Monday, December 19, 2011

The memorial aka "wake" for Kent Kammerer will be at Mohai ( Museum of

History and Industry) on Friday, January 6, 
2012. The gathering will run from 5pm to 9pm with a slide show and speakers 
beginning at 7pm. The museum is open for touring until 7pm free to all 
attendees. Light hos-d'oeuvres will be served. Any donations to offset the 
costs will gladly be accepted but certainly not required.

Lile Kammerer, Kent's daughter

Seattle Loses its Neighborhood Yoga

Kent Kammerer wasn't a journalist, but he talked to people. He loved talking to people.
I first got to know him when I was invited down to the Seattle Neighborhood Coalition, a rag-tag, grassroots group of truly independent Seattleites that meets once a month in a diner to hear speakers talk about civic issues. The SNC can be a tough crowd. That first time, I was on a panel with then Seattle Times Executive Editor Mike Fancher, who was nearly eaten alive by citizens angry at the paper, and the media in general. The SNC may be a kaffeeklatsch, but the participants can bite.
A couple of things struck me. One was that it was a refreshing change from Seattle Nice: these were activists who weren't shy about asking questions or speaking their minds. And these were no-Astro Turf activists, but people who represented and loved their varied patches of Seattle. It was like a meeting of Darwin's finches all in one room. Grumpy finches.
The other was that the group had no particular ideological bias, save a general questioning of civic authority, namely city hall, downtown business, the media, and conventional wisdom. They are a coalition of folks who don't indulge in group-think. Some lament Seattle's one-party-townness, but at the grassroots, outrage is often less driven by ideology than circumstance. As a guest, you never knew from which field a ball was coming, left, right, or from somewhere up in the bleachers
Presiding over it all, like a mossback Yoda, was Kent Kammerer, who booked the guests and took careful, thorough minutes of the meetings, which he would send out afterwards. I was impressed by these documents because they showed that Kent actually listened to what was said, and worked hard to present even views he strongly disagreed with fairly. And over the years, as I attended breakfast both to speak and listen, I became friends with Kent. I found a retired teacher who was intensely curious, deeply thoughtful, not cynical — capable still of hope and outrage — and someone deeply committed to democracy.
Through the SNC, he helped facilitate direct links between neighborhood activists and policy makers and others who were civically engaged. Recent coalition guests include King County prosecutor Dan Satterburg, new city librarian Marcellus Turner, Sound Transit and Metro critics Emory Bundy and John Niles, Anne Levinson on police accountability, University of Washington Professor David Montgomery talking about how civilizations unravel and fall apart. The ensuing Q&A's at the breakfasts are always the best part. I love the image of a bunch of crusty neighborhood activists discussing theories on the fall of empire while eating hashbrowns at Ballard's Salmon Bay Cafe.
Kent was the ringmaster of a crucial level of civic debate in Seattle. He helped create an old-school social network with more substance than Facebook. It was a place where people could gossip and argue over the back fence, but also often put questions — big questions, or wonky or trivial questions — to people in the know.
Kent loved new information. He was a teacher, but also a student. And his love of asking questions extended everywhere. I remember early on Crosscut, I had written a story that had infuriated the town of Pomeroy, Washington. Kent wrote me. It turned out he had traveled to Pomeroy, he knew Pomeroy, and that I had missed some important things about the place. Kent knew these things because he'd once parked his RV there and had met and talked with the locals in this obscure part of Washington. He was well-traveled around the region, and I imagined him exploring it "Travels with Charley"-style. His impressions were insightful. They came from listening. It turns out, Kent not only took the minutes at SNC meetings, but he had a knack, an ear, and a love for talking to people who were just people and taking in their stories and opinions.
When we launched Crosscut, Kent approached me to explore the idea of writing for us. He loved Crosscut, which was non-ideological, eclectic, deeply civically engaged, and powered by a wide group of contributors. He began writing stories, coming to Crosscut's own pizza lunches to question guests. They are a bit like a writer's version of SNC. He didn't have to take minutes here, he could grill the visitors without the obligation of being a fair host.
I admired Kent. For his compassion for people. His belief that our world, our city, is full of variety and diversity, and that this is inherently good. I remember in the arguments about density, one of Kent's concerns was that the variety of housing options would disappear. People ought to be  able to have affordable choices of single-family homes, condos, apartments, and trailer parks, he thought. He didn't want planning to trump choice. He wanted a city for walkers, transit riders, drivers, and cyclists. He wanted government to be more open. He wanted it to be less mired in bullshit. He wanted it to stick up for the little guy. Not a classic urbanist, he still wanted to know how cities worked, and how they could work for everyone.
.His pursuit of that benefited all who received his advice, his feedback, who heard his questions, who listened to his stories, who were inspired by his caring, his activism. In echoes of Tom Joad, for me at least, wherever people are gathered in places like the Breakfast Club in Lake City, the last place Kent and I shared a meal together and talked about the state of the city, wherever they ask tough questions of their leaders and their neighbors, wherever they listen to the answers, Kent will be there.
Knute Berger is Mossback, Crosscut's chief Northwest native. He also writes the monthly Grey Matters column for Seattle magazine and is a weekly Friday guest on Weekday on KUOW-FM (94.9). His newest book is Pugetopolis: A Mossback Takes On Growth Addicts, Weather Wimps, and the Myth of Seattle Nice, published by Sasquatch Books. In 2011, he was named Writer-in-Residence at the Space Needle and is writing the Needle's official 50th anniversary history. You can e-mail him at

