Archive | September, 2010

DPD public comment period begins.

30 Sep

Poted on the corner of Galer and Auburn Pl.

Today, DPD signage was posted announcing the public comment period (9/30 – 10/13/10) for the proposed land use.

VPC’s application now public record.

29 Sep

Today, the Deaprtment of Planning and Development (DPD) made public VPC’s Administrative Conditional Use application. In the document, applicant Ericka Burke formally requests a change in land-use of the space VPC rents from ‘grocery’ to ‘an eating and drinking establishment.’

The application is not available on-line. Anyone wishing to review VPC’s proposal will need to truck on down to  DPD’s Public Resource Center at the Seattle Municial Building. You want to read Project #3011437.

In the following days, we will be posting our opinions. You can read our overview here. You can also take a look at what we feel is a somewhat limited analysis by CHS (aka: the Capitol Hill blog.)

CHS: “Volunteer Park Cafe’s paperwork is in.”

24 Sep

Subtitled “Public process on restaurant’s future begins” CHS (aka: The Capitol Hill blog) writes:

We have confirmed that the application has been accepted by the city but not yet posted in the Department of Planning and Development land use bulletins so the clock is not yet ticking for interested parties to submit their feedback on the application. Once the bulletin goes up – and a notice is posted at the cafe – there will be a two week public comment period. During those 14 days, neighbors, community members and Seattle foodies can send in their feedback to DPD …

Once feedback is collected, the DPD planner will conduct an analysis, weigh feedback and write a decision. After the decision is published, there will be another 14-day period for additional public feedback.

You can read the full post here.

VPC declines to sign compromise agreement.

20 Sep

Today, neighbors received a response from VPC. While stating that they were committed to establishing and maintaining a good neighbor plan, that after discussion with the property’s owner, found it was not in the cafe’s nor the owners best interest to sign (what we feel is a) reasonable proposal.

The neighbors are very disappointed. Neighbors had hoped VPC would be willing to rebuild the trust they lost during the months they defamed their next-door neighbor and ignored concerns of others.

We hoped to be able to support VPC’s request to the City to change their zoning to allow a restaurant operation. Now, we cannot.

Neighbors, VPC meet for second time.

12 Sep

This evening, a group of neighbors met at VPC with the cafe owners, one cafe employee, and Roque (pronounced: “Rocky”) Deherrera, from the Office of Economic Development at the City of Seattle. It was 4 days before their deadline for submitting the application to legalize their restaurant.

Neighbors were hoping VPC owners would demonstrate a serious effort to rebuild the trust they lost during the months they defamed their next-door neighbor and ignored concerns of others

At the meeting, we covered the following points:

  • The cafe intend to submit for conditional use application on September 17th.
  • They plan to include the current restaurant area and the small office upstairs and the basement (for storage) in their submittal.
  • They don’t plan to pursue permission to use the backyard for outdoor activity.
  • They intend to continue to use the sidewalk.
  • They stated that the building owner is on board with their plans.
  • They volunteered that they are not going to apply for a hard liquor license.

Responding to specifics from our letter:

Garbage: they say they have increased pickup to 3 per week, which the neighbors maintain is not adequate.

  • The cafe plans to construct a garbage enclosure, and offered to dump all bottles before 8 pm.
  • They listed Terminix as their contractor for pest control.

Odors: discussed non-compliance of their current exhaust fan and the odors wafting into neighbors’ yards.

  • Cafe asked if neighbors would be supportive of barbequing in the backyard for occasional events.
  • Neighbors said, “No.”

Noise: neighbors clarified concerns about reflected noise and noise at clean-up; reiterated that they would not support sidewalk seating of any sort.

Traffic: cafe acknowledged issues with deliveries.

  • Said that, three weeks prior, began working with SDOT discussing a 30 minute Load Zone (which may be located on the south side of Galer).
  • Discussed Galer, Auburn, Garfield, and 17th and possible mitigation efforts that could be initiated by SDOT.
  • Discussed VPC policing illegal parking in their immediate vicinity.

Covenant: VPC didn’t feel a covenant was necessary, that landuse permit would address the issues. Neighbors disagreed.

