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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Re: The Summit to Belmont Drag

Posted by on September 13 at 19:48 PM

Several comments on my post about the sale of the hipster real estate along Pine St., where the Cha-Cha and the Bus Stop are located, make a big assumption. The assumption is that I strongly oppose the sale—and so, I oppose density and development there. (Ummm, never mind that the block is already dense and developed.) And because I consistently advocate for development and density, I’m being a big hypocrite for posting in protest against the sale. I’m the very NIMBY I’m always criticizing on Slog and in print.

Here’s one comment:

How many times have I said that the Stranger will NOT start caring about this issue until they start losing the places that they love? This is just the beginning.

Yes, my original post was titled “Drag.” But don’t read so much into that. It was a cute pun on drag (as in strip) and drag (as in bummer). Do I think it would be a bummer if the Cha-Cha (and particularly the Bus Stop—my favorite 1966 Gloom-Room-a-go-go spot on the planet) disappeared? Of course, I think it would be a bummer. A federal offense? Not so much.

Re-read my post. Nowhere do I make an impassioned case to “save” the block. I reported the basic news. It was not a screed against the sale.

Much more important: Look at “the places [The Stranger] loves.” The drag between Summit and Belmont is already a dense, developed, bustling, city block—exactly the kind of thing I consistently advocate for. So, if in fact, I actually did oppose taking out the Cha-Cha block for condos, I’d hardly be contradicting myself. The block is already a model for the kind of urban city I want. If I opposed the sale, I’d be defending: Density and development. It’s not like I’d be defending a single-family zone.

When one commenter, anti-development stalwart Mr. X, read me the riot act on Slog a while back for advocating development in Northgate along 113th street, he was arguing to “save” a dilapidated lot. A dilapidated lot! If I stepped up to oppose re-development along the Pine St. drag, I’d be fighting to save a dense, bustling block. See the difference?

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Darlink! I said "start caring," not "strongly oppose."

Just wait "start caring" will become "strongly oppose" over time - when the Hill becomes Belltown.

I'm not accusing you of contradicting yourself Josh, I'm saying that you are slow to understand and recognize (which bums me out cuz yersmart!) the eventual impact of market forces on the things we care about and/or cherish.

The free-market system will sort things out.

Easy for a tree-house dweller like you to say, Paulus!

To say that I was arguing for saving a dilapidated lot is absurd - I was arguing that it is important to maintain the integrity of Seattle's zoning code, as well as an extensive neighborhood planning process which that was supposed to designate areas for growth and the details of what that was supposed to look like.

Allowing 6 duplexes - 12 units - on a single family lot doesn't exactly accomplish that. Most of the people who bought single family property in single family neighborhoods based on the fact that zoning is supposed to provide predictability would probably agree, too.

Hey Josh, I didn't misinterpret your position - I seriously was expecting the official Stranger "Hooray! Our cool hangouts are being destroyed for the sake of density, wheeeeeee!". I've already seen too many Slog topics regarding Cap Hill development (such as the possible closure of the B&O) to expect that anyone on staff would be against this.

It might surprise you to know that I am actually not against ALL development, though. Even all development in Cap HIll. But the wanton disregard of the existing culture of the neighborhood in the name of greed* is distressing to say the least, and I do get quite vocal about some of the more revolting projects proposed.

* I don't for a minute think that most developers give a rat's ass about density issues, getting people out of their cars, or affordable housing. It's all about making money, and bringing people with more money into the neighborhood to drive more upscale projects.

* agreed... (no pun intended)

I think you are missing the point also. Genevieve seems to understand the hypocritcal nature of your post and your problem with people's reaction to it. It must be hard for anyone at the stranger to come outright and say they oppose any of these condos since some of them ADVERTISE in your own fucking paper! I don't think you have an ounce of interest in the actual culture that these places promote, especially if all you care about is using the word "density" repeatedly. Density does not solve anything. Are you not noticing all the other condo sites around the Hill? There's plenty of density being accomplished. What isn't being accomplished is trying to fit into the pre-existing surroundings. Your wishy-washiness is akin to a politician who is just trying to cover their own ass. I'd be surprised if the Stranger brought this issue up anywhere other than the fucking blog because if they did they'd probably lose a shit-ton of money. And that's what this all comes down to anyway. So way to go.

