Grocery Store Saturation

Our ol’ neighborhood of West Seattle has had plenty of excitement in the grocery store department lately. This month we had the re-opening of the newly completely remodeled PCC as well as the long awaited opening of Whole Foods. Not to be left in the dust, Metropolitan Market has been doing a major remodel to keep up with the new competition.

Yesterday, I visited PCC yesterday and today I checked out Whole Foods and it’s interesting what our grocery stores have and don’t have. I do plan on revisiting and writing a more in-depth post – however, I thought I’d share my first impressions on our current grocery stores in West Seattle. Before we proceed, please know I’m a total foodie, I love to cook and enjoy my wine…and sadly, I am a grocery store snob. I am a long time shopper at Met Market which started when we lived less than a block away from the store and I would just buy enough groceries for that day or what ever we could carry, and walk home. When writing these reviews, I’m probably comparing everything to my long time favorite store.

Let’s start with parking lots. When I went to PCC yesterday (before 5pm) I was surprised at how tight the parking lot is (I’m not a fan of Thriftway’s parking lot either). First impressions of the store – it’s beautiful. I suddenly understood why Metropolitan Market probably felt they had to remodel with this one-two punch coming to West Seattle. The produce is beautiful. Meat department looks great and the to go dishes look fantastic… I need to go back and check them out. I was happy to find Nancy’s non-fat Greek yogurt. The wine department is lacking a little and a bit unorganized. It has a somewhat limited selection of groceries. I probably need to learn how to shop at PCC.

Whole Foods has an underground parking lot that will be especially popular on rainy days. Like PCC, it’s a beautiful, open and airy store. I was surprised at how big the health care section was and that they actually had blankets/throws, slippers, tops, etc. for sale. This section (health/beauty/clothing) took up a significant part of the store. The produce was beautiful and Amazon Prime members receive additional incentives for shopping here. I was able to find Gochugaru for a spicy Korean dish I’m making tonight (which I could not find at PCC or Met Market). I needed some assistance finding horseradish – which I have to say, the customer service was excellent. I could not find maraschino cherries for an Old Fashioned…or any maraschino cherries. Whole Foods has a great looking meat/seafood department and so many “to go” dishes to check out on a future visit. On the elevator back to the covered parking lot, I complimented a woman on her glasses and she asked me what I thought of store and I told her I’m surprised what it had and what it didn’t. She agreed and said other Whole Foods stores have a much larger grocery department than this store which surprised her because of how larger this store is.

From Whole Foods, today I went to Thriftway because I was in search of maraschino cherries – which they had a great selection of. Thriftway is great. I know this probably sounds weird – but I don’t like the parking lot. It’s a bit cramped with the design. Thriftway overall is a solid grocery store. It may not have the new flash that the other three stores have, but overall, it has a wide selection of groceries (probably better than Whole Foods or PCC) and they tend to have better prices. There have been a few items that I’ve been surprised to find priced better at Met Market than Thriftway. Thriftway also has a nice kitchen shop, like Met Market. I don’t think PCC or Whole Foods have kitchen supply departments that compare. Thriftway also has a better liquor and wine department than PCC or Whole Foods.

Metropolitan Market…boy you’ve been putting your long time, loyal clients through some hoops with the remodel…but after visiting Whole Foods and PCC, I understand this move. During the remodel I was kind of put back by how much it seemed MM was trying to be PCC and WH with adding the bulk food bins and bringing back (with an oomph) cosmetics. It’s been hard for a lot of regulars going through the transition and having things move or no longer be available but it all makes sense to me now. Met Market has a great produce and meat department. Hubby has always loved the Cubano and the Rueben is really good too! They have been branching out into so many various “to go” foods that I have not had a chance to try them all out. The kitchen shop is a local resource – especially since J.F. Henry has closed.

I recently started checking out Trader Joes… pretty much because friends of ours buy addictive chocolate covered raisins from there. Since going to TJ’s I’ve started checking out a few other items and I have a new found appreciation for this store too…but I prefer the other stores for produce and meats.

