Best of: Readers’ Choice 2011

Seattleites have spoken. Here are the Reader's Choice winners in our Best of 2011 poll.
FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

BEAUTY

Salon for cuts and color
GARY MANUEL SALON
Belltown
2127 First Ave.
206.728.1234
garymanuel.com

Blow-dry/styling bar
SWINK STYLE BAR
Multiple locations, including
University Village
4610 Village Court NE
206.673.5070
swinkstylebar.com

Hairstylist
DERIK EGGERT, GARY
MANUEL SALON
Belltown
2127 First Ave.
206.728.1234
garymanuel.com

Men’s salon
RUDY'S BARBERSHOP
Multiple locations,
including Fremont
475 N 36th St.
206.547.0818
rudysbarbershop.com

Children’s haircuts
LI'L KLIPPERS
Wallingford (Wallingford Center)
1815 N 45th St., Suite 205
206.633.2158
lilklippers.com

Nail salon
JULEP NAIL PARLOR
Multiple locations,
including University District
5001 25th Ave. NE
206.985.6644
myjulep.com

Place for a massage
ELAIA SPA, HYATT AT OLIVE 8
Downtown
1635 Eighth Ave.
206.676.4500
olive8.hyatt.com/hyatt/pure/spas

Place for a facial
GENE JUAREZ SALON & SPA
Multiple locations, including
University District
(University Village)
2684 NE 49th St.
206.522.4700
genejuarez.com

HEALTH CARE

Medi-spa
CALIDORA SKIN CLINIC
Multiple locations, including Bellevue
10708 Main St., Suite 310
425.688.7800
calidora.com

Spa
ELAIA Spa, HYATT AT OLIVE 8
Downtown
1635 Eighth Ave.
206.676.4500
elaiaspa.com

Cosmetic dentist
DR. PRINCY S. REKHI,
HIGHLAND DENTAL
Renton
1080 Kirkland Ave. NE
425.226.1422
myhighlanddental.com

Place for skin care
CALIDORA SKIN CLINIC
Multiple locations, including Downtown
412 University St.
206.267.7869
calidora.com

Plastic surgeon
DR. SHAHRAM SALEMY
First Hill
Cabrini Medical Tower
901 Boren Ave., Suite 1650
206.464.0873
drsalemy.com

Hospital
SWEDISH MEDICAL CENTER
Multiple locations, including
Ballard
5300 Tallman Ave. NW
206.782.2700
swedish.org

PETS

Doggy day care
A DOG'S LIFE
Columbia City
4801 Rainer Ave. S
206.695.2758
adogslifedoggydaycare.net

Groomer [Correction: Fetch! Pet Care does not offer grooming services. They were erroneously voted for in this category. We regret the error.]
FETCH! PET CARE OF
WEST SEATTLE
West Seattle
9425 12th Ave. SW
206.965.9851
west-seattle.fetchpetcare.com

Veterinarian
TIE:
ELLIOTT BAY
ANIMAL HOSPITAL
Interbay
2042 15th Ave. W
206.285.7387
elliottbayah.com

SUNSET HILL VETERINARY CLINIC & REHABILITATION CENTER
Ballard
2403 NW Market St.
206.706.7800
sunsethillvet.com

Pet shop
MUD BAY
Multiple locations, including Greenwood
8532 First Ave. NW
206.789.7977
www.mudbay.us

SHOPPING

New boutique
FAIR TRADE WINDS
Wallingford (Wallingford Center)
1815 N 45th St., Suite 202
206.743.8500
fairtradewinds.net

Men’s boutique
BUILT FOR MAN (Showroom)
Available at multiple locations, including Veridis
Capitol Hill
1205 E Pike St.
206.658.7642
builtforman.com

Women’s boutique
FROCK SHOP
Phinney Ridge
6500 Phinney Ave. N
206.297.1638
shopfrockshop.com

Department store
Shoe store

NORDSTROM
Multiple locations, including Downtown
500 Pine St.
206.628.2111
nordstrom.com

Jewelry shop
TIFFANY & CO.
Multiple locations, including
Downtown (Pacific Place)
600 Pine St.
206.264.1400
tiffany.com

Optical shop
4 YOUR EYES ONLY OPTICAL
Wallingford (Wallingford Center)
1815 N 45th St., Suite 211
206.547.7430
4youreyesonlyoptical.com

Luxury shop
NEIMAN MARCUS
Bellevue
11111 NE Eighth St.
425.452.3300
neimanmarcus.com

Sale rack
NORDSTROM RACK
Multiple locations, including
Downtown
1601 Second Ave.
206.448.8522
shop.nordstrom.com/c/
nordstrom-rack