Dense cities never have culture or night life. New York, nothing. Tokyo, nothing. San Fransisco, nothing.

Yah, sometimes it sucks when a business we like gets bought out by another business. But it happens. In case the big buildings and fucking Duck tours didn't clue you in, we live in a City. Cities change and grow. If you don't like it move to Eastern Washington. I don't think they have built anything in Spokane in 20 years.

#7 - If you read the Stranger with any frequency, you'd know your little conspiracy theory is absurd.

The Stranger's editorial content takes positions directly contrary to the financial interests of their small and large advertisers all the time. See the smoking ban for a prominent example.

Of course the paper cares about staying in business (something wrong with that?), but if you pay attention you can clearly see that the editorial department is in no way restricted from writing whatever they want, online or in print, regardless of the interests of the paper's advertisers.

You don't have to agree with what they're saying, but the idea that they're saying it because they all got together and decided they had better be for this or they'd lose a freakin' condo ad is just silly.

Oh the irony of watching the NIMBYs attack the Stranger in their own supposedly enlightened and tolerant neighborhood.

Giffy @ 8 is absolutely right, and it would be a real shame for the hope of this city - the young, urban-loving readership of The Stranger and Slog - to follow in the footsteps of the older NIMBY idiots who have done so much to throttle urban life in Seattle over the last 20-30 years.

Change happens. If you don't like it, start getting involved in the mess of urban politics, of urban development. Stop waiting for the "free market" to give you what you want or protect what you like - only organized action can accomplish that.

Seattle needs to grow upward, and Cap Hill is exactly the place it has to happen. But if you want that growth and change to continue to deliver the kind of urban space you want, or might like, you've got to get involved - sitting around and bitching accomplishes nothing but acquiescence to another Belltown.

Protesting gentrification in a hip bohemian neighborhood is a little like protesting the changing of the seasons, or like protesting that the same pop music styles don't stay cool generation after generation. It's part of the natural flux of things.

It strikes me that if a real bohemian neighborhood doesn't eventually gentrify anyway, it becomes a bit long in the tooth. Part of what makes a bohemian district exciting is that it has a certain work-in-progress, whipped-up-from-scratch feel. Check out the Alberta District in Portland. What's great about Alberta is the sense of a pioneering vision, like, "How did all this cool stuff appear in what looks like the middle of nowhere?"

What's happening now in Capitol Hill is the same thing that has been happening for a long time in New York City. A long time ago, Manhattan left the universe of affordability, and now Brooklyn is buzzing with artistic activity. And now that Brooklyn is gentrifying, we're hearing about artistic types setting up shop in Philadelphia, of all places! I say, great for Brooklyn, great for Philly. Instead of mourning the gentrification of the likes of Capitol Hill and Fremont, we ought to be salivating about the next hot bohemian neighborhoods. Maybe Greenwood? Or how about the next hot bohemian city? Can anyone say Tacoma?

If one more person compares Seattle to New York City or Tokyo, I will seek them out and spin them on top of the space needle... Seattle will NEVER EVER be dense in the way NYC or Tokyo is, and probably not even S.F.

Only as dense as it's little podunk head....


Your theory doesn't make any sense. If, as you suggest, I quietly support the condo development on Pine (to please real estate advertisers in the Stranger)—wouldn't I simultaneously be pissing off the businesses on Pine who currently advertise with us? The strip of businesses on Pine (think Linda's...which is about to get smushed by a condo) certainly provide hefty income for our paper. So which is it: Am I slave to the Pine St. businesses who advertise with us or the condo advertisers who advertise with us? Can't have it both ways.

