Easy Street Records Recognized by Mayor McGinn

Following on the heels of being named the King County Small Business of the Year, Easy Street Records has been recognized as a key independent Seattle business by Mayor Mike McGinn. The mayor chose Easy Street Records as the spotlight business for November’s In Good Company, a program that showcases businesses that “embody Seattle’s pioneering spirit and reflect Seattle at its best”.

According to Mayor McGinn:

“Easy Street Records embodies the diverse musical styles that Seattle produces and is an essential part of the community in the way they spread and promote Northwest music. Their commitment to their employees and to the community of Seattle is what makes them an excellent addition to the In Good Company program.”

The program recognizes locally owned businesses that are “unconventional, transformative and exemplary” – cementing the importance of the local, independent businesses that are the foundation of our neighborhood.

To further emphasize that point, here’s what Easy Street owner Matt Vaughan said in the mayor’s press release:

“We’re going to support anything that has to do with music and promoting the arts in Seattle. That’s our responsibility. As a small business owner, it is gratifying to see that Seattle folks tend to understand that by supporting small business, they are in effect recycling monies right back into their economy and effectively, right back into their local community.”

Check out the Seattle Channel video for Easy Street Records, owner Matt Vaughan talks about the history of Easy Street Records, free in-store performances, and the challenges of operating a small business – adjusting and innovating along the way.

Congratulations, Easy Street!

Mayor to City Council: Be bold, fund rail expansion

Last month we reported on SDOT’s Transit Master Plan, which includes plans for a “rapid streetcar” that, unlike Sound Transit’s Link light rail, would operate in the right of way on city streets, making it cheaper and faster to build out an efficient and reliable transit service that would better connect Seattle “neighborhood to neighborhood,” according to McGinn. This plan included lines that would link Lower Queen Anne to downtown, South Lake Union and First Hill, and Ballard and Fremont to downtown, amongst other neighborhoods.

Yesterday, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn took to his blog and challenged the Seattle City Council to “be bold” and consider funding such a project.

For the distances served — neighborhood to neighborhood — it looks like the right choice for a number of corridors in Seattle. That includes Ballard to downtown via Fremont, the University District to downtown via Eastlake, and linking those to Seattle’s two initial streetcar lines to South Lake Union, the International District/Chinatown and Capitol Hill. Other cities have already demonstrated the promise of this approach, like Portland with its MAX system.

McGinn went to say that, even if the council didn’t want to act on the initiative, he “will not stop working to fulfill my commitment to expand rail in Seattle… So that the Seattle Transit Master Plan does not become a pretty plan gathering dust on a shelf. And so that Seattle will realize its transit future.”

Currently, the city council is working on approving a $60 car tab fee that would help save many King County Metro bus routes as well as provide some much-needed maintenance to Seattle’s roadways. But if they want to think big, like Mayor McGinn would like them to, they might discuss much grander plans soon. Here’s what Mayor McGinn had to say about the proposed car tab fee:

The committee recommended an $80 VLF. Much of it goes to catching up on deferred maintenance, which I support. 49% percent goes to implement the Transit Master Plan, to catch up on our deferred transit needs. As a permanent funding source, this could fund the following in the next ten years: planning and alternatives analysis for all five high capacity corridors in the Transit Master Plan, planning and construction for connecting the two streetcar lines through downtown, speed and reliability improvements on half of all non-high capacity transit corridors, and substantial upgrades to our electric trolley bus infrastructure. Over the next twenty years, we could make good on the Transit Master Plan’s stated need to accommodate substantially more travelers on each of the high capacity corridors the Plan identified.

But here is the problem. The City Council is only considering a VLF for a limited amount of time, after which it expires. For this amount of money, all you can do is study a single corridor. You cannot finance long term infrastructure with a short term financing plan. You cannot get in the queue for federal, regional, or state funds because there will be no source of funds for us to put up our local match. The Transit Master Plan will join the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plans as nice plans, without serious funding.

It is here that Mayor McGinn calls for “boldness” within the City Council to set up an ongoing VLF that would become “a steady source of revenue that can be borrowed against to build rail that will serve us for decades.” He’d like to see Seattle take a feather out of the hat of many other cities and leaders nationwide that already have, or are currently investing in massive transit programs, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is working to accomplish 30 years’ worth of transit projects in 10 years’ time with funding from an ongoing VLF. Read Mayor McGinn’s full post here. Read more about Seattle’s Transit Master Plan here.

SIFF to reopen Uptown Theater October 20

The Seattle International Film Festival announced Saturday that it will be revitalizing Lower Queen Anne’s historic Uptown Theater, which shuttered its doors back in November after its partent company AMC opted to close the old theater house rather than invest in updates.

