Learn more about the Pike Pine Pedestrian Streets Pilot

The Capitol Hill EcoDistrict has been leading a community engagement and planning process – in partnership with other community groups and City departments – about piloting pedestrian-only streets in Pike Pine since the spring. Based on feedback from local businesses, residents, and City departments, and looking at examples in other cities, we think this idea has potential. 

In collaboration with Capitol Hill Housing, SDOT, Office of Economic Development, and Seattle Police Department, we will be testing out a series of pilot street closures in the Pike Pine area of Capitol Hill this August. See the latest update and details on the project here. 

Get involved – volunteer!

Why pedestrian-only streets?

The sustained nightlife explosion in that neighborhood has created a vibrant, public scene, but has also generated mobility, safety, and civility concerns. Other neighborhoods and cities have had success with the strategy of limiting vehicle access at certain times to make more space for people on foot and improve the feel of the street. The aim of this pilot is to test out and fine tune this approach to address the challenges our neighborhood is facing.

What do we want to achieve?

The pilot street closure project is intended to release the pressure that is built up on the limited sidewalk space. These temporarily open streets will allow for increased pedestrian mobility, improved police monitoring, and positive street activation through community-led programming.

We want streets where:

  • Everyone feels safe and welcome
  • We celebrate the LGBTQ and artistic culture and history of the neighborhood
  • The street is a platform for building community
  • There are no gates, no fences, no drinking in the street
  • Garage, delivery, and emergency vehicle access is maintained

Following up

As a pilot, the Pike Pine Pedestrian Streets will allow us to test out and experiment with temporary interventions that can then inform future nightlife management strategies. A key component of the pilot is *data collection as well as a community debrief and feedback process from the street experience. If the pilots go well, they could be recurring (monthly or weekly) in 2016.

*To better understand the dynamics and scale of this unique street environment, we will be conducting a series of pedestrian counts and surveys during weekend nights in July and August. With eight nights targeted for study, we need help. Interested in volunteering? Learn more here or contact Alex at abrennan(at)capitolhillhousing.org with questions.

More Resources:

Slides: PPPS Presentation – part 1PPPS Presentation – part 2

Case Study: Vancouver’s Street of Shame Report

Inspiration: Bogota’s night time Cyclovia [Video] 

Press coverage:


Examples of various “Open Streets” initiatives


Safe Streets for All – Central Seattle Greenways


As part of a city-wide coalition, Central Seattle Greenways advocates for people-focused and prioritized neighborhood streets in the Central Area, including Capitol Hill.

From organizing events, providing community input and local expertise on transit policies and plans and advocating for greenways, protected bike lanes, safer intersections and parklets, they envision and work to create neighborhood environments that are active, accessible, safe and fun!

Based on Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan, they work with SDOT to build a greenway network throughout the city.

What are Greenways?

Neighborhood greenways are traffic-calmed residential streets that are safe and comfortable for people walking, biking, pushing strollers, and using wheelchairs. Through the implementation of traffic calming measures – speed limits under 20 mph, speed humps – safer crossings, improved sidewalk infrastructure, signs and other place-making and activation activities, these streets are made safer and more comfortable for people of all ages and abilities to get around.

CSG series

As a volunteer-run group, Central Seattle Greenways (CSG)  is made up of neighborhood residents and stakeholders who believe in the potential of our streets. Recognizing that is takes a committed community of individuals, elected leaders, businesses, and organizations to create meaningful change, CSG brings an accessible, positive and passionate neighborhood voice and perspective to these often technical and top-down transportation projects. As their goals below demonstrate, these neighborhood advocates put transportation issues in their full local context of safety, livability, health, equity and community.


  • NGW DiagramEmpower neighbors to identify, advocate for, and activate safe and healthy streets for all people.
  • Create a connected network of safe, pleasant, and healthy streets in Seattle.
  • Make it easier for people to choose to walk, bike, or take transit for their daily transportation.
  • Make it easier for kids to walk and bike to school safely.
  • Work with the city to eliminate serious and fatal crashes (Vision Zero).
  • Prioritize people over cars.


Join the Central Seattle Greenways group in advocating for safe streets for all! Stay connected via facebook, the google group, or stop by a monthly meeting, the second Monday of each month at Cortona Cafe – all are welcome!