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fed meeting dates changed - Next meeting Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Regular Meeting
Central Area Senior Center, 500 30th Avenue South  98144
Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Developing a Report Card for Seattle’s Transportation Department
featuring Peter Hahn, Director, Seattle Department of Transportation

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) develops, maintains, and operates a transportation system to promote the safe and efficient mobility of people and goods, and to enhance the quality of life, environment, and economy of Seattle and the surrounding region.  With gas tax revenues down and budget shortfalls, how is SDOT doing in accomplishing its mission?  Where will cuts be in the upcoming budget process?  How will cuts affect the backlog in deferred maintenance?  What is the status of the Bridging the Gap Levy?  How will the $60 in increased car tabs be used, should voters approve that measure in November?  What will happen if the measure fails?  These are just a few issues that Director Hahn will address.  Bring your issues and questions.

The September meeting will also include our monthly Round Robin of issues and projects in your neighborhood.  If you have informational materials you would like distributed at the meeting, please email electronic copies or links to Jeannie Hale

7:00                 Call to Order and Introductions

7:05                 Administration
1.      Changes to the agenda
2.      Treasurer’s report
3.      President’s report

7:10                 Developing a Report Card for SDOT:  Peter Hahn, Director, Seattle Department of Transportation

8:15                 Round Robin
1.      Text amendment on siting of essential public facilities—update
2.      Renewal of the Families and Education Levy—please review materials from August meeting
3.      Increase in car tabs ballot measure—should the Federation take a position?
4.      Other

9:00                 Adjourn

Monday, August 22, 2011

Federation Meets Thursday, August 25, 2011, 7 p.m. - At the Central Seattle Senior Center

Regular Meeting
Central Area Senior Center, 500 30th Avenue South  98144


Monday, July 18, 2011

REMINDER - Annual Federation Potluck ‑ Sunday, July 31, 2-5 p.m. at the home of Jeannie Hale, 3425 W Laurelhurst Dr NE, 98105

Annual Federation Potluck

Sunday, July 31, 2-5 p.m.
at the home of Jeannie Hale,
3425 W Laurelhurst Dr NE, 98105, 206-525-5135

The Seattle Community Council Federation invites you to kick back at its annual summer potluck, the singular gem of our yearly events.  Enjoy lively conversation with community leaders in a garden setting.  Do you know where things are with the Roosevelt-Ravenna Zoning Issues?  How about our new and wonderful meeting place at the Central Area Senior Center? These are just a couple of things that will likely surface.  Since it’s election season expect to see a few hopefuls.

This year we’ll also celebrate the recent Birthday of our sisterish organization, the Seattle Neighborhood Coalition, a salon discussion group that has met each and every second Saturday for 28 years to meet and greet local notables, usually from Seattle, often King County, and occasionally Olympia and other outliers. SNC guest speakers compete for an agenda spot because they know that they’ll be talking with unusually well-informed and well-intentioned citizens who have a common goal of making Seattle a better place to live, and led by the ineffable and unflappable Kent Kammerer, have used their institutional memory and collective wisdom to accomplish significant ends.