QFC and Safeway… I just don’t find myself shopping there often. The Safeway on Admiral is nicer and you can find some great deals there. Hubby says the liquor guy at Safeway on Admiral is very knowledgeable, funny and very customer service oriented.

Of course I love the West Seattle Farmers Market… just the whole neighborhood experience is worth walking through it on Sundays. I have a hard time buying store bought salad and I’m a little bummed when it’s out of season.

I do plan to write an updated post after I check out the new stores again… I’ll try to include some pics too!

Bottom line, the addition of the new grocery stores means that they are competing for our business. I’m noticing some lower prices at the high priced stores and coupons being sent in the mail… a win for consumers, at least for now.

What are your favorite West Seattle Grocery Stores?

Just another day in the park

There was an emergency call out yesterday afternoon at Me Kwa Mooks Park. Scupper and I decided to check it out and discovered that a young man had a seizure. The response was significant with a fire ladder truck, police and a “paddy wagon” due to the type of call that required at least seven to respond.

We didn’t know what to expect as we approached the park. The park and all along Beach Drive is busier with the warmer weather and there are more people who are camping along the street. Scupper and I said nothing as we approached the scene passing people who were completely enjoying their Sunday afternoon picnicking with friends, reading their books and soaking in the sun.

When we reached the scene, a young man was laying motionless on the park lawn near the sidewalk. The police and firemen were around him. We were told that he “suffered a seizure”.

Everyone enjoying the park seemed oblivious by the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles parked along the park.  Scupper and I starting walking back home as an ambulance headed back toward the park.

It wasn’t until we got home that we talked about how surreal the whole seen was. Have we become so used to extreme things happening, whether it’s crime, reckless drivers, homelessness, drugs OD’s or mental health issues that we’re completely unfazed? Were people in the park just trying to mind their own business or is this just another day in the park?

P.S. After getting back home, while we were taking the garbage out to the curb, we could hear someone screaming obscenities from the park for several minutes. No gun shots…thankfully!

 

Beach Drive short term rental properties under direct fire (opinion)

Representation of known short term rental units in Seattle

More like a scattered shot gun approach if you ask me. The Seattle Mayor & esteemed Council members are set to propose strict regs on ALL short term (under 30 days) rental properties in the entire city. That of course includes all of West Seattle and the handful of units on Beach Drive which yours truly just went live with in May. 

The purpose and intention of the proposed legislation is to discourage homeowners with non-owner occupied properties to choose housing out of town tourists over more permanent long term renters. If it all goes as planned, the Council predicts there will be 300 new long term rental units on the market.  They stop short on claiming they’ll be “affordable” but that’s what they really want, and frankly should want.

Councilmember Tim Burgess that chairs Affordable Housing prides himself on using “smart policies and evidence-based solutions”. Really?

From personal experience, the few guests we have hosted so far have either had family living in West Seattle, were referred by neighbors that don’t have enough space for out of town relatives, a family from Minnesota that drove up from Portland to hang out and see a Twins game at Safeco Field, and a local West Seattle resident celebrating a landmark birthday with her out of area friends as a stay-cation. What they all had in common is…

  • They did not want to rent a hotel downtown and fight traffic and parking.
  • They did not want to stay in the basement of someone’s primary residence.
  • They all wanted a private waterfront home all to themselves which is not available anywhere commercially in the city.
  • They all spent a majority of time & money hanging out in West Seattle.

Other than required licensing, the Council is not going to hinder homeowners that are using their primary residence for housing STR guests. The idea is that this segment of the market is merely trying to make ends meet and subjecting them to the proposed regs wouldn’t result in additional permanent units anyhow. Well, the only 2 homeowners I know around here using their primary residence as a STR have entire apartment units on their lower floor and choose short term rather than permanent renters. Not trying to pull them into the crab boil as well but it probably won’t be long before the City sics their proposed staff of STR inspector goons on them as well!

