Seattle

People who want to live in a place with all of the amenities of a city but without Seattle’s housing prices are heading south. Real estate agents like Marguerite Giguere are noticing  the trend.

“They are people who would not be able to buy even a modest condo in Seattle and might have been looking to buy in places like Kent or Burien and then realize, ‘Wow, if I go to Kent or if I go to Burien, I’m going to be in a suburb.’”

Ed Ronco, KPLU

Mama's Mexican kitchen in Seattle is going to be closing soon after 40 years in business. For its patrons, this means farewell to cheap, late-night burritos in Belltown, cozy booths and the Elvis Room.

But for Bella Biagio it's more than a loss of a business, a job or a building; She's worked there 18 years. So for her, it's the loss of family -- albeit an odd one she refers to as, "The island of misfit toys."

"We are the train with the square wheels. And the gun that shoots jelly and the Charlie in the Box," she said. "It's so dysfunctional but it works."

A lot of older Seattle is disappearing under the ceaseless march of urban development, she said. And the town is lesser for it.  There are not as many none corporate, "genuine" places in Seattle anymore, she said. Certainly not many like Mama's, a popular, divey Mexican eatery on the corner of 2nd Avenue. and Bell Street.

AP Images

A year ago Friday, an oil train from North Dakota derailed under Seattle’s busy Magnolia Bridge during the height of the morning commute.

No one was hurt and nothing burned in that accident but the scare has prompted changes to the emergency response to a similar accident should one occur. The reason? As many as two thousand black oil tanker cars now roll through Seattle each week, carrying crude from North Dakota’s Bakken region.

It’s the latest front in the growing global movement to stop fossil fuel extraction. The Port of Seattle, a longtime staging point for expeditions to cash in on Alaska’s natural resources, has been home this spring to a standoff between oil giant Shell and legions of protesting “kayaktivists” and others hoping to foil the company’s plans to send a massive drilling rig to the Arctic Ocean next month.

AP Images

SEATTLE (AP) — An oil rig outfitted for exploration in the remote Arctic Ocean parked in Seattle's harbor Thursday, marking a pivotal moment for an environmental movement increasingly mobilized around climate change.

Activists paddling out in kayaks to meet the rig off Seattle's picturesque waterfront said it's their moment to stand against opening a new frontier of fossil fuel exploration.

"Unless people get out there and put themselves on the front lines and say enough is enough, then nothing will ever change," said Jordan Van Voast, 55, an acupuncturist who was going out on the water to confront the Polar Pioneer. "I'm hopeful that people are waking up."

About two dozen kayakers paddled around Elliott Bay as the towering rig passed the city's Space Needle. The tiny boats, which kept their distance from the rig, were dwarfed by the 400-foot-long structure rising nearly 300 feet above the water. 

The image suggests how outmatched Shell's opponents have been as they try to keep the petroleum giant from continuing its $6 billion effort to open new oil and gas reserves in one of the world's most dangerous maritime environments.

Environmental groups in the Pacific Northwest are sensing a shift in the politics that surround energy production and have mobilized against a series of projects that would transform the region into a gateway for crude oil and coal exports to Asia.

Tim Durkan

Editor's Note: This story will be updated through the afternoon and evening as May Day events and protests continue.

10 p.m. Update:  Events took an ugly turn late. What had been a day of mostly peaceful protest and demonstration evolved into a three-block rock-throwing riot in Capitol Hill at 9 p.m. Three Seattle Police officers were slightly injured and protesters set fire to trash cans.

Courtesy of Peregrine Church

Next time you’re walking on a sidewalk in Seattle and it’s raining, look down. You just might see a message reveal itself.

At least that’s the intention of a 21-year-old magician who has created unusual sidewalk art. His stenciled messages are only visible when it’s wet outside.

Read the story and see a map of the artwork on Quirksee.org >>>

courtesy of Puget Sound Bike Share

It’s official: Seattle’s much-anticipated bike share program will launch with 500 bikes in September, thanks to a $2.5 million grant from Alaska Airlines.

