Reader asks drivers to slow down

Bekki wrote and asked us to share her request for drivers who travel on West Viewmont Way.

I would like to request a blog entry of a suggestion for drivers to consider obeying the speed limit in this area.  The area that we live in, the 3000 block, experiences a number of drivers, on any given day, who drive with what seems to be without regard for the speed limit.  We see individuals speed up and down this road, racing at times, and even clipping parked cars as they make the curve up toward Discovery Park. It’s dangerous and just plain rude.

Please drive as though your children play in this area; as though your loved ones are making their way across the street, etc. The speeds with which many of the drivers zoom up and down this road are becoming ridiculous; and nearly every weekend we witness what appears to be street racing.  We are working to get speed bumps installed, but in the mean time, could drivers please show some compassion.

Magnolia Manor Park input needed

This is a busy week for the Magnolia Manor Park project.  There are two opportunities for the community to have a say in what is included at the park site. 

The first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday (2/2), from 6:30pm ? 8:30pm at the Magnolia Presbyterian Church at 3500 28th Ave. West. This community meeting will give participants the chance to learn about the background of the park and brainstorm ideas.

On Saturday (3/5) the public is invited for an informal walk in the park from 10a.m. ? 12p.m. at 3500 28th Ave. West.  The Landscape Architect for the project, and members of the project steering committee will walk the site and answer questions.

The plan will incorporate a dog off leash area which has been in the works since a decision in 2006 by the Parks Board of Trustees and Parks Superintendent.  Depending on community input, other elements that will be considered for the park include community gardens, a children?s play area and picnic areas.

Sustainable Magnolia has received funding from the Department of Neighborhoods through its Small and Simple matching grant program to fund a project entitled ?Envisioning a Vibrant Community Gathering Place for Manor Park.? The amount awarded is $20,000, and is expected to be matched in the form of volunteer hours and resources.

There is a design workshop on April 9 at 10a.m. to present the three plans generated at this week?s meetings and the preferred design will be available in June.  We will keep you posted as the dates get closer.

Sign in at Magnolia Community Center

Beginning Monday, (2/28) Seattle Parks and Recreation will ask customers at all city community centers, including Magnolia, to sign in indicating their age group and time of arrival.

The pilot project, which will last two weeks, will help Parks staff respond to a City Council directive to reconsider how community centers are operated. After two weeks they will evaluate the information and decide whether to extend it for 10 more weeks.

This is a result of the budget problems facing the community centers.   The cost to run the centers far exceeds revenue brought in from center programs.  The city is exploring a variety of alternatives and that?s why they want to learn the average age groups, frequency of visits, and numbers of people visiting community centers each day. 

Monthly real estate update

Each month we ask Magnolia Voice real estate expert Whitney Mason from Coldwell Banker Bain Associates to bring us the latest on the real estate market  in our area.  Here is Mason?s assessment from   statistics compiled from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NMLS). 

Looking back at the first month of 2011 and the last month of 2010, and then looking at how 2010 compared to 2009, market improvement in Magnolia appears to be occurring, with an increased number of sales and overall inventory down.   

Since January 1 through the first 2 weeks in February, there have been 21 closed sales (combining single family residences (SFRs & condos) ranging in sales prices of $155,000 to $1,400,000, and 27 new pending sales.  

As of Feb. 14, there were a total of 80 SFRs and 19 condos available for sale in Magnolia as listed in the NWMLS, ranging in price from $107,500 to $6,970,000, with 14 of these properties with asking prices of more than $1 million.

Looking at closed sales for Magnolia in 2010 as compared to 2009 as compiled by Rainier Title, there was a 22% increase in the number of sales of SFRs, with the median sales price up by 10% from $537,000 in 2009 to $590,500. Looking at condo sales, there was a 9% increase in the number of sales, with the median sales price up 12% from $320,000 to $357,475.

During 2010, a total of 33 sales in the $1-million-plus market occurred, with the most expensive sale being $3,275,000.

Magnolia appears to have fared fairly well in 2010 as compared to other Seattle neighborhoods. When looking at the number of closed sales and median sales prices for SFRs in 2010 as compared to 2009 for the 29 different Seattle neighborhoods by zip code, the total percentage of change for closed sales was a decrease of 1%, and the total percentage of change for median sales price was an increase of 1%.

Looking at Queen Anne SFRs by zip code, 98109 saw an 18% increase in the number of closed sales and a 12% increase in median sales price, while 98119 saw a 1% decrease in the number of closed sales and a 4% increase in median sales price. To offer some additional context using this same statistical report, the 98148 area in Burien saw a 67% decrease in the number of closed sales and a 24% decrease in median sales price, while the 98155 area in Shoreline saw 75% decrease in the number of closed sales, but a 56% increase in median sales price.

With different statistics for each neighborhood, it’s important to look at each specific area, and easy to understand why "bigger picture" analyses don’t necessarily apply in their totality to the individual neighborhoods in Seattle/King County. With the number of variables that come into play in analyzing the real estate market and making forecasts, it’s important to drill down to specifics when analyzing the market for individual purposes.

