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Friday, February 26, 2010

Martha Rose Construction Hosts

"How Sustainability is Changing the NW &

Your Real Estate Business


Class held at Fish Singer Place, a new sustainable

home community located at 15715 Dayton Ave N

Seattle. Tour the new Martha Rose Construction

community and see firsthand how low impact development and green

building are impacting our region.

You Will Learn About

· Regional Population Growth and Demographic Forecasts, Policies and Initiatives

· Low Impact Development (LID) for Current Land Use and Development

· Examples of Local LID Projects

· Rain Gardens, Green Roofs and Green Walls

· Native Plants, the Value of Trees

· Seattle's "Green Factor", a New Building Requirement in Seattle

This is a fun class designed for lots of discussion and input from Agents. I have

had great reviews from nearly all of the participants who have taken this class;

it is very different from most of the other clock hour classes available.

*Date: Wednesday March 3rd

Time: 1- 4PM

Approved for 3 Continuing Ed. Clock Hours $35

For more information or other available dates & locations contact

Patty Moriarty 206.898.0356 or

All participants receive their Clock Hour Certificate and a CD

which includes the presentation,

along with several other relevant resource links and articles.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Building Law Seen As Threat To California History

Should "Green Building Standards" consider the value or carbon footprint of historic buildings?

This week NPR featured a story about green building standards and how they are not adequately taking into account the existing carbon footprint of historic buildings. So preserving a historic structure is given little credit in the green standards systems. This is despite the fact that carbon is stored quite nicely in all these old buildings, it isn't widely understood that Historic Buildings are inherently "green", because destroying them and dumping the pieces in a land fill is a colossal waste and it takes many, many years to make up for that destruction in the carbon

In Shoreline we have many unrecognized historic treasures, such as the Ronald School which houses the Shoreline Historical Museum, and many others. We can make progress on Landmarking, preserving and appreciating them if we put our minds to it. We can also do well at preserving our carbon footprint if we are careful about not throwing away old buildings unnecessarily.

And, preserving our history is good for our quality of life, our sense of place and even economic development, if we do it well.

Photo Credits - Shoreline Historical Museum, Janet Way (National Historic Trust Bldg, DC),
MAin2 Blog, National Public Radio

Building Law Seen As Threat To California History

February 23, 2010

In California, lawmakers have approved a measure that requires all new construction to meet significant green building standards. The law, which takes effect next year, is the first of its kind in the country.

But it's already under attack from a couple of directions. Some environmentalists say the rules don't go far enough, while some preservationists say the law could encourage the demolition of historically significant buildings.

Green House

Paul Song walks around a half-built modern home he and his wife are constructing for more than $1 million. The house is blocks from the beach in a very posh Santa Monica neighborhood.

Song, who is a doctor, points out the home's green features: things like nontoxic blue wood, a urinal that uses 100-percent recycled water and a floor heating system.

"All the floors are concrete, but in it is radiant heat that's going to be powered by solar," Song says. "Basically this floor will always be nice and warm for my wife, who has cold feet."

When the house is finished, it will be the first 100 percent energy-independent home in the city. It meets and even goes beyond eco-building standards set by the city and the state.

An Eco-Building Yardstick

And it will be certified as "platinum" under the U.S. Green Building Council's residential Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, rating system. It's the industry standard and is essentially a green points system.

"So you get a certain amount of points," says Sean King, the general contractor. "There's categories [such as] energy. Each category has a certain amount of points, and we have to achieve 100 points."

Paul Song's home is being built with a large rain storage tank.
EnlargeEthan Lindsey for NPR

Paul Song's home is being built with a large rain storage tank that will reduce the home's water use.

California state law requires all government buildings to achieve at least 50 points — certified LEED silver.

System Fails Historic Buildings, Critics Say

But preservationists say this point system, and the whole new push toward green, is leaving historic buildings out of the equation.

Specifically, the National Historic Trust says LEED points overvalue new construction.

Preserving an old building should get more points than it does, says Linda Dishman, executive director of the Los Angeles Conservancy.

"If you save a historic building, you can get up to three points," Dishman says. "But if you use recycled carpet, you get one point. Is saving a whole building really the same as recycled carpet?"

