Friday, November 17, 2017

All About Western Grebes At Union Bay

Here is a recent post from the Union Bay Watch Blog published by Larry Hubbell, long-time local photographer and birder. 

Here also is an in-depth article about Larry and his work.

Elegant Assassins
The sharp precision of the bill, the laser-like focus of the eyes and the long, thin neck give western grebes the appearance of elegant assassins. In the fall, when these grebes return to Union Bay our local fish should be scared. 

I find it hard to imagine more elegant creatures. The evenly distributed dark and light coloring, off set by the bright eyes and the yellow bill, provide a salve for our souls during the dark days of fall and winter.

Surprisingly, when a western grebe looks you in the eye its, elegance evaporates. The full frontal view seems to amplify their intensity. Perhaps this fearless stare inspired the phrase, 'If looks could kill...'

On the other hand, when they relax and paddle in silent circles they look like little toy boats, and it can be very hard to imagine their deadly intentions for aquatic life.

When they stand up in the water, to flap their wings and dry off a bit, you can see how the coloring of their bodies is evenly divided. They are dark above and light below.

When viewed from below, their white bellies must help them blend in with the sky. Their dark backs help make them less obvious, when seen from above. This type of countershading can also be referred to as Thayer's Law. You can read more about Thayer and his life's work by Clicking Here.

Their wings appear to have a similar distribution of color.

With their feet attached at the rear of their bodies, they can not only stand up in the water, but they can also roll their bodies sideways while paddling about. This 90 degree turn puts the grebe's belly on one side and its back on the other while their head and neck remain vertical.

This is particularly handy when preening and cleaning feathers which are normally positioned below the waterline.

It can also be helpful when attempting to scratch the back of the head. It looks like every inch of the long neck is required for this endeavor.

I am guessing this grebe has finished resting and is stretching its mouth before resuming its feeding activities.

This assumption was reinforced when the bird's next immediate action was to stretch its neck and wings.

Catching a grebe in the process of diving is quite a challenge. Normally, by the time I am aware that they are beginning to dive, they are gone, leaving only a gentle ripple on the surface of the water.

When they come up from a dive they sometimes rid themselves of excess water by shaking like a dog. I must admit that in the case of a canine, the ears flapping from side to side adds a certain element humor. The elegant grebes apparently have no use for humor, or large flapping ears.

Even though western grebes are generally found in groups, or colonies, they do require a certain amount of elbow room. This bird is coiling its neck and preparing to chase off, or strike out at a bird which has encroached on its personal space.

I have yet to see another bird with the courage to stand and fight when faced with the sharp, spear-like bill of an irritated western grebe.

I felt like I could almost hear this coot saying, 'Run, run as fast as you can...'

' can't catch me I'm the gingerbread man!'

In the past I have only seen from one to three grebes at a time on Union Bay. In October, I was excited to see eight of them swimming near the shell house. Yesterday I spoke with Ingrid, who has seen as many as ten this fall. My friend Andy Jacobson, from my Master Birder class, mentioned that over 300 have been seen at Magnuson Park this weekend. I certainly hope this means their wintering numbers are increasing in the Seattle area. 

All About Birds states that western grebes are particularly sensitive to pesticides. If you find these birds as beautiful and elegant as I do, you can help increase their odds of survival by utilizing organic or mechanical methods of pest control.

Have a great day on Union Bay...where nature lives in the city!

Laurelhurst Blog Staff On Vacation Next Week

The Laurelhurst Blog staff will be on vacation next week and will resume posting on November 27th, 2017.

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sixth Annual Neighborhood Thanksgiving Turkey Trot Fundraiser

The 6th Annual Laurelhurst Turkey Trot, open to all ages, is happening on Thanksgiving Day. Participants should meet at 8:45am at the NE 45th Street overpass. Last year over 300 neighbors participated.

The information says:

Join your family  friends and neighbors for a very casual and informal 5K Fun Run/Walk that zig zags through Laurelhurst following a course map given at the start.   
Bring your family, dog, or pet turkey and be prepared to burn some calories and have good time before the Thanksgiving stuffing.  

We are collecting donations of non perishable food for the University Food Bank or cash/check donations.

We are looking for volunteers! If you do not want to do the Turkey Trot, but interested in volunteering to help coordinate or direct traffic, please contact Brian Larson at 206-681-0826, or e-mail at
Katie, a Laurelhurst native, said she got the idea for a Turkey Trot from when she lived in Glen Ellyn, a small town, outside of Chicago for a few years before returning to the neighborhood. The town has of local events, including their Annual Turkey Trot.

