Electric Buses, Noisy Nuisances and The Buckaroo
by Kirby LindsayMany neighbors crowded into the conference room of History House on July 26 for the Fremont Neighborhood Council monthly meeting. Three particular matters had drawn their concern, and the FNC provided a forum for discussion, debate and dissemination of information.
Electric Buses Evaluation
Guest speaker Christina O’Claire, Project Manager, gave preliminary information on the evaluation of METRO’s fleet of 159 electric trolley buses that operate on 14 routes along 70 miles of two-way wire. The fleet contains 40’ standard buses, built in 1979, that have exhibited propulsion system break downs, and 60’ articulated buses, which have problems in the frames and require obsolete parts.
The King County Council received a report that METRO can save $8.6 million by replacement of the electric fleet with diesel buses. O’Claire pointed out that the report failed to consider many factors, including environmental impacts, weight considerations, fuel costs, etc. and the evaluation will consider all possible replacement vehicle types including diesel, hybrid, electric, hydrogen battery, etc.
O’Claire also made it clear that the “pot of money” earmarked to replace the fleet does not come out of funds for bus service. METRO will offer more open houses on this matter, and take comments through the evaluation process. O’Claire also promised a speaker could come, if asked, to address the FNC in early 2011 when they complete the evaluation.
Nighttime Noise, Nuisances and Ne’er-do-wells
A group of neighbors came to this meeting specifically to discuss noise problems – complaints concerned some specific bars/nightclubs, an event space, and drunken displays by individuals in yards/on sidewalks before residences of Fremont.
Three officials also attended the meeting, and heard the concerns. Bill Reddy, Nightlife Premises Coordinator for the City of Seattle spoke about the need to map out ‘hotspots’ and asked concerned citizens to contact him. He will compare what he hears with the Seattle Police Department (SPD) call log to best address chronic problems. Ed McKenna, from the Department of the City Attorney works with SPD at the North Precinct, and admitted they don’t have good tools right now. Officer Judy Lewis, with the Washington State Liquor Control Board, visits bars, nightclubs and restaurants that serve alcohol to find specific violations of over service and serving minors.
One neighbor mentioned the ‘smokers gangs’ that gather outside establishments, blocking the sidewalk and chatting noisily. A few meeting attendees questioned the high number of locales that serve liquor, with FNC Board member Erik Pihl comparing Fremont’s density of establishments to that of Belltown. He stated that the increased number of bars and clubs “will only encourage people to come here.”
Pihl asked McKenna what the FNC can do about concerns discussed. McKenna suggested they continue to follow development of a proposed noise and nuisance ordinance by Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has also proposed tiered closings of bars and clubs to lessen the spike of activity at closing time. McKenna also suggested the FNC meet with business owners to discuss compromises and solutions.
Buckaroo Gets Bucked?
According to reports by several meeting attendees, the owners of the building that currently houses the Buckaroo Tavern did not choose to renew the lease. Instead the space will be converted into a restaurant that serves spirits (hard alcohol,) beer and wine. Officer Lewis reported that she would be posting the notice of application for an alcohol license after the meeting.
Some neighbors mentioned a welcome change in clientele to the area. Others mourned the loss of a business 72 years old – and its historically familiar visage and signage. Concerns also came up over whether the new establishment will serve food – or alcohol, and the minimum food service allowable.
These three issues consumed the majority of the meeting time, but other matters also came up including on-going concern over Low Rise zoning changes, the pending design of the Fire Station #9 remodel and cheers for the 46th Street Mural progress. To learn more - about all these matters – attend an up-coming Fremont Neighborhood Council meeting at History House (790 N 34th St) at 7p on the 4th Monday of the month. Next one will be on August 23rd, hope to see you there!
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.