SIFF plans to reopen the neighborhood theater in October, as it transitions out of its current location in McCaw Hall, in conjunction with the Grand Opening of its own new SIFF Film Center at Seattle Center. SIFF says the new space will provide the organization with increased seating capacity and three additional screens, which will allow it more flexibility for year-round programming.

When the Uptown Theater closed last fall, many in the community were heartbroken to see the longstanding neighborhood cinema house, originally opened in 1926, fall by the wayside. We reached out to SIFF to see if the organization had any interest or intention of taking over the newly vacated space. At the time SIFF representatives told us they were not in a position to take over the theater.

“It really is unfortunate that Uptown theater is closing. I used to go there many times and even when I was growing up so personally it’s a shame that it is closing,” SIFF representative Tod Steward wrote to Queen Anne View back in November. “Maybe Paul Allen or someone like him would finance it to stay open…just like what he did with Cinerama.”

Fortunately for the Queen Anne community, the tides have changed since last fall. In addition to helping expand its year-round programming, SIFF says the reopening of the theater will give it the opportunity to establish first-class educational programs and solidify the future of the organizations and its programs.

Mayor Mike McGinn came out in support of the deal, stating, “SIFF is one of Seattle’s true treasures not only for the work they do in Film and Education, but for being a leader in our community and saving the Uptown Movie Theatre. The leadership that SIFF is demonstrating should not only be recognized but applauded.”

“On behalf of the Greater Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce, we are especially pleased to endorse the acquisition of the Uptown Theater by the Seattle International Film Festival,” Chamber vice president Ann Pearce said in a statement. “We applaud their actions in preserving a valuable part of Seattle’s Uptown neighborhood and creating more opportunities for Queen Anne community businesses. Another wonderful forum for unique entertainment will now be available for residents and tourists alike to enjoy for years to come!”

“We couldn’t have scripted a better opportunity for our organization than to have SIFF Cinema Uptown and the new SIFF Film Center in such close proximity and located in such a vibrant part of the city. Seattle Center and Queen Anne are the perfect locations for us to expand in and we’re excited to be opening our doors in time for Seattle Center’s ‘Next 50’ celebration next year,” SIFF Artistic Director Carl Spence said.

“We are thrilled to welcome SIFF as a new resident here, and we embrace its move to use the former Uptown Theater space as a SIFF screening venue. What a wonderful means to enlivening the neighborhood and further connecting Seattle Center to the Uptown area,” Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams said.

Queen Anne chosen for ‘Only in Seattle’ campaign

The city’s Office of Economic Development (OED) launched the 2011 “Only in Seattle” marketing campaign today, which celebrates locally-owned retail shops and restaurants in neighborhoods around the city, including, for the first time, Queen Anne.

The Only in Seattle campaign began last year, and highlighted five neighborhoods: Ballard, Columbia City, Georgetown, Rainier Valley and West Seattle. This year’s list, in addition to Queen Anne, will highlight Belltown, Capitol Hill, Chinatown/International District, Madison Valley, Phinney Ridge, Greenwood, South Lake Union and the University District.

The Phinney-Greenwood area will be the first of those eight neighborhoods to be featured on this year’s site, beginning today. The others will be rolled out one week at a time. Next week is the University District, and Queen Anne will be featured during week three, beginning on August 10.

Four Queen Anne businesses will be featured during the neighborhood’s campaign, but we won’t find out which ones until that week.

“Locally owned small businesses help build strong neighborhoods,” Mayor Mike McGinn said in the press release. “By shopping and dining at local businesses, we can keep dollars within the community and help forge a sense of pride and ownership among Seattleites about where we live.”

The Only in Seattle campaign, which launched in 2010, seeks to showcase Seattle’s most unique spots that represent some of the best of Seattle’s independent stores and restaurants. The campaign’s “buy local” mission not only encourages people to shop locally, but more importantly, aims to inspire people to discover and explore new neighborhoods and businesses throughout the city. By the end of the summer, the campaign will grow to spotlight 58 businesses in 13 different neighborhoods on the project website: OnlyinSeattle.org.

“The businesses featured in the campaign all deliver one-of-a-kind experiences and range from wine shops to butchers to the home of one of the largest video collections in the world,” the press release read.

You can also follow Only in Seattle on Twitter and “like” them on Facebook.

City Council approves extending nightlife service hours, issue goes to Liquor Control Board

The Seattle City Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting a petition to the Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB) to create extended service hour areas within local jurisdictions on Monday. The proposal was originally proposed by Mayor Mike McGinn as part of his new Seattle Nightlife Initiative, which aims to maintain public safety and improve support for local businesses by providing greater flexibility to adapt to market demands from business district to business district.