As soon as I find out who's buying up the block and who they hire to market the place and take out ads in the Stranger, I'll give them a call and see how much cash they're willing to slip me to support the development there. I could certainly use the extra dough to buy those Bose speakers me and the wife have our eyes on for our entertainment center. Lord knows, my trust fund is all gone and that bi-monthly ZOG check just isn't keeping up with inflation!

The point of the criticism of the sale, if I may be so bold, is the loss of those business' and the promise/threat of them being replaced by half million dollar plus studio apartments and eighteen million dollar penthouses, and the be-in-bed-by-eleven kind of bars (well, nightlife) people who have jobs that can afford those places tend to drink/have fun at... not that hard to understand since down the hill -Belltown, Cascade, upper & lower Queen Anne- that situation is the norm... and the fear/anticipation that sanitized, safe, good-neighbor approved spots will open up.

It is foreign in this area to have a bar/nightclub -of the caliber of plastic cups and SRO after 11pm and a juke box worth a damn- located at street level in a building that also has substantial housing (say 65+ units and not 3 or 4 apartments on the second floor of a two storey building)... yes there are some... Metropolitan Cafe and Canterbury comes to mind... but one would be hard pressed to find anything outside of the table-for-two-stoli-as-the-well-vodka kind of place. You know... the bars that are leaving are for young, not that far from 21 year old folks. The fear/anticipation is that the condos, or rental apartments, will be priced too far out of range for those folks (well, the folks who will be that age 3-4 years from now), and what will go in are the nice little hotel style bars, pop in for a quick cocktail and some satay, then head home to the spouse kind of place.

Yeah, sure, the older I get, the more and more loud, the more and more crowded, the more and more trying Kincora and such become... but I enjoy knowing that young, free, single folk have a place to go and let go... personally, the city needs more of those places... I would rather folks let off steam and party there, then co-opt a quite little place that will attract the unwanted attention of the mayor's booze-gestapo.

Sorry. You are right. I was drunk when I posted that. Honestly.
And to anyone else who thinks I didn't know what I was talking about, it's true. I DON'T read the Stranger. I was coming from a completely unbiased position.
Yep. Gentrification. Part of Urban Life. Having lived in Chicago I think I know a bit about it. Thanks for schooling me guys.

Josh, while you consider this a dense area, the City’s land use code does not: the block is zoned NC3-65. The maximum allowed use is “density.” Anything short of that is not, under the cold hard logic of the land use code. It is an area designated for growth, no different than where the zoning allows single-family homes to be displaced by townhouses and condos.

Anyway why is 65 feet OK for Broadway but not Pine?

Understanding Mr. Josh.
So my drunk posting has given Josh a leg up. That's unfortunate. Because I was merely responding to how ridiculous his "clarification" was. Much like Biff has just pointed out, there are two different kinds of density being compared here. And the money the businesses there represent is far less than the money the proposed condos does. I find it strange that he would need to clarify to the point of explaining his own pun that any straight man would understand. Why is he so intent on making sure we know he doesn't oppose the development? That's all my "conspiracy theory" was pointing out. Methinks he doth protest too much. I think you just have issues that you're confusing with the one we were trying to address. Maybe just stay out of it next time.

Josh. You. Must. Chill. Why so sensitive/defensive lately? Just be yer smart, sassy self - we love you. xo

Perhaps things were a lot crazier in Fremont over a decade ago, but only in the past year has the neighborhood actually gotten some decent musical nightlife i.e. Nektar and the High Dive; and character in the form of crazed rock balancers and dudes who need money. (OK, the dudes who need money have been around all this time, even though Cheetos lady seems to have disappeared. :( )

I can't wait to see the reaction here when the new owner announces intentions to tear the entire block apart and build new condos.

Density is good for a vibrant city. Old Seattle types just want to drag this city down. If they tear down Cha Cha there'll be room for a new and better nightclub. I hope they do build some nice condo's on that block.

Anyone who rents instead of buying a condo is just throwing money down the drain.

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