Wear flip-flops or sandals so you can dip your toes in the warm pool, or even go for a swim if you’re inclined.  Everyone is welcome, including those kids who can take adults seriously around pools.

Please bring a salad, main dish, appetizer or fruit plate to share.  Wine, beer and soft drinks are provided.

If you wish to be able to more completely comprehend some of the issues under discussion it’s recommended that you read at least one book by New Urbanite pioneer Jane Jacobs, and watch at least one complete season of The Wire.

Directions:  There are dozens of ways to get to the potluck.
HERE’S A MAP   or here are two options:

From the south:  Go northbound on I-5.  Take the SR 520 exit that goes to the Bellevue and the University District.  Be sure to exit at Montlake.  At the end of the exit, turn left.  Then drive along Montlake Boulevard past Husky Stadium.  The road curves around and then passes University Village.  See other directions below.

From the north:  Go southbound on I-5.  Take the NE 50th exit (as the NE 45th Street Viaduct is closed).  Go down NE 50th until about 19th and then winding around to eventually get down to the back side of University Village.  You’ll eventually get to Five Corners (the intersection of NE 45th, Blakely, Mary Gates, etc.).

From Five Corners (the intersection of Blakeley, Mary Gates, NE 45th, 35th, etc.):  This is where there is a Tully's on one corner, Baskin Robbins on another, UW student housing on another and a field on another). I live a little over half a mile from the corner of Mary Gates as follows:

Take the Mary Gates entrance into Laurelhurst (at Five Corners) and take the next three RIGHT turns onto every city street you come to, except the last one. What you'll be doing is going in a semicircle around the lake’s Union Bay, as follows:
·         Go along Mary Gates, past the Center for Urban Horticulture and turn RIGHT onto Surber (you'll see a pedestrian refuge island here and the Battelle property on your left);
·         Go to the end of Surber and turn RIGHT at the T onto 42nd and go a couple of blocks;
·         At the lopsided Y, turn RIGHT onto 43rd and go half a block;
·         Turn LEFT onto NE 35th; you'll see a vacant lot on your right and the lake;
·         Go up the steep one-block hill and I live in the house at the top of the one-block hill behind the high hedge on the right hand side.  Parking is scarce so you might have to park a ways away, but it’s well worth it. 

Jeannie Hale

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Good and not-quite-so-good news

First the not-quite-so-good:
Due to a confluence of unforeseen and unwelcome events the June 23, 2011 Federation meeting has been regretfully cancelled, the first such cancellation in memory, and perhaps in our almost 63 years of existence.

More not-quite-so-good:
NOAA Pacific Marine Headquarters, our meeting place for the past decade, has been closed, its functions and personnel relocated to Newport, Oregon. The building has been stripped of its contents, the doors locked, and the keys turned over to the leaseholder who owns the facility and the underlying property. We regretfully bid goodbye to by far the best and most comfortable meeting facility we ever had. The building was fully ADA compliant, with ample parking. 

Now the good:
Next month we plan to celebrate our 63rd Anniversary at our Annual Summer Party to be once again held at the home of President Jeannie Hale.
Stay tuned for details.

More good:
Dianne Snell, our super-efficient secretary, has arranged for our wonderful new meeting place, which takes us back to our roots when we were incorporated as Washington State Domestic Corporation No. 110226, the Jackson Street Community Council, on July 1st, 1948.
It could hardly be more central, it’s in the Central Area, and in fact it is the Central Area Senior Center, once a nursing home, now repurposed into a luxurious, modern, well equipped meeting facility in Leschi, just one block west of and one block south of Jackson, above Frink Park, perched atop Leschi Ridge, with a panoramic view of the traffic (beautiful from a distance) I-90 traffic flowing across Lake Washington below with Mount Rainier looming in the distance.
Like the NOAA Headquarters, it’s fully ADA compliant, and has ample parking on two adjacent lots.
It’s located at 500 30th Avenue South and is easy to drive to if one avoids I-5, easy to do, at least from the north end. 

Still more good:
Our new meeting place is not controlled by the Federal government, so is not subject to the requirements of the Homeland Security Act. There are no guards, nor an entry requirement that you show picture ID to anyone.