Historic preservation advocates are working with LEED to up their points and promote other building standards that weigh preservation more heavily.

Old Vs. New

Dishman contends that old buildings are actually greener than new ones because of "embodied energy."

More On Going Green

"Embodied energy is how much energy it takes to build a building," Dishman says. "So you have a craftsman home in a lovely historic neighborhood. You'll have the redwood that was trucked and shipped in. And then if you tear this all down, all that historic fabric gets shipped off to the dump."

In fact, Dishman says, some studies show that it can take 35 years or more for a new, energy-efficient building to recover the carbon used to build it.

And yet, that fact doesn't mean much. New buildings are more fun for architects to design and are just plain cheaper for developers to build.

Brenden McEneaney, Santa Monica's green building adviser, sees both sides of the debate.

"I think everybody would agree that historic preservation is important in and of its own right," he says.

But McEneaney says the problem is that historic preservation can be difficult and costly.

"You can't just sell people on a green level," he says. "This has to make financial sense as well. And to the market at large, that maybe isn't thinking first and foremost on a green perspective, that's where you have to be directing your efforts at."

Back at his home site, Song says that while his home will be brand new, he did his best to preserve some of the "embodied energy."

"What people won't realize when they just drive by the house is that we did the first 100 percent recycled demolition," Song says. "We tore this house down nail by nail, brick by brick."

Those nails and bricks were then shipped to build other homes in Mexico. And some of the old wood torn down will be used as new floorboards.

In this case, it's a compromise for both sides — just not on a budget that all homeowners can afford.

If you save a historic building, you can get up to three points. But if you use recycled carpet, you get one point. Is saving a whole building really the same as recycled carpet?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Environmental Priorities Bills Hearings and Coalition

Priorities Bills

This past Wednesday I had a fascinating afternoon attending an important hearing in Olympia
about the Clean Water Bill before the Legislature. This Bill is designed to provide a dedicated funding source for retrofitting stormwater infrastructure in our cities and counties. It would come from a tax on hazardous substances such as oil and fertilizers that come into our state.

These substances cause tremendous deleterious impacts to our streams, lakes and especially Puget Sound. The pollution is washed into our waterways by the frequent rainfall here which is washed into them from older drainage systems on roads, roofs and parking lots. The Bill is designed to ensure that the sources of pollution pay for the damage caused by utilizing the authority of the Model Toxics Control Act. It will provide approximately $200 million in funding for cleanups and retrofitting roads and stormwater infrastructure.

The Environmental Priorities Coalition (a group of 25 organizations to work on specific goals at the State House, such as Audubon, People for Puget Sound, Wash Environmental Council and Wash Conservation Voters) has selected this bill as vitally important this year.

Our Cities, Towns and Communities are facing difficult budget situations and yet they have obligations from Federal and State agencies to fix these environmental problems. So these municipalities need help to meet their responsibilities and this costs a lot, much more than our homeowners and small businesses can be reasonably expected to pay through property taxes or utility fees. The health of people and communities depend on clean water, and the health of our wildlife does too. So in order to really make an impact on cleaning up Puget Sound this Bill is crucial.

I had the opportunity to testify at the Capital Budget Committee and express my support. I'm glad to say that the Bill, HB 3181 was passed this week out of committee. A companion Bill will now be heard in the Senate this next week as "companion Bill" SB 6851. I was glad to see the incredible coalition that is supporting this legislation including, labor, Association of Washington Cities (AWC), Building Construction and Trades, and many, many others.

One more good reason to support these bills is that it will bring about new Green Jobs and economic development by retrofitting our public works infrastructure and make good development that really IMPROVES water quality, possible. I was pleased to participate in this process. You can have an impact too by contacting your Senator and Representatives. Please thank them for their support too!

Below is an article from the Seattle Times with more details.

Hope you will contact your Senator to ask them to support this important Bill. Also check the Environmental Priorities site to see who's supporting this bill.

Photo credit - Janet Way

Major polluter tax bills introduced in Olympia

Posted by Jim Brunner

OLYMPIA -- The big environmental bill of the legislative session -- a proposal to triple the tax on oil, pesticides and other chemicals and devote the money to storm water cleanup -- was formally introduced today in the state House and Senate.