Children’s clothing store
PARON'S CLOSET
Wallingford (Wallingford Center)
1815 N 45th St., Suite 204
206.695.2455
paronscloset.com

Children’s book shop
SECRET GARDEN BOOKS
Ballard
2214 NW Market St.
206.789.5006
secretgardenbooks.com

Children’s toy shop
TOP TEN TOYS, INC.
Multiple locations, including
Downtown (Pacific Place)
600 Pine St. #220
206.623.1370
toptentoys.com

Gardening store
MOLBAK'S
Woodinville
13625 NE 175th St.
425.483.5000
molbaks.com

Grocery store
METROPOLITAN MARKET
Multiple locations,
including Queen Anne
1908 Queen Anne Ave. N
206.284.2530
metropolitan-market.com

Bookstore
THE ELLIOTT BAY
BOOK COMPANY
Capitol Hill
1521 10th Ave.
206.624.6600
elliottbaybook.com

Housewares
SUR LA TABLE
Multiple locations, including
Pike Place Market
84 Pine St.
206.448.2244
surlatable.com

Gift/card shop
BUTTER HOME
Capitol Hill (Melrose Market)
1531 Melrose Ave., Suite C2, Mezzanine
206.623.2626
butterhomeseattle.com

Furniture store
AREA 51
Capitol Hill
401 E Pine St.
206.568.4782
area51seattle.com

Auto dealer
LEXUS OF SEATTLE
Lynnwood
20300 Highway 99
425.774.7900
lexusofseattle.com

SPORTS & FITNESS

Fitness club
COMMUNITY FITNESS
Multiple locations, including
Ravenna
2113 NE 65th St.
206.523.1534
communityfitness.com

Boot camp
STRENGTH STUDIO
Capitol Hill
526 19th Ave. E
206.300.0709
strength-studio.com

Yoga workout and hot yoga
URBAN YOGA SPA
Downtown
1900 Fourth Ave.
206.420.0222
urbanyogaspa.com

Golf course, public
INTERBAY GOLF CENTER
Magnolia
2501 15th Ave. W
206.838.4653
premiergc.com

Sporting goods shop
REI
South Lake Union
222 Yale Ave. N
206.223.1944
rei.com

Boating supply store
WEST MARINE
Multiple locations, including
Ballard/Shilshole
6317 Seaview Ave. NW
206.789.4640
westmarine.com

Ski shop
EVO
Fremont
122 NW 36th St.
206.973.4470
evo.com

ENTERTAINMENT

Cultural museum
SEATTLE ART MUSEUM
Downtown
1300 First Ave.
206.654.3100
seattleartmuseum.org

Art gallery
VERMILLION
Capitol Hill
1508 11th Ave.
206.709.9797
vermillionseattle.com

Performing arts venue
PARAMOUNT THEATRE
Downtown
911 Pine St.
206.682.1414
stgpresents.org

Theater company
ACT, A CONTEMPORARY THEATRE
Downtown
700 Union St.
206.292.7676
acttheatre.org

Casino (within 100 miles)
TULALIP RESORT CASINO
Tulalip
10200 Quil Ceda Blvd.
360.716.6000
tulalipcasino.com

Bowling alley
GARAGE BILLIARDS
Capitol Hill
1130 Broadway Ave.
206.322.2296
garagebilliards.com

Place to shoot pool
GARAGE BILLIARDS
Capitol Hill
1130 Broadway Ave.
206.322.2296
garagebilliards.com

Local pub
BELLTOWN PUB
Belltown
2322 First Ave.
206.448.6210
thebelltownpub.com

Dance club
CENTURY BALLROOM
Capitol Hill
915 E Pine St.
206.324.7263
centuryballroom.com

Live music venue
NEUMOS CRYSTAL BALL
READING ROOM
Capitol Hill
925 E Pike St.
206.709.9442
neumos.com

New local band
SAD FACE
sadface.bandcamp.com

Movie theater
MAJESTIC BAY THEATRES
Ballard
2044 NW Market St.
206.781.2229
majesticbay.com

Neighborhood art walk
PIONEER SQUARE FIRST
THURSDAY ART WALK
Pioneer Square
firstthursdayseattle.com

Neighborhood blog
WEST SEATTLE BLOG
West Seattle
2850 SW Yancy St., No. 116
206.293.6302
westseattleblog.com

Kids’ attraction
PACIFIC SCIENCE CENTER
Queen Anne
200 Second Ave. N
206.443.2001
pacificsciencecenter.org