CSG pic

Current Projects:

The Central Area Neighborhood Greenway, built in conjunction with the 23rd Avenue repaving project, will provide a comfortable path for people walking and biking parallel to 23rd Ave from Rainier Ave S to E Roanoke St. The project is divided into three phases: Phase 1, from S Jackson to E John, will be finished by late July 2015. Phases 2 and 3, which extend the greenway south to 24th & Rainier and north to E Roanoke St, should be completed by early 2016.

Additionally, an East West Central Greenway along E Columbia from Broadway to 34th Ave is in the planning stages, and we expect SDOT to complete it in 2017. A greenway on E Denny, from 21st Ave to Broadway, linking East Capitol Hill with the new light rail station, is on SDOT’s work plan for completion in 2019. Central Seattle Greenways is working with several community groups, including Capitol Hill EcoDistrict, to make improvements at the key intersection of 12th Ave E and E Denny closer to the time of the light rail station’s opening. The Ridge Route greenway, which follows the ridge of the hill from Judkins Park to Volunteer Park, is also on SDOT’s work plan to be completed in 2019.

The Greenways’ Lets Talk Safe Streets campaign was recently featured on City Lab.

Rent Control, yes or no and why?

[This blog post was originally published July 10 in the CHS Seattle blog HERE]

How do you feel about rent control? We want to know. Participate in the online dialogue.


Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata are squaring off against Smart Growth Seattle Director Roger Valdez (and a player to be named later) on the topic of rent control. Scheduled for July 20th, this free-to-view cage match (kidding about the cage) promises to be bloody.

Both sides are passionate and articulate advocates from opposite sides of one of the most hotly debated topics in Seattle. Rent control, love it or hate it, is a possible intervention being considered for addressing the skyrocketing rents in Capitol Hill and across King County.

Where do you stand?

Mr. Valdez contends that we don’t need rent control; that rent control feels good (“who doesn’t want to the cost of rent to just stop?”) but actually makes housing prices go up and is, by the way, prohibited by state law.

Councilmember Sawant wants tenants, unions and community organizations to organize to pressure the state to remove its ban on rent control. Councilmember Licata agrees.

There are thousands of people in Seattle already living in rent controlled apartments, also known as affordable or subsidized housing, like the 47 buildings operated by Capitol Hill Housing. But there are far more apartment buildings that are not subsidized where rent rises and falls with the market.

How do you feel about rent control? Do you believe the City of Seattle should institute rent control as a partial solution to skyrocketing rents?





EcoDistrict Update – July

 Hello Neighbors!

It’s been an incredible month.  Pridefest is over but the rainbow sidewalks and SCOTUS decision(s) remain. July is here. We urge you to stay hydrated and check out the latest goings on in your EcoDistrict.

Thank you for your ongoing interest and support.


YOU’RE INVITED: Join us for a Capitol Hill Sustainability Social

Do you want to learn more about sustainability in your neighborhood? Join us for a Capitol Hill Sustainability Social on Monday July 6th! Meet your neighbors, hear from interesting organizations and enjoy delicious food and drink from Capitol Cider. RSVP here.

Community Profiles: Meet the EcoDistrict Co-chairs!

This new series highlights people making our neighborhood great. The inaugural post features the EcoDistrict Steering Committee co-chairs: Mike Mariano and Neelima Shah. Read it here!

District Shared Parkingcover

“Innovation in parking systems is an important way for communities to forge a low carbon, economically inclusive future.”

Last month we released a report on District Shared Parking, outlining the potential for a new parking management strategy in Pike Pine. You can read the full report here.

Volunteers Needed! Help make the Pedestrian Streets Pilot a success!

As part of the Pike Pine Pedestrian Streets Pilot happening in August, we are looking for volunteers to help with everything from data collection to set up to management. This work is crucial to the ensuring a safe, fun and positive street closure experience for everyone. Email Arielle at alawson@capitolhillhousing.org if interested.

mark your calendar

SATURDAY JULY 4th:  Cal Anderson Park Independence Day Picnic

Enjoy Cal Anderson’s annual 4th of July fun! This family friendly event has free food, activities, crafts and much more! 11am-4pm, Cal Anderson Park, 1635 11th Ave.