Now we need to make a decision what to do with our house next door if the legislation passes through as proposed. Rent it out on a permanent basis? No, we also like the flexibility of using it for ourselves, family & friends. Sell it? Maybe some years down the road. Bottom line is that the City of Seattle will miss out on any further taxes & licensing fees we generate and West Seattle establishments will lose some year around tourism dollars. It’s just too much work & expense to run a STR like ours for the proposed limit of 90 days a year when the break even point is more like around 160 days.

 

WShotel

West Seattle’s one and only hotel/motel

I’m not saying a problem doesn’t exist in other parts of the city. All of Burgess’s example’s of why short term rentals are cheating permanent locals from finding affordable housing border downtown Seattle. He claims extreme abuses of entire apartment/condo floors being held out for STR to tourists. We’ve recently learned that “entrepreneurs” are actually renting out permanent apartment space and then jacking the rent to STR guests all with 100% approval of the building’s management team (also receiving a cut, of course). I also wouldn’t be surprised if abuses are taking place with the recent high density rezoning and micro housing attended for gram & gramps or permanent local renters.

Seems to me that the Council and Mayor should be targeting those abuses rather than ma & pa on Beach Drive.

 

Scupper, reporting/ranting for Beach Drive Blog

Slow down with Proposition 1 …opinion

SDOT’s new levy project to move most of Seattle sounds like another great plan for West Seattle (remember the monorail Green Line?). Status quo with more bike lanes and speed enforcement is exactly what we need! Let’s take closer look at each enhancement…

Fauntleroy WayKey elements include paving, adding a protected bike lane, transit enhancements, and signal upgrades, improving safety and reliability for all travelers. Sounds terrific for Vashon Island comutters. How much $ are they contributing again??

Roxbury Street & 35th AveOver the last three years, 294 collisions, 128 injuries, and 2 fatalities have occurred. We are currently planning and designing near-term safety improvements paired with education and enforcement, working towards the city’s Vision. I believe a majority of these accidents occur from drivers slamming on their breaks trying to avoid the traffic-cop camera’s mailing out $190 tickets for doing 22 in a 20mph School Zone… when lights are flashing or children present or distracted by taking your eyes off the road to get a read on the myriad of signs designed to “educate us”.

SW Alaska Street:  The levy would provide funding to make safety improvements like redesigning the roadway. That’s an easy one. Just put the design back to where it was before adding the “bus only” & the staggered right turn only lane. Can you imagine being an out-of-towner trying to drive that stretch all the way to the junction?

Admiral Way: Project Goals

  • Encourage slower speeds  Tell that to the bikers doing 40 mph down the hill.
  • Reduce collisions  Collisions happen.
  • Accommodate existing maximum on-street parking occupancy There’s plenty of occupancy in motor homes & vans along Beach Drive.
  • Provide a comfortable and predictable bike connection between Alki and California Ave business district Why just bikes?

Here’s a more comprehensive plan that’s much more inclusive to our residents…

Admiral_proposal

 

The rest of the levy just repairs what we already have at a cost of $275 per year per household (median household of 450K) as opposed to the $130 we’re currently paying with the Bridge the Gap levy.

I’m convinced that the rest of the city just believes we West Seattleites love a good parade and need to slow down. While crawling in traffic between Admiral & Fauntleroy junctions yesterday, I reminisced of escorting my HiYu princess along California Ave. I wanted to roll down my window and give the float wave to all the angry impatient drivers heading the other way.

If you ask me, the rest of the city better look out. Old timers tell us it only took 71 years to get the high level bridge over the Duwamish!

Seattleites endured in trying to secure a high-level bridge that would get them to and from “the mainland” without being held up by boat traffic along the Duwamish River.

West Seattleites began campaigning for the bridge in 1916 and at one point threatened to secede from the city if it didn’t deliver.

Thank goodness we now have the West Seattle Bridge. Where else can you sit in traffic all day, soak in the wonderful views and dream of the day Starbucks can land a 4th cup of jo on your car hood’s drone pad.

They first named Alki “little New York” when the city founders came ashore. Now with all the new high density residential buildings coming on-line, we are becoming the “little Manhattan Island” of Seattle and could use a transportation plan that helps us get around.

