A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods


Vote on design for the new 63rd Street mural

May 21st, 2014 by Doree

A group of dedicated neighbors has been working hard to bring back a mural to the North 63rd Street underpass. The old mural was painted over by the city two years ago after problems with graffiti.

Gray wall-resized

The volunteer group put out a call to artists in March and received about 10 submissions. They’ve narrowed it down to the top three, and now they’re letting the community decide. See the designs in person at several community events over the next couple of weeks and vote on your favorite.

Stop by Umpqua Bank, 7120 Greenwood Ave. N., from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday (May 22-23) and again on May 29-30 to view and vote. You can also vote at Bingo Karaoke at the Greenwood Senior Center, 525 N. 85th St., from 7-10 p.m. on Friday, May 30; or at the Phinney Neighborhood Association Garden Party, 6532 Phinney Ave. N., from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 31. See the project website for a full list of voting opportunities (more will be added).

Here are the three finalists:

63rd Street underpass #2-resized


63rd street underpass #4-resized


63rd underpass #1-resized

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Second graffiti nuisance hearing for owners of 77th and Greenwood building

May 18th, 2014 by Doree

The city has once again ordered the owners of the empty, graffiti-covered building at 7706-7708 Greenwood Ave. N. to appear before a hearing examiner on allegations of owning a “graffiti nuisance property.”

Scott Walker and Rene Vaughan had a hearing last June on charges of not cleaning up the graffiti. According to the Hearing Examiner’s report, they could have been fined up to $5,000, but were not because they had begun cleaning it up and it was their first Notice of Civil Violation.

A new notice dated April 30 is posted on the building. The new hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, at Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Ave., Suite 4000.


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Does our neighborhood have a graffiti problem?

May 7th, 2014 by Dale

We get a fair number of emails and messages complaining about it and one reader recently asked if anyone in the neighborhood is interested in tackling the problem.

One place that’s been a perennial favorite of taggers for years (as the commenters on this 2013 post attest), is the long-vacant building at 7706 and 7708 Greenwood Avenue. Here’s a picture from earlier this evening that shows a snippet of the graffiti again covering the building:


The owners, Scott Walker and Rene Vaughan, were called before the city Hearing Examiner last June after being cited for failing to clean up the graffiti-covered building in a timely manner.

Walker and Vaughan could have been fined up to $5,000, but the Hearing Examiner waived any fines.

Why? The Hearing Examiner noted in part that it appeared this was the first time they’d been cited for not cleaning up the graffiti:

Mr. Walker did not respond to the removal letter and the second notice sent by SPU. However, at hearing, Mr. Walker was cooperative, acknowledged his responsibilities under the law, and had begun the abatement process, which he completed soon after the hearing. This also appears to be the first Notice of Civil Violation issued to him. In light of these factors, no monetary penalty will be assessed.

If you’re concerned about graffiti, some recommendations from the city for graffiti prevention and removal:

  • If you see someone tagging property, call 911. Graffiti vandals must be caught in action to be prosecuted.
  • You can report graffiti on public or private property through an online form link found on this page, or call the city at (206) 684-7587.
  • If it’s your private property that’s tagged, you can make a police report by calling (206) 625-5011.
  • If your property has been hit, take a picture for insurance purposes, then immediately remove or paint over the graffiti.
  • Another option can be to volunteer to clean up graffiti. Seattle Public Utilities offers free supplies and has a waiver property owners can sign that allows SPU to remove graffiti for the owners at least once a month.

So, is there a problem? And if so, what should be done?

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Report problems to Seattle via ‘Find It, Fix It’ app

September 13th, 2013 by Dale

The city of Seattle recently released an app for Android and iPhone devices that lets you conveniently photograph, map and then report issues such as abandoned vehicles, graffiti and potholes, the moment you see them.
Seattle's Find It, Fix It app

Prior to the app’s release, your options were to make a phone call, show up in person at a city office or use a mobile-unfriendly online service request form.

While a PC-based online service request form is more detailed and has additional reporting options (the app will include an illegal dumping reporting option on an upcoming release), the app trumps that by eliminating the inconvenience of having to go home and plunk yourself down in front of a computer to make a report.

Since the app’s release a month ago, it’s been downloaded more than 2,800 times, but only about 1,80o requests have been made. About 44 percent have been for graffiti, 27 percent for “other,” 15 percent for potholes and the remainder for parking enforcement and abandoned vehicles.

The low number of requests to downloads ratio may be one indicator the app needs some work. Another one is Google Play Store comments and personal experience: Trying to make a graffiti report immediately after installing the app on a Samsung S3 Android phone caused the app to crash. After rebooting the phone, it showed the report had been submitted three times.

Perhaps the iPhone faithful are having a more bug-free experience…

Then there’s a point of confusion: Submitted requests are marked as “closed” before the reported issue is actually addressed.

For example, a graffiti report entered two weeks ago was marked as closed a few days later, yet the graffiti on some sidewalk ramps still remained as of earlier this evening, well beyond the city’s 10-day timetable for removing graffiti from it’s property in keeping with the Graffiti Nuisance Ordinance.

The “closed” indicator just means the report has been successfully handed off to the department that’s responsible for dealing with it, not that it’s actually complete, according to Katherine Schubert-Knapp, communications director for the city’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

“Several folks have asked about that, so we’re going to change some information on the website,” to explain it, Schubert-Knapp said. She went on to say it’s a limitation of the system the city is using to track the reports. In a follow-up email, she included some additional details:

When checking the status of a service request submitted through Find It, Fix It, the tracking information may show that the status is Closed. Closed indicates that the report has been accepted by the City of Seattle, though the graffiti removal may still be pending.