MONDAY July 6th: Capitol Hill Sustainability Social 

The Capitol Hill Sustainability Social will be an informal opportunity to get together and chat. Meet your neighbors, hear from interesting organizations and enjoy delicious food and drink from Capitol Cider! 6-8pm, Capitol Cider, basement room, 818 E. Pike St. RSVP here.

Sunday July 12th: Community Solar Celebration

With our Community Solar project fully subscribed, it’s time to celebrate! Seattle City Light is throwing a party in Cal Anderson Park to recognize all of the Community Solar participants and projects, including our project on the Holiday Apartments! Join us for music, ice cream and to hear about this awesome work. 1:30-2:30pm, Cal Anderson Park (N. of Shelter House), 1635 11th Ave. RSVP here.

In The News:

Check us out on facebook and twitter to catch all the updates!

Community Profiles: EcoDistrict Co-chairs

This EcoDistrict Community Profiles series highlights people who are working to make our neighborhood great. For the inaugural blog post, we’d like to introduce the co-chairs of the EcoDistrict Steering Committee: Mike Mariano and Neelima Shah.

Mike Mariano is an architect, Capitol Hill resident, and the father of a first grader at Lowell Elementary (Go Dragons!).


Mike, Grace and daughter Ella

Mike Mariano thinks globally and acts locally, especially when it comes to his personal and professional work around sustainability and community. As an architect and urban designer, he understands the importance of the human scale when creating and defining great places and resilient communities.

“Sustainability can’t just be about individual buildings. It needs to be about the collection of buildings and the synergy that all the people occupying those buildings bring to the community.”

After moving back to Seattle in the early 2000s, Mariano and his wife Grace Kim opened Schemata Workshop. This winter they will wrap up construction of their Capitol Hill Urban Co-Housing project, an inter-generational urban community committed to sustainable living. “We often sum up our work as the responsibility to bring a little more ‘hygge’ to our community.” Hygge – a Danish word with no exact translation in English – represents the feeling of belonging, contentment and quality of social experience within the built environment. It also speaks to Mariano’s values and commitment to a sense of place, quality of life and shared community.

Now with a young daughter, he enjoys experiencing the neighborhood through her eyes and building for long-term sustainability. “Commit to your neighborhood – its locally owned shops, services, schools and culture. We can do all this while providing safe places to walk, bike, play, work and live.”

Mariano brings this same ethos to co-chairing the EcoDistrict Steering Committee, where he emphasizes strengthening community connections, building collective action and advancing a holistic vision. “It’s about thinking long-term, especially for the people that make our neighborhood what it is—and who are at risk of displacement.” Mariano is especially interested in housing affordability and how to provide it in innovative and creative ways, like co-housing.



Neelima Shah is a human rights and environment advocate, lifelong vegetarian, mom, and program manager at the Bullitt Foundation.

neelima and lucca

Neelima Shah moved to Seattle for a UW master’s program in the early 2000s and never left. She finds peace and calm through hiking, her yoga practice and by spending time with friends, her husband Scott, her four legged daughter Lucca, and her two legged daughter Aria.

As the Program Officer for Urban Ecology at the Bullitt Foundation, Shah leverages Foundation funding to promote responsible human activities and sustainable communities. “Addressing huge issues like climate change can be overwhelming, but I think one of the key strategies and opportunities for both people and the planet lies within our cities—we need to foster dense, livable and sustainable urban environments.”

Shah was an early champion of the EcoDistrict model as it emerged in Portland and helped bring the idea to Capitol Hill.

“People care about their neighborhoods—it’s a scale at which everyday people can take tangible action and see progress.”

The EcoDistrict model provides a framework for collective action and the ability to test solutions at the neighborhood scale. Shah believes the EcoDistrict can serve as a model and inspiration for other neighborhoods. Ultimately, she says, it’s about bringing people together to create meaningful change.“We’re working at the intersection of human and environmental well-being and that is why we will be successful.”

EcoDistrict Update – June

 Hello EcoDistrict supporters, enthusiasts and friends!

After months of work we’ve finally released our District Shared Parking report. We’re also getting feedback on piloting Pedestrian Streets in Pike/Pine. Check out these updates as well as Joel Sisolak’s latest blog post and learn how you can take action to promote a sustainable and equitable community.