Come right in, sit right down, and let your good ideas flow!

Yearly dues for member groups are $50. SCCF welcomes new member groups, and encourages renewal by groups whose membership in SCCF may have lapsed. Individual donations are also welcome and tax deductible, and go very far, as SCCF is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) organization. Please mail your check to SCCF, 2370 Yale Avenue East, Seattle, WA 98102-3310. For questions, contact treasurer Chris Leman, (206) 322-5463,

Keep up-to-date on our website,

Tuesday, June 14, 2011



Bring a sign or two, a friend or two, and plan to make public comment that you do NOT want the North Shore Recreation Area commercialized for a medical center and an expensive daycare.
Thank you for your support of a true parks vision for Magnuson Park and for working to insure that water recreation remains the main focus of the North Shore Recreation Area.

WRITE TO CITY COUNCIL TODAY.  Write City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw and her Parks Committee members Tom Rasmussen, Bruce Harrell, and Jean Godden today to say you don´t want a medical center at Magnuson Park.  Ask them to restore the North Shore Recreation Area vision of a center for non-motorized boat recreation.  Tell them to vote NO on the upcoming Building 11 Investors LLC lease amendment. 
While you’re at it, write ALL the Councilmembers.   The Parks Committee consists of:

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

City Neighborhood Council's budget committee meets this Tuesday, May 31, 5-6 p.m. in room 370 of City Hall.

Come help discuss CNC's annual budget letter and the possible consolidation of DON with four other agencies.

 The City Neighborhood Council's Budget Committee invites you to its meeting this Tuesday, May 31, 5-6 p.m. in room 370 of City Hall (601 Fifth Avenue, third floor).  We will discuss the draft budget letter to the Mayor and City Council that the CNC, as it has yearly, will adopt at its June 27 meeting.  Attached is the draft that was sent out along with the agenda for the May 23 CNC meeting.  There is still time for the district councils and the CNC budget committee to suggest revisions.
In particular, we will discuss on Tuesday the McGinn administration’s consideration of partial or full consolidation of the Department of Neighborhoods with four other agencies (Office of Economic Development, Office of Housing, Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, and Office of Sustainability and Environment).  This possibility poses both risks and opportunities for the mission we have associated with DoN for the past two decades, and we welcome your thoughts.  Following is how this topic is addressed in the attached draft CNC letter:
CNC is cautiously receptive to proposals to consolidate the Department of Neighborhoods with some other offices, but only if doing so strengthens the core DoN functions discussed above.  We are intrigued by a possible merger of DoN with the Office of Economic Development and the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, which together could become a new Department of Neighborhoods, Economic Development, and Arts and Cultural Affairs.  However we suggest that it would be a better fit to move the Office of Housing to the Department of Health and Human Services and to move the Office of Sustainability and the Environment to the Department of Planning and Development. 
Background about the neighborhood budget process.  City Council resolution 28115 that charters CNC and the district councils as official advisory bodies, states that "The responsibility of the City Neighborhood Council shall include review and recommendations regarding City budget issues, including the general fund, capital and block grant budgets, and the Neighborhood Matching Fund."  The resolution also states that "The City Council shall consider the recommendations of the City Neighborhood Council and the comments of neighborhood organizations and District Councils in its review and actions on the City budget." 
The CNC Budget Committee seeks to involve the district councils and other volunteers in budget discussions.  Past CNC letters on the budget to the Mayor and City Council (and other background on CNC and the district councils) can be found at  For questions or to comment, please contact CNC Budget Committee chair Chris Leman, (206) 322-5463.

Monday, May 23, 2011

FEDERATION MEETS THURSDAY, MAY 26 2011, 7:00 P.M. -- Will the Changes in Design Guidelines Affect Your Neighborhood?

Regular Meeting
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency), Pacific Marine Center on Lake Union
Thursday, May 26, 2011


Will the Changes in Design Guidelines Affect Your Neighborhood?
 featuring Cheryl Sizov, Department of Planning and Development

Design guidelines are the primary tool used by Design Review Boards in the review of proposed projects. Guidelines define the qualities of architecture, urban design, and public space that make for successful projects and communities.  The guidelines help to reinforce existing character and protect the qualities that the neighborhood values most in the face of change.  Will this continue with the recent changes in Design Guidelines?   The changes were prompted in part by changing conditions in neighborhoods, emerging issues in design and development, and new best practices in the field of design review.