TRAVEL

Northwest resort
TULALIP RESORT CASINO
Tulalip
10200 Quil Ceda Blvd.
360.716.6000
tulalipcasino.com

In-city hotel
HOTEL ÄNDRA
Belltown
2000 Fourth Ave.
206.448.8600
hotelandra.com

FOOD & DRINK

New restaurant
POQUITOS
Capitol Hill
1000 E Pike St.
206.453.4216
vivapoquitos.com

Mobile/food truck
MARINATION MOBILE
marinationmobile.com

Pizza place
PAGLIACCI PIZZA
Multiple locations, including
Magnolia
1614 W Dravus St.
206.726.1717
pagliacci.com

Burger joint and cheap lunch
DICK'S DRIVE-IN
Multiple locations, including
Wallingford
111 NE 45th St.
206.632.5125
ddir.com

New bar and cocktails
CANON WHISKEY AND
BITTERS EMPORIUM
Capitol Hill
928 12th Ave.
206.552.9755
canonseattle.com

Local microbrew
GEORGETOWN
BREWING COMPANY
Georgetown
5200 Denver Ave. S
206.766.8055
georgetownbeer.com

Bartender
ABE FOX, SHELTER LOUNGE
Ballard
4910 Leary Ave. NW
206.829.8568
theshelterlounge.com

Hotel bar
ART LOUNGE,
FOUR SEASONS HOTEL
Downtown
99 Union St.
206.749.7000
fourseasons.com/seattle/dining/art_lounge

Happy hour menu
PEARL
Bellevue
700 Bellevue Way NE, Suite 50
425.455.0181
pearlbellevue.com

Takeout food
PASEO CARIBBEAN RESTAURANT
Multiple locations, including
Fremont
4225 Fremont Ave. N
206.545.7440
paseoseattle.com

Coffee shop
STARBUCKS
Multiple locations, including
Pike Place Market
1912 Pike Place
206.448.8762
starbucks.com

Neighborhood farmers market
BALLARD FARMERS MARKET
Ballard
Ballard Avenue NW
at 22nd Avenue NW
206.781.6776
fremontmarket.com/ballardwelcome.html

Outdoor dining
SALTY'S ON ALKI BEACH
West Seattle
1936 Harbor Ave. SW
206.937.1600
saltys.com

Ice cream shop
MOLLY MOON'S
HOMEMADE ICE CREAM
Multiple locations,
including
Capitol Hill
917 E Pine St.
206.708.7947
mollymoonicecream.com

Cupcake shop
TROPHY CUPCAKES
Multiple locations, including
Wallingford (Wallingford Center)
1815 N 45th St., Suite 209
206.632.7020
trophycupcakes.com

Pie shop
HIGH 5 PIE
Capitol Hill
1400 12th Ave.
206.695.2284
high5pie.com

Meet the YIMBYs, Seattleites in Support of Housing Density

Meet the YIMBYs, Seattleites in Support of Housing Density

A new movement is saying yes to urban density in all its forms
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 
Ballard homeowner Sara Maxana (with daughter Nani) identifies as a YIMBY, and supports more housing density, including in single-family areas

Sara Maxana is exactly the sort of person you might expect to see getting involved in her neighborhood meetings. A single mom with two young kids, Maxana lives in a single-family 1931 Ballard bungalow of the type many neighborhood activists are fighting to preserve. Ballard, where the population grew 26 percent between 2010 and 2014, is ground zero in Seattle’s density wars, which pit pro-growth advocates, many of them young renters who moved to the city within the last decade, against the longtime homeowners sometimes disparagingly known as NIMBYs, for “not in my backyard.”

What you might find surprising is that Maxana isn’t a NIMBY. She’s one of a growing group of people who say “yes in my backyard,” coining a new acronym: YIMBY.

Maxana, who once worked at the sustainability nonprofit Futurewise, had more or less retired from politics. But she got re-engaged after Mayor Ed Murray proposed the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) in 2015. The plan (see sidebar, below), which proposes higher density across the city—including the addition of more backyard cottages and basement apartments in single-family areas—quickly became divisive.

Maxana started identifying as a YIMBY because she felt Seattle decision makers needed to hear a positive story about the changes that are coming to the city. She began speaking up at public meetings, studying the details of HALA and tweeting as @YIMBYmom, a quiet rebuke to those who say all urbanists—i.e., people who believe that cities should be dense, culturally vibrant, diverse places with lots of different transportation options—are single, transient renters with no ties to their community.