Thank you for your ongoing interest and support.

ecodistrict pic

District Shared Parking Report Releasedcover

Parking is often a contentious issue, but there’s little question that we should use the parking that we do have more efficiently. The potential for such a strategy in Pike Pine is detailed in our 2015 report District Shared Parking: Program, Policy, and Technology – Strategies for a More Resilient Parking System in Pike Pine. Share your feedback with us!

Nothing Endures but Change: Lessons on Community Resilience 

Experimentation and shared learning are critical in resource management and in shared housing. The model also applies in urban neighborhoods. Read Joel’s blog post here to learn more (originally posted on the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog here).

Piloting Pedestrian Streets in Pike/Pine – we want your feedback!

ped street poster sm

The EcoDistrict is The Capitol Hill EcoDistrict is leading a community engagement and planning process – in partnership with other community groups and City departments – about piloting pedestrian-only streets in Pike/Pine a couple times this August.

Learn more and take our survey!

photo recap graphic



Check out some pictures from last month’s events you might have missed!

Bike to Work Day Station We have some pretty awesome bike commuters in the EcoDistrict.
Forterra Breakfast Awards We pledged to support neighborhood sustainability #ForThisPlace.
We’re Community Solar-Powered New pictures of our panels on the Holiday Apartments.
CHCC Pedestrian Streets Meeting The Capitol Hill Community Council hosted an interactive community meeting to get feedback on the idea of piloting Pedestrian Streets in Pike/Pine.

In The News:

Check us out on facebook and twitter to catch all the updates!

Piloting Pedestrian Streets in Pike/Pine

The Capitol Hill EcoDistrict is leading a community engagement and planning process – in partnership with other community groups and City departments – about piloting pedestrian-only streets in Pike/Pine this August. Click here for updates on the project!

ped streets graphic

Photo credit: Tim Durkan

These pilots would close down a few blocks of Pike and/or 10th and/or 11th to cars – and open them up to people and positive, community-led programming.  If they go well, they could be recurring (monthly or weekly) in 2016. 

We want streets where:

  • Everyone feels safe and welcome
  • We celebrate the LGBTQ and artistic culture and history of the neighborhood
  • The street is a platform for building community
  • There are no gates, no fences, no drinking in the street
  • Garage, delivery, and emergency vehicle access is maintained

We are considering testing this out on two or three late Friday and/or Saturday nights in August to address challenges like:

  • Nightlife and crowd management/mitigation
  • Violence, including gaybashing and sexual harassment
  • Public urination, defecation, vomiting and vandalism

We are also looking at one 2nd Thursday Artwalk evening and one Sunday daytime as community building opportunities.

Other neighborhoods have had success with the strategy of limiting vehicle access at certain times to make more space for people on foot and improve the feel of the street.  However, we recognize that there are also concerns about this approach and want to make sure they are heard. 

Give us your input! [survey now closed].

Pedestrian streets meeting pic

For more information or if you’d like to talk further, please contact Alex at ABrennan@capitolhillhousing.orgphoto

Nothing endures but change: lessons in community resilience

[this blog post was originally published May 30 in the CHS Seattle blog HERE]
A couple of years ago, I helped to facilitate a retreat at an old Boy Scout camp near Monroe. It was a cold wet November weekend and the accommodations were Spartan, which is generally code for uncomfortable and in this case, moldy.

Somehow the weather and smelly cabins didn’t faze the participants, a few dozen bright eyed volunteers with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC). These 20-somethings had agreed to be paid $100 per month and live in shared housing for a year while working in various direct service jobs in the Pacific Northwest. The theme of the retreat was “living in community.”

PRAG House

(Image: PRAG House)

Some folks love communal living. PRAG House on Capitol Hill is “an urban housing cooperative that seeks to foster community and sustainable lifestyles” and many others live on Capitol Hill in less formal shared arrangements because it’s more affordable than a 1-bedroom apartment and it can be nice to have a ready group to hang out with on the weekends.