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Scupper, blathering opinions on Beach Drive Blog (My wife, the blog boss, only allows me 1 opinion per year!)

Comment period open for Emma Schmitz Memorial seawall project

With an official press release due out as soon as this Monday, Beach Drive Blog has been notified by Seattle Parks and the Seattle District of the US Army Corp of Engineers that public comment is now open in regard to the pending seawall replacement for the southern section of Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook Park. Public Comment closes December 31st 2014. Click here for the Public Notice. Comments may be e-mailed to Melissa.L.Leslie@usace.army.mil.

Tanya M King, Public Affairs Specialist with the Corp is very interested in being the single point of contact for any unofficial comments or concerns residents may have regarding the project. There are several different public entities within the immediate scope of the project (Seattle Parks, King County sewer and road, City of Seattle utilities & sidewalk, etc) and Tanya is committed to work with all jurisdictions to get your answers “it may take a day or two or even longer in some cases, but I will do my best to make life easier for residents looking for answers or expressing concerns”. Please see Tanya’s contact info at the bottom of post.

We wrote an article back in April when Becky Rufin, Parks Engineering Manager with Seattle Parks & Rec was kind enough to share the 64 page proposed plan for the new seawall. Per Becky’s email today…

If approved by the federal government, the Seattle Parks Department will be entering into a cost-sharing agreement for replacement of this aging structure. Project design and construction would actually be executed by USACE.
Please note there is currently a public review period open for the proposal, and comments must be received by December 31, 2014.

Beach Drive Blog asked Tanya to confirm a few specifics regarding the project. She responded before I could even finish the post!

How much taller will the new wall stand above the existing? 2 to 3 feet

Is any type of railing going to be installed? Too early to tell. Not to that level of design stage yet but it would be built low if built at all.

What if any new landscaping will there be? Would work with parks dept. but low native shrub/vegetation is what we’d expect in respecting neighbor’s views.

One new aspect to the plan is in respect of losing a few feet of public beach when the proposed wall is built in front of the old wall…

Due to the close proximity of the sewer main to the existing seawall structure, moving the alignment of the new seawall landward was assumed to increase the risks of potential failures during construction and significantly increase overall costs of the project. Therefore, the decision was made to move the alignment slightly waterward and mitigate for any nearshore (beach) area lost as a result of the project. A small amount (0.02 acres) of beach would be lost due to the footprint of the new seawall. To offset the loss of habitat, the project would reclaim adjacent beach habitat by removing a portion of riprap placed in the 1998 City of Seattle emergency repair. This entails lengthening the amount of seawall installed in order to stabilize the shoreline back to or near its pre- 1998 alignment and removing the waterward riprap and fill materials. The proposed ratio would be a 1:1 replacement as this habitat reclaims the lost habitat imposed by the new seawall and could begin to function immediately post-construction.

I think Emma herself would be pleased to know her overlook park could grow a little wider…

OmiSchmitz

This 1940’s photo shows Emma (on right) with her daughter-in-law Frankie posing beside the old family mansion that once stood where Mee-Kwa-Mooks Park is now. Courtesy of Bob Thomas who found the photo in an attic of a property he now owns.

Again, please contact Tanya for any unofficial (non-public) questions or concerns regarding this long overdue project,

Tanya M. King
Public Affairs Specialist
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District
206-764-6958 (office)
206-422-2679 (cell)
206-764-3769 (fax)
http://www.nws.usace.army.mil 

 

 

Scupper, reporting for Beach Drive Blog

My thoughts following Greggette Guy’s Vigil

As residents of Beach Drive, who live not far from Emma Schmitz Park, we joined with others to take part in Greggette Guy's vigil on Sunday evening. After taking a stand to walk united in her memory and listening to her father's tearful plea to make the park safer, some ideas have been formulating.

