes customer we look forward to serving you. Be sure to check out our Flavors and Pricing page. If you want to place an order be sure to visit our order page. (Please take a few minutes and review our guidelines for placing online orders as they do differ from Wink Cupcakes.)

We’ve reached out to Wink’s manager about the change, and will update this story with any additional information.

40th Annual NW Folklife Festival kicks off today

It’s Memorial Day weekend, which for many Seattleites is synonymous with the city’s annual Northwest Folklife Festival, now in full swing at Seattle Center.

The festival, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, chose to have a Bulgarian theme for the 2011 festival, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find all of your favorite cultural, ethnic, musical and artistic events, alongside a few new ones. One of the elements new to the festival this year is the “Indie Roots” stage, which according to The Seattle Times, intends to highlight “kinship between traditional folk music and Seattle’s burgeoning “neo-folk” indie movement”.

Also new to the festival this year: a Living Green Courtyard, located in the Alki Court on the northeast corner of Seattle Center. For more information watch the following news clip about the garden:

The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday. Check out  The Seattle Times lineup preview here. The full festival schedule can be found at the Folklife festival website here.

Parking is always packed around the festival, so it’s recommended to carpool or take public transportation when possible. Metro will be offering cash-only shuttle service to and from the festival on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Other routes will operate on holiday schedules on Sunday and Monday. More information on the Folklife shuttle here.

Stop Requested film shooting in Queen Anne today

Crews are working on film Stop Requested, described as a a metaphysical thriller, have set up shop in Queen Anne, shooting at 2912 3rd Ave N for most of the day today, according to the film’s PR contact Rose Gunson. The film is being made by local production company Abundant Productions.

Check out this video about the film, or read the synopsis below.

Stop Requested from Lorraine Montez on Vimeo.

From the Stop Requested website:

The ride of your life starts now

Stop Requested is a metaphysical suspense thriller. Jess has problems. Haunted by her past and sensitivity to the spiritual realm that she attempts to silence with prescription drugs, she is paralyzed by the mere thought of human contact. Enter Benjamin, an intense, unusual individual who invades Jess’s life with the claim that he is there to help her help herself, and he won’t leave until she does. As Jess experiences more and more intense manifestations of her spiritual gifts (who is singing a hymn in her shower at 3:33 a.m.?) we begin to realize that her fate places her squarely in the middle of an age old debate between Order and Chaos, and that the battle for souls must play itself out in the lives of seemingly ordinary people.

The film is currently fundraising to cover the costs of pre- and post-production through online funding platform IndieGoGo.com. They hope to raise a total of $20,000 ($13,000 for pre-production and $7,000 for post). You can read about how these funds will be used, or make a donation here.

Two recent car prowls reported in Interbay area

Car prowls are not an uncommon occurrence for Queen Anne-ers, but one reader, Kevin Smith, has noticed an uptick in incidents in the Interbay area recently. He writes:
Last week, my work truck was broken in to, the back door lock and latch was completely destroyed. Nothing was stolen, no tools, ladders, nothing. I think the prowlers were after spooled wire. Coming out to my truck this morning, I saw that another vehicle was broken in to. This time, it was a Chevy HHR work vehicle, belonging to a security (construction) company. I can only assume that they were after wire also with this break in, but I didn’t go close enough to the rig to see inside.
Kevin says both prowls happened on 14th Ave W, right next to Gilman Drive W. And according to the Seattle Police Department’s neighborhood crime map, in the last week alone there have been four reported care thefts, and another four prowls in the Queen Anne area. Remember to keep an eye out for suspicious activity in the neighborhood to help prevent you and your neighbors from becoming a prowl target.

Bartell Drugs will ‘Stock the Pantry’ to feed kids

Summertime means that kids who depend on free school meals might not have access to food. Bartell Drugs is turning to the community to help “Stock the Pantry” to feed kids. The third annual food drive starts Monday at all Bartell Drugs locations, including the two in the neighborhood, at 1929 Queen Anne Ave N and 600 1st Ave N.

The two-week drive “focuses on replenishing food bank, meal program and school food stocks in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties during summer months–when families that normally depend on free or reduced-price school meals may struggle to provide healthy meals at home,” the press release states.

Food donations benefit Northwest Harvest. “In 2010, over 450,000 children (almost half of all students) across the state were eligible for free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch during the school year,” said Shelley Rotondo, executive director of Northwest Harvest. “Of those children, only nine-percent participated in a summer meal program last year due in part to transportation issues, the availability of feeding sites, and other factors. This really highlights the need for a summer food drive that benefits children.”