By embracing the YIMBY concept, Maxana joins a growing community of activists, researchers, housing experts and community-based organizations that see growth as an opportunity to create housing for all the new people who want to live in cities, rather than a hostile invading force. These groups make up a loosely organized, informal coalition of organizations and individuals across the country and, indeed, the globe (groups using the YIMBY framework have sprung up from Melbourne to Helsinki to Iowa City), who believe that the root of housing affordability is a housing shortage, and that the solution to that shortage is simple: Build more housing.  

Image By: Maria Billorou
Zachary DeWolf at the 12th Avenue Arts Building: trying to make Capitol Hill a place for mansion owners and street people alike

Although they span the political spectrum, from far left social-justice activists to hard-core libertarian free marketeers, YIMBYs generally agree that cities should be accessible and affordable for everyone, whether they own a million-dollar mansion or rent a $900-a-month studio, and whether they work as a barista or just moved to Seattle for a new job at Amazon.

Seattle might not seem the most obvious axis for this pro-density revolution. For one thing, it’s a city where the single-family home, especially the iconic Craftsman bungalow, is sacrosanct. So thoroughly did Seattle embrace the postwar ideal of the detached single-family house with a yard that it’s written into our zoning code, which preserves a remarkable 57 percent of the city’s buildable land exclusively for single-family houses. (In Portland, the number is 3 percent.)

But as more and more people move to Seattle—the city’s long-range plans anticipate 120,000 new residents by 2035—tension between longtime homeowners and renters, many of them relative newcomers to the city, has mounted. Rents in Seattle increased more last year than those in any other big city in the country, and in the past five years, the median rent has increased from just over $1,500 to more than $2,000. Meanwhile, the median income of renters, $47,847, is less than half that of homeowners, $108,768.

Instead of merely complaining about the housing crisis, Maxana says, YIMBYs “see growth as something that can catalyze change and bring about good things for cities.”

“I don’t see YIMBYs as addressing a problem so much as addressing an opportunity,” Maxana says. “We’re not trying to stop things; we’re trying to say yes to change. I think it’s much more exciting to be pushing for a vision than against what’s happening.”

For Maxana, that vision includes more new neighbors, more interesting shops and coffeehouses, more places to walk and bike and ride—in other words, more of all the things that are coming to her Ballard neighborhood already. “In Ballard, we have all these new breweries, and they’re child-friendly and they’re dog-friendly, and there are places to sit outside with your kids,” Maxana says. “I see more people in the parks, on the streets, on the bus. In my neighborhood, I can walk to five bus lines that get me across town to everywhere I could possibly need to go in the city. And all of that activity lends itself to more vibrancy, and just a more interesting place to live.”

Maxana can rattle off the statistics that describe Seattle’s housing crisis—for example, 40 new people and 35 new jobs are added every day, yet only 12 new housing units a day. But she and other YIMBYs argue that statistics don’t change minds; values do. “We cannot convince anybody with the data alone. We have to be speaking about our values and we have to be speaking from our heart—not ‘I feel this way and so should you,’ but ‘I’m a mom in Ballard and I want my kids to be able to live here when they grow up, and ultimately, this is why I support [density].’”

YIMBYs are starting to make waves at city hall. In July, under pressure from YIMBYs and other urbanists who argued that the city needed to do more to include marginalized groups such as renters, immigrants and people of color, Murray announced the city was cutting formal ties with the 13 neighborhood councils that advise the city on growth and development, eliminating their funding and creating a new advisory group to come up with a more inclusive neighborhood outreach strategy. (The neighborhood councils, Murray noted, are dominated by older, white, wealthy homeowners, and are not representative of an increasingly diverse city.)

While the YIMBYs didn’t make this change happen on their own, their support helped provide political cover for Murray and his neighborhood department director, Kathy Nyland (a former Georgetown neighborhood activist who is openly sympathetic to the YIMBY cause), for what turned out to be a controversial move. Many neighborhood activists liked the neighborhood councils as they were.

Some neighborhood groups are starting to move in a YIMBY direction. A Capitol Hill renter and self-identified YIMBY, Zachary DeWolf stepped into a leadership vacuum on the Capitol Hill Community Council in 2014. He was first elected vice president in 2014, and then president in 2015. As president, he restructured a traditional neighborhood group dominated by older homeowners into an organization run almost entirely by young renters.

His goal: to make the group that represents Capitol Hill more welcoming and inclusive. He has encouraged young renters to run for leadership positions; changed the style of the meetings from a traditional format with leaders sitting at a table facing the audience, to a circular roundtable where everyone can participate; and instituted more after-work hours/evening “community conversations” and “socials” to give a wider range of people a chance to get to know each other and discuss neighborhood issues.