When graffiti is reported, the report is dispatched to the responsible agency for abatement. Because the various agencies use different systems and processes for managing the abatement of graffiti, we’re unable to give real-time status updates.

You can check on the status of any service request by calling the Customer Service Bureau at 684-2489 (CITY). Please be sure to have the service request number ready to expedite the process. You’ll find it listed at the top of the screen when you view your request on your mobile phone.

One hopes something can eventually be done to make the status of reports more clear on the app as well.

Despite the bumps, the app shows promise for making it easier for people to take simple actions to alert the city to issues that need attention.

Not into using an app? You can make reports in person at City Hall, a Neighborhood Service Center, over the phone at (206) 684-2489, or via that service request form on the City’s website.

For those of you who have tried the app, let’s offer our .02 cents to help the city make it better: What’s your take? What would improve it?

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City orders owners of long-empty, graffiti-covered building in Phinney Ridge to civil violations hearing

June 18th, 2013 by Doree

The owners of a dilapidated, graffiti-covered building in Phinney Ridge have been ordered to meet with a city hearing examiner on Wednesday morning after numerous complaints of graffiti not being cleaned up from the property at 7706 and 7708 Greenwood Ave. N.


The property, next to MoonPhoto, has been vacant and repeatedly covered with graffiti since at least 1996.

According to the hearing notice, the building is owned by Scott Walker and Rene Vaughan, who live just down the road on NW 76th Street. The two have been very involved in the community over the years, helping to build the 6th Avenue NW Pocket Park about a decade ago, and Walker organized the Greenwoodstock music concert at the park for several years.

A neighbor (who wished to remain anonymous) told me he had a cordial relationship with the owners several years ago, but that relationship soured after the neighbor kept complaining about the graffiti, garbage, transients, and other problems, and the property remained derelict. The neighbor said the Block Watch was also concerned.


The side of the building is also covered with graffiti.

The neighbor told me he recently found beer cans and a hypodermic needle next to the property. He has called the police several times about squatters in the building. The neighbor said the house attached to the back of the building used to have renters, but doesn’t anymore.


The back of the building appears to be rotting away.

Seattle Public Utilities received numerous reports of graffiti at the property on Feb. 8 of this year, and notified the property owners that it needed to be cleaned up. When it wasn’t cleaned up by Feb. 28, a second enforcement notification was given. Under Seattle Municipal Code’s Graffiti Nuisance section, the owners’ failure to respond to that second notice means they now face penalties of $150 per day, up to $5,000.

Walker did not respond to an email request for comment.

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63rd Street underpass mural meeting coming up on April 22

April 15th, 2013 by Doree

Volunteers with the 63rd Street Mural Project are ready to move forward with plans to paint a new mural on the Aurora Avenue underpass. They’ve got a meeting set up from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 22, at the Phinney Neighborhood Association, 6532 Phinney Ave. N., in Room 3 of the Blue Building.

Come and discuss the latest plans for the new mural at the 63rd Street/Aurora underpass. What will it look like? Who will paint it? One side or two? What is the theme? Your attendance counts toward our match of the city’s grant, so let’s pack the room!

The previous mural on the site was painted over after repeatedly being hit by graffiti.

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Committee forming to replace mural on 63rd Street underpass

September 13th, 2012 by Doree

The long-time mural on the 63rd Street underpass beneath Aurora Avenue North was recently painted over by the city, because of continuing problems with graffiti. Now, a group has stepped forward to paint a new mural.

Our 36th District State Representative Mary Lou Dickerson has assembled a small group to apply for a Small and Simple Project Grant to create new artwork for the underpass at 63rd Street and Aurora. The project will need a steering committee to work with the community, artists, muralists,city departments and the PNA to design and execute the new mural. The 46th Street Mural Project provides a successful example for these efforts.

Even if you are unable to serve on the committee, you can contribute to the matching grant not only with money but through in-kind donations by attending meetings or volunteering services (worth $20/hour!).

The organizational meeting for the 63rd Street Mural Project will take place on Wednesday, September 19 at 7PM on Phinney Ridge. If you would like to serve on the Steering Committee or have other questions contact Kerry Fowler at 206-412-5231 or kwfowler-at-gmail-dot-com.

The exact location of the meeting will be provided to those who call or email to join the Steering Committee.

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Phinney Ridge muralist paints ‘graffiti’ on Aurora fence at business owners’ request

August 14th, 2012 by Doree

Phinney Ridge resident Emily Gussin tells us she painted a graffiti-looking mural on a fence at Aurora Avenue North and North 47t Street. Gussin says the fence was constantly covered in graffiti, and she thought that a graffiti-looking mural could work to prevent more graffiti.

Here’s a portion of the mural.

I did the mural…after having talked with the business owners for a few weeks. They were sick of having to re-paint the fence every week or so to cover up tags, so they allowed me to put up ‘graffiti as graffiti prevention’. I am trying to work with other businesses who have walls or fences that get hit with tags often, because murals are one of the best ways to prevent that vandalism. I…am talking with a few other business owners at the moment, I just completed another one in the UDistrict. I am hoping to get a few more walls done before summer is up.

If anyone is interested in such a mural, please contact Emily Gussin at emily.gussin@gmail.com.

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North 57th Street underpass mural painted over in gray

July 31st, 2012 by Doree

City workers were out today painting over the much-graffitied mural on the North 57th Street underpass, near Woodland Park Zoo.

And now it’s gray.

The mural was created in the mid-1990s, but it was a challenge to find community members to clean up the constant graffiti, so the city decided to paint over it, as well as the North 63rd Street underpass at Aurora Avenue North.

Thanks to James McFarlane for the photos!

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