City officials unveiled the plan for the program, called "Pronto! Emerald City Cycle Share," on Monday.

Tim Durkan

It appears love is in the air in Washington state. 

The state is home to four of the 20 most romantic cities in the U.S. as ranked by Amazon.com. Leading Washington's pack is Seattle, which came in second place after San Antonio.

The online marketplace ranked cities using the number of romance-related purchases made by consumers in each city. Considered purchases include romance novels, books about relationships, Barry White CDs and romantic comedy movies.

Tim Durkan

Cities don’t get much smarter than Seattle, according to Fast Company magazine.

Seattle topped the magazine’s list of smartest cities in North America. The ranking is based on a number of categories, including government, lifestyle, environment, and economy.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Following the lead of Olympia, Portland, and Tacoma, the city of Seattle is considering less frequent garbage pickup. But not everyone who took part in a pilot program last year loves the idea.

In four neighborhoods, Seattle Public Utilities experimented with picking up garbage every other week instead of every week. The city did not change its pickup schedule for recycling or yard and food waste. The aim of switching is to reduce the number of garbage trucks on the road, save the city some money and encourage recycling.

JoeInSouthernCA / Flickr

Editor's note: The poll on which this story is based was taken in 2012. No such poll has been taken in 2013. 

Maybe it's the natural beauty that surrounds the city. Or the cultural diversity that enriches it. Or maybe it's those Seattle summer days that resemble perfection, or the winter weekends that ski bums look forward to all year long.

Perhaps for all these reasons, Seattle has topped the list of most-liked U.S. cities, according to a nationwide Public Policy Polling survey.

The poll found 57 percent of those polled see Seattle favorably, and 14 percent unfavorably. Portland, which ranked second, earned 52 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

It’s giving season, so there are loads of parties going on this time of year.

But a recent holiday bazaar in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood is the work of a unique entrepreneur, with a special spin on networking.

He has helped thousands of small companies to survive and even grow during the Great Recession.

Cris Pierry / flickr.com

Fast Company has released its list of the top ten smartest cities in North America.  Seattle is third from the top. Vancouver, BC comes in at fourth place. Boston is number one.

All of the cities on the list "are pushing the envelope of technology, sustainability and better living conditions".

Grrrl Army / Tumblr

What appears to have started as a battle over wall space for posters on Seattle’s Capitol Hill has morphed into an increasingly high-profile call to action against patriarchy, “rape culture,” sexism and, well, “inequality and oppression.”

A call to action that the group Seattle Grrrl Army announces in bright bold pink.

UPDATE: Members of the Grrrl Army explain their tactics

Aimée Wheaton/Mazer Design / flickr.com

According to real estate website zillow.com, Seattle is one the best cities in the nation for trick-or-treating. Seattle is number 4 on the site’s top 20 list for Halloween, behind San Francisco, Boston and Honolulu.

Recent violence against tourists and residents in downtown Seattle is putting pressure on the city council to put more cops on the street.

The council received a letter from a large coalition of businesses and organizations concerned about public safety downtown.

The letter is signed by nearly 160 organizations and entities in Seattle, including several hotels, restaurants and the downtown Seattle Association. Its president, Kate Joncas, says they kept hearing from people about aggressive panhandling and open air drug dealing.

Terence T.S. Tam / Flickr

Seattle is the second-best city in the country, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The news org evaluated and ranked the largest 100 U.S. cities and published its results today.

San Francisco grabbed the gold ring at No. 1.

Jake Ellison / KPLU

A cultural shift is taking place in Seattle. It’s the elimination of a free-ride zone downtown, for bus riders.

It’s been in place for four decades. And on Friday (Sept. 28) it will go away. 

A major environmental group, People for Puget Sound, has been shut down by its board because of finances. The organization is being absorbed by two other environmental groups.