And six years ago, Kate's husband, Brian, suggested they host a fun run, which they mirrored after the Glen Ellyn event. One hundred neighbors showed up for the walk also filled an SUV full of food donations for the Food Bank.

Saturday Union Bay Natural Area Bird Walk

The Seattle Audubon Society is having a bird walk from 9-11am on Saturday at the Union Bay Natural Area, led by Julia Hansbrough and Jill Ericsson .

Participants are to meet at the Center for Urban Horticulture in the East parking lot off NE 41st Street, E-1, near the greenhouse.

Go here for more information. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Neighbor Reports Vehicles Blocking Alleys, Prohibited In Seattle Municipal Code

The Laurelhurst Blog received this information from a neighbor about blocking driveways:
I'm a resident on the 3800 block of 42nd Avenue NE.  For those of you having contractors or other delivery people using the alleys, please have them keep a person immediately nearby to move their vehicle.  
There have now been multiple times where the alley has been blocked on both ends, with no one near the vehicles.  This has forced us to be late picking up our kids at school.

Seattle City Municipal Codes states on loading and blocking alleys:

Section 11.72.025No person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle within an alley in such a position as to block the driveway entrance to any abutting property.” (RCW 46.90.433(2)

Section 11.72.020No person shall stand or park a vehicle except a commercial vehicle, a vehicle displaying a valid commercial loading permit, or authorized emergency vehicle in an alley.”
Section 11.74.010No person shall stop, stand or park a commercial vehicle or a vehicle displaying a valid commercial loading permit in any alley for any purpose or length of time other than the expeditious unloading and delivery or pickup and loading of property and then in no case shall such parking for loading and unloading of property exceed thirty (30) minutes.

For more information on Seattle Municipal Codes go here

Learn About Leaving A Legacy Monday At NEST Cafe

North East Seattle Together

NEST (Northeast Seattle Together), which supports Northeast Seattle elder neighbors through a network of volunteers and vendors, is holding its monthly NEST Cafe Series on Monday at 2pm on the topic "They Don’t Want Your Stuff, They Want Your Stories!" at the Magnuson Park Brig.

The information says:
What legacy will you leave with your family and friends? Will it be the things of your life – your grandmother’s antique desk, your wedding china and silver, the money you set aside for your grandchildren’s education? Or will it be the stories of your life – lessons learned over a lifetime, and the messages of love and appreciation to those most dear to you? Too often we focus only on the objects and financial aspects of our legacy and neglect the preservation of our stories and the wisdom gained from our life experiences. 
Join Eva Dougherty, owner of Smooth Transitions of Seattle, and Kathy Englert, owner of Your Story Unfolded, as they discuss the concept of legacy and share the surprising results of studies in this area. They’ll help answer the question “What do I do with all my stuff?” and provide strategies for preserving items with financial and sentimental value. 
They’ll also provide you with a variety of ideas for capturing and preserving the important stories and lessons of your life. During the presentation, you’ll pair up with another attendee and share your own stories. 
Think about an object you own that has a great story associated with it. If your object is relatively small, please bring it with you. 

NEST is a non-profit grassroots operation serving NE Seattle seniors by creating a "virtual village" to helping them be able to stay in their own homes and neighborhoods they love. Volunteers provide companionship, care, as well as help seniors with a wide range of services, including gardening, computer help and more. to seniors aging in their homes. Ongoing classes (fitness, etc) are also offered, as well as access to events, transportation services, and various services (such as estate planners) who provide their services at a discount to members.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

October Neighborhood Crime Reports: Private Security Patrol And Seattle Police Department

The October Neighborhood Private Security Patrol activity report and Seattle Police Department crime report are listed below for Laurelhurst. 

provided by the Laurelhurst Community Club, (subscribe here)

19 patrols
Backedup on House Alarm response
Removed teens from park
Removed two cars of teens from park
Removed teens from park

Neighborhood Seattle Police Department Report:

10/1    11:02pm   4100 block of 43rd Avenue NE

10/9   9:15am   4400 block of 52nd Avenue NE

10/9  1:36am   4800 block of NE 42nd Street

10/11    9:48am 4500 block of NE 41st Street

10/11   2:07pm  4100 block of 42nd Avenue NE

10/13   9:39am   4000 block of NE 41st Street

10/15 12:46am  4100 block of 36th Avenue NE

10/17   1:54am   3800 block of 42nd Avenue NE

10/28  11:13am   5300 block of NE 42nd Street

10/30    6:42pm  4100 block of 43rd Avenue NE

10/31   4:26pm   4200 block of 55th Avenue NE

Nightime Storytime Theme At Center For Urban Horticulture Saturday


Miller Library, located in Laurelhurst at the UW Botanic Gardens (3501 NE 41st Street), is holding it's monthly story time on Saturday with the theme "A Morning of Stories about Nighttime" from 10:30-11:15am.