“A vibrant, safe nightlife is good for business and good for public safety,” Mayor Mike McGinn said in a press release Monday. “The City Council’s approval of this resolution follows a broad public outreach over the past year about how extended liquor service hours should work in Seattle… I’m confident that by working together with the Washington State Liquor Control Board, we can achieve our goals of a more safe and vibrant city.”

The resolution launches a two-step process to extend service hours:

  • The resolution asks the LCB to build a regulatory framework to consider and approve petitions from cities to allow extended liquor service.
  • If these proposed rule changes are adopted, Mayor McGinn, the City Council, and the City Attorney can then work with the public to craft a specific proposal for extended hours service in Seattle.

A number of other local leaders have come out in support of the initiative, including City Council president Richard Conlin, Seattle Police Chief John Diaz, and City Attorney Pete Holmes.

“We believe that this initiative will strengthen public safety as well as promote a vibrant nightlife. We fully support this effort,“ Diaz said in a statement. Given that police resources are often challenged at Seattle’s blanket 2 a.m. closing time, many in law enforcement say this, along with other components of the Initiative, will help them maintain public safety and allow them to deploy officers more effectively. Last August the city passed another initiative aimed at helping combat difficult closing times allowing officers to dish out $100 tickets for fighting, threatening others, or making excessive or “unreasonable noise” in public areas between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.

“The City Attorney’s Office will work with the Mayor, SPD and the City Council to ensure that the proposed rule changes provide comprehensive safeguards that will ensure public safety,” Holmes said. “The extended hours program will succeed if we anticipate and plan for problems that may arise.”

According to the city, the rule change application will be submitted to the Liquor Control Board in the next few weeks, at which point the LCB will have 60 days to decide whether or not it will initiate the rule making process. Mayor McGinn says he is hopeful that the extended service hours proposal will be approved and ready for implementation in Seattle in 2012.

City Council votes to license medical marijuana ops

The Seattle City Council has taken steps toward legalizing medical marijuana in the city this week, voting Monday to establish a municipal licensing, regulation and taxation system for medical marijuana. The licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries and co-ops would fall under a new state law going into effect on Friday, July 22, which would make medical marijuana dispensaries illegal. From Reuters:

The 8-0 vote in favor of the measure comes nearly three months after Governor Christine Gregoire signed into law a new measure allowing cities to regulate and license production, processing and distribution of medical marijuana on a limited basis.

That statute, which takes effect on Friday, requires storefront dispensaries and other medical pot suppliers to reorganize themselves as small, cooperative ventures serving up to 10 patients. These “collective gardens” are confined to growing 45 plants total but no more than 15 per person.

This vote is a ground-breaking move for Washington, and is the farthest any city in the state has gone toward legitimizing medical marijuana usage. Dispensaries and co-ops citywide would benefit from the licensing decision, including Queen Anne area dispensaries the Seattle Medical Marijuana Association on 15th, the E.C.C. Emerald City Collective on Elliott, and Sens-Able Patient Network, and Fremont-based Dockside Co-Op. From MyNorthwest.com:

“They’re not kicking the can down the road and having somebody else deal with it,” [Dockside Co-Op owner Oscar] Velasco-Schmitz says. “They realize that there is a need for medical cannibis within the community, and they’re taking steps to be able to provide that for the community in a safe manner.”

While Seattle has taken measures to license medical marijuana dispensaries, such businesses are still in violation of federal law. If signed by Mayor Mike McGinn, the proposed ordinance would require medical marijuana businesses to comply with city codes, governing everything from plumbing to public nuisance complaints. From Reuters:

Seattle officials backing the proposed city ordinance say more than 25,000 of the city’s 600,000 residents use cannabis for medical reasons. They argue that regulation will bring more order to the burgeoning supply chain.

“We’re saying, ‘You’re already here, now we need to regulate you,'” Seattle Councilwoman Sally Clark said.

Clark told Reuters that some 80 medical marijuana dispensaries have sprung up in Seattle over the last few years, but of those, only about 50 have officially registered with the city. The mayor is expected to sign the ordinance as early as Tuesday. Once signed, the measure would go into effect in 30 days.

But not all medical marijuana proponents are praising the decision. Medical marijuana attorney Douglas Hiatt told The Seattle Times he’s planning to sue the city to block the action. “He says marijuana remains illegal under both federal and state law, and the city does not have authority to regulate an illegal substance,” according to the Times.

What do you think? Is it time for medical marijuana dispensaries to be full licensed by the city and state?

And while we’re on the topic, check out these stories from our sister sites on the gray area that exists in the world of medical marijuana and the Wallingford Cannabis Farmer’s Market.

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