People for Puget Sound was founded in 1991 by a charismatic woman named Kathy Fletcher.

Lindsay Lowe / KPLU

The level of intensity around the proposal to build a new NBA arena in Seattle is growing by the minute.

The group of investors – which we learned yesterday includes Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and the Nordstrom family – drew hundreds to a "bring back our Sonics" rally in Pioneer Square today. It was a well-timed event to put pressure on the Seattle City Council and King County Council to back the deal.

“This is a very carefully orchestrated PR campaign," says KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel. "At the same time, the old Sonics – the Thunder – are in the NBA Finals this week. The angst could not be more intense in Seattle among sports fans who care about this because their 41-year passion is being thrown back in their face, mocked by the Thunder’s presence in the league’s championship series.”

toddraden Photo / Flickr

It was standing room only at the federal building in Seattle, where the Environmental Protection Agency held its first hearing Thursday on Alaska’s Bristol Bay fishery.

At issue is the potential effects of a proposed gold and copper mine there. The assessment looks at mining in general, though concern has arisen over a huge project known as the Pebble Mine.

The Associated Press

With the spring rains descending upon us, ushering in the "June Gloom" a little early, Crosscut.com's Knute Berger has come up with eight simple rules to preserve your sanity while living in Seattle.

Evan Hoover / KPLU

"I was so distracted by all the happy people and color," says runner Sofia Jaramillo. "It didn't even feel like a run just an all around good time."

Thousands of excited runners and walkers gathered as a plain white canvas at the Seattle Center Sunday morning awaiting to enter a sea of color.

The first wave of 1,000 participants took off at approximately 8:30am followed by five more waves every five minutes for Seattle’s first Color Run.

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

President Barack Obama was in Seattle yesterday on a fundraising swing. It was his first trip since the big announcement Wednesday that he now supports the right of same-sex couples to marry, a stance that was celebrated by supporters both inside and outside his speech at the Paramount theater downtown.

At 8th and Pine, a colorful band of demonstrators gathered for a rally near the barricades to say thank you to the President, even though they couldn’t afford the thousand-dollar ticket to see him speak.

Authorities say vandals have destroyed eight recently planted trees in Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum.

Evan Hoover / KPLU

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn evoked his emergency powers – during a day of violent protests and six arrests – ordering police to confiscate items from May Day protesters and revelers alike that could be used to damage property.

Some protesters dressed all in black used 3-inch thick sticks, which were disguised as flag poles, and tire irons to break windows in Seattle during rolling protests and marches that paralyzed downtown.

"The police officers will be approaching individuals who’ll be carrying items known to be weapons, confront them and ask them to peacefully give them up.  And if not peacefully given up, they will be confiscated," McGinn said at an afternoon press conference.

Around 4:30 p.m. officers arrested a handful of protesters after one policeman took a pole from a protester at First Avenue and Pike Street. That protester attempted to take the pole back and several others came to his aid, but officers made the arrests and pushed the others back. Both sides then faced off again in the street at the Pike Place Market until the demonstrators migrated back to Westlake Center.

(Photo gallery and videos after jump.)

Curtis Gregory Perry Photo / Flickr

U.S. postage rates went up again at the start of this year. But the service is still in financial crisis.

And letter carriers say the latest legislative fix about to come before the U.S. Senate could devastate the mail service as we know it.

Construction began Tuesday on a Ferris wheel that will sit on the end of a pier on the Seattle waterfront.

It will stand 175 high and have 42 gondolas, which will have heating and air conditioning. The wheel will extend 40 feet from the end of Pier 57, so riders on that side will be suspended over Elliott Bay.

Developer Hal Griffith told KING-TV the Ferris wheel should be spinning this June.

City of Seattle

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn delivered his third State of the City Address today focusing on education, public safety, and the economy – noting that the city was knocked down pretty hard during the recession.

He said Seattle lost 35,000 jobs with unemployment peaking at 8.2 percent. But progress has been made.

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