Greggette's father would like the dark lower sidewalk of Emma Schmitz, often covered in graffiti and not in street view, to be closed at dusk and better lit. He would also like a memorial in her name.  What if we, as a community, come together to have a light installed to make the lower sidewalk safer and have it dedicated in Greggette's name

I'm reading on West Seattle Blog tonight that the Seattle Police Department state they feel the murder probably took place in that section of the park.  Representatives from the city have shared stats of how safe Beach Drive is…in my opinion, two murders in that park in that area in 20 years in the same area is not acceptable.  Pruning back and removing shrubs is not enough.  Even with ALL shrubs removed, a murder or other crimes could happen without anyone being able to witness from the street.  The lower sidewalk, as Greggette's father said on Sunday evening, is a "death trap". 

Via Facebook today, I noticed that Sally Bagshaw was promoting a "large public funds neighborhood match" program.  I feel that the city should have the responsibility of keeping that sidewalk safe and well lit to avoid crimes.  Perhaps our Beach Drive community can help raise funds to do something special to dedicate the lighting in Greggette's memory.  Funds may also be raised to help increase the reward for tips leading to the capture of her murderer.

Again, just some of my thoughts in light of recent events.

What can we do?

What can you do?

Who do you know?

I'm proud to be a West Seattle-ite and love my neighborhood. I'm so saddened about what happened to Greggette. Let's take action as a community to do what we can to make sure this doesn't happen again.

I would love to start fund raising and would appreciate hearing any advice or input from our readers who have experience with this.

Everyone and anyone reading this post CAN do SOMETHING.

Moon Shell Harvesting–Your Thoughts?

DSC_0021 Last week I noticed a group of men that appeared to be collecting a significant amount of moon shells along the beach in front of Emma Schmitz Memorial View Point.    I also see this person (photo) on a regular basis doing the same…armed with decent size tote, plucking many shells from the beach. 

One day I asked this person what she was doing (she had gone well past the park and was on private property); she informed she was collecting moon shells and beach glass. 

One shell here or there may not make a significant change but weekly raidings may have an environmental impact.   I have no idea if the moon shells are being harvested for food or decor.

What are your thoughts?    

Another Beach Drive Teardown

The Barn Swallows, I’ve been writing about, have been living in a home that looks like is a flip on Beach Drive.   Today, some of the people who have been doing a few of the improvements on this property re-appeared to weed and tidy up the listing and in the process, removed their nest.

I know it’s not quite a tear down on a human scale.  I’m just listening to the birds chirp like crazy right now wondering what on earth happened to their humble home.   Hopefully it was time for the Barn Swallows to move on anyhow.

Update:  here is a great link contributed by a Beach Drive neighbor: http://www.zoo.org/factsheets/barn_swallow.html

Bikes on Sidewalks

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I’m always kind of surprised when I see a perfectly capable adult riding their bike on a  sidewalk when they could be on Beach Drive.  Come on folks, we have sharrows!

Beach Drive is loaded with hidden driveways and plenty of pedestrians too.   If a sidewalk-biker believes they are safer than being on the road, I beg to differ. 

The nice lady pictured here apologized as she blew past me and my dog last weekend.    I can totally understand being on the sidewalk with your bicycle…if you have training wheels.

Please Don’t Pass

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I’ve been noticing more and more passing with anxious drivers along Beach Drive.   Last weekend, I witnessed a small red car (a Rabbit?) pass a driver who was going around 30 mph (which happens to be the speed limit).   The car went into the other lane and nearly missed a bicyclist that was approaching in the oncoming lane.   I’ve seen all kinds of cars from exotics to clunkers pass other vehicles with drivers of all ages.

This is Beach DRIVE.  Not Beach Freeway or Beach Highway.  This neighborhood is full of families and pets.  With all the parks and Puget Sound, Beach Drive attracts bicyclist, runners, walkers…just people out for a stroll.  It’s a small strip of road that is dense with population.   And with the swerves, bumps and side streets, it’s not accommodating to high speeds.    

The passing I’ve seen lately is dangerous and it’s only time before an accident happens and someone is hurt.   Slow it down to 30 mph, folks.  Please reconsider passing the driver in front of you…most times, if someone is driving too slow, taking in the view, they’ll pull over and let you by when there’s room to do so.