If it snows, Metro warns of crowded buses

  With forecasters still calling for snow later, Metro Transit is gearing up by chaining up buses and planning to move from regular routes to snow routes.

Metro buses will move to snow routing as travel conditions change. When buses move to snow routes, it will be announced through Transit Alerts and on the Metro Online website. Check the status for your route before you travel.

Metro is using an online color-coded map to keep riders informed of the status of its bus service. All bus routes are assigned into one or more of seven geographic areas within King County. When there is snow or ice on the roads, the service status of each area will be color coded and displayed on the online map. Green indicates buses are operating on normal routes; yellow that some ? but not all ? routes in the area are on snow routes (primarily in higher elevation areas); and red tells you that all bus routes in the entire geographic area are on snow routing.

People without online access can call the Customer Information Office at (206) 553-3000. General information about service will also be sent out via the kcmetrobus Twitter account.

Expect buses to be crowded and significantly delayed when on snow routes and travel is difficult. Also, many people may leave work early today, so take that into consideration in deciding when to travel. Metro encourages people to limit travel if possible if roads become snowy and icy

Magnolia teen goes bald to help others

Magnolia?s Elizabeth Swanberg, the 14-year-old eighth-grader who pledged to go bald for pediatric cancer, had her head shaved last week at Catherine Blaine.

Elizabeth, surrounded by friends and family, cut off 22 inches of her beautiful hair. 

She plans to donate her hair to Wigs for Kids, to benefit children who have lost hair during cancer treatments.

We first told you about Elizabeth?s fundraising earlier this month.  The Blaine 8th grader shaved her head as part of her fundraising efforts for the St. Baldrick?s Foundation.  She has already raised over $4,000 for the foundation that provides grants for researchers working to find a cure for childhood cancer. 

Here she is before she shaved her head.

And here she is after.

The idea is for each participant to  shave their head to raise awareness about childhood cancer since many children who have cancer lose their hair after treatment. 

Elizabeth writes that she has never had any connection to cancer, or been heavily impacted by it but that is why she is participating.  

Performing the honors for Elizabeth?s shave was Louisa, a young cancer survivor whose doctor has received funding for pediatric cancer research from St. Baldricks.

A big crowd gathered at the school to watch Elizabeth go bald.  She is still raising funds and you can donate here. 

Wind storm damage

A tree that was knocked down during the heavy winds that blew through Magnolia did some serious damage.  These photos show what happened on 36th Ave West  between Ruffner and Emerson.

This car sustained heavy damage when the tree landed on its hood.

This power pole was toppled as well.

Thanks to Vicky and Lucas for these great photos.

If anyone else has photos of damage from the wind, send them to us at

Chef Ludger on New Day Northwest

Magnolia?s Chef Ludger Szmania got the chance to show viewers in Western Washington how to make Arugula Spatzle and Buttermilk Chicken on KING TV?s New Day Northwest Show with host Margaret Larson today.  You can watch the video here.

If you would like to learn more from Chef Ludger, he has a cooking class coming up called ?Rolling in the Dough" on Feb. 26 from 12-2p.m.  You will learn techniques for baking Ciabatta, semolina Focaccia and homemade pretzels, along with fresh steamed mussels and Boeuf Bourguignon.  Space is limited to 12 per class.  Cost is $55 per person.  Call 206-284-7305 for more information.

Szmania?s opened in Magnolia 20 years ago, featuring a menu inspired by owner Ludger?s German roots.

Input needed for future of Smith Cove

The Port of Seattle and the City of Seattle are discussing a possible land exchange and creation of a new waterfront park in the Smith Cove area. Those discussions could result in a relocated city park and
playfield with expanded shoreline access.

This is needed due to King County’s efforts to find a home for a 1.8 million-gallon combined sewer overflow tank.

The county is currently looking to identify potential locations for the tank and one potential location is in Smith Cove, just south of the Magnolia Bridge. The Port of Seattle owns the parcel of land across from the cruise ship terminals currently being used for tenant storage. To the west of that parcel is land owned by the city that is used for the Smith Cove play field.

King County proposes to design and build an underground diversion structure and tank to store peak flows during large storm events. A diversion structure at 32nd Avenue West will transfer flows through a gravity sewer line in the right-of-way to an underground storage tank located in the Smith Cove Park/Port of Seattle West Yard area. After storms have passed, in-tank pumps and force main will send flows back to West Point Treatment Plant in Discovery Park. No treatment facilities will be built at the project site.

The public is invited to provide input in a meeting on March 3 from  6:30-8:30 pm at the Magnolia Community Center at the Catherine Blaine Cafeteria (2550 34th Ave West).

Ballard Bridge lane closure Saturday

The work that was cancelled a few weeks ago is rescheduled due to weather is set for tomorrow (2/19).  The contractor working for the Seattle Department of Transportation will close one northbound lane on the Ballard Bridge on Saturday if weather is favorable. The contractor expects to have the lane closed for approximately six hours sometime between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Ramps and walkways to the bridge will remain open. The contractor will paint the railing on the east side of the bridge.