House Bill 3181 (and Senate Bill 6851) would triple the "hazardous substances" tax created by a 1988 voter initiative.

That could raise as much as $250 million a year to clean up polluted storm water that has been cited as the leading threat to the health of Puget Sound and other waterways.

But as a carrot for lawmakers, the bills would deposit much of the new tax money in the state general fund over the next few years. That could help plug ongoing budget shortfalls.

In future years, more and more of the cash would be devoted to storm water cleanup.

The bills already have significant support among majority Democrats, with 33 cosponsors in the state House, and 24 in the state Senate.

This is sure to set up a big fight with the oil industry, which pays most of the current tax at its five refineries in Washington. Industry lobbyists have argued the tax will only show up at the gas pump for ordinary consumers.

Last year, the oil industry successfully fended off a similar proposal, which it labeled a "$1 Billion Hidden Gas Tax."

Asked about the tax this morning, Gov. Chris Gregoire sounded a supportive note and rejected the suggestion that the tax would necessarily lead to higher gas prices.

"Let's be honest, a (hazardous substances) tax has been in place since what, the 80s, and there has been no increase since the 80s. And these are oil companies that are making lots of profits so for us to assume that we pay for it at the gas pump -- I don't think is there," Gregoire said at her regular Monday news briefing.

"If we want to get Puget Sound cleaned up, we can't sit there and hope and pray it happens some day. We are going to have to take action to get something done."

Gregoire said she'll decide whether she can support the proposal -- and any other tax plans -- after the state gets its updated revenue and caseload forecasts in the coming week.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Friends of Aldercrest Presentation at Shoreline Parks Board

Friends of Aldercrest will be giving a short presentation to the Shoreline City Parks Board and Director of Parks & Rec, Dick Deal.

The purpose of this presentation is to ask the Parks board to support the addition of Aldercrest Annex to Shoreline's PROS plan. Currently, Shoreline's PROS plan identifies the north-east corner of Shoreline, namely Ballinger Neighborhood, lacks adequate park facilities to serve the community. Friends of Aldercrest want the Parks Board to acknowledge this gap and support a resolution encouraging the city and school district to start working towards a solution. Nearby
Lake Forest Park will also benefit and should be encouraged to participate in a solution .

Aldercrest Annex has served the surrounding communities as a park for nearly 50 years - almost as long as the school has existed. Right now, it is the only place kids in the area can go to play baseball, soccer, fly planes, or just run across an open field.
Population density in the area is increasing and demand for parks and open spaces will likewise increase.

Aldercrest Annex is still being held by the NEC municipal jail project and hopefully, with the completion of the
environmental impact statement later in 2010 , it will be dropped from the list of possible jail sites. When that happens, the city and school district need to be on board with a plan for the city to acquire Aldercrest Annex property as a park.

We need a good showing support from the community at the
February 25th Parks board meeting. All interested parties are invited to attend. Parks board meeting starts at 7:00pm in Council Chambers at Shoreline City Hall.

Photo Credit - Nancy Morerya

Why More Parks?

Vibrant cities have a good balance of private homes, retail and commercial, and public spaces. When city planning is done well, private interests and public spaces create a sustainable combination that further fuels the success. Cities that focus only on development of private interests, for instance, and ignore development in public spaces are not successful or sustainable.

No one will argue that the population in Western Washington is increasing. As cities like Shoreline and Lake Forest Park densify and development squeezes more dwellings in less space, the demand for open space and parks do not lessen; instead the demand increases. No longer having traditional back yards, people look to public lands to meet their needs for gardening and recreation. Most if not all multi-family structures lack the open space to meet the needs of their inhabitants.

In the Ballinger Neighborhood of Shoreline and nearby Lake Forest Park, densification is inevitable like most neighborhoods. Eventually single family parcels will be re-developed with higher density dwellings - often with little or no green space. Today, the residents in nearby condos, apartments, and houses use Aldercrest Annex for outdoor activities. Where will these families go without Aldercrest Annex - particularly when housing density increases?