At the retreat I opened my talk with a quote from Heraclitus of Ephesus, aka the “Weeping Philosopher,” who said, “Nothing endures but change.” Heraclitus was a recluse with few friends, which is not so surprising. He reminded everyone that the universe is dynamic, ever changing, and that shit happens. That makes for a good bumper sticker, but isn’t a very popular message.

I don’t think people actually dislike change as much as they dislike the ambiguity and chaos it implies. The gray area between now and then that makes us anxious and causes us to dig in our heels like four-year-olds faced with a trip to the doctor’s office. “Ambiguity aversion” causes people to react as if they have received no information at all when what they really have received is ambiguous information. Ambiguity is the unpleasant first cousin of uncertainty.

Here’s where I introduced my audience to unpopular idea number two: Communities are complex systems and complexity increases uncertainty. When you’re living with a bunch of people, things will blow up that may be hard to predict. Some of these will be more annoying than devastating, like when your roommate enters a relationship with a barnacle-like boyfriend who insists on addressing everyone in the house as “bro” and consistently leaves your towel wet on the bathroom floor. Or worse, the rent suddenly goes from a third to half your paycheck. Or perhaps a big bad wolf is coming to blow your house down to make room for shiny new apartments over a gastropub.

“Our ability to cope with uncertainty is one of the most important requirements for success in life, yet also one of the most neglected. We may not appreciate just how often we’re required to exercise it, and how much impact our ability to do so can have on our lives, and even on the whole of society.” – Dylan Evans

We constantly face uncertainty and change in our homes, especially when we live with multiple people. I suggested that the JVs look to natural ecosystems for clues on how they’ve managed to keep calm and carry on during eons of uncertainty and change.

The resilience of natural ecosystems stems from two key ingredients: diversity and interdependence. Genetic diversity within a single species prevents the rapid spread of diseases and helps a species adjust to changes in their environment. A diversity of species allows for ecosystems to adjust to disturbances like fires and floods. For example, if a single insect species goes extinct (I vote for mosquitoes), a forest with 200 other insect species is likely to adapt better than another forest with only one type of insect. Interdependence means that every organism needs other organisms to survive, and every species needs other species—to eat, to shelter, to breathe, to reproduce, and to thrive. As John Muir, the legendary founder of the Sierra Club, famously said, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

So, how does this translate to the resilience of communal living?

LESSON 1: Respect diversity. When you’re living with a bunch of people, take time to understand what each person brings to the table in terms of skills and biases. Also, make sure everyone is heard in your house decision-making. The diversity of opinion is important. Understand that people have different communication styles and needs. Honor your introverts! You may think a game of drunken jenga is a great way to wind down after a long workday, but your introverted friend might disappear with a book.

LESSON 2: Practice interdependence. Have clear expectations about what communal living means to each housemate and make sure that every person has a role in keeping house. When something changes, and you know it will, don’t wait too long before bringing it up. The obnoxious boyfriend won’t become less annoying if you try to ignore him. Share stuff and skills. Perhaps most importantly, establish clear lines of communication and be intentional about checking in on how things are going.

Dealing with the complexities of communal living takes trial and error. This is true in any complex system. Most habitat conservation organizations practice adaptive management, which is a science-based resource management strategy that assumes a degree of uncertainty. It involves exploring alternative ways to meet management objectives, using scenarios and modeling to predict the outcomes of the alternatives, then implementing one or more alternatives and closely monitoring its impacts.

Adaptive management is a group-learning model that involves careful experimentation based on “the current state of knowledge” or what’s more commonly called the “best available science.” The term “best available science” suggests humility: “Here’s our best guess, but keep in mind there’s a bunch of stuff we don’t know.” Scientists use the term to remind us that natural systems are complex and dynamic, which means they can change and that making decisions based on current knowledge should be done cautiously and with great attention.


Adaptive management framework

Experimentation and shared learning are critical in resource management and in shared housing. The model also applies in urban neighborhoods. Capitol Hill is experiencing rapid change and a lot of uncertainty. Last winter, Resource Media hosted focus groups to determine what Hill residents love about living in the neighborhood, and what most concerns them about where the neighborhood seems to be going. The focus groups revealed that residents feel uncertain how to influence the rapid changes to the neighborhood, and that development is happening to them, not with them. Residents don’t know where or when the next shoe will drop or what to do about it. The neighborhood is bristling with ambiguity aversion.