The information says:

What sorts of adventures can arise on a dark and stormy night? This morning's three tales will send you on a journey in time and space. After the stories, come to the program room for an art project

Books to be read are:

TWO BAD ANTS by Chris Van Allsburg
THE NIGHT GARDENER by the Fan Brothers

Story time is geared towards children ages 3 to 8 and celebrate gardens, plants and nature. All ages and their families are invited. 

For more information go here. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Tonight Public Invited To Aegis Assisted Living/Memory Care Early Design Guidance Meeting

Design Proposal Image

The public is invited tonight at 6:30pm to the  Aegis Assisted Living/Memory Care Early Design Guidance Meeting held by the City's Northeast Design Review Board. The meeting will be held in Room 202 at the Good Shepherd Center (4649 Sunnyside Avenue North.)

Aegis is to be located at 3200 NE 45th Street, at Five Corners, where Baskin Robbins previously was located. 

Project # 3025056, proposes a six-story assisted living building with street level retail, parking for 65 vehicles below grade. 

The Laurelhurst Community Club reported that at the first EDG (Early Design Guidance) meeting, the Board asked Aegis to return after further exploring the potential for visual connection to the Burke Gilman Trail and its residents, as well as further refine the open space area in front of the building to make it more level along the street frontage, which will be addressed at tonight's meeting. 

Three "massing concepts" in the design proposal were submitted and the third one has been "tentatively approved at EDG" (shown above). It provides less light for north facing memory care center, but provides south facing open space along NE 45th Street, a terrace adjacent to the Burke-Gilman trail, "breaks up the bulky facade along NE 45th Street" and provides corner/commercial retail frontage.

Here is information LCC recently published:

Update on Aegis Five Corners Plans

Aegis Senior Communities recently presented preliminary plans to build out a large assisted living and memory care facility at the triangular lot at the five corners intersection of NE 45th Street and NE 45th Place.
Because the location of the project will have direct impacts on the neighborhood, LCC has requested it be an official party of record in the permitting process for Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) and transportation planning impacts with SDOT. 
Bryon Ziegler, Aegis Director of Development and Entitlements, recently reported that, in response to LCC’s earlier requests, they have refined their design to connect better visually with the Burke-Gilman Trail and to level the open space plaza area at the street frontage. The group showed plans and revised concepts for the architectural character during LCC’s October 9 meeting. 
Ziegler also said they have leased the former Baskin Robbins store to a medical supply company for about 18 months prior to construction of their new facility. An occupied space will help deter problem graffiti, which they have been cleaning up regularly.  
Aegis also contacted the Benton family, owners of the historic clock on site, and agreed to a purchase price. Ziegler writes, “Our intent is to purchase the clock, remove it from site during construction and have it professionally refurbished, then place it back in a more appropriate location in the new open space plaza.” 
LCC supports the addition of a senior care facility in Northeast Seattle and submitted comments to SDCI on the proposed build out of the structure , driveway, and gardens. 
LCC is very supportive of the second massing alternative as it offers a good pedestrian experience and appears to be more of a “gateway” building at the Five Corners location, making it a more significant entrance to the Bryant and Laurelhurst neighborhoods. The building tucks into the hillside and creates a multi-level structure, which is much more interesting than a box shape.  
The distinct indentation of the residents’ garden along NE 45 Street offers a park like setting to pedestrians and nearby residents looking south and west. The larger, south-facing plaza and gardens offer longer exposure to much needed natural sunlight for its residents. The garden edge on the northern part of the parcel would provide an improved, tree-lined experience along the Burke-Gilman Trail for that short segment. 
Aegis should consider the opportunity to utilize its rooftop for a residents’ community garden or an additional garden that gives residents a safe space away from the pollution and noise of the street traffic. A green roof could soften the harsh visual impact of such a massive industrial rooftop at this five-way focal-point intersection. Its rooftop location might benefit from the installation of discreet solar panels to generate alternative energy as well. 
The preliminary architectural design for this Aegislocation appears to borrow features from both the historic Tudor and Craftsman styles found in the adjacent Bryant and Laurelhurst neighborhoods. LCC strongly encourages quality and compatibility with the neighborhood in determining the overarching style of the new facility. LCC requests that SDCI require samples of proposed building materials and a more fully developed design from Aegis Senior Communities LLC before permit approval. This would include exterior facades, window types, paint colors, and lighting as key design components. 
Because senior living facilities are very labor intensive, underground parking shown in all of the alternatives is essential. The underground parking places shown in the alternatives look impossible to use, however. They appear to offer little or no room to back up or exit. It may not be possible to park as many cars as shown within the footprint on the drawings. LCC requests a more detailed drawing of the parking stalls and circulation be submitted to SDCI and SDOT before their permit approval. 
The Five Corners intersection is one of the busiest in Seattle, and the busiest in Northeast Seattle. When the red-light cameras were operative at that intersection for several years, the City of Seattle reported that it had the highest number of infractions recorded and fined. Therefore, it is critical that the driveway proposed along NE 45th Place is far enough away from that intersection to avoid backups and potential collisions.  
In addition, trees and vegetation along both NE 45th Street and NE 45th Place should be set back or low enough to maintain safe sight lines for oncoming traffic and pedestrian crossings. There is a proposed island which may (or may not) be useful, but open sight lines are very important. 
Aegis together with the Bryant and Laurelhurst neighborhoods could lobby the State Legislature to amend the four-corner maximum statute on red light cameras to include five-ways. This would help prevent the rampant red-light running, avoid collisions, and protect pedestrians as well as occupants of other vehicles in the intersection. 
LCC is supportive of this type of facility, and wants to contribute as a party of record to make it a good fit and a successful addition to the neighborhood. 