Timing: cafe agreed to respond to our letter in one week, which might be a copy of their application


The meeting ended with the neighbors suggesting that more frequent and regular meetings occur between the neighborhood and VPC. Neighbors suggested quarterly meetings.

In summary, the primary disagreements appear to be 1) sidewalk seating and 2) the covenant. The cafe owners appeared willing to work with the neighbors on the remaining issues.

Good Neighbor Plan: Neighbors’ proposal to VPC

11 Sep

In preparation for the meeting scheduled for Sunday, the 12th, Volunteer Park Neighbors contacted VPC owners with the following information:

Volunteer Park Neighbors would like to support the operation of a small restaurant in the building and have given thought to what constitutes a good neighbor plan.

Families known to be concerned agree to a binding commitment to support VPC’s request for change of land use  if VPC owners as well as the owner of the building also agree to a binding commitment to the following:



1.  Upgrade and maintain the building and restaurant operation in compliance with all non-discretionary state and local regulations including for example fire/safety codes, building codes, public health and liquor regulations, etc.


2.  Use best available methods to mitigate the impact on the neighborhood in areas of garbage disposal, rodent control, and odor control.


3. Keep all customer eating and drinking and food preparation (cooking. barbecuing or similar activities) inside the building and maintain hours of operation as they have been this last summer.


4.  Assure an operation that curtails noise to be no greater than that which would be occasioned by a small grocery store or a single family residence.


5.  Insofar as possible, assure that patrons and employees respect parking regulations and assure that delivery vehicles follow an agreed to parking\unloading mitigation plan.


6.  Limit all eating and drinking establishment operations, including office uses, to the ground level.




VPC misses second filing deadline.

8 Sep

Yesterday, September 7th, was the extended deadline given by Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to the Volunteer Park Cafe (VPC) to file their application to change their current zoning ‘Nonconforming Use Grocery’ to ‘Nonconforming Use: An Eating and Drinking Establishment.’

VPC’s original deadline was July 1st.

As of today, DPD shows no application of file. There is nothing on file at DPD from VPC as to whether they have dropped their plans or if they intend to file for a second extension.

VPC asks neighbors for meeting, wishes to hear complaints.

2 Sep

Today, neighbors received an e-mail from cafe owners, asking for a meeting at which they could hear the neighbors concerns. The cafe suggested the date of Sept. 12.

King 5 News: “Volunteer Park Cafe’s success not popular with all neighbors.”

2 Sep

Today, Eric Wilkinson of KING 5 News filed this report:

SEATTLE – The Volunteer Park Café is a place where people really do know your name. It’s a place where they sell honey handmade by a 14-year-old neighbor and where grow their own vegetables along the sidewalk outside …  Co-owner Heather Earnhardt says it’s because they’re all about building community.

But the café may be a victim of its own success. For nearly a century it operated as a quiet corner grocery store. Now it’s a full-scale restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week, and leaving neighbors with some unwanted leftovers … People living around the restaurant say a grocery store is grandfathered in to their quiet neighborhood by city codes, but a restaurant is not.

“It’s not legal,” (Cliff Meyer) said … He and others point to evidence of parking problems, noise and a possible expansion that could double the number of customers.

“They really have to work with their neighbors and be good neighbors. They’re burning us right now,” he said.

The cafe’s owners insist they’re trying to do right by the neighborhood.

You can read the full report and view the segment here.

Seattle Weekly: “Morning Food News: Volunteer Park Cafe Plans to Stay Put, Despite Complaints.”

1 Sep

Today, Erica Hobart wrote:

​Regardless of neighbor complaints, the owners of Volunteer Park Cafe confirmed they plan to file a change of use application with the Department of Planning, according to Capitol Hill Seattle. A neighbor filed a dispute earlier this year, citing a violation of zoning regulations, when the restaurant announced plans to add a garden and outdoor seating.

The cafe will continue to operate as always once the application has been received by the department and community members will be able to share comments for consideration in their decision. Once a decision is made, there will be room for the public to appeal as well. In other words, the restaurant’s final fate will likely remain unknown until fall.