Issues and the Absence of Process in Siting Social Service Facilities
featuring Kwame Amoateng and Ann McNally, Jackson Place Alliance for Equity

How should a community respond when the city decides to put a “crisis solutions center,” a facility to house individuals picked up by the police for certain offenses deemed to be mentally unstable or under the influence of drugs, across the street from residential homes and near a community center that serves young children?  Learn about the experience of the Jackson Place Alliance for Equity. 

The May meeting will also include our monthly Round Robin of issues and projects in your neighborhood.  If you have informational materials you would like distributed at the meeting, please email electronic copies or links to Jeannie Hale at

7:00                 Call to Order and Introductions
7:05                 Administration
1.     Changes to the agenda
2.     Treasurer’s report
3.     President’s report
7:15                 Changes in Design Guidelines:  Cheryl Sizov, Department of Planning and Development
8:00                 Issues and the Absence of Process in Siting Social Service Facilities:  Kwame Amoateng and Ann McNally, Jackson Place Alliance for Equity
8:40                 Round Robin
9:00                 Adjourn
NOAA is a federal facility on high security alert, so attendees must enter by the security gate and may need to present photo ID. If you haven't attended a recent Federation meeting, please send your name, contact information, and address to  to be added to the entry list. No e-mail? Call 206-365-1267. The building is ADA compliant, with ample parking in front.

Founded and incorporated on July 1, 1948, as the Jackson Street Community Council, the Seattle Community Council Federation is one of the nation's oldest and most active coalitions of neighborhood groups. Since then our 501(C)3 Articles of Incorporation have been updated to now cover the entire City and include all Seattle neighborhoods.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Disturbing Disclosures Re Magnuson Park Building 11 Lease Agreement -- Immediate Citizen Input Needed

Note: Gail Chiarello is a long-time neighborhood leader involved with Magnuson Park. 
This message is cross-posted to the SeattlePOSA (Parks and Open Spaces) listserve as well as being posted on this blog. 

[Re: Magnuson Park Building 11 Lease Agreement]


Good Morning Sally,

I was troubled to hear Bruce Harrell state you told him I support the Building 11 Lease Amendment handed down yesterday by the Mayor. 

That is absolutely not true. My concerns remain as they have all along:

1.  This is a half-century lease.
2.  The historic vision for the North Shore Recreation Area was non-motorized small watercraft activities.
3.  The proposed amendment reduces these activities to less than 5% of the building.
4.  There is less than 20% of the building set aside for arts, culture and recreation--the classic activities of a park.
5.  The building will be 80% high-end commercial.
6.  VMMC is a prohibited use under the Shoreline Master Program.
7.  The LLC cannot be trusted.  It gains traction through misrepresentation & threats of lawsuits.
8.  There is every evidence of favoritism, special backdoor channels, misuse by a Sail Sand Point Board member of his Board position, all to the benefit of the LLC.
9.  The lease assignment clauses are so murky & complex that the City effectively loses its rights over the building in perpetuity.
10.  The City loses revenue from this building in perpetuity.

I am totally uneasy with the precedent the proposed lease amendment sets in placing a medical facility in a public park--and those who point to the UW pediatric dental clinic fail to mention, that clinic is placed on UW property within the park!  As we see with Children's, large medical centers are omnivorous in their willingness to consume the surrounding landscape.

From e-mail evidence obtained through public disclosure, you appear to have had a warm and cordial relationship with the LLC for many months, offering to help them with their problems with Virginia Mason, suggesting "beer summits" you were willing to attend to help smooth their way, stating that you have heard nothing but wonderful things about their junior partner, and so forth. 

This gives me some pause.  We have not had the benefit of all this schmooziness.  We approached your office for weeks, with e-mails, phone calls, and requests for meetings, and were unable to get your attention until we showed up at your Coffee with the Two Sallys at the Pinehurst Safeway.

We are NOT on the same page when it comes to the Building 11 LLC lease amendment and we will seek the Council votes to defeat it.  I do not expect you to join us, but it is time City Council restored some citizen trust and just said NO.