Although Bruggers Bog Park is across the street from Aldercrest Annex, it is not appropriate for soccer, baseball, tennis, and other organized or individual sports. In fact, Shoreline Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Plan (PROS) has identified the Ballinger Neighborhood as deficient in community parks. The Lake Forest Park homes next to Aldercrest Annex have no public parks or open spaces to serve the community. Without Aldercrest Annex, the nearest park to play ball or tennis is about 2 miles away with Ballinger Way as an impediment slicing half of our neighborhood from the rest of the city.

Has Shoreline and Lake Forest Park been keeping up with the public space demand? A calculation of acres of parks per 1000 people is a simple way to compare city’s park interests against other neighboring cities. This calculation does not measure the quality or accessibility of the city’s parks but it does provide a basic comparative method. The chart below is a comparison of Shoreline’s park acres against 19 other cities in the Puget Sound. The chart shows that Shoreline and Lake Forest Park are at the bottom!

Aldercrest Annex is our community park and without it, Shoreline and Lake Forest Park will fall even further behind becoming a near-desert, devoid of the recreational space so needed by our communities.

Park Acres per capita - Puget Sound Cities compared

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Cedarbrook Coalition

This article reprinted from Friday's Shoreline Area News.
It is authored by George Piano, Chair of the Cedarbrook Coalition.

The Cedarbrook Park is an example of several open space sites in Shoreline that have a great deal of support in the community for acquisition as new public parks. Currently, the funding climate for such acquisitions is more difficult, but the need is just as great as ever. There is actually a deficiency of Open Space and Parks in this part of Shoreline, and the City actually has less open space than many nearby cities, even though we do have some fine parks.

The citizens of two cities, Shoreline and Lake Forest Park which surround this potential parks site, find this is a refuge and recreation site that offers welcome respite and fun during this difficult economic time. The Shoreline School District has been taking the desires of the community and situation seriously.

The supporters of this site and others in town such as Aldercrest and Sunset have shown tremendous intitiative and community spirit. We wish them all good luck and success in their quests.

The Cedarbrook Coalition


By George Piano, Chairman
Cedarbrook Coallition
In the fall of 2008, in response to the Shoreline School District’s expressed intent to surplus and sell the Cedarbrook Elementary School property to the highest bidder, a neighborhood group composed of residents of both Shoreline and Lake Forest Park, The Coalition for the Preservation of Cedarbrook, a registered 501(3)C non profit corporation, was formed. The goal of this group is to work with both communities to find a way to acquire and preserve the Cedarbrook property as an active neighborhood park. After introducing the Coalition to the Shoreline School Board and explaining our goal, the Coalition was given until August of 2010 to create a viable plan to purchase the property from the School District. Support for the Park continues to grow within our community. The Coalition has almost 1000 signatures on a petition of support and many subscribers to our website. The Shorelake Soccer Association has endorsed our efforts and has provided very generous financial support. During the past year we have made several presentations to both the Shoreline and Lake Forest Park City Councils to increase awareness and to develop official support.
It became clear that the process of raising the necessary funding for the purchase of the property in this tough economic climate was going to be a difficult and complex process and would require more time than the School Board had granted. With unanimous support from the Shoreline Parks and Recreation Board and the Lake Forest Park Community Services Commission, and with a great deal of help from Shoreline Parks Director Dick Deal, a Resolution of Support was drafted to present to the City Councils of both communities. The resolutions commit the Cities of Shoreline and Lake Forest Park to work together with the Cedarbrook Coalition to explore sources of funding to purchase and develop the Cedarbrook property as a park. The Resolutions also requests additional time from the Shoreline School District to accomplish this goal. This resolution was adopted unanimously by both City Councils. Now that both cities have officially pledged their support and commitment to working towards the acquisition of the Cedarbrook property, we are anxiously awaiting a positive response from the Shoreline School Board granting us the additional time necessary to make this community dream a reality.
The Cedarbrook Coalition is in the process of planning our spring and summer campaign to continue raising neighborhood support and awareness for the development of the park and is committed to working with the Shoreline School District and the Cities of Shoreline and Lake Forest Park to get this done. We welcome help from any and all folks interested in preserving the gem that is Cedarbrook, for our ourselves and for generations to come. Folks can learn more by visiting our website or contacting George Piano, Chairman. Cedarbrook Info The Cedarbrook property is approximately 10.6 acres. Currently there are several unused school buildings including a small administration building, a large classroom building, and a gym building that includes a large gym, a stage, a commercial kitchen, and several bathrooms. The property includes areas of native forest, open play fields, designated wetlands, and parking areas. Whisper Creek runs along the northern border of the property and is a lovely fish-bearing, year-round creek. Portions of this creek are currently being restored by the Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation. Working in conjunction with local citizens, a new foot bridge has been built linking the Cedarbrook property with the bordering Lake Forest Park and Shoreline neighborhoods, and areas along the creek have been cleared of invasive nonnative plants and are being replanted with native vegetation. A watershed that was once known as Cedarbrook Creek was diverted underground and into a culvert that runs across the playfield when the school was built. This creek eventually empties into Whisper Creek. The hope of the Cedarbrook Coalition is that, as part of the park development, we will be able to daylight this creek, restore fish and wildlife habitat, and see this stream once again flow in the sunlight. The property is a perfect opportunity to develop the only active park in this area that can include open play fields, basketball and tennis courts, a toddler playground, and perhaps a community center utilizing the existing gym. There is potential for a skateboard park, pea patches, nature trails, and a rest area for bicyclists puffing up Perkins Way on the new Trail connecting route. The possibilities are endless. Photos by Andrew M. Bradner