The Kresge Foundation defines urban resilience as “the capacity of a community to anticipate, plan for, and mitigate the risks—and seize the opportunities—associated with environmental and social change.” This suggests that changes can be anticipated. Some can, like the fact that more people are going to move to Capitol Hill and want places to live. Other changes will surprise us, so how do we as a neighborhood address our own resilience?

As with natural systems and shared housing, diversity is a critical asset for neighborhoods. In The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs writes: “Dull, inert cities… contain the seeds of their own destruction and little else. But lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration, with energy enough to carry over for problems and needs outside themselves.”

Of course, diversity itself isn’t enough. The seeds Jacobs describes will only germinate in a community committed to its own resilience. In his recent post on this siteCHCC’s Zachary Pullin writes: “If we continue building community, if we further seek a connection to our land, our history, and our neighbors, then we can shape the change happening to us. If we continue building connectedness, we will avoid becoming refugees from our own community.” Sounds like interdependence to me.

Next comes careful experimentation, or to use a less scary word, innovation. The Capitol Hill EcoDistrict hopes to be a catalyst for innovation in the neighborhood, a place to try promising strategies for building resilience. Last fall we launched a community solar project to help finance renewable energy on affordable housing. It is the first project of its kind in the state. This past week, we published a report that lays out a vision for piloting a shared parking district in Pike Pine, the first of its kind in Seattle.We are doing some interesting things, but we need to broaden our work to include more of the neighborhood’s diversity. One of our next big initiatives, assuming we can get it funded, will seek to engage renters, a group often missing from important community decision-making, in helping to define how the next wave of development flows through the neighborhood. This will be an experiment in democracy that honors the diversity of the EcoDistrict’s residents, and we hope builds a greater sense of power in a neighborhood that has been rocked on its heels by a succession of changes.

If you live in an apartment, either by yourself or in a shared living situation, we need you and your perspective! The EcoDistrict renter engagement effort will inform future EcoDistrict efforts and, we hope, the next update to the Capitol Hill neighborhood plan, which hasn’t been updated since 1998. We will be recruiting “Building Ambassadors” from apartment buildings across the neighborhood help lead this effort. Please email me,jsisolak@capitolhillhousing.org, if you wish to be involved.

Nothing endures but change. Thankfully, Capitol Hill contains the seeds of its own resilience. We hope the EcoDistrict provides fertile ground where we honor diversity, practice interdependence and where, through shared commitment and innovation, we come together as a community to seize the opportunities before us.

CHH is hiring a Sustainability Manager

The work of the EcoDistrict and Capitol Hill Housing’s internal commitment to green building continues to expand. Yesterday, we posted a new job announcement to hire a Sustainability Manager.  The Sustainability Manager will need to have good communication and community development skills, passion for all things sustainable, business development savvy, and know how for taking a project on her/his shoulders and running like the wind. A sense of humor is a big plus.

More details about the job can be found HERE on the CHH web page. Interested?imgres

District Shared Parking Report Released

Parking is one of the most local of transportation issues, a hidden factor shaping the built environment and with significant costs associated with it. Parking is expensive to build and operate in dense urban neighborhoods like Capitol Hill.  Oversupply and inefficient use of parking can needlessly drive up the cost of living while subsidizing car ownership.  Lack of on-site parking can also motivate property owners to demolish treasured older buildings.

To address these issues the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict has developed an exciting new parking management strategy: district shared parking.  The potential for such a strategy in Pike Pine is detailed in our 2015 report District Shared Parking: Program, Policy, and Technology – Strategies for a More Resilient Parking System in Pike Pine.cover

District shared parking is the idea that many parking garages in a growing, walkable district should work together and share users almost as if they were one garage.  The concept combines the benefits of many types of sharing – people in buildings without enough parking can lease spaces from buildings that have too much parking, new buildings can lease spaces from existing buildings that have excess supply, and daytime users and nighttime users can share a pool of spaces to reduce overall demand – with the scale, flexibility, and redundancy of a distributed district system.

In 2015, Capitol Hill Housing is beginning to implement recommendations from the report.  For more information please contact Alex Brennan at abrennan[at]capitolhillecodistrict[dot]org

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