The group’s policy emphasis has been different, too. Instead of advocating for anti-urbanist causes, such as banning corner stores in residential areas and placing a moratorium on new micro apartments as it did in the past, the council is discussing how to accommodate a supervised drug-consumption site in the neighborhood. As DeWolf puts it, “Instead of pushing [drug users] out to neighborhoods that are farther out, where there’s less resources and community, why not just keep them here and take care of them ourselves?” He adds, “At the end of the day, every person that’s in our neighborhood—whether it’s someone living in North Capitol Hill in a gajillion-dollar mansion or someone sleeping in the doorway on 15th in front of someone’s business, every type of person is our neighbor. To me, that is very YIMBY.”

Dennis Saxman, a longtime Capitol Hill activist and renter who opposes what he sees as out-of-control development and gentrification in his neighborhood, believes YIMBYs are well-meaning, but that they misunderstand the root causes of Seattle’s affordability crisis. “I don’t think they understand that Seattle was once notable for the strength of its neighborhoods and their differing characters, and that at one time, that was seen as something important to preserve and desirable,” Saxman says. “Now it’s seen as a way to market neighborhoods while at the same time destroying what makes a neighborhood a neighborhood.”

Saxman says he admires a lot of what DeWolf has done to bring new people into the council, but argues that “they’re falling short” when it comes to including more racial minorities, longtime residents and low-income people. “I don’t think they’re authentically community-based,” he says.

Will Seattle’s future look more like DeWolf and Maxana’s vision—an ever denser city, where newcomers and their ideas are welcome—or more like the city of the past, where conversations were dominated by residents resistant to change? That may depend on whether YIMBYs can make the leap from a vocal group of contrarians who provide a counterpoint to conventional wisdom at city hall to a force that helps guide city policy while bringing new allies, including more single-family homeowners, on board.

One sign that yimbys in Seattle are having an impact came last June from 1,300 miles away in Boulder, Colorado. A group of 150 YIMBYs from all over the country convened at an inaugural conference, YIMBY 2016, to talk about their challenges and successes. The Seattle contingent, which included Maxana, Sightline Institute staffer and Capitol Hill renter Serena Larkin, and University District renter and YIMBY activist Laura Bernstein (who tweets at @YIMBYSea), showed up feeling a bit discouraged by local rancor over HALA. But they left energized after delegations from other cities expressed enthusiasm for what they see as an inclusive coalition of Seattle groups that support HALA, which include urban activists, developers, environmentalists and social justice organizations.

“All these other groups and cities kept telling us, ‘We need to do that work—how did you get all of those people at the table together?’” says Larkin. “It wasn’t the policies [the details of HALA] we came up with, but the relationships that they saw had been built through HALA.”

When you’re in the thick of things in Seattle, it’s hard to see what’s being accomplished here, notes Bernstein. “But when you compare Seattle to other cities, then all of a sudden we look like the success story. I think that there are battles that we’re losing, but we’re winning the war.”

Maxana points to the success of the housing levy, which funds low-income housing and which Seattle voters approved by more than 70 percent in August, as a sign that many Seattleites support the idea of building more housing, including affordable housing. “I see that, and I just have to believe something is clicking,” says Maxana. “And even though you have such a volume of vitriol on [private social media site] Nextdoor and in some of these neighborhood meetings, I think, for the most part, when I look at the city, I see people who want a good place to live not just for themselves, but for their kids and their neighbors.”

Including neighbors they don’t even know yet.

What The Hala?
The proposed Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), billed as an “action plan to address Seattle’s affordability crisis,” aims to build 50,000 new housing units in the next 20 years, 20,000 of those affordable to people making less than 60 percent of Seattle’s median income ($37,680 for an individual and $53,760 for a family of four*).

To help accomplish this, HALA will: 
Increase the maximum height of new multifamily buildings in multifamily areas and commercial buildings outside downtown, South Lake Union and the University District by 10–20 feet.

Require rental housing developers to make a percentage of the new housing they build affordable to people making less than 60 percent of median income, or pay a fee that will go toward affordable housing elsewhere in Seattle. (Commercial property developers will also have to pay a similar fee.)

Ease restrictions on backyard cottages and mother-in-law apartments in single-family areas, to allow as many as one of each on single-family lots.

Expand the boundaries of urban villages and rezone about 6 percent of Seattle’s single-family areas to allow low-rise multifamily housing in those areas.

Implement anti-displacement strategies in neighborhoods with low-income residents who are especially vulnerable to displacement, and promote homeownership, especially for vulnerable populations.

See a full list of HALA strategies at seattle.gov/hala.
* Source: City of Seattle