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Thirteen Lucky Ducks-Thornton Creek Park Six home to Urban Wood Duck Colony

On Valentine's Day,
long time Thornton Creek Park Stewards, Ruth Williams and Don MacCall sighted 13 Wood Ducks today (2/14/10). Ruth is Vice President of Thornton Creek Alliance. Seeing as how it's Valentine's Day, it's fun to notice how the ducks are in pairs in the large photo (Click on it to see if you can count 13 ducks!).

Thornton Creek Park Six is located just 3 blocks from Northgate and is a wild place and lovely wetland refuge. It was preserved back in the 1960's with Funds from the "Forward Thrust" Bond Measure. It was neglected though until activists from Thornton Creek Alliance and the neighborhood began restoration efforts in the 1990's. Since then, the area has evolved through these efforts and further "engineering" by Beavers.

The area at 8th NE and NE 105th has become quite the active wildlife habitat since the Beavers built some small dam structures there.

The site is just downstream from the amazing Thornton Place Development and Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel, restored by Seattle Public Utility, Lorig and the efforts of activists, including the Thornton Creek Legal Defense Fund. Soon, we will feature some stories on that project which took ten years to be fully realized.

This urban wildlife habitat is very valuable for people and the creatures who inhabit it. Just a few blocks downstream, chinook salmon were sighted a few years ago. Thornton Creek Park Six is an amazing little refuge. Restoration efforts are continuing and more new projects will be upcoming soon.

Photo Credit- Don MacCall and Marie Read - Cornell Ornithology

Friday, February 12, 2010

Let the City buy you a rain garden

Here is a program that Shoreline should be emulating. Incentives for gardeners to install "Rain gardens". What a great idea!


Posted on February 11, 2010 at 5:30 PM

Updated yesterday at 5:30 PM


SEATTLE - During extremely heavy rains, parts of Seattle's older sewer system overflow sends untreated human sewage into Puget Sound or nearby lakes. The Federal Government ordered Seattle to fix its aging Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) system, and if you want to help out, there may be some money in it for you.

"Install a rain garden or cistern, and we will give you a rebate for 80 to 100 percent of the purchase price," said Bob Spencer, Director of Seattle Public Utilities' Residential RainWise Program.

The round, oval, or kidney-shaped gardens only need to be about 6 feet across and about 1 foot deep. They drain too quickly for mosquitoes, other bugs or germs to breed, but slow enough to give the older sewers a break during heavy rains.

They require specific soils, gravel and native plants and in time grow over into a pleasant and functional landscape feature. The test program which will be officially announced in a few weeks is

currently available only to some Ballard residents.

You can plug your address into a program on the City's RainWise Web site

at to see if you qualify and get advice on how to construct your own rain garden.

Video Photo Credit - KING 5 News and SPU