Permits (3025007, 3025056) have been submitted to the City's SDCI (Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections).  The demolition permit includes "two existing one level buildings" the building to the north of Baskin-Robbins up to Bakker Dry Cleaning. The addresses are 3200-3212 NE 45th Street and 3201-3209 NE 45th Place. 

The new facility would have 116 units and would be five levels over a parking garage with 2500 square feet of retail on the first floor which would house a salon and cafe, according to the design proposal submitted in July 2016.

The new facility would have 116 units and would be five levels over a parking garage with 2500 square feet of retail on the first floor which would house a salon and cafe, according to the design proposal submitted in July 2016.

Bryon Ziegler, Director of Development and Entitlements for Áegis Senior Communities, told the Laurelhurst Blog Staff in March, that "other possibilities include an ice cream bar, community room, outdoor plaza and salon."

Bryon said that they are anticipating permits in late 2019 and the construction period is likely 20-24 months with the first resident move-in’s the fall of 2021. Aegis anticipates approximately 80% of the residents will come from the local neighborhoods.

Bryon told the Laurelhurst Blog staff that the new site is somewhat confusing saying: 
The assemblage of parcels includes 3200 and 3232 NE 45th Street and 3215 NE 45th Place. There are two buildings, but three parcels.  
There is also a billboard that will be eliminated. The historic clock will remain. 
The 30’ city right of way between the curb and the property line will be landscape and enhanced for public use, including the little pedestrian bulb at the intersections of 45th and 45th. This Aegis Senior Community will be designed to either the City’s Living Building Challenge or Mandatory Housing Affordability standards.

He said that the businesses currently in the buildings that will be demolished will have all their leases honored, until they end in 2019.   These businesses included  Diane’s Alterations, Lakeview Vision Clinic, Edward Jones, Farmers Insurance, Uncle Lee’s, University Tutoring, Felipa’s Consignment and Rules Salon.

The café at Aegis, would be open to the public and would be the 
Queen Bee Café, a non profit business. Others are currently located at the Madison and Queen Anne Aegis facilities and specialize in traditional English crumpets.

Bryon said that Aegis has engaged Transpo traffic engineers to conduct a traffic study of the very busy Five Corners area where the facility will be located.
For more information about the project, go to the City permits website and reference permits 3025007, 3025056, 6520824, 6537047, 3025007, 6552104, 3025056, 6557274, 6082637.

Another retirement home is also under review for 4020 NE 55th Street, where the Hawthorne Hills Veterinary Hospital is currently located, across the street from Metropolitan Market. The proposal, Permit #3025827, includes 3 stories of approximately 74 units with 3,100 square feet of commercial space and parking for approximately 28 vehicles located below grade. The existing structure would be demolished.  The architect has proposed 3 different alternatives which can be seen here.

Tomorrow Bird Walk At Magnuson Park

The Seattle Audubon Society is having a bird walk tomorrow from 9-11am at Magnuson Park, led by Joe Sweeney.  

Participants are to meet at the Promontory Point Pavilion, a red-metal-roofed structure next to the little drive-in road at the west edge of parking lot